Becoming Debt Free & 6 Odd Tips That Helped Us

6 odd tips to debt free

This is the second post in an all about me series called Things You Might Not Know About Me. Yesterday’s post: My Real Name

We finally did it. I mentioned in last year’s goal post that we hope to be debt free this year. Both my husband and I were self-employed for all of our debt paying off years so we never make the same amount twice in a row. Figuring out an exact date to be debt free was always a little difficult. But we paid off our debt in October of 2012 right before the Big Sale.

how to pay off debt

I’ve written about our story here and here so I won’t bore you with the details. Here’s the one sentence round-up: Lost a business or two, ended up with over $150,000 in mostly business debt and also my car. The sad part, it wasn’t even fun debt like clothes and vacations, the good part, I never got used to an expensive lifestyle. It took us fiveish years to pay that off and the math really doesn’t add up. Along the way we had some super hard years where we had to settle a couple smaller debts and we even had a really generous family member who surprised us and  forgave a debt that equalled about 10% of our total. But it’s paid. I’m not an expert but I’ll share what worked for us.

paying off debt

1. I Helped However I Could.

Five years ago that meant I had a preschooler and one in half day kindergarten so I didn’t work but, I cut coupons like my life depended on it. And to this day I believe that my sly couponing skills really contributed to our family’s budget. It’s the first thing I tell moms when they ask me if they should start a blog “to make a little spending money”.  Blogging usually doesn’t pay–it took a year before I even knew blogs could make money, a second year before I actually did make money, and a third before it was more than a percentage of minimum wage compared to the time I spent. But couponing? Cutting coupons and cooking from the pantry is a great way to help out the family. Some of my favorite coupon websites are Southern Savers (if you live in the south) and Money Saving Mom. My stores of choice: CVS, Harris Teeter (double coupons!) and Target.

There was about a year when my trips to CVS were the highlight of my week because it was so fun to feel like I was beating the system, not to mention I got to have nice razors and shaving cream–sometime I still have a hard time spending money on things like that. I couponed until I couldn’t justify the time. Now I write blog posts instead. I have a friend who owns her own business but, she loves the idea of couponing so much that she hires someone to cut them and shop for her–the money she saves more than pays for the work done.  I think that’s a great idea!

By the end of our debt-paying-off-experience this blog was funding all of our debt payoff. Thankyouverymuch.

debt free

2.We STOPPED Going Into Debt

Once we moved to Charlotte and faced our debt we cut up the credit cards and did not have the option to go into more debt.

There were a few times we has small unexpected medical expenses of one or three thousand dollars that we had to add in and pay off over time. And one year we had a much bigger tax bill and had to pay that off over the next 12 months, but other than those, this is not a story of debt going up and down–just a story of debt slowing, steadily going down.  You cannot pay off your debt while you are continuing to go into debt.

paying off debt

3. We Snowballed

We followed Dave Ramsey and his baby steps for the most part. We looked at each debt separately and paid down the smallest first with any extra money while paying the minimum on the other debts. Once we paid off the smallest debt, we went to the next one and threw all of our extra money at that debt while paying the minimums on the others. It worked for us and helped us have little wins in the beginning which was good motivation.

But we were also flexible with some of our spending. I’m the tightwad, my husband is the free spirit. So we took a family trip to Atlanta a few years ago, bought season passes to a local amusement park last year and even sent our kids to a three-day a week private school. The school part was only made possible by this blog, something that afforded me more time to write more which in turn builds my business=tightwad approved. Other than Atlanta, our family trips were only possible because generous family members let us vacation at their beach condo or invited us to come on their vacations with them. I’ve even been known to bring my family along on a blogging conference and call that a vacation. Our boys loved going to Allume last year!

paying down debt

4. Calculate Progress Continually

When we were frustrated, I’d go back to the beginning and add up all the debt that we had paid off and then compare that to the number from six months ago. That always made me feel like were still moving, even if both cars needed tires and even if it was February or March–always our tightest months. I’d usually call my husband and make him guess the number and he would always underguess (I’m going to pretend it wasn’t on purpose) it was a great feeling to see the amount of debt we had paid off keep rising even if we felt like we were stuck.

