I have never climbed a mountain, I’m from Kansas we barely have hills, but I can tell you I have definitely climbed Debt Mountain! I think everyone knows what I’m talking about because we all have debt. Okay, maybe not everyone but let’s be honest those debt-free people are one in a million.
Growing up you dream of what your life is going to be like and it’s always a fairytale because you have no idea what being an adult is really like. Plus, if you were like me and most other teenagers we didn’t listen to our parents anyways when they tried to tell us.
If you think about it before you even have a chance to be out on your own and be an adult most of us start out adulthood in debt right away! We apply for student loans before we even leave the house for college!
Then at college, we work crummy jobs that barely pay anything and of course, we work little hours because we are going to school full time. So then, it’s all just a risk with the hope of reward. Hoping that all this debt we are accumulating will get us a job that pays well enough to start paying off all this debt!
Or worse, you do what my husband and I did and drop out of school and get no degree but still have student loans. My husband went to school to be a commercial pilot and that required A LOT of money that he didn’t have. And he couldn’t keep racking up more and more debt because the beginning pay for a pilot out of school was so low until you built up in your career. He knew people that finished school with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt and that were working at Target to pay their almost 1,000 a month minimum student loan payment.
So it was a decision we both made and we decided we will just work and I’m not going to say it was the right one or not but God is in control so we just move forward and trusted Him.
I stopped going to school because I wasn’t a very “good” student. I tended to enjoy my free time too much and not enjoy my class time at all so I was just wasting money. This was all before we were married and we were going to schools 90 mins apart. We wanted to be closer and to be together so I quit school and moved to be with him.
Where did this mountain come from?
Of course, after dropping out of school we got married, had a baby, bought a mommy car, bought a house, and I decided I wanted to stay home with this new baby! Sounds great right?! But it wasn’t until it all caught up with us did we think what were we thinking?! We bought a house and a car and had a baby then went to one income?!…..we took on a lot of debt….and lost part of our income. This all happened in 2009 and it is now 2017 and we just now seeing the top of Debt Mountain.
You maybe thinking well you should just get a job and that would help! Well, I did. I have had different jobs but my husband’s job has always been so demanding that it was all on me to raise our daughter. We have tried different things throughout the years but it always seems to work best for us for me to be home to take care of our daughter. Being home makes life run smoother and my husband always prefers it. I can take care of life so he can do what he is great at and that is providing for our family. I make sure his clothes are cleaned, foods cooked, bills are paid, etc so he can just focus on work.
Although, now that our daughter is older and goes to school all day I have been able to work at the Church Preschool during the day. This brings in some extra money to keep chipping away at debt and works out great for her schedule. It was when I was working an hour away and trying to drive through thick traffic and still not making it to her by 6 when aftercare closed, being the only one to take off work when she was sick, and still being the only one that cooked and cleaned that was killing us.
Now if life was easy, which it’s not, then we could have gotten a lot further up Debt Mountain by now but life is mean and it likes to knock you down. For example, when you have a chunk of money to pay off a debt then your dryer breaks and you have to get it fixed with that money instead. Just like climbing a real mountain sometimes you are trucking right along and then slip and fall back down to the ledge you were on months ago.
Many things will happen to knock you back down. We tried for years….7 years to be exact….to have another baby….and all that brought was A LOT of tears, pain, confusion, let downs, miscarriages, surgeries, shots, sickness, doctors appts, blood work, and you guessed it….debt.
We finally just waved the white flag and decided we can’t do this anymore. It’s been one of the hardest facts to accept but it’s come to where we feel we are taking away from the precious angel we are lucky to have so we have ended our 7-year battle to have another baby. Now we just need to pay off all the debt we have added to our mountain.
