Today’s Debt Free Story is from Lydia. She blogs about living a limitless life on a limited budget at Frugal Debt Free Life.
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.
I am Lydia and my husband is Jason and we have two little boys, Ryals and Isaac. I am a stay at home mom and freelance marketer and my husband works in the construction industry. We are what some might call homesteaders, we raise our own chickens and garden.
2. How much debt did you pay off? What kind of debt was it? How long did it take you?
We paid off $36,000 in student loans, credit cards, cars and a bit of medical debt. It took us about 2 years to do it.
3. What inspired you to get debt free? Was there a particular event?
Oh man. There were several things that led to us finally deciding we had enough. The problem is my husband and I are both pretty stubborn and we basically refused to see the situation right in front of us for a really long time. But I would say the breaking point came in June of 2011 when I was in a car wreck. I was 22 weeks pregnant, and left with a leg injury and a mound of medical bills. I ended up spending the remainder of my pregnancy using a cane. The fear of losing my baby led to the desire for me to be a stay at home mom, but I knew that would never work if we were in such debt.
4. Did you follow a particular debt freedom plan or book, such as Dave Ramsey or Debt-Proof Living?
We started listening to Dave Ramsey and followed his baby steps pretty closely. We didn’t attend FPU until February 2014, and three weeks later we paid off our last debt. So I am pretty sure it was closely related
5. What are the top 3 – 5 ways you found money to put towards debt.
We gave up a lot of things. We cut our lifestyle to nothing and threw all that extra money at the debt. We gave up eating out, cable, driving as many places. We also lived in this really cheap rental house for three years. It was laughably bad.
6. What are your top 3 – 5 tips for saving money/pinching pennies to put towards paying off your debt.
1. Don’t buy stuff you don’t need even if it seems like a great deal.
2. Meal plan, meal plan, meal plan.
3. Decide here and now what your goals are and write them down.
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?
I think we sort of got fed up at the same time. We had a rough few years financially and we just looked at each other one day and realized we couldn’t live like that anymore. There were no money arguments. We joke that you can’t fight over something you don’t have.
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?
Jason is the nerd. He handles the numbers and then I figure our how to maximize those numbers. So I take the clothing or grocery budget and stretch it as far as I can.
9. How did you celebrate when you became debt free?
We bought a house. Well, not really. We took a deep breath, celebrated for five seconds and then set about a new goal of saving for a down payment.
10. What habits did you form while being debt free that will now stick with you for the long term?
Deciding we didn’t need everything all at once.
11. Was there something that you gave up that you will go back to now that you are debt free?
Not really. I don’t really miss anything we gave up. I have never felt deprived. I will say I am excited to take our kids places now. When we were paying off debt we chose not to spend money traveling, but honestly our children were also too little to travel.
12. What are your financial goals now?
To pay off our home early.
13. What advice do you have for someone that is paralyzed by their debt load, but wants to be debt free?
It’s not going to be like this forever. To me being in debt felt like a backpack full of bricks. It was the most wonderful feeling to take off that load. Just keep unloading that backpack one brick at a time.
14.Is there anything else you’d like to add that you think would help the readers who want to become debt free?
Write down your goals. Put it on actual paper and pull it out once in a while and look at it just to remind yourself of what you are working toward.
For more of Lydia’s story, read: how to stop living paycheck to paycheck and paying off $36,000 of debt on one income.
Thank you, Lydia, for sharing your family’s story. For more stories like Lydia’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.