5. Have Two Separate Banks One For Everyday, One For Savings & Sinking Funds

After reading a post Tsh wrote about her online banking at ING Direct I opened an Ing savings account in 2009. That’s when our debt paying seems to have taken off because for the first time in our lives, we had a place to squirrel away and group our money.  We used a different, main bank for our living expenses but everything else went into the ING account. Before I created a separate account at a different bank, I’d deposit all of our money into one bank, make a big plan, but if I didn’t follow through in the next few days, somehow the “extra” debt paying off money and future car repair money that I deposited would shrink. So now I try to only put in what we need to actually live. Money for bills and gas and groceries go into our main bank and everything else goes into the secondary account at a different bank. Direct deposit and photo-snapping checks on my iPhone make that a no-brainer.

At ING Direct you can have a checking account and up to 25 savings accounts so we opened a slew:: debt pay off, car repair, hockey, emergency fund, clothes, braces and kids accounts. It was the first time I had a real place to ‘hide” our emergency fund money. It was still easy to access, I had a debit card for the checking account, but since it wasn’t in our main bank it felt different and I wanted to protect it. So we’ve kept an emergency fund of $1000 since 2009. A huge feat for us. Have we used it? Yes, of course, that’s what it’s for, but we’ve always replenished it within a month.

Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 6.41.25 AM

ING has recently changed to Capital One 360 so far I like it just as much and their online program has been great. My parents also recently opened up an account with them and love how easy it is to use. I’m sure it’s more about having a separate bank than WHICH bank you use. But there was something about logging on to ING and seeing the words “Welcome Saver” that made me feel like an adult. Also, you can set up savings goals and it makes a neat little graph to encourage you.



6. A Debt-Free Controlling Meanie is Still A Controlling Meanie

As wonderful as it is to be debt free, it’s even better to become debt free as a couple. Out of pride I’ll tell you that with my mathy skills and ability to eat leftovers like a jailed maniac, I could have had this debt paid off sooner if I were making all the decisions by myself. But, my husband, with his laid back personality, made it fun. Instead of years of nothing extra and a house on complete lock-down while we paid off debt, he reminded me that it’s worth it to go out to dinner, to buy the bottle of wine, to go on a little overnight trip. Paying off debt in agreement as a couple and taking longer is better than paying off debt by a bureaucratic tyrant and doing it quickly.

That’s what worked for us. I know some of you use credit cards and then pay them off every month and that is great for you. I will never do that because I will never have a salary. I think that’s a much easier option when an employer pays you exact same amount every month, guaranteed forever. Unfortunately, the problem with having a salary, like any form of income, is that you don’t control if you lose your job or if your business unexpectedly hits trouble. We had a secure job too, before we got into debt, but the employers didn’t follow through like we were all so sure they would.

I hope this story is encouraging to you, especially those still paying off their debt and feeling like it’s never going to happen. I felt like that for a long, long time. Remember, when it comes to paying off debt, even standing still is better than going backwards. And sometimes going backwards is out of our control, and sometimes it’s not.

Phew, that was a lot of words. Your turn. Comments. They are there for you, they are the best part. Share it up….

*that Capitol One link is a referral link, if someone clicks on it and opens up an acct and deposits $250 I get $10 for referring them, it’s open to all Capitol One customers, you can refer your friends too!


** Lastly after a few questions in the comments, I want to make sure you know that for the first year or two my husband was working his franchise, then for the past 4 years, this blog has been a source of income (teeny tiny at first but growing every year) so I worked too and most of the money I made went directly to debt pay off. The last year of our debt payoff my husband worked at his franchise AND part-time at our church. I wouldn’t recommend it forever but we knew it was short term so it was okay.

Also, people are asking about our percentage of income going to debt. But remember, we were paying our car payment and minimums anyway but yes, those are included in the debt we paid off. Say you make $1000 and you pay a $100 car payment and $150 in credit cards, then you are already paying 25% of your income on debt payoff! (assuming you don’t go into more debt this will add up). So part of what we were paying was monthly bills we had anyway that were debt.  We just tried to up that as much as we could to pay off our huge debt as quickly as possible.


