There was just one little snag when Kaysha and her boyfriend started talking about getting married two years ago: she was $43,000 in debt.
While her boyfriend didn’t mind, she felt badly about the idea of bringing debt into the marriage, especially since he had none.
“It just made me feel kind of less than worthy, even though he never batted an eye,” she explained.
Bringing debt to the marriage?
When thinking about combining finances, she felt that it “didn’t seem fair for him to have to lose out on the ability to save that money or spend it how we wanted because of decisions I had made in the past. It felt like bringing baggage.”
Adding to the pressure was the fact that they live in the San Francisco Bay Area, where home ownership is insanely priced.
She realized how hard it was going to be to save with $800+ monthly payments hanging over her head.
But rather than stress out about it or shrug and move on, she decided to do something about her situation.
Committing to getting out of debt
Kaysha started by seriously committing to paying off her student loans, credit card, and car — debt totaling about $43,000.
In fact, she knocked out the first $13K of her debt in the 6 months prior to the wedding.
Today, all $43,000 is paid off!
Paying off $43,000 in debt in 2 years
I asked her what she did to pay everything off, and loved her answers. (I may even start doing one of the things she did just because it sounds like fun!)
She took a 3-pronged approach to paying off debt that I highly recommend if you want to get out of debt fast.
Here’s how she did it:
Step 1. Cutting back and using savings
To start with, she evaluated her budget. She cut cable, gym memberships, makeup subscriptions, and stopped eating out as much.
She also threw some savings at her debt initially to make some quick progress. (See should you pay off debt or save first if you’re considering doing the same.)
Step 2. Getting the support she needed
Of course, it’s apparent that her then-boyfriend/now-husband was supportive, but you need all the support you can get when paying off debt!
She got additional support as a member of the Destination Debt Freedom program’s community, where she got tips on getting rid of her debt.
She especially loved the weekly Small Win Wednesday activity.
“It always made me think about SOMETHING positive I did. Even if it wasn’t huge. I loved seeing the other motivational posts,” she says. “I think being surrounded by people with the same goals helped.”
Step 3. Making more money
Sometimes people have already cut back as much as they can, or they don’t have much savings to fall back on. So this move is great for those in a similar situation — and even better for those who are going all in on debt repayment in like she did.
In short: Kaysha did everything she could to make more money.
She switched jobs and got promotions — doubling her income over 2 years — and kept her budget the same. When she got a bonus at work, she didn’t spend a single penny of it.
Instead, she sent all the extra money she earned straight to debt without even a second thought.
In addition to earning more by improving her traditional employment situation, she did extra work on the side. She babysat evenings and weekends when presented with the opportunity, and did a variety of paid studies off Craigslist.
The Craigslist studies she found by checking under the “jobs” and “etc” sections usually paid well – typically $75 for about 30 minutes!
Here are some of the studies she did:
- Sampling foods (such as 6 types of the same salad) and giving feedback on each one.
- Getting hooked up to a machine that measured brain waves as she watched advertisements.
- Participating in a discussion on sustainability and her role in the community.
The studies varied a lot, but the pay was always great. At one point, she actually got paid to sample ice cream, which sounds super fun to me!
Her biggest challenge when getting out of debt
Staying focused was the hardest part for her.
She had to deal with several vet expenses for her pets, and the feeling of helplessness was the worst. She managed to cash flowed the vet bills rather than going deeper into debt. Those expenses just made her want out of debt that much more.
Nothing like turning adversity into extra motivation!
Then there was the wedding:
“I think when certain situations came up it made me want to do a “free pass” – like getting married,” she says. But sticking with the cash flow mantra, she and her boyfriend paid cash for the wedding.
“We got married super cheap even though everyone was pressuring us into doing a big ordeal. I did a lot of DIY, and we did a taco stand in my grandparents backyard instead of spending tons on a venue and food. Everyone had a great time,” adds Kaysha.
The best part of getting out of debt
The best part was watching the debt go down, and dreaming about the debt free future.
Getting married was great because it gave her someone to dream and work with, as well as to hold her accountable.
Toward the end of her debt free journey, her dog had a cancer scare. Because she was so far along in her debt snowball and making large extra payments by that time, the sense of peace she felt knowing they wouldn’t have to go into debt or make a decision strictly based on money was indescribable.
It made dealing with a very stressful situation 1000x easier. (And that’s exactly what the debt free life is like! Less stress.)
Final words of wisdom
While Kaysha wishes she’d started sooner, she so glad to be here now with that $43,000 in debt behind her.
“No matter how small your steps are, as long as they’re in the right direction, that’s all that matters,” she points out. “The sacrifices you make now will be worth it. The peace of mind being debt free is priceless.”
I couldn’t agree more. If you’d like to get out of debt too, a great place to start is with my free Debt Mindset Reset email course. Just sign up below!