Preparing for the climb
To climb a real mountain you have to have a plan first. To climb Debt Mountain it is no different. You need to have a strategy before you start. That’s where Dave Ramsey comes in. Reading Financial Peace was a huge help to me! It puts so many things in perspective and gets you going in the right direction. For example, he says you need to have $1,000 in savings first. To climb a real mountain you have to be in good physical shape first. To climb Debt Mountain you have to be in good shape as well and by that I mean the $1,000 Dave is talking about.
If you aren’t prepared and in some sort of good shape then it will take you twice as long to climb that mountain. The other major thing you have to remember is that you can not climb a mountain in a day. You can’t train to climb a mountain in a day either. It takes months sometimes years to train, prepare, and climb a mountain.
Just like a real mountain that has Mother Nature that can slow you down, so many things in life can do the same for you on Debt Mountain.
Appliances break, people get laid off, someone gets sick…there are too many factors that can slow your climb just like Mother Nature slows the climb on a real mountain.
Dave Ramsey talks about baby steps to get out of debt. This gives you little wins along the way. Then you see progress. Then you feel the results and the little wins motivate you.
First one is to save that $1,000. This is your emergency fund. You need an emergency kit on a real mountain and you need an emergency fund on Debt Mountain. This ensures that’s when you are chipping away at debt and something comes up you don’t rack those credit cards back up.
If a real emergency happens (not like your favorite boots are on sale) but the car breaks down, then you use that emergency fund.
The next step is to snowball your debt. Pay off the smallest bill first. First win!
Then tackle the next smallest bill. Using the money you saved to pay off the first one. Then so on and so forth. It really works! Sometimes if I have a chunk of extra money to put toward debt I will look and see what I can pay off that will save me the most amount of money.
Let’s say I have $500 to put towards debt and I have two bills to pay off. One is for $450 and I pay $50 a month towards it and the next one is $500 and I pay $100 a month towards it. Because those are the minimum payments they will take. The obvious choice is to pay off the second bill first and save myself $100 a month instead of the first one even though that is technically not the order Dave says to do it.
By saving $100 a month that doesn’t mean I get to go shopping that means I take that $100 I was paying on that bill and roll it over into paying more toward debt each month forward. Each time you pay off a bill you then use the money you were paying towards it to snowball each month. This system works so well!
The main thing is don’t get discouraged when life happens because it will!
We have gone through the baby mess, two job layoffs, moving across the country, and many bad decisions. But we live and we learn!
We have now paid off so much debt and we are so close to the top of debt mountain!
I have followed a budget for years now and that has made a huge difference. Another thing we have done is separated our finances into different categories. We have a spending accounting and a bill account. We have others but those two are the main important ones. This has prevented overspending and ensures all our bills are paid and on time.
Before my husband would be out using his debit card and then overspend and we would struggle to get the bills paid.
Now the bills always get paid and he can’t overspend either!
He knows and is much better now but he is the one that makes bad decisions with money. We laugh about it now but it takes teamwork to make it all work.
It’s hard to focus on paying off debt when your partner is focusing on having the best of the best.
Follow a budget
Following this budget system I created helps me keep track of our bills and paying down our debt.
I write down when my husband gets paid which is every other week and then I see which bills will be due in that pay period. So if he gets paid on the 1st and then again on the 15th, I would see what bill are due from the 1st-15th. Then I know what exactly will come out of that paycheck. The leftover I divide between saving, debt, and spending.
The reason I do it this way instead of exactly how Dave Ramsey says to do it is because most of my husband’s jobs have been commission based or he was allowed over time. He just recently switched to a salary position a few months back.
But before that, I didn’t know exactly what his paycheck was going to be. Sometimes it was bigger and sometimes smaller. I had to be prepared for either way.
Mapping our budget out this way helps me see what is coming and what to prepare for. If I know something is coming up I add it to that section. I am not very good at setting aside x amount each month for each category like Dave says to do. Mostly because if I did that there wouldn’t be enough money to put money in each category.
This way I can plan and prepare for certain things instead of trying to put $5 in each category because that’s all that’s left.