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  1. Great post! So inspiring. My husband and I are currently working off our mountain of student debt. As in, we have more student debt than mortgage debt! We had been using ING till recently but switched to Ally for their slightly higher interest rate. So far I am actually happier with Ally than ING. What has been my saving grace the past few years is YNAB–which stand for “You Need A Budget”. Seriously has changed my life. Also has made me a bit OCD about spending, but hey it comes with the territory and will totally be worth it one day! I would recommend it to anyone. Lots of great support too via videos and forums. Keep up the good work!

  2. Before I lost my job a couple years ago, I was on the Dave Ramsey track! I had an ING savings account that money automatically transferred from my main account on payday so I never had an excuse not to make the transfer. When I’d get used to the amount coming out, I’d up it another $20 or so. I had 12% of my income going into my retirement account because every year I’d up my contribution by 1 or 2%. I had long term savings, short term (goal) savings, all my bills paid off, bought a cheap foreclosed home. I took out cash every payday according to my budget and operated on the envelope system….all as a single mom, making $38K a year. I was pretty proud of myself.

    Losing my job definitely set me back! But I’m finally back on track and trying to get as disciplined as I was. I’m hoping to be back in full swing this year. I had to learn that me and credit cards DO NOT mix! If I have them on me, I WILL charge unnecessary things every. single. time. Call me weak or whatever, but since I know this about me, I had to get rid of my credit cards in order to not go back there.

    Great post! It helps motivate me even more. :)

  3. Congratulations! We finished paying off my school and car loans last August, and it’s so liberating! We still have credit cards and eat out more than we should, but I think our best strategic move was to buy a house well under what we could afford. We have more space than we need, and it’s a really nice home! Why would I need to max out our monthy payments with a formal dining room and 3 more bedrooms? Just to keep up with my co-workers?

  4. Good for you!!! My husband and I have been debt free for several years, and we owe most of that to Dave Ramsey and the good friends who introduced us to his plan and encouraged us along the way. Every time I am tempted to use a credit card (I do keep one, locked away for emergency) I always remember that feeling I used to get every payday when all the money went to pay the credit cards and there was nothing left to eat on unless we put more on the card. It gave me such a feeling of helplessness. I don’t ever want to go back to that.
    I also want to add (for anyone out there who may be struggling to get rid of the debt and live without credit) the key for us is BUDGET, BUDGET, BUDGET! And then STICK TO IT!

  5. Congratulations! What a wonderful accomplishment for your whole family!

    My husband and I are on a similar path. The short, short version…..we are about $180k in debt (school loans, medical bills, back taxes for businesses, credit cards, family loans), been married 10yrs this April, 3 kids (7,5,3), 2 businesses (both closed), short saled our house which we bought because we had to “keep up with the Jones’s”, renting now, living on 1 income. I work PT at my younger kids preschool to be able to afford tuition for the them and add to our income. Do some freelance work on the side that helps, but that is sporatic. We got serious about 2.5yrs ago, but have had a hard time getting any traction with most of my husbands salary going to living expenses. We’ve paid off about $15k, but the mountain seems so high. Trusting in God to provide.

    Thank you for sharing your story. Gives me hope that we can find a way as well.

  6. I completely agree with your post!

    I think it especially applies to folks in the same stage of life as us (and your family).

    When we were very young (college, just graduated), I firmly held to the controlling scrooge method of staying debt free and accumulating savings.

    Now that we are more than a decade older with much better incomes and kids, we are more generous all around.

    In my former stingy days, we bought a micro-mini condo for cash. And we felt verrry proud of ourselves. Until I put the key into the lock, opened, the door, and cried. What was a family going to do in a single person residence?? Be miserable, that’s what.

    So we saved, got a mortgage and bought a 6 bedroom house with an enormous yard. And it will take us close to 3 years to pay it off, but it’s a far better living a little than those stingy years in the tiny condo!!!

    So yes, save, be wise, but don’t punish yourself.

  7. nester girl!
    actually i need to go back & see how to correctly spell your name….that you shared!!!!
    who are you?
    just who are you?
    i must say while i’ve been a fan of yours for years, i’m a super-fan now after ( albeit from the sidelines) watching the lord clearly do a work in you. your posts about compassion still slay me. but the one about his home….most definitely in my top two of all time. and honestly i can’t think of the other “one” that’s in my top two. so there.
    but the courage and life change i’ve seen in you has taught me more than any new tip on decorating….and i say that loving all your decorating tips.
    thank you for becoming so transparent not only in how you “live” in your home and the nest you’ve created, but how you really live…that’s just awesome girlie. just awesome.

