Today’s Debt Free Story is from Ruth. She is the author of the successful website, Living Well Spending Less, where she writes about finding the Good Life on a budget.
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.
My name is Ruth, and my husband’s name is Chuck. We have two daughters—Maggie, age 8, and Annie, age 5. We live in Florida. My husband was formerly an aerospace engineer but is now a stay-at-home-dad, and I run a blog called LivingWellSpendingLess.com.
For fun we mostly like to hang out at home—we’ve really worked to create a comfortable space that people love to visit, and so we are constantly entertaining and having people come and stay. It’s easy to get visitors when you live in Florida! I also like to garden. I’ve always been a total brown thumb but I am determined to finally figure out how to grow things. This year is the first year I’ve finally, after 4 previous attempts, had some success. It’s fun!
2. How much debt did you pay off? What kind of debt was it? How long did it take you?
We paid off the remainder of our mortgage, which was about $150,000, as well as some law school loans, and a car loan. We thankfully have always been good about paying off our credit cards each month.
3. What inspired you to get debt free? Was there a particular event?
We paid off our law school and car loans several years ago, just because we didn’t like having them hang over our heads, but then we took a Financial Peace University class and made it our goal to pay off our house as well.
4. Did you follow a particular debt freedom plan or book, such as Dave Ramsey or Debt-Proof Living?
We were gazelles following the FPU plan!
5. What are the top 3 – 5 ways you found money to put towards debt.
For us, it was mostly a matter of becoming much more purposeful about where we spent our money instead of simply spending mindlessly. We started making a monthly cash budget and paying with cash instead of credit or debit cards. We also stopped eating out and even went on regular spending freezes.
6. What are your top 3 – 5 tips for saving money/pinching pennies to put towards paying off your debt.
1. We do a month-long spending freeze and pantry challenge twice a year
2. Stop eating out. Or going to Starbucks. Those little expenses will add up.
3. Pay with cash. Always.
7. If married, 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?
We were in it together, 100%. Working towards becoming debt free and finally getting on the same page with our finances was actually great for our marriage. We were working together towards a common goal so we fought much LESS than when we were going in different directions.
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?
We usually sit down to go over our budget.
9. How did you celebrate when you became debt free?
We went out for a really nice dinner at one of our favorite restaurants.
10. What habits did you form while being debt free that will now stick with you for the long term?
Staying home was probably the biggest one. My husband and I are much better about eating at home rather than going out, and spending our weekends relaxing at home rather than always needing to go here and there and everywhere.
11. Was there something that you gave up that you will go back to now that you are debt free?
I still really enjoy a Starbucks latte every now and then! Luckily the closest Starbucks is about 25 minutes away, so I usually only indulge while I am traveling.
12. What are your financial goals now?
We are excited to be on Baby Step #7—the fun part! We’ve been working with a financial advisor to make sure we are making smart decisions now that will continue to build wealth, and we are also really focused on finding ways to give back. It is a great place to be.
13. What advice do you have for someone that is paralyzed by their debt load, but wants to be debt free?
Just keep at it. I think when things seem hard, the temptation is to bury our heads in the sand and hope the problem will go away, but that never works. Just work on taking it one day a time. Small decisions made consistently add up to big changes over time.
14.Is there anything else you’d like to add that you think would help the readers who want to become debt free?
I can’t emphasize how important it is to get on the same page with your spouse when it comes to money. Unless the two of you are working together, you will never get ahead. But once you become a joint force, you become unstoppable!
Thank you, Ruth, for being so open about your story!
Recently, I had the opportunity to read Ruth’s book Living Well, Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good , a New York Times Best Seller.
Living Well, Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life is written for every woman who currently feels overwhelmed or stressed out with a life—and budget—that seems out-of-control. It speaks to the mom who is struggling to balance all the demands of her day-to-day life with the pressure to keep up with the all her friends. It is a practical guide for those of us who long to pull ourselves together but sometimes feel unsure of how to manage all the pieces of a chaotic life. It is the step-by-step guide to creating a life of meaning and joy we’ve all been waiting for.
For my review, read Jumping Off the Train to Crazy-ville.
For more stories like Ruth’s, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 others who have become debt free. If you feel you need additional advice, please consult a certified professional.
Disclosure: I am an Amazon Associate, and if you make a purchase through my link, I earn a small percentage–at no cost to you! You can read the site’s full disclosure here.