If I know the dogs need to go to the vet soon I put that in the budget, if I want to get my hair done I add it to the budget, I just don’t go too crazy. I space everything out. But I also put a chunk towards debt before anything else.
Extra money to pay off debt
Now that I have started working at the church and I started my blog, all that extra money will go towards debt! Dave always says to sell what you don’t need and find ways to make extra money.
Even though we had to pay a lot of money to find out we aren’t able to have any more children a small weight has been lifted. I now feel like I can focus on other things instead of constantly thinking about that. We have shifted to spoiling our daughter we are blessed to have and that for me is to be able to provide for her forever and always. I don’t want to have to tell her no we can’t afford that all because mommy and daddy aren’t smart with their money.
I want to show her the right way to handle money and to not take on any debt.
Have you struggled with debt? What has been the main thing to help you climb debt mountain?
If you have ever thought about getting Dave’s book Financial Peace I highly recommend it! It has been the best read to put things into perspective for me! I became an instant fan!
Everyone who is anyone has debt. It is almost impossible not to. Most of us accumulate it at a young age. Maybe you or your parents bought you a car in high school and now you have the payment? That doesn’t seem too hard as a high school student. You only have to worry about a couple hundred dollars a month with the payment and insurance. Or maybe they make you pay your phone bill too. Which I know what you are thinking, that isn’t debt but it sure doesn’t help to have that much more to pay every month. You don’t think about debt or being debt-free in high school but it starts happening before we realize it!
As soon as you graduate high school if you don’t have debt yet you most certainly will now. Congrats, you are off to college….Here is some big debt to start your life off with. Even if you got a scholarship(s) it usually isn’t enough. Unless you have amazing parents who were able to pay for your school and/or your housing then you are not going to make it through college without debt.
After college, you meet the love of your life and you guys get married and have a baby. Now you need a house and a bigger vehicle…more debt. Oh, and childbirth is not free so maybe even medical bills stacked on top of that because lord knows insurance doesn’t cover anything.
You see where I am going here?
If you are like me then you not only see it but you lived it. Freshly out of college(that I didn’t even finish) with student loans, a new husband and baby, and a new house and car. I remember one day thinking oh my gosh we have trapped ourselves. I thought this is what people did and we were doing it all right? But all we ended up doing was agree to give our paychecks away every month.
So now what? How do you get out?
You dig. You have to start digging your way out. Every chance you get pay off debt.
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A friend had recently read Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace book and I asked if I could borrow it. I read that sucker in just a few days. I was hooked on what he was saying. It was all making sense!
One of my favorite points he makes is that sure you don’t have to do it his way, but is your way working?
Heck no it wasn’t! Please help me, Dave!
One point I want to personally make, which Dave does as well, but it is something that you and your spouse have to do together. My husband wasn’t on board for a long time because that meant he had to stop spending money and own up to the fact that we were struggling!
Ignorance is bliss
See I am in charge of our families finances. I don’t know quite how it happened but I always have been. It is not an easy thing to do when your husband is out working and using his debit card at every convenience store and refuses to take a lunch.
So this was a one-sided battle for a long time. I think it was just easier for him to pretend everything was all hunky dory. I would just make extra payments on things and not tell him and only say after bills we have this much left over. Then one day his dirt bike he had to have was finally paid off and it was like magic!
Best Husband Ever
Now I don’t want to paint a bad picture of my husband. He is the HARDEST working person I have EVER met. He is a machine that requires no sleep and only has one mode and that is fast. But he is also a bull in a china shop and breaks things and wreaks havoc which usually ends up costing more than if he is would just slow down sometimes ha-ha! Anyways he is amazing and is on board now but at the time we were young and prideful so he would rather not know and believe everything was fine than face the music.
Like I said he has come a long way and we both have grown and matured together. That is the most important thing is we are both on the same page now and have been for a while on paying off debt! But when I first read that book 5 years ago I was on my own. So just keep in mind you will have much better results if you and your spouse do this as a team!