  8. We went through Dave Ramsey’s class back in 2006 and it was one of the most wonderful things that we have ever done. We too have had an ING account and I love keeping our categories separate. Ever since 2006 we have been putting a little away each month to go on a trip overseas for our ten year anniversary. Next year is the big year and we are so looking forward to it. Great tips that you shared here! I know that this will help so many people.


  9. I love this! Thank you so much for sharing your journey to debt free. Some day I will have my own story to write about as well. My husband and I are both self-employed too, and it is hard to predict income. We have worked on paying off debt in spurts and I haven’t been diligent lately. Your post has just spurred me on to get back on track! The one thing that alluded me was keeping the money straight in the sinking fund. I am going to start the ING account right away- I love that idea! I literally got out paper, pen and calculator and started crunching more numbers after reading your post.

    I loved you before, now I love you even more. To get a different side of who you are. I love the way God uses you. As you know you inspire me!


  10. We are working on becoming debt free too. Did we think we’d survive through grad school when hubby was working full time and going to grad school full time? Nope. Did we have lavish meals and go shopping whenever we wanted? Absolutely not. But I believe God blesses those who choose to spend money wisely and we never went hungry. We’d find groceries(or diapers) on our doorstep. He always provided and when he graduated with his master’s, debt free, that was one of the best days for us.
    We’ve now paid off my college loans and are working at whittling away his undergrad bills. We’re so close…oh so close…and its the best feeling in the world! :)

  11. Just finished teaching a Financial Peace University Class at our church. It was inspiring to teach and hear from everyone what a difference it was making in their lives. I loved getting refocused on our plan of attack. We took the class in 2009 and have paid down a lot of debt but needed the kick in the pants to do it some more. Love your blog.

    thanks for the post- Wendy

  12. Way to go on paying off your debt! Great tips and I love number 6. Working as team to tackle debt is so rewarding in a marriage. We are debt-free as of this month (except our mortgage) and it feels so good.

  13. Joy @ Caspara says

    Ths is such a great post! Thanks for your candor. And congratulations on paying off the debt! We have no debt… Except a mortgage on a house we bought in Virginia in 2007. Ugh. The good news is, it’s been rented as long as we haven’t been able to live in it (we are a military family). But it has been a drain/ pain nonetheless. Right now we try to live frugally enough to afford the rainy days it throws our way.
    I love all your tips, but #6 is my favorite. I have to remind myself of that because my husband felt like we *had* to buy that house then, and though I disagreed, I need to remember to give him grace about it. It’s not as bad as it could be (by the grace of God), and it may even turn into income someday. He has made a lot of great financial decisions, too, even if they were tough. We have much to give thanks for!! :-)

  14. Wow, I just really needed to read Tip 6. Thanks for the perspective.

  15. we’re farmers, & since it’s basically impossible to buy a farm w/o debt, we’re still working (manual labor at that!) that off. i do have one question about the snowballing idea: should you pay off the smallest loan or the highest interest rate loan 1st? just curious, since we’re actually doing the highest interest at this point…anyway, thanks so much for your encouraging post! i’m pumped to go out there & do as much as possible to cut back on our costs after reading this, although we agree that we’re still going to live a bit along the way! =)

    • Dave Ramsey says to go with the smallest debt first, not the highest interest payment. And the reason why might surprise you: Because it feels GOOD to be successful! And paying down debt is hard work, so the win of kicking one debt to the curb is worth the temporary loss in higher interest payments. Plus, when you are done with that one debt, its minimum payment gets added to the next highest debt’s payment, along with whatever extra money you can throw at it, and that larger debt then gets paid down faster. Does that make sense?

      I like this technique, because it appeals to the emotional side of this money business. I really get emotional about this money stuff- total trigger for me. But if you are more of a strictly by the numbers person, and the emotional win is lost to you because you are way more worried about the interest, than go by highest interest rate. Make your plan work for you!

