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How I Got Out Of Debt - How a Family Got Rid of Debt

“How I Got Out of Debt” interview with Tracie Fobes

Welcome to the first edition of the “How I Got Out of Debt” blog series. In this series I will introduce you to individuals who have been in debt and had the determination to do whatever it took to get rid of it.

Today I would like to introduce you Tracie Fobes. Tracie is a mother of three and runs a blog about life, family and finance called Penny Pinchin Mom.

Tracie Fobes - Penny Pinchin Momtracie

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m married to the love of my life. We have three kids ranging in ages 8 – 12.  Needless to say, life is busy (but I wouldn’t have it any other way)!

How much debt were you in and at what moment did you realize you were in big trouble financially?

We had amassed around $37,000 in debt.  We really started to feel this when our oldest was born.  We struggled for months and months and realized that we were spinning our wheels and getting no where at all.

What made you decide to finally dig your way out of debt?

I went to dinner with some friends one night (as a rare treat).  One of them started talking about how she and her husband were getting out of debt.  She showed me how they were using cash.  It all seemed so foreign to me so I asked her a LOT of questions.

After a lot of discussion, we both agreed that we had to make a change.  We just couldn’t keep going along and struggling financially.

How long did it take you to rid yourselves of your debt?

We started our journey in November 2007.  On February 10, 2010, we were officially debt free!

What are the things you did in your debt free journey that you feel were the most helpful?

Wow.  We did SO many things!  The most important thing was our budget.  We had to get a better grasp on where we spent our money, so we could figure out where changes could be made.

Once we did that, we sold things – a LOT of things.  We stopped eating meals out.  In the course of our debt pay down period, we probably had a total of 10 meals out.  Most of those were treats from our family members.

I found ways to really scale back our spending.  I started to really put coupons and deals to work for me.  That lead to me starting Penny Pinchin Mom.

I did not start the site to make money.  However, it started to roll in and we were able to throw every cent I made towards our debt.  That really made a big difference.

What was the hardest things you had to deal with throughout the process?

Not dining out.  That was really difficult. It was very tempting, but getting out of debt mattered more.

How did you stay motivated to keep going through your debt free journey?

We would reward ourselves.  As we paid down one full debt, we would celebrate and have dinner out!  It was one of the few times we actually spent money on something other than debt.

What tools did you use to help you throughout the process?

  • A budget spreadsheet
  • A debt snowball form
  • Cash envelopes

Those three things really helped us with our focus.

What is the number one tip you have for others who are in debt and wanting to be free of it?

You have to be ready to do it. If you aren’t ready to make lifestyle changes, such as not dining out, you aren’t ready.  If you are not willing to downsize your car or greatly reduce your spending, then you are not ready.

Once you know you can fully commit, then start.  Otherwise, you are better of waiting or you will fail.

How does it feel to be debt free and how has it changed your life?

Freeing.  There is no stress of going to the mailbox.  When the costs of groceries and fuels increase, it doesn’t hurt us.  We aren’t worried about having to come up with more money to pay for them.  It is just a shift of not so much in savings.

The biggest reward was taking our children to Florida for a dream vacation.  We were able to fund the entire trip with cash.  It was amazing and we were able to truly see the fruits of our labor alive and well.  The joy we had made all of the hard work worth it.

You can read more about Tracie’s story on her blog in a three-part blog post series called My Journey to a Debt Free Life.

Read more inspiring debt free journeys here

2nd edition How Deacon Hayes paid off $52,000 of debt in 18 months

3rd edition How Danielle and J paid $43,000 of debt in 23 months

Do you have a story on  how you conquered your debt?  We’d love to hear it! You can contact me at or via the form below.


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