Debt-Free Lifestyle

Debt-Free Lifestyle

I realize what a mistake it was to go into debt when I first got married as a young girl. I was trying to get all of the things I needed for keeping house all at once.

I have now become financially responsible. I am no longer materialistic enough to go into debt in an attempt to get material things.

However, in the past, I was a single mother. I was trying to support two kids alone with no help from my ex, so I turned to the help of credit cards. I was also laden with my exes’ financial faux pas.

Then two car wrecks in the same year totaled both of my cars, leaving me with major medical expenses for the next 6 years. I was paying for a brand new car I no longer owned despite having GAP insurance.

My husband, whom I was dating at the time, was paying the majority of his income toward alimony, child support, and medical/school support for his kids.

On top of that, he had more than $60,000 worth of what was mostly his ex-wife’s debts that he accepted as part of his divorce agreement.

I just couldn’t fathom paying that much debt that belonged to her. I was reluctant to allow our relationship to get serious. I didn’t want to take on her financial burdens knowing this could affect our marriage.

You don’t have to be a mathematical genius to figure out if you owe as much as you make each month, there isn’t much left for other things. Together we had a pile of debt. We were both so broke while we were dating he used coupons on our dates.

C-O-U-P-O-N-S!!!

It’s a good thing he was so darn cute and that we matched like two peas in a pod. He won me over and I immediately went into debt-paying mode.

How We Paid Over $100,000 of Debt

After we got married, we were flipping houses, cars, and furniture in order to pay off all the debts.

I was teaching my young boys how to do yard work so they could pay for some of the things they wanted. Teaching your children to pay for some of their own things teaches them good work ethics and relieves some of your financial burdens. There is nothing wrong with old-fashioned hard work, and they need to know that.

Determined to get out of debt we came up with a plan that worked in less than five years. It was hard work, but well worth the sacrifice.

Step #1: Earn EXTRA income. Use that income to pay debts.

Our first home together was a flip house that he already owned. It had never been updated so we had a ton of work to do. We got married sooner than we had planned so that we could go ahead and finish the house together.

We spent all of our extra time doing remodeling projects. Our first year of marriage was literally spent on our hands and knees laying tile and grouting. I think I aged a little bit during that year. 😮

Once the house was sold we paid off about $50,000 worth of debt.

Boom!

Step #2: Be frugal.

We focused only on paying off debts. No vacations. We shopped only for necessities. We didn’t have a lot of outings or even date nights.

Once the house was sold, we bought another flip house and decided to take our time with it. It was nice and in a school system where we wanted our boys to graduate. So, we focused on flipping cars and furniture.

We bought used furniture for our new house. For that, we shopped at estate sales. I shopped on 1/2 price days so that I could get the best deals possible.

My entire home was furnished with high-end furniture that looked great. No one could tell I didn’t pay a high price for decorating my home.

Save money where you can. Look for ways to live a debt-free lifestyle.

Step #3: Pay the smallest debts first.

Once our smallest debts were paid off, we used that monthly payment amount toward the next largest debt. Until finally we were only left with our mortgage.

Determine that you are going to have integrity and pay everyone you owe; even if you have to make small payments each month. Medical debts included.

Step #4: Create an emergency fund.

While we were paying off debts, we would set a small amount aside for savings. The best way to save is to set aside a percentage of what you make. 5% of your income set aside for emergencies is better than nothing. 10% and a year’s worth of income in savings (at a minimum) is the goal.

Step #5: Be a giver.

Make it a habit to give things away. Be on the lookout for people with needs and try to meet them. It’s good to remind yourself that there are other people in this world who have needs besides you. We all reap what we sow. Givers are blessed.

Step #6: Buy used.

We both agreed that spending a lot of money on things is a bad financial move unless you can pay cash or buy it with equity already in it (a learned lesson from our past mistakes).

We sold our newest car and bought a used one instead.

$10,000 worth of debt- GONE!