      • thanks for explaining that! both my husband & i are numbers people, so we’ll prob. keep w/ our current plan. however, i can see how the small loan being pd. off could be a good incentive to keep going & pay the rest off.

        • Then you should set up a spreadsheet that will automatically calculate the interest SAVED with every payment. That will give you positive reinforcement and hit you in the number-loving goodness soft-spot!

  16. Thank you so much for sharing this!

  17. Awesome post! We became debt free not that long ago, and I blogged about how we did it too. But… I don’t think we made as much as you guys do, nor did we have that much debt. But we had 33,000.00. It was a lot to us since we made so little.

    But since then jobs changed and we too are venturing down the self-employment road. My business doesn’t have any debt, but my husband does. But we sat down together and decided that my business is for paying off our mortgage. My husband’s business is for paying off his business debt (just a personal goal of his, he wanted to be responsible for it), and his full-time job with another employer is for paying the household bills/essentials/misc.

    I made our first extra mortgage payment last month and it was amazing. It knocked off 5 months off our mortgage. :) If my business continues to be profitable and we don’t hit any financial bumps in the middle.. we may succeed at paying off our mortgage in 5 years right when we turn 35! Big dream of ours I know but who knows.. it could be possible.. or not. We were lucky and have a SUPER super small mortgage.

  18. I think these are great tips. My husband will be finishing up residency in the next little while, and then we will start paying down our debt. It’s a lot (almost double yours), but it’s from medical school loans. We plan on paying it off in 5 years, because I can’t handle the stress of having it! Thanks for sharing!

  19. I have just started working through Financial Peace University & I just subscribed to your blog this week:)! I loved the point about still having fun while paying off debt. I think the fear of it being total drudgery & no fun has prevented me from really digging into doing a budget/paying off our debt. Thanks for a great post:)!

  20. Claudia S says

    Love your post–so inspiring. I loved the tip about not charging is the best way to keep the debt from going up–hard lesson to learn sometimes.

  21. I remember starting to read your blog in 2008. I think I even read Dave Ramsey and developed a plan based on your recommendation. It’s been really cool following your progress in the midst of going through our own “financial life-story.” And I agree that you need to have a little fun while going debt free. Otherwise, your kids childhood is over in a blink and you can’t go back and have a do-over. Good to make some fun memories. And I’m sorry, that means spending some change on superfluous stuff at times.


  22. My wife emailed me a link to this post today. We have just begun a debt burndown process much like the one you describe here, and it is reassuring to see that it is achievable by real people living in the real world, especially a self-employed couple (my wife is self-employed).

    Ever considered doing Charlotte-area coaching / counseling? Thanks again!

  23. Anonymous says

    Thank you for the information. I received an error message when clicking on the link.

  24. Thanks for sharing your story – it is inspiring and I know how you feel to be debt free. A few years ago, my husband and I had gotten back into debt after learning the hard way that debt free is better. Our employment status changed and he was considered self-employed. We really struggled with the taxes and were always a year behind and couldn’t seem to get ahead. We had some credit card debt as well and always seemed to be about $300 a month short on our monthly needs. Over time (through money coming in that we cannot take credit for) we were able to pay off all of our debt. During this same time, we sold our house so my husband could go back to school. Due to the equity we had in our home, we were able to go debt free and pay all of his tuition for 4.5 years (doctoral degree). We currently have a $250 car payment with a really low interest rate – I had a wreck and we had to have a car – we probably should have paid cash for a cheaper car, but instead we opted to pay half and go in debt for the other half in order to have a reliable car. We could have paid cash for all of it, but due to his schooling and an uncertain future after graduation, we knew we might need the balance of our savings for living expenses. We are currently both unemployed and living off of savings. Due to using our house money for tuition etc we do not have equity and due to the generosity of my father we have a little house to live in for free until such time as we can afford to purchase it from him. At a time when we should be looking ahead to retirement, we are basically starting over, but other than our car payment we are still debt free and my husband graduates in May. God willing he will have a job soon and we can pay off the car and get on track to building our savings back up. We feel fortunate, because most of the money we were able to use for school and debt was not money that we earned, but I think seeing how it could be used to get out of debt and pay tuition helped us to realize how precious the resources are that God provides and made us resolved to be better stewards of what we have been given. We are a long way form where we need to be on the lessons learned, but we have grateful hearts for how God has blessed us.

