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Today I have an interview with Danielle. Danielle has recently transitioned from working full-time to part-time in order to stay at home and raise her young daughter (daycare is expensive!). Despite the change in her household income, she and her husband, J, continue to flourish in paying off their debt and are now nearing the end of their journey. Read more about her and her family by visiting her blog at “The Pennies We Saved”.
Tell us a little bit about yourself:
My name is Danielle, wife and new mom! Originally from Southern California, my teeny tribe is now nestled in a beautiful small town just outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota (big change in terms of weather!). I’ve recently shifted from working full-time to now part-time in order to stay at home with my daughter, which is such a blessing. Semi-health nut and lover of fitness, I enjoy diving into a new recipe from time to time and take long walks around our cutesy neighborhood and gorgeous lakes…whenever the weather is convenient, of course.
How much debt were you in and at what moment did you realize you were in big trouble financially? What made you decide to finally dig your way out of debt?
In May of 2015, minus our mortgage, we had accumulated over $70,000 of debt. This debt included your typical debt, student loans being the majority. Fortunately, we did not have any credit card debt (we all know how those interest rates can be killer).
My aha moment took place in 2015 while my husband, J, and I were vacationing in California. We were celebrating his most recent accomplishment, graduating from college. I also hadn’t been back home since 2012, so this was a much needed vacation for me at the time.
One afternoon, we both decided to take a drive up the beautiful California coast. The houses mounted along the sandy beaches and gorgeous mountains contained nothing but wealth! I then asked J, “Can you imagine what it would be like to wake up everyday and walk to the beach?”
His response was disheartening, “Yes, but we don’t make enough money for that”.
He was right, in all actuality, we were broke and couldn’t afford it. In that moment, I knew if I ever wanted to live on the beach some day, I would have to change something.
How long did it take you to rid yourselves of your debt?
As of April 2017, we have managed to pay off over $45,000! I still look at that number and can hardly believe it. In rough estimates, we eliminated $27,000 in my school loans, $9,000 in J’s school loans, and $9,000 in vehicle loans. We did it all on our own and in cash.
That is over 60% of our debt that we destroyed in only 23 months!
What are the things you did in your debt free journey that you feel were the most helpful?
There are a few things that we did during our debt free journey that I felt were extremely helpful, the first was learning how to live within our means. If we did not need it, we did not buy it. I’ve learned that we as human beings have the propensity to just want, want, want and buy, buy, buy – this behavior could very well increase our debt if we are not careful.
We also never used our one credit card unless we knew we were going to pay it off same day or the start of the next month. We never got out of hand with it and had great control with our spending.
What was the hardest things you had to deal with throughout the process?
The hardest thing we had to deal with was eliminating our dining out budget. While most people allot themselves this fund, we chose to ax it completely in order to save more money. In 2016, we spent only $665 on dining out! I was very pleased with how much cash we were able to save.
In addition to that, not spending more than $10 on each of our nieces and nephews at Christmas time was extremely hard on me. However, I have since learned that kids love things, not necessarily expensive things.
How did you stay motivated to keep going through your debt free journey?
Being married to someone who is on the same page as I helps a great deal. Having that accountability partner makes one huge heck of a difference! I couldn’t imagine what it would be like had I married someone whose spending habits were complete opposite of mine. I feel extremely blessed to have my husband’s full support.
What tools did you use to help you throughout the process?
Creating a budget and sticking to it was one of the best ways we kept on top of things in terms of our finances. We use Mint.com and address our budget on a monthly basis. I like to say, similar to those who are on a weight loss journey, financial check-ins are just as necessary if you want to see improvement!
What is the number one tip you have for others who are in debt and wanting to be free of it?
If you are ready to become free of all your debts, I would advise that you to make an admission that you are actually in debt. Becoming debt free is well worth the challenge you are sure to experience while on this journey. Denying or accepting the debt can only diminish your financial health. I took my own advice and it has made our journey so much easier.
Thank you so much Danielle, truly inspiring!!
You can read more about Danielle and J’s journey on how they are paying off their debt.
More inspiring debt free journeys
Contact me if you would like to share your story with my readers.