According to Dave’s website
76% of Americans live pay check to pay check, the average student loan balance is $29,400, and 90% of Americans buy things they can’t afford.
None of us are alone. We are all guilty and we all are struggling but we all need to do something about it!
Break it down
I am going to get a little personal here just to show you how serious our situation was and how far we have come. This I hope will show you how far you can come as well!
Before we got married my husband had credit cards in his name and was very good with money. He, however, had a good job right out of high school and again worked many hours so made good money. Also right out of high school he still lived at home. So with no bills and making really good money, having credit cards was no big deal. He could pay them right off.
It was when we did have bills and he still spent money like he had all that extra money is when things got hard. It was also hard for him to comprehend. He would ask where all the money was going? He was out working and spending like he always did where was it all going? It was like for some reason he didn’t take into consideration that we now also have to pay a mortgage, vehicle payments, utilities and so on. I worked too but as a female, with no college degree I didn’t make much and my whole check went to daycare.
So anyway moving forward to when I was trying to battle this debt thing we had these bills…
Almost $10,000 between 10 credit cards, $80,000 between two vehicle loans, $120,000 mortgage loan, almost $20,000 in student loans, and $5,000 in other personal loans. Now I rounded those numbers because as I have paid things off it has been part of my healing ritual to rip everything all up! We were pushing $250,000.00 in debt.
It’s a bumpy road
It always seems like something goes wrong and you have to take on more debt too. It’s like quicksand! Once you are in it feels impossible to get out! Taking on a small payment a month doesn’t seem that bad…but that’s the beginning of the end. You are now strapped to that payment for years!
Dave suggests that you get a $1,000 emergency fund started first. This way once you are paying off debt and something comes up you have an emergency fund to go to instead of racking the credit card you worked so hard to pay off back up.
Getting that first $1,000 IS HARD. As soon as we would get some money saved up something would happen and we would have to use it and then we were back to square one!
We did the things he suggested and sold stuff, worked second jobs, cut back spending (even though we had no money to spend), we did anything we could to save money.
We were doing good and finally seeing some momentum. Dave calls this the snowball effect. Once you get a little momentum you can snowball your debt more quickly.
What I did differently
Dave says to write down all your debt and amounts in order from smallest to largest. Then to start tackling the smallest debt first which gives you a win sooner and you feel like you are accomplishing something plus then you immediately have a freed up payment amount that you can now apply to the next bill.
Let’s say you make $50 payments to everything. After paying off the first debt you now have $50 free that you can roll over and put towards your next debt on the list. And instead of only making your normal $50 payment to that debt you now have $50+$50=$100 going toward that debt. This is where the momentum really comes in and helps you snowball your debt.
Now if you are like me not all of my payment amounts were all even like that but you see the pattern.
What I did that was a bit different was I would do a little math and see which one would save me the most money and be able to snowball faster.
I would have everything all listed out like Dave said but let’s say I came up with a $500 chunk to put towards debt. According to my list and what Dave told me to do in the following example, I was supposed to pay off the #1 Medical Bill and #2 Credit Card. That would equal $500 and would save me technically $40 a month in payments.
#1 Medical Bill $200 – payment $20
#2 Credit Card $300 – payment $20
#3 Credit Card $400 – payment $80
#4 Medical Bill $500 – payment $50
So what I did was I could see that if I instead paid off #3 Credit Card of $400 I would save myself $80 a month in payments. I would then take the remaining $100 and put toward #1 Medical Bill. Yes, I would only be paying off one bill instead of two like Dave’s way but I would be freeing up $80 a month instead of only $40. That in my eyes gave me more momentum to snowball my debt!
This was a similar way I was taught later on in AdvoCare’s Debt Buster System. I love their products so I signed up to get the discount and sold to friends and family for some extra money. It has been a wonderful experience and I would love to share it with you if you are interested! Just reach out to me and I would love to tell you more about the products (how I lost 20 pounds) and the company (how they are debt free and teach debt freedom)!