  25. Congratulations!!!!! We are about half way through our debt of 115K, two years into our total money makeover. Last year my husband’s income dropped by more than 25% so we made no progress on the debt, but it was a victory to not go further into debt since we paid cash for everything. Thankfully, he has a new job now and the income is back up. Your blog was one of several means God used to introduce us to Dave Ramsey, so thank you — and hopefully we too will be doing the debt free scream in the next couple of years.

  26. Inspiring post, I love your balance with #6. And I love the idea of lots of savings accounts! That seems like more accountability than just having your own spreadsheet dividing up one account

  27. I’ll be honest! We did it to ourselves. I was great with money until I met someone who I thought I was in love with and he used me to pay for everything. By the time I realized the mistake he was I was in a ton of debt. Of course he always said he’d pay me back, but that never happened. I met my husband after his nasty divorce in which his ex-wife left him with nothing. We were both in denial and kept living on credit cards. We’ve made a lot of bad decisions and it took a very long time to face them. We’ve paid almost everything and will hopefully be completely out of debt later this year. It’s taken a lot of soul searching, but I can say that I think we finally got it.

  28. This is encouraging and helps. We are in such a hole and it feels so deep. But to hear that with a real plan we could be better in five years, sounds good. Hugs.

  29. Nicole W. says

    Sharing our vulnerabilities takes strength, and you’ve done it twice already this week! Finances, like your decorating, don’t have to be perfect to be beautiful! Congrats on tackling the debt – and building a strong, loving marriage with a HANDSOME, smart husband!

  30. I haven’t read all the comments yet, but my 14-year-old son was reading over my shoulder, “Wow, these comments are a LOT nicer than the ones you see on youtube!”

    Tonight’s dinner conversation: Which Websites Should You Never Read Comments On…

    Love the blog, your motto, your candor, your REALNESS, love, love, love! And Myquillyn (Miss Nester) your Pinterest photo doesn’t do you justice… If you were President, you’d be Baberaham Lincoln!

  31. bethinthecity says

    Good for you! And thanks for sharing so I could pass it on to someone I thought would find it encouraging.

  32. I am so, so glad for you. And proud of you! Now keep enjoying your life!! :) (Aren’t you so glad Chad always insisted that you enjoy yourself along the way, even when things were really tough? Wise man!)

  33. I noticed many of you referencing Dave Ramsey. I went on Amazon to buy his book and saw he has SO many! Is there a specific book you recommend to become debt free?

    • I think we used Financial Peace and also The Total Money Makeover, it seems to me they were similar and one had more of his personal story. I’ve heard they are at the library too, but I like having the actual books for things like this.

  34. i could hear this story once a week! i think it is so inspirational to many. it’s amazing how God provides. i think my husband gives too much to our church, but amazingly that’s when we started to do well financially! so now i don’t question it. i would encourage everyone to rethink college loans. there are alternatives like part-time school while you work, getting a 2yr. degree and have your employer pay for rest of undergraduate degree or master’s, etc. the student loan industry is as tricky as the credit card companies. jobs aren’t guaranteed in your field. i wish i knew this. it’s such a burden on young people starting out.

  35. This is SOOOO-O-O-OO encouraging! I just dumped my tax refund on my lowest debt and I’m (praying) that in 20 months I can have my debt free scream! I’ve been thrilled about the progress and feeling down this weekend about some frivolous spending (not a bunch, but any on the debt free road can be discouraging) and this post is very timely (thanks God).

    It’s also great to hear how your blog has been helping you out so much too! Very awesome to use the skills you enjoy :)

  36. Thank you for sharing, for being real. Inspiring!

  37. Congrats!! This is such an inspirational post. I love reading your blog and appreciate your transparency in these types of life lessons and issues.

    We have debt but are working at it constantly – my grad school, mortgage, cars. It is such a process, one in which we try to not get too discouraged. My husband sounds a lot like yours – while he’s very aware of our debt he still tries to stress the importance of having fun and living life (obv within reason). I love how God blesses us with husbands who balance us out so well. :)

    This post is inspiring me to put pen to paper and see how we can tweak and make some changes to better our debt situation. Thanks!!

