Updated: Dec 21, 2020
“You must gain control over your money or the lack of it will forever control you.” ― Dave Ramsey
Debt elimination is paramount to creating the freedom you need to live a fulfilled life! In July 2009, my colleague introduced me to Dave Ramsey's The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness . I was skeptical of this debt-free 'thing' and was convinced as a child I would "always" have debt. I actually refused to buy the book because I was sure it was a scam! I was living paycheck to paycheck and drowning in debt. With nothing to lose (literally), I checked-out The Total Money Makeover (TMM) from my local library. Upon completion of reading the book, I embarked on the journey toward financial freedom.
I used the debt snowball method to pay down debt. The debt snowball states the following: List your debts in order from smallest total payoff balance to the largest..
Get your debt snowball rolling by paying as much as you can on the smallest balance.
Once you've paid something off, move on to the next debt on the list until all debt is paid off.
How did I do it? 1.The "B" word Budget! There, I said it. Before TMM, I would loosely write bills out as they were due, but didn't have a consistent, systemic, methodical plan for budgeting. I created a easy monthly budget in excel (a simple pen and paper will work too!) that included income and expenses at the end of every month for the following month. I used debit card and receipts to track my spending weekly. Budgeting is simply "telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went." There's also a plethora of apps available to help keep track of your spending digitally. Free Printable Budget Worksheets 2.Sell Pizza I didn't sell pizza, but I did pick up a second job (sometimes working 70hrs per week). It was tough and exhausting but the reward of becoming debt-free superseded everything. Hard work and sacrifice are guaranteed ways to get out of debt and stay debt-free! Nowadays if you have an operational vehicle or extra space in your home you can make a little extra cash with Uber and/or Airbnb. 3.Conduct Plastic Surgery Think Nip/Tuck meet credit cards. This was tough, and initially I put my credit cards in the freezer. But After a couple of weeks, I grabbed a pair of scissors and cut up my Mastercard. 4.Get Creative I sold everything I could (except the kid)! Ebay, Craigslist, Amazon, Facebook Marketplace and Offer-up are great tools to generate funds to pay down your debt. I also became a coupon diva. I searched store websites and ads for deals before shopping and used Groupon for dining out. In 36 months, I paid off $33,000 in debt: student loan ($15,000), car loan ($13,000) and credit card debt ($5,000). The seven steps introduced in Dave's plan are simple, practical methods toward money management and using income to build wealth. How bad do you want to be free? Not just debt-free, but free from life's burden? Free to live a life worth living? Free to pursue your wildest dreams? Free to be? As a result of becoming debt free, I fired my boss, moved from Savannah,GA to Atlanta, GA and went on my first international mission trip to Haiti. To date I've visited 20+ countries and counting. Updated It’s 2020 and I continue living a debt-free lifestyle. Currently, I've embarked on a journey toward a minimalist lifestyle to achieve my dreams of quitting my job to travel the world for one year. This is what financial freedom affords you; time and freedom.
Learn more about my debt-free journey in my new book, Live Freely: Freedom to Work Whenever, Wherever. Available now on Amazon.