I couldn’t believe it until I actually sat down a few weeks ago and calculated how much debt I’ve gotten rid of since I started this mission. Which is why I started this blog to make sure I keep it up until my balance is ZERO; and, if someone else gets inspired along the way, then it will all be worth it. When I started, the mountain of debt that laid in front of me seemed impossible. I was paying over $1,000 a month towards my debt! Today, I have now eliminated: car payments, credit card debt, attorney fees (I’m surprised she didn’t send me bills for her coffee each morning), and medical bills. So, how did I do it? I was committed to three not-so-secret secrets:
1. I went to work and then I worked some more, and more, and then some more. And I still work a lot. I picked up extra shifts on Saturdays at the hospital. I already work 40 hours during the week and I committed to working almost every Saturday during a 3 month period while one of my co-workers was out on maternity leave. It paid off, because during that time or soon after I was able to pay off my car. Freeing up the money I was using towards my car payment was a real game changer. Keep in mind that I have been following Dave Ramsey’s debt snowball. Part of my plan was to find a way to create a second source of income to add to my debt snowball. I thought about trying to sell hand-made items or get on board with one of those self-distributor companies. Instead, I decided to choose something that would have the potential to advance my career in social work. So, I reached out to a friend who knew someone in another hospital that was in need of weekend coverage. I got the job, and I really love it. I’m so grateful to have the opportunity because for a second job, it is quite ideal. I think that reaching out to people in your network and putting yourself out there is a good first step to trying to find a second source of income/second job.
2. Live below your means. I stick to a humble budget. When I first started using Dave Ramsey’s budget worksheets, it gave me an overview of where I could decrease some of my expenses. One of the areas I cut down on was food. I was spending way too much on food for a household of one-and-a-half people. I limited the amount of money I spend on groceries, and I even stopped buying meat for several months. I stopped eating out. I started making my own lattes at home. If there was free food at work, I took some home. If someone invited us over for dinner, we went. Food is a big expense more than you may think. I also cut down my expense on cable. I don’t have cable. I just have the internet and the local channels. I still think it’s over priced and I might get rid of even that soon. I slashed my cell phone bill in half when I switched from Verizon (over $100/month) to Metro PCS ($55/month). I really think that making a budget each month and sticking to it is imperative in order to meet your financial goals. Just like Dave says, finances are 20% head knowledge and 80% behavior.
3. Any extra money I received was put towards my debt. Trust me, I did not get very much extra money through bonuses, gifts, etc during this time. The real difference was from #1 above. Was I tempted to spend any extra money on myself? Absolutely. Every little bit helps. Me and my fellow “social fire fighters” have to be on-call for 8+ hours overnight for one week each month, and that extra money was added to my debt snowball. Yes, that’s right, I work full-time, and I work two weekends a month at a second job, and I’m on call for 7 nights about every month or so. And I’m a mom. No excuses, it can be done!
And I’m still standing. Being able to have self-control over my spending and tell my money where to go has been empowering. During this time, I still had unexpected expenses, and every now and then I spend more than I planned, but that’s ok. Life is still going to happen and I don’t beat myself up about it. Working more than usual has also taught me how to turn off the work switch in my brain once I walk out that building to go pick up my daughter.
This is only for a season.
“Live like no one else so that later you can live [and give] like no one else.” – Dave Ramsey
Click here to find out more about Dave Ramsey’s 7 baby steps.