Nine Steps That Helped Us Become Debt Free

It's Gettin' Outta Debt Month here at Debt Free By Thirty 

August is a monumental month for us. Not only are we celebrating one year of blogging, the more astonishing news is the elimination of our consumer debt. That almost twelve months ago was over $14,700. Yes, we wiped out $14,700 worth of debt in just shy of a year. Want to know how we did it? These are some of the steps we took.

1. Made a budget
There is a reason why this is the number one rule of getting your money on track. It's because it is a map for financial success. Budgets let you know where your money is going. It reveals where your money may be being wasted. Still not convinced? I'll let you in on a secret, once we made a budget, it felt like we received a raise. Cutting back on non-essential spending made us realize we were basically throwing our money away before.

2. We got creative
Creativity is a useful tool when battling debt.
Almost any aspect of our spending we tried to look at with fresh and frugal eyes. We looked for places that offered free kids meals when dining out. If we needed or wanted to buy something we tried to figure out if we could make it ourselves. My obsession with getting garden markers led to me making some. I did homemade gifts for lots of holidays and even sold some of my wares. Which subtly segues to my next step.

3. Brought in extra income
We didn't even bring in a huge amount, but every little bit helped. We brought in $1094.28 which shed off a whole month of debt payments. Some things we did were
  • Sold our old items on Ebay and Half.com
  • Sold handmade and vintage items on Etsy
  • Held a yard sale
  • Sold antique coins to a coin collector
  • Signed up for SwagBucks

4. Meal planning
I really don't think this is for everyone, but if you have a tendency to eat out or overspend at the grocery store this could work for you. I personally love lists, so meal planning was right up my alley. You can click to see the entirety of our meal plans or how I make meal plans.

5. Knowing it never hurts to ask
This has saved us money on our phone bill and other various shopping trips. We always ask if a retailer participates in military discounts. One time we asked and the store did not actively give military discounts, but they gave us a ten percent discount anyway. See, it never hurts to ask.

6. Getting rid of our cable
We did it. It went a lot smoother than I ever anticipated, but it is a sure fire way to cut expenses.
It doesn't have to stop with cable either. We lowered expenses by using a clothesline and being proactive about turning off our lights and unplugging phantom electricity loads. Lowering our fixed expenses only left more to add to our debt repayment.

7. Paying ourselves first
Whether we were putting money toward our debt or our savings, it was the first thing to come out of the paycheck. Basing our budget on what is left helped us "forget" about it.
 
8. Blogging
I have had the best time blogging about our journey to getting debt free. Not only is it practically free, it's takes up some time. Time that I may have been internet shopping with before.
We also can't make light of the fact that there are people watching and in most cases rooting you on. It's nice to have cheerleaders on your side.

9. Determination
The only thing that could have stopped me, was me. I was bound and determined to get rid of our debt and set up a more secure future for ourselves. Sure, unexpected expenses could have come up and we would have dealt with them. I am talking about letting myself get into another cycle of spending and playing catch up.  That type of behavior is unacceptable to me now. It costs more than money to live like that. I am in this for the long haul.

My priorities have changed and I have changed my behavior to get in line with that.

And that's it. It's that easy. No, it's not easy, but it can be done.

Tomorrow I will wake up and run downstairs (maybe I'll bring the laptop upstairs tonight) and I will make my last payment ever on our consumer loan. It's gonna be sweet!!