Today’s Debt Free Story is from Amanda & Daniel. Together they blog about becoming debt free and location independence in order to serve the world at Life with a Mission
1. Tell us about you and your family. Where are you from? What do you and your spouse do for a living? What are your hobbies? Include anything that you’d like to add to give the reader an idea about your personality.
Hi! We are Daniel and Amanda Espinoza. We have 3 children who are 7, 5, and 3 in age. San Antonio, Texas is our home when we aren’t traveling the world. Daniel is a WordPress plugin developer at grow development and blogs at http://daniel.gd. Amanda currently homeschools their three kids. She blogs about books at http://amanda.so. .
2. How much debt did you pay off? What kind of debt was it? How long did it take you?
We paid off $68,000 of debt in eight months. The debt included about $30,000 in student loans, some medical debt, IRS debt, and a small amount on a credit card.
3. What inspired you to get debt free? Was there a particular event?
We have always loved to travel and do missions work for our church. We realized that we wanted to travel as a family and the only thing keeping us from seeing the world was money. We dreamed about a life living in other parts of the world for a few months at a time. Daniel can work anywhere there is an internet connection and the kids can homeschool anywhere, but we didn’t have the money to buy the plane tickets or book AirBnB apartments.
4. Did you follow a particular debt freedom plan or book, such as Dave Ramsey or Debt-Proof Living?
We followed Dave Ramsey’s baby steps. We have led 7 sessions of Financial Peace University mostly to keep ourselves motivated. We sold our house so now we are on Baby Step 4!
5. What are the top 3 – 5 ways you found money to put towards debt.
Daniel took on an extra job doing support work for an online company that he could do from home. We sold extra items that we weren’t using through Craigslist and garage sales.
Daniel was able to sell the rights to some of the software he developed. It was like selling an asset that has value. The software generated a monthly revenue, but we were able to sell them to pay off the rest of our debt immediately.
6. What are your top 3 – 5 tips for saving money/pinching pennies to put towards paying off your debt.
We lowered our living expenses and looked at our bills and decided what we could live without.
We ate at home a lot and watched our food budget carefully. We still allotted a lot of money for food, but we were careful not to go too far over budget.
Daniel cut some of his business expenses by cutting out a monthly fee for a co-working space and cutting out monthly charges for services he didn’t need anymore.
7. Who initiated the debt free goal? Were there arguments during the time you were working on your debt? How did you resolve the tension and arguments?
Yes! Finances have definitely been the biggest strain in our 11 years of marriage. Amanda got really upset once, because there wasn’t ten dollars to go out to lunch with a friend. The anger came from not having an extra ten bucks. Eventually, we allotted each of $20 of fun money each month.
Daniel was working a lot of hours while we paid off our debt. So we needed to find a balance between taking care of the kids and the house.
8. Who handles the day-to-day finances in your home or do you work on it equally? How often do you and your spouse discuss your finances/budget/spending?
Daniel does all the day-to-day finances. We do meet every month to go over expenses and needs. Amanda brings a list of everything she will need to spend money on that month and we prioritize them. When something unexpected comes up we have another budget meeting.
For years Daniel did the finances all by himself and Amanda would stay in the allotted budget amounts, but it didn’t work well for us. Daniel had a hard time managing everything on his own. Even though Amanda didn’t take over the paying of the bills just having her input and help with decisions was a huge relief to Daniel.
9. How did you celebrate when you became debt free?
We lived in London, Berlin, and Paris over the span of 8 weeks! It was amazing to have extra money to spend on living in another country.
10. What habits did you form while being debt free that will now stick with you for the long term?
We learned how to keep our living expenses low so we can spend more on travel. The best part of becoming debt free is learning how to talk about money together. Budget meetings are vital to our marriage and now they run smoothly after years of practice.
11. Was there something that you gave up that you will go back to now that you are debt free?
We definitely spend a lot more money on eating out at restaurants and using babysitters now that we are debt free. It’s feels nice to spend money on a date night out.
12. What are your financial goals now?
Daniel is continuing to grow his business. When you have your own company you can make as little or as much money as you want. Now we have to decide how much we want to spend on traveling the world and how much we want to put towards saving a 100% cash offer for a house.
13. What advice do you have for someone that is paralyzed by their debt load, but wants to be debt free?
If you are married, the best advice we can give is to dream with your spouse. Dream about what you would do with extra money. Who could you give money to? Where would you go? What would you upgrade? When you can agree on a common goal then you both be very excited and motivated to get the debt paid off.
Get into a Financial Peace University (FPU) class and attend every lesson. FPU gives you a needed shot of hope every week. It’s also a place to celebrate small victories. Family and friends may think you are crazy for paying off your debt. It’s important to find others who understand and want to keep you motivated.
14. Is there anything else you’d like to add that you think would help the readers who want to become debt free?
Paying off debt can be done! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Thank you, Amanda & Daniel, for being so honest with your debt free story. For more stories like theirs, go to Debt Free Stories.
Would you like to share your real life debt free story? You don’t have to be a blogger to share. Send me an email at familybalancesheet at gmail dot com. Put “Debt Free Stories” in the memo line and I will send you a questionnaire.
Please note, I AM NOT A FINANCIAL PLANNER. This series was written based on the experiences of other who have become debt free. If you feel you need additional advice, please consult a certified professional.