5/01/18 Update: We’ve now paid off $26,619 of debt in just 17 months and raised our net worth by $57,952!
My husband and I have accrued various types of debt for almost 20 years. While we weren’t necessarily drowning in debt, we weren’t killing it in savings and investments either. Just a lot of living for the day and never setting any financial goals.
Most of our debt was from life in general. Student loans, two costly births, a car wreck. Having a house on the market for almost a year after moving to a new state certainly didn’t help. We finally sold our house when we had $700 left in savings to cover the next month’s expenses. The term “living beyond our means” couldn’t have more accurate.
All these decisions we had made stacked, and stacked, and stacked – until I realized just how dangerously everything was teetering. It was like a bunch of wobbly teacups stacked in angles on top of each other, just waiting for a tiny push to topple them over. I began to realize just how one tiny thing, like a job loss, could topple everything and break us financially.
The Turning Point in Our Debt Story
Finally, in December of 2016, I realized that I want to do so many things with my kids – like traveling – but I wasn’t following through on any of it. I always had the excuse that we didn’t have the money, or that we’d do it after we paid off our debt. But we had no solid plan of how to get out of debt.
Even more importantly, I began to see that my parents were aging. Time was slipping away from all of us, and that we aren’t guaranteed tomorrow. It’s wonderful to see that my parents have taken care of themselves financially, and I realize that I want the same when I hit retirement age.
Call it a mid-life crisis, a change of heart, whatever you want. As I faced the fact that I was nearing 40, I realized that what I really needed in life was time with my family and financial independence (though a vacation or two wouldn’t hurt either!).
The Budgeting Workbook that Changed Everything
At this point, I’d been following a lot of personal finance blogs and gurus, reading tons of books and taking very small steps towards making changes. Then, in that December, I found an awesome budgeting workbook that made everything finally click. It was unique and not quite like any budgeting tools I’ve tried before.
The 90 Day Budgeting Bootcamp Workbook broke the budgeting process into 12 weekly challenges. Each week, we took a small step to tackle our budget. One week it was pulling together our bills; another was creating our budget. One weekly challenge involved setting up an emergency fund, and another was about participating in a spending freeze.
Each weekly challenge was like adding a new rotation to our workout routine. We started out easy, then once we felt like we had conquered that, we moved on. Some challenges we completed quickly, while we took more than a week to accomplish others.
Our Debt Repayment Progress
I pulled our belts TIGHT. I’m not kidding – everything that wasn’t a necessity was gone. Cable, switching to Straight Talk for phones, cutting down on insurance (but still being responsible). I even contacted our daycare to see if we could get any “good guy” discounts. Asking for a discount from anyone at this point became a challenge rather than an embarrassment.
We originally had $52,593.00 in debt when I add up the starting amounts of all our of current debt. In December 2016, we had paid it down to $26,619.26. So we buckled down and busted our butts.
And then my husband got laid off towards the end of April 2017.
Rather than feel sorry for ourselves, we choose to just barrel on through and continue on with debt repayment. It sucked. It was frustrating and irritating and everything else, but we put that into making sure we finally stayed on the path we chose rather than to make our mess even bigger.
How Our New Budget & Paying Off Debt Has Changed Our Life
Thankfully he found a new job at the beginning of July. We have paid off over
$12,324 in 8 months $26,619 in 17 months now, all while my husband was unemployed for two and a half months. Other “super fun” bumps in the road during this period included paying a $1,000 deductible after storm damage to our roof, as well as paying over $800 back to our FSA from his last job. It truly goes to show that having the right mindset, determination and support system, you can make anything work.
We’re on track to have the rest of our debt (a car loan and my student loan) paid off as of April 2018, just 3 months shy of my 40th birthday. I couldn’t be prouder of our progress and can’t wait to take a (cash paid) vacation to celebrate both milestones!
Now that we’ve completed the workbook, I look forward to doing our budget and tracking our spending. I don’t avoid or ignore it anymore, hoping it’ll just go away. Every month I print out net worth and budget pages so that I can see how far we’ve come. I love checking our progress at the beginning of every month and seeing how our debts and net worth have changed!
Instead of wondering where our money went, we give it purpose and direction. We have goals set that we’re working towards and are actually achieving! As I mentioned, we’ve already paid off our credit cards and my car loan. Needless to say – we’re really motivated to get rid of the rest of our debt, once and for all now!
About the 90 Day Budget Bootcamp Workbook
This $7 budgeting workbook usually goes for $27 but is on sale for a limited time! Features include:
- 60+ pages of exercises and step-by-step instructions to build and hone your budgeting skills
- 14 challenges to teach you budgeting, time management, and how to change your perspective when it comes to your money
- A private Facebook group where you can find like-minded people who are on the same debt-free journey (I love contributing and bouncing ideas off the folks in this group!)
- Tips on how to streamline your expenses and trim up your budget to stretch your dollar as much as possible
- What to do if you’re behind on bills and how to catch up quickly
- How to budget for the fun stuff
- Where our spending weak points are, and how to avoid them
- How to plan and budget for upcoming expenses in the months ahead
- Calculate our net worth and debts, so we could easily measure our progress
- How creating a schedule for your home life can affect your financial life (in a positive way!)
- How to budget for infrequent purchases such as vacation, holiday gifts, etc.
- How to slash our grocery budget, which was a huge problem for us
- How to work together to not only set financial goals, but to CRUSH them!
- Plus TONS of other tips!
If you’re stuck in the debt cycle and you’re struggling with budgeting, I cannot recommend the 90 Day Budget Bootcamp Workbook enough. It is well written, has beautiful graphics, and is easy to understand and work through. It’s the only way we’ve ever been able to create a budget and stick with it. It’s definitely worth the
$27 $7 and then some!
If you have any questions about the 90 Day Budget Bootcamp Workbook, comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org! I’d love to share more tips and information about the challenges, the private facebook group, or the budgeting concepts discussed in the workbook. Just give me a shout below!
Printable Debt & Savings Trackers Just for You!
Use these free debt & savings tracking printables to help you track and achieve all of your financial goals!