We bought a really cute used car for $750. My husband drove this to work for years and didn’t worry about what people thought. We could’ve afforded a brand new car but a new car wouldn’t have helped us to pay our debts.

You have to figure out what your priorities are.

For a long time, nearly everything we bought was used. Cars, furniture, and even tools. New cars lose value the minute you drive them off the lot. New furniture loses value once it is used. We also only bought name brands where they counted the most.

If you’re in debt you need to get real with yourself and stop trying to impress the neighbors. Who cares what they think? They’re in debt too so don’t try to keep up with that.

Start a Side Business

I started my antique & furniture business with literally no money.

I began by selling things out of our house. The first thing I sold was our dining room set. I made $250 more than what I paid for it.

I then took that money and bought more furniture, which I flipped and made money off of. I kept doing this until I had enough extra money to pay a debt and invest back into my small business.

Before long, I was making thousands. Each dining room set, living room set, or extra piece of furniture I bought was used until it sold. Eventually, about three years later, we finally kept some of it. 🤪

I eventually had a garage full of antiques and had to put them in a vendor’s booth to be able to have room for them.

My point is, you can work your way up to having your own business. Start small. There is nothing wrong with humble beginnings.

You can literally create a business from nothing with the right ideas and know-how.

Look around your house, what are you willing to part with? Start there.

Ways to Save Money

  • BE FRUGAL- Cut coupons for groceries and eating out.
  • STOP TRYING TO IMPRESS YOUR NEIGHBORS- Buy generic.
  • -DON’T SIT IDLE- Turn off the television. It not only saves you money, it allows you more time to work with your hands.
  • CUT BACK- Keep the lights off when you are not using them. Every little thing adds up when you have debt to pay.
  • -STOP BUYING STUFF- Stop collecting junk. Stop buying stuff for your house unless you are getting a great deal you cannot pass up.
  • -DECLUTTER- Sell your junk. 90 % of things people own are useless items.
  • -REWARDS- Sign up for customer rewards in every venue possible. Download restaurant apps (points add up to dollars saved and free food).
  • BE FRUGAL- I can’t express this enough. Make homemade gifts instead of buying new ones. You may find a talent you didn’t know you have.
  • USE CREDIT FOR DEBT PAYING POWER- Take advantage of 0% interest credit cards. You can sometimes use them to pay off other debts or credit cards with higher interest rates.
  • TEACH KIDS TO PAY THEIR WAY- I taught my kids starting at the age of fifteen to WORK with their hands. They both started their own lawn service and began paying their own way way. This saved me money. Our rule was- if you are sixteen years of age, you get a job. They used this income to pay their own car insurance & fuel. Kids need to learn to pay their own way, it teaches them responsibility.
  • MINIMAL CLOTHING- While we were paying debts off, my husband and I didn’t buy seasonal clothing like most people do. We kept clothing purchases to the bare minumum. I learned that my closet doesn’t have to be full because I normally only where what I like the most anyway.
  • LEARN TO WAIT– Apply the 30-day rule. If you want it, wait 30 days and see if you still want it. Then by all means, if it is affordable, buy it.
  • DON’T SHOP AROUND THE STORE- Stick to your shopping list. Strictly.

IS IT WORTH ALL THAT HARD WORK?

We worked extremely hard to get out of debt. It was the most physical labor I have ever experienced.

I felt like I was working my life away. I would go to bed exhausted. It looked as though the end of all of that debt would never be near. It looked hopeless at times. It looked like we would never make it, and that our plan would not work.

Then, suddenly it did work. The longer we paid off debts the easier it got.

One morning we were able to look back at $100,000 worth of vanished debt and smile. 😁

It was well worth it. I am currently reaping the benefit of that hard work by being able to stay at home and pursue my writing career, do hobbies, and sleep late if I want.

Now that our bills are paid off we can rest more, take some time off, do a little shopping, and take those vacations we’ve been missing out on. The freedom we have now is well worth the sacrifice we made to get here.

4 responses to “Debt-Free Lifestyle”

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