To get out of debt you have to spend less than you make. This part isn't difficult, it's just different.
If you're used to spending everything (or more) than you make, than you're living like 76% of American families, who live paycheck to paycheck with little, to no, savings. For your life to be different, you have to make a change. Nothing changes if nothing changes.
Matt and I don't have an extraordinary income. We've never made more than $50,000.00 a year (combined), so our income is average or lower than the normal American family. YOU CAN DO THIS.
In order to make this big change toward a debt free lifestyle, you have to make as many changes as you can on both ends of your budget. I know the word budget can be an intimidating word, but really all a budget is is setting your goals on paper, with forethought, and sticking to it! You can get budget forms here ---> Budget Forms.
The two ends of your budget are simple: income and outgo. What you make vs. what you spend. You want to increase what you make as much a possible, and you want to decrease what you spend as much as possible.
Income: Most of the ways we have upped our income since we started this journey in Febuary ANYONE can do!
Sell everything. When we were searching for a way that I could stay home with Charlotte and still make extra side income, God gave Matt and I this same idea. We went through all the closets, all the drawers, all the attic spaces, and all the rooms, and we've been a part of several yard sales. We've sold things on Facebook Marketplace, Instagram, Let Go, and Offer Up. All of those platforms are free. They just take time, good pictures, and good descriptions. Selling things isn't limited to what you currently have in your house. Put out a plea online. Something like, "We're trying to make some big changes in our family, and we're looking to make extra money to get out of debt. If you have anything you were thinking about cleaning out or donating, let me know! I'd love to come pick it up from you!" Putting the word out has helped us so much. People have had us pick up their yard sale extras and other household extras. We also aren't above picking things out of the trash. If we see a piece of furniture or art etc. that is in great shape, we'll haul it off, clean it up, fix it if it needs work, and then sell it to its new family. We have not purchased anything to resell. God gave Matt and I the idea to sell things online as a way to make extra money towards our goal, and He has blessed it!
Work after work. I know how little fun it is to work extra. When you get off a long day of work, you want to see your family, get things done in your home, and relax some if possible, but if you'll work all the time for a short period of time, you can make big gains. We've babysat, cleaned gutters, pulled weeds, painted, trimmed bushes, and hung blinds. Again, the trick was just putting the word out, "We're looking for extra work in the evenings and on the weekends. If you have something that you need done, send me a message!" For the most part, we tried to do this work as a family, so we were able to still spend that time together. Again, remember that this is only temporary!
Just making those two changes ^, we have made an extra $1,000.00 a month, every month, towards our goal of getting out of debt. You can do that too! None of that requires you to have a degree (and if you have a degree, there may be easier ways to make extra: tutoring, electric work on the side etc.), but it will help you take big steps toward your goal of getting out of debt!
Outgo: To give yourself more money to throw towards your debt, you'll want to spend less in areas you spend money in.
Clothing. Since February, I have not spent a single dollar on clothing or shoes for Matt, Charlotte, or myself. Obviously, if someone NEEDED something, we'd go get it, but we have plenty of clothes we can wear, and we're CHOOSING to not spend money in this category. I just found out I'm pregnant, and since I've lost seventy-six pounds since my last pregnancy, my old maternity clothes don't fit me. God knew that I was pregnant, and God knew I needed maternity clothes, and when we went to visit our friends in Knoxville even though they didn't know I was pregnant, they gifted me a huge tub of small maternity clothes. God will meet your needs when you're working on a goal He's given you!
Food. We haven't gone out to eat (unless we used a gift card someone gave us), since February. Mostly, this just requires planning. It requires you to grocery shop (or pick the garden) to keep your kitchen stocked, so that you aren't tempted to do the "easy" (and expensive) thing. Also, we keep our grocery bill under $50 every week (often under $40). We eat a lot of frozen chicken tenderloins, brown rice, and veggies. We have eggs and veggies for breakfast, or oatmeal, or a fruit smoothie. We have simple sandwiches almost everyday for lunch. We shop at Aldi. We're living on a diet and a budget, and it's totally doable.
Credit Cards. We don't have one. I used to keep one "just in case", but God has given us an emergency fund, and we don't need to borrow money for anything ever. The borrower is slave to the lender, and we're getting out of slavery as fast as we can, which means we don’t have a credit card.
Entertainment. We haven't gone to the theatre (or eaten out, as previously covered), or gone to a concert, or a sports game, or bought a movie, or spent any extra money. This is our decision to make small short term sacrifices for big long term gains.
Bills. Dave Ramsey offers a free resource of insurance agents who will shop insurance for you (for free) and make sure you're getting the best deal available on all our your different insurances. I highly recommend you do this ---> Insurance Check Also, you can save on your electric bill by leaving the air conditioning off (even when it’s 96 degrees inside). This pregnant mama turned on her A/C yesterday for the first time this summer. Keep in mind that these choices are about long term gains, not short term comfort.
Bank account. Maybe I didn't cover the things you spend money on. Maybe you buy coffee a couple of times a week. The easiest way to see where you're spending extra money is a good look at your bank account statement. Look through it and see what you could cut. I cancelled a subscription to a magazine (that I enjoy, but this is only for a time!), we stopped renting movies, and we stopped spending any extra money.
To help keep myself motivated in the slow and steady journey out of debt, I enjoy listening to the Dave Ramsey show and specifically Debt Free Screams. I enjoy talking to friends who are on the same journey as we are, and I do my best to avoid the subject with people who think we're crazy. I don't need people being negative about something we are sure God has told us to do. We have a friend who is finishing their debt snowball this weekend! I'm so excited for them!
All along the journey we're continuing to tithe and give to missions, because what God has told us to do now doesn't change what God has already given us to do.
We've paid $11,000.00 towards our mortgage since February, and we have $68,800.00 left to go.That means that we've paid the same amount toward our mortgage in the last six months as we did for THREE YEARS before that. We've saved thousands on interest, long term, in these six months by putting more towards the principal every month (making one giant payment when we pay our mortgage at the end of each month).
This financial sacrifice is only for a season, and in the scheme of our lives, it will be a short season. I’d rather be really uncomfortable for a short period of time than mildly uncomfortable for a long period of time. We know God wants to use our little income in big ways that He couldn't while we were giving the majority of each paycheck straight to the bank to repay our house debt.
What are your questions for us? We want to help you as you reach toward your debt free goals!