  38. CONGRATULATIONS!!! Thank you so much for this encouragement. My husband & I have just recently made some very difficult decisions in order to kick start our goal for becoming debt free again. We were doing well and became stagnant. Unfortunately the decisions affect our kids & where they go to school which has caused a lot of stress. Thank you for showing that becoming debt free is possible.

  39. I love your blog and especially your strength & courage in being so steadfast in facing your debt and paying it down in such a common sense way. I wish everyone in debt could read this!

  40. Congratulations on paying down your debt! You are an inspiration. We have hit hard times due to my husband ‘retiring’, opening a business with a partner that put us in debt like I’ve never seen before, and now I’m unemployed as well. Fortunately, we are empty-nesters so we don’t have kids to worry about (they are all grown with families of their own), but it still is hard when I don’t have money to buy the grandkids awesome presents for special occasions.
    We are surviving okay, but I really need to buckle down like you did and start getting this debt paid off. Thanks for your tips.
    Debbie :)

  41. Congratulations! My husband and I started our Total Money Makeover several years ago and are now debt free expect for our house. Now, we’re working hard to pay off our mortgage early.

    Mary Ellen
    The Working Home Keeper

  42. We consolidated our debt almost 5 years ago, on a 5 year plan. We are almost at the end!! I’m so excited to have that extra chunk of money every month, that was going to pay off credit cards, to save and use as a buffer. We already have 2 of our 5 accounts paid off – feels SO good!

    Thank you for being open and sharing your story and successes! It’s extremely encouraging!

  43. Between student loans and our oldest child’s medical bills through out the years, I’ve learned to be quite savvy with finding ways to make our grocery money go further and even save on everyday expenses. I went back to work last year after those debts were paid and some forgiven, thinking we were going to get ahead and start saving for a new house. But my husband lost his job for a while. Now that he is working again I’m considering working from home so I can be more flexible when my family needs me.

    It isn’t easy.
    Thank you for sharing your story. It lets us all know that we’re not walking through life on near the same path alone.

  44. I’m currently on the Dave Ramsay plan, started in the fall of 2012. While my goal was to be out of $50k of debt by 2016, it looks like I will be done before the end of 2014.

    It was hard and felt limiting to be on such a tight budget, but now it’s freeing and I don’t notice it at all. It’s actually “fun” paying off debt now and seeing that I’m close to never owing Sallie Mae ever again.

    I can’t wait to see what I can do with that money!!!

  45. Such an encouraging post! My husband and I are currently doing the debt snowball with Dave Ramsey as well, so I love hearing success stories. We currently have close to $50,000 we have to pay off. And somehow end up living on our own again…living with my parents right now b/c we can’t afford to rent or buy a house. It’s great for helping us focus on debt, though!

  46. Rachel (Wesseling) Jackson says

    Nester! Wow, Jesus has really given you and your sister the ability to touch the hearts & lives of women! He blesses me through your blogs and speaks into my life giving me hope through you ladies so often!! This post you wrote today came at literally the perfect moment in time for me. Seriously, you have no idea how God has used #6 in this post to change me and give me hope and help! :) I think you & your awesome hubby and me & my awesome hubby would get along great because apparently we have A LOT in common! ;) I literally wrote down every word in #6 in my pink moleskine journal because it was truly straight from the Father’s heart to mine… exactly what I needed to hear as a newly married wife. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for letting Jesus speak through you to women like me. xo

    • Oops! I’m a dummy! I guess I didn’t realize it was going to post my entire name on here! Lol! Oh well! :P

  47. Congratulations!! It must be a wonderful feeling and I wish the best in your debt free future for the both of you!!

  48. My motto was always “desperation breeds creativity” but I also love ” lovely limitations”. Thanks for sharing your journey and congratulations!

  49. hey myquillyn! i’m a long time reader, first time commenter. just wanted to say thanks for your honesty and for inspiring me in lots of way. looking forward to more of your posts!

  50. Thank you for this! The only debt I have left to pay is student loan debt, but unfortunately, I’m sitting in about 80K of that. Thank you for making it actually seem manageable.