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If you’re reading this, you are probably in a place like I was several years ago where I wanted to figure out how to adult better with my money.
Those green pieces of paper took many hours and days to collect, but seemed to almost always disappear before the end of the month.
I was literally living paycheck to paycheck.
Now if you are anything like I was, you didn’t want to give up to luxury of eating out, hanging out with friends, going shopping, or even going to the movies to watch the newest release.
So what did I end up doing?
Oh hi there credit card statement! Of course I’ll pay my minimum payment on time!
What’s that? I can increase my spending limit? Heck yea!
Life was awesome and I was living in the moment. But internally I was having miniature panic attacks each time the credit card statements (yes, plural) came in.
I would just sweat it off and pay the minimum, and when I maxed out my card, guess what happened? I would either raise my spending limit OR get a new credit card.
I Done Messed Up
Within a couple of years I had completely maxed out several credit cards.
I finally hit a breaking point and had one of those come to Jesus moments where I sat back in my office chair (yea, you think my spending habits was bad with credit cards? You should have seen the house I thought I could afford lol).
Wait. Where was I?
Oh, right! Come to Jesus.
So I’m sitting back in my chair just trying to figure out why I sucked so bad at managing money. And that’s when I realized a couple of factors that played a role in why I did what I did.
For one, I recognized that my spending habits were just like my dad’s. I love the guy, but man could he spend money quickly.
I guess through my upbringing I saw that using credit cards and having a big house was what I should be doing. And that’s exactly what I was doing without consciously knowing that is what I was doing.
The second factor that I came to realize is that I was never really taught through my years of education on how to EFFECTIVELY manage money.
I definitely mastered acquiring and spending money lol.
I finally came to the realization, which is where you’re probably at right now, that I had become a slave to my debts.
I was working my tail off to bring money home that ended up paying just the bare minimum for the luxuries that I felt were necessary which was constantly increasing as time went by.
And I was tired of this mundane cycle! I needed to free myself of this stress!
What Options Were Out There?
I took some time to research ways to get rid of my debts and I kept coming across two main strategies:
Debt Consolidation – I could consolidate my debts by either using a debt consolidation company or loan. In short, this allows you to take a loan out that will pay off your debts with other companies, leaving you with one giant debt with one company.
They advertise lower monthly bills, but I realized that this would probably not be good for me because my brain would be like HEY! We have more money to spend!
Debt Snowball – This is one of the best strategies to implement because it doesn’t cost any money. One of the things I had to do before utilizing this strategy was to learn how to budget my money first (check out my other post on how to budget).
Once I got my budget set, I was able to implant this effectively. The premise behind this strategy is to start small like a tiny snowball you would throw and build it up into monster snowball that rolls down the slope engulfing everything in its path. This would of course then start with your smallest debt.
Debt Snowball Example
For example, let’s say your smallest debt is $1,500 of retail debt from the magical store Target (Which I’m still trying to figure out why I go into this store knowing full well that I’m not leaving it empty handed. The new me got smart and decided to take Target up on their offer to get 5% off each purchase using the Target card! Save me money!).
If you were paying the monthly minimum of let’s say $25, you would then add additional money towards paying down on this each month. For those of you who didn’t think math was important, it would look something like this:
Debt Snowball #1 = $25 minimum payment + Additional Cash
This method allows you to pay down on the principal amount you owe, which then saves you money on how much interest you end up having to pay!
Once the first debt is paid off, then you would take your Debt Snowball #1 and add that amount to your next debt minimum payment. It would look something like this:
Debt Snowball #2 = Minimum payment + Debt Snowball #1 (which was $25 minimum payment + Additional Cash)
You would repeat this process until all debts are paid in full. And by this point, you will have hopefully changed your spending habits too knowing that your goal is to be free of debt. This is probably the hardest part of the process to be honest.
One Of The Best Feelings In The World!
Paying off debt is one of the best feelings in the world and each one you pay off motivates you even more to pay off the others as quick as you can.
I’m not 100% debt free just yet, but what I have accomplished so far in just over a year has allowed my wife to quit her full-time teaching job to be a stay at home mother to raise our son!
Having a budget tracker made it easier for me to identify ways to cut back on spending, which then allowed me to add to our debt snowball.
If you’d like to get a free copy of the printable budget tracker that I used, just enter your email in and we will send it your way!
And for those of you that like to work mainly on a digital device, we will be releasing an electronic version of the budget tracker that does the calculations for you and is accessible on Excel and Google Sheets.
An email will be sent when its available to those who signed up for the free printable.