Debt Elimination

How Ashley Paid Off $45,000 in 17 Months

Are you tired of paying so many bills that you can’t save enough fast enough to retire early?

When you want to have that freedom of options, you have to get rid of what is holding you back and that’s debt.

Once I paid off my debt, I had so many options in my life that I didn’t have before. I was able to quit my stressful job that had a pension and good benefits.

If I still had a ton of debt, I wouldn’t have had that option. I would have stuck it out in a job that I was burned out in just to pay bills.

With a lot of focus and motivation, we were able to pay off $45,000, in just 17 months.

I did this without winning the lottery or even robbing a bank.

I am not special. I am not rich. I didn’t make a ton of money.

But I was determined to pay off the debt so that I could have the freedom of options in my life.

I am going to tell you how we did so you can start your journey to becoming debt-free also.

Getting Started

When you are wanting to get started, it’s really important to not let the fear of doing it”wrong” keep you from getting started.

It truly doesn’t matter how you do it, as long as you do it.

I hear from people every day that they are overwhelmed with getting started because they aren’t sure where to start. They are afraid of doing it wrong, so they don’t start.

The best and most effective thing you can do is to just start!

It doesn’t matter what you do. There is no right or wrong way to pay off debt.

There are certain strategies that may work better for you and it will take you time to figure that out.

That’s it. Just get going.

There is no secret.

There isn’t a magic wand to erase all your debt.

You can’t get out of debt by consolidating or adding more debt.

You get out of debt by believing it’s possible and then making a plan and just keep going no matter how slow.

The Plan

There are a couple different debt pay off plans but the most successful and motivating is the debt snowball.

We used the debt snowball and this was a huge factor in staying motivated and not giving up.

The debt snowball consists of listing out all your debts except your primary mortgage from the smallest balance to the largest balance, regardless of interest rate or type of debt.

The next step is making a “zero-based budget”. A zero-based budget is budgeting every single dollar on paper.

In order for this to work, you make your budget with all of your expected expenses for the month. Whatever income that is left after doing this, goes toward your smallest debt.

Once the smallest debt is paid off, you roll that payment and the extra to the next smallest debt.

This is so effective because you get the quick wins and are able to see debts disappear fast.

The best way to make your plan is to write it down. Write out what you plan to do and how fast you can do it.

The method I advocate for now is the Impact Method™. It’s based on deciding which debt will give you a big impact and a quick win. It may not be the smallest balance like the debt snowball.

If you have a debt you can pay off quickly and will feel like a huge relief to have it out of your life or is a big payment and will free up a good amount, pick that one.

It’s totally up to you and what you feel will help you stay motivated.

Because that is what matters the most. All that matters is that you find ways to stay motivated and keep going.

Another debt pay off method is the avalanche method which focuses on the interest rates only. This is the most logical method but if your highest rate is also your highest balance, you are more likely to give up.

So, it’s important to remember to pick a debt to start with that you can pay off quickly and have a big reward.

If you aren’t sure which method to use, you can get my free printable “Which Debt to Pay Off First” guide to help you determine which you should do.

How to Pay Off Debt Faster

Once you get going, you will find that you are more motivated to do it faster and faster.

Keep in mind that when you are just starting, it’s more important to take your time on figuring out what you are doing and changing small things over time.

If you try to do all the things the first month, you will burn out quickly and quit.

Once you have some momentum, you’ll want to start finding ways to speed up the process.

Some ways to speed up the process include making extra money:

  • An extra job
  • Working overtime
  • Making items to sell
  • Sell everything you can
  • Have a yard sale
  • Cut expenses

You may not be able to do every single one but I would venture to guess you could do more than one of these.

I sold everything I possibly could in my house including my lamps and wall decor.

We sold some larger items as well like a trailer and 4-wheeler.

My husband worked tons of overtime and side jobs to help speed up the process as well.

I have seen people make over $700 in one weekend having a yard sale with mostly $1 items.

But we didn’t do all that the first couple of months.

We kept building momentum and then found ways to speed it up. We still took an entire year off our original plan.

It’s perfectly okay to prioritize your time with family over working just to pay off your debt faster.

It’s all about balance.

You don’t have to do it soul-sucking fast to do it. As long as you keep moving in the right direction.

It doesn’t matter if you pay it off in 17 months or 24 months. What matters is that you still enjoy your life and get it done in the process.

Staying Motivated
Making visuals is a great way to see your progress and keep yourself motivated.

It’s easy to think you aren’t making any progress when you can’t see the little steps you are taking and how they are really adding up.

Progress is progress no matter how slow, it adds up over time.

But if you can’t see the progress you are truly making, you are more like to quit because it doesn’t feel like you are getting anything done.

If you only have $40 extra one month, still send it. It makes a dent even when it’s small.

Keeping the visuals where you can see it every day will help you see that you have actually made a lot of progress even when it feels like you haven’t.

You can also make a vision board for what you are working towards. It could be financial freedom, living at the beach, college for you kids, a debt-free vacation to Disney World.

Whatever it may be, make sure it is big enough to keep you motivated.

If you are doing it just because you think you should, it won’t be enough to keep you going when you want to give up.

Play Around With The Numbers

Another way I kept motivated to pay it off faster and faster was by using debt snowball calculators and calculating how much interest I was paying every single day.

I would use a calculator to see if I put x amount this month, when I would be debt-free compared to not adding extra.

I was able to shave months off my plan by seeing the numbers and then working hard to do it faster.

Then I decided to determine how much I was paying in interest on my student loans every single day.

When I graduated college, I owed $28,000 in 2006. In 2016 when I got to them in the snowball, I still owed $25,000! In 10 years, I paid off $3000!

I was paying almost $5 every single day in interest. This was my largest debt and took the longest. It was the hardest to stay motivated but by seeing what I was paying helped me stay motivated to get it out of my life.

I was also able to see that number drop as it was paid off. So instead of $5, it kept dropping until it was paid in full.

I was able to pay $25,000 in 10 months, even sooner than what was my original plan.

Using a debt payoff calculator is helpful because you can easily see how even a small amount can help you take years off your debt.

Even just $200 extra per month can cut 2 years off versus just paying the minimum payments.

Making an extra $200 a month is very easy without it taking over your life.

In conclusion

Believe that you can be debt-free because you can and it’s so worth it.

Know you don’t have to do it perfectly or a “right” way.

It truly doesn’t matter how you do it, just do it.

Find ways to stay motivated and know that the faster you can do it, the faster it will be over and you can live the life you want.

It won’t be easy and you will make mistakes along the way.

Just keep going! Give yourself some grace through the process and just don’t stop.

It will take time but it is so worth it.

Ashley Patrick is a Master Financial Coach and owner of Budgets Made Easy. She helps busy moms eliminate debt and save money using simple strategies so they can do it faster and easier. She has been featured on Yahoo! Finance, USA Today, Food Network, CNBC, MSN, and many others.
Ashley Patrick

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