Today’s Debt Free Story is from Deacon. He is a financial coach and blogs at Well Kept Wallet.
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 Deacon Hayes and I am a business owner. My wife’s name is Kim and she is a High School teacher. We have a 4 month old son named Finn and we live in Phoenix, Arizona. I own two different business, Phoenix SEO Company which helps businesses get on the first page of Google and Well Kept Wallet which is a Financial Education company. I have a passion to help people take control of their finances so that they can live the life they want to have.
2. How much debt did you pay off? What kind of debt was it? How long did it take you?
We paid off $52,000 in consumer debt. It consisted of student loans, a car loan and even some credit card debt. After putting together a budget, it took us 18 months to pay off all of that debt!
3. What inspired you to get debt free? Was there a particular event?
The biggest catalyst for paying of the debt was getting married. When we got married, we combined our finances and realized how much debt we actually had. Seeing that number was motivation enough to start making some drastic changes.
4. Did you follow a particular debt freedom plan or book, such as Dave Ramsey or Debt-Proof Living?
While we were paying off our debt there were many books that we helpful. Two in particular were the Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey and Your Money Counts by Howard Dayton.
5. What are the top 3 – 5 ways you found money to put towards debt.
We sold stuff online that we didn’t need. I got a second job delivering pizzas at night. I sold my brand new Nissan Altima that was upside down which got rid of about $17,000 of the debt.
6. What are your top 3 – 5 tips for saving money/pinching pennies to put towards paying off your debt.
- I cancelled our cable and switched over to Netflix.
- I cancelled my gym membership because I rarely used it.
- I called up my cell phone company and asked for a better deal.
- We combined our auto insurance policies since we had just got married which saved us a good chunk of money.
- We also used the cash envelope system for our variable expenses which helped keep us from overspending on categories like groceries and entertainment.
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?
I would say that I initiated it but that my wife got on board really quick. The main arguments we had happened when we overspent in a budget category. But we learned to be flexible and did the best that we could to stay on track with our budget.
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?
I handle the finances for the most part, however, my wife does have a lot of input in making financial decisions. We get together once per month, but recently we decided to meet once per week to check in on how our budget is going.
9. How did you celebrate when you became debt free?
We went to Disneyland as that is a place that both of us are fond of and we did not have any kids at the time 🙂
10. What habits did you form while being debt free that will now stick with you for the long term?
I shop around for everything now. I used to just buy whatever I wanted regardless of the price. Now I make sure that I am getting the best deal. In addition, I will price match items whenever possible. I am shocked at how many retailers will price match these days.
11. Was there something that you gave up that you will go back to now that you are debt free?
We gave up traveling which is something that we both love to do. Since we paid off our debt, we have been to Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, London and Paris. It is amazing how much freedom we have to travel now that we don’t have all of that debt looming over us.
12. What are your financial goals now?
We plan to be financially free by 40. Meaning that we will have enough invested that it will provide income for our living expenses. I still have a lot of work to do in order to get us there.
13. What advice do you have for someone that is paralyzed by their debt load, but wants to be debt free?
Get started today. It is never to late. The first thing you need to do is take a snapshot of what your finances are today by creating a budget. If you want to get started, check out this video to help you create a budget in under 10 minutes.
14. Is there anything else you’d like to add that you think would help the readers who want to become debt free?
I am also a huge fan of the Debt Snowball technique. This is where you list your debts smallest to largest and use all of you extra cash to tackle the smallest balance while making minimum payments on the rest. We used this method when we were getting out of debt and it was crucial to us paying off all our debt in just 18 months.
Thank you, Deacon, for sharing your family’s story. For more stories like Deacon’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 email@example.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 others who have become debt free. If you feel you need additional advice, please consult a certified professional.