So, what’s the difference?
Their system is that you write down your debt in order like Dave says, smallest to largest. Then you write down the payment amounts next to them. Lastly, you divide the balance owed by the payment amount. That gives you your “bite order”. You then tackle the debt in your “bite order”. I have compared it and it too just helps you free up your biggest payments first in the correct order.
One thing to point out is that neither method cares about interest. At this point, you are paying interest on those cards and loans already so don’t let that get to you. Just focus on paying off your debt!
You may be thinking okay what does all this have to do with my mom blog?
Well, that is how you are going to pay off all this crazy debt!
The extra money you make from your mom blog will go (if it’s all extra) strictly toward debt. Most mom bloggers are either stay at home moms, trying to become one, or trying to at least work from home. Point is that they either have an income already that they are trying to replace or their husbands pay the bills and this is all extra. Again, either way, the best option to be able to do either of those is to use this extra blogging money to pay off debt. That will allow you to need less monthly to be able to replace that full-time job or to be able to take the stress off of your husband to cover all those payments that have been racked up.
I believe it takes years of hard work to be able to become debt free. Rome wasn’t built in a day. There are those few people out there that can magically buckle down for a year or two and become debt free but for those of us who live pay check to pay check, there is no buckling down. Any extra is to eat! ha-ha! So it takes time!
But can you imagine if you freed up even $500 a month?! And I mean freed it up…not made. Yes, it is one thing to make an extra $500 from your side hustle but then what? Then you have to make it each month from then on, but if you completely freed it up? That would be amazing! You would just have it each month instead of hoping your side hustle continues to produce it.
With an extra $500 a month, you can turn that into an extra $1,000, $2,000, and more!
That is freedom in itself but total freedom would be everyone’s ultimate goal. To fully own your cars, house, boat, Harley, or whatever would be amazing!
It can happen! Then from then on, you wouldn’t have to take loans out anymore! You could pay cash for everything! Can you imagine that?!
We have been able to pay off all of our credit cards (and CUT THEM ALL UP!) pay off one student loan, pay off my car, and pay off a few medical bills.
Life is funny how it works. Nothing goes to plan. My dad past away in 2015 and he left me his half paid off car. I was able to sell my other car and finish paying off his car. It has been a huge blessing to have no car payment anymore but it was extremely hard losing my dad.
Also as soon as we would get a medical bill paid off something else would happen. My husband has atrial fibrillation and we had to make a few E.R. visits one year that were not cheap. I have had 3 miscarriages that each required surgery, I broke my foot which required surgery, and lastly, I had another procedure to see why I can’t carry a baby. That is all for another time but my point is you don’t expect those things and they are very hard to plan for. Also they all add up very quickly. So again it takes time to become debt free!
We have come SO FAR so I am extremely proud of our progress!
We still have a long ways to go but each day that is the goal – Pay off Debt!
I have done different side hustles in the past and I have always wanted to start my own blog. It wasn’t until a few months ago I finally made the commitment and it has been a blast so far! My plan is to put all my income from my mom blog to debt! I will update my readers as I go to show them they can do it too!!
I hope this has inspired you to start tackling your debt and to use your mom blog to get there!
You can do it!
Do you have any success stories you would like to share? How much have you paid off? Or have you never thought about tackling debt?
Before you can get too far into paying off the debt you must have a budget system. A way you keep track of all your bills and when they are due. I know MANY people who just wing it each month. We could never do that. Mainly because for the longest time we had so little left over if I didn’t map it out then all our bills would bounce or we wouldn’t be able to eat. One or the other!
I learn very early on how to budget and the best way for our family. We have never had a study set paycheck. My husband has worked commission based jobs and then hourly based jobs as well. The hourly ones sometimes we would have over time and sometimes we wouldn’t. So, again we never had the exact same amount each pay period. I learn to save from the big checks for those times when all the bills fell into one pay period.