Travel and Lifestyle

Debt-Free: How I paid off 33,000 in 36 Months

“You must gain control over your money or the lack of it will forever control you.”
― Dave Ramsey

Debt elimination  is paramount to creating the freedom you need to live a fulfilled life! In July 2009, my colleague introduced me to Dave Ramsey's The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness . I was skeptical of this Debt-free "thing" and was convinced as a child I would "always" have debt. I actually refused to buy the book because I was sure  it was a scam! I was living check to check and struggling to stay afloat. With Nothing to lose (literally),  I checked-out The Total Money Makeover (TMM) from my local library. After reading the TMM, I became a Dave Ramsey follower and was "gazelle" intense. 

The TMM principles are based on getting out of debt using a Debt Snowball:

1) List your debts in order from smallest total payoff balance to the largest.

2)Get your debt snowball rolling by paying as much as you can on the smallest balance.

3)Once you've paid something off, move on to the next debt on the list.

This book changed my life!

How did I do it?

1.)The "B" word!

Budget! There, I said it! Before TMM I would loosely write bills out as they were due, but didn't have a consistent, systemic, methodical plan for budgeting. I created a easy monthly budget in excel (a simple pen and paper will work too!) that included income and expenses at the end of every month for the following month. I used debit card and receipts to track my spending weekly. Budgeting is simply "telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went." Now there are a plethora of apps available to help keep track of your spending at your fingertips.

Free Printable Budget Worksheets

2.)Sell Pizza!

I didn't sell pizza, but I did pick up a second job (sometimes working 70hrs per week). It was tough and exhausting but the reward of becoming debt-free superseded everything. Hard work and sacrifice are guaranteed ways to get out of debt and stay debt-free! Nowadays if you have an operational vehicle or extra space in your home you can make a little extra cash with Uber and/or Airbnb.

3) Conduct  Plastic Surgery!

Think Nip/Tuck meet credit cards! This was tough, and initially I put my credit cards in the freezer. But After a couple of weeks, I grabbed  a pair of scissors and cut up my Master card!


4) Get Creative!

I sold everything I could (except the kid)! Ebay, Craigslist, Amazon, Facebook Marketplace and Offer-up are great tools to generate funds to pay down your debt. I also became a coupon DiVa. I searched store websites and ads for deals before shopping and used Groupon for dining out.

In 36 months,  I paid off $33,000 in debt: student loan ($15,000) , car loan ($13,000) and credit card debt ($5,000). The 7 steps introduced in Dave's Plan are simple, practical methods toward money management and using income to build wealth.

How bad do you want to be free? Not just debt-free, but free from life's burden? Free to live a life worth living? Free to pursue your wildest dreams? Free to be! 

As a result of becoming debt free, I fired my boss, moved from Savannah to Atlanta, and went on my first international mission trip to Haiti. To date I've visited 20 + countries and counting.

It’s 2020 and I continue living a debt-free lifestyle following the principles I learned in the TMM

Currently, I've embarked on a journey toward a minimalist lifestyle to achieve my dreams of quitting my job to travel the world for one year! This is what Financial Freedom affords you...Time &Freedom!  

If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.”
― Dave Ramsey

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