Chase and I both come from poorer backgrounds. Money management wasn’t a strength for us in the beginning, because we had never had money to manage. We were also very young when we got together.
During the first 3 years of our relationship we racked up debt. Chase was relocated to Minnesota and we spent a lot of money traveling back and forth to see each other. In 2015 we got married, another expensive endeavor, and we still didn’t make a lot of money.
In 2016 Chase was relocated to Kentucky and we were thrilled. Not only would we be closer to family, the cost of living was so much cheaper than Minneapolis. We knew our debt had to go before we could have a baby or buy a house. So we set out to pay off our debt.
The first thing you need to do is get a clear idea of how much debt you have. Including separate accounts your partner may not know about. This can be a difficult conversation, but it’s important to be honest and open.
Make a list. For us we had a credit card with a small amount, two with larger amounts, two car payments, one medical bill, and two student loans.
We used the snowball method. Paying the minimum amount on all debts until paying off the smallest one, then applying that money to the next smallest one. Any extra money we received, like for selling something or as a gift was also applied to the first debt.
Not everyone gets a Christmas bonus. But Chase gets them with his company. We always picked a debt to pay with them. Once bonus money goes into the account it’s easy to spend it. We discussed before it came exactly what we wanted to do with it. Once it was deposited it immediately went to debt.
Paying off debt is a long process it doesn’t happen overnight. We started doing this in 2016. We paid off our last debt: one of Chase’s student loans in 2020. Keep chipping away and don’t get discouraged.
Now for my tips that are more unique to my family. I’m an “extra” person and I love to shop. I spend money on gifts, themed play dates, and other extras. But that all adds up and we didn’t want to fall right back into debt. I also didn’t want to give those habits up. They bring joy to myself and others.
So I sought out ways to be extra on the cheap side and here’s what I do.
1) I started a side hustle. This isn’t going to be something everyone can do, but it’s more accessible than you think. I started a blog and a reselling business on Poshmark. But it can be something as simple as selling old items on Facebook marketplace and saving that cash for fun stuff.
2) Speaking of Facebook Marketplace. I make our items work for us. If we’re done with something I always sell it. Whether on marketplace, eBay, Poshmark, consignment , the local mom page, or at a yard sale I always sell the items we’re done with.
3) Shop Used. Not only is this more economical. It’s so much better for the environment. We recently redid Sharkie’s room. I shopped on Facebook marketplace and Goodwill and was able to re-do the room for 1/3 of new.
- Facebook Marketplace
- Yard Sale Pages
- Local Consignment
These are all great places to start looking for great items.
4) Shop Off The Wall Places. I know some people are off put by places like TJ Maxx. They can be disorganized, but I find the best stuff for the best prices.
- TJ Maxx
- Home Goods
- Ollie’s Bargain Outlet
- Big Lots
5) Shop Ahead. This one requires a little extra room and money but if you have both this one will save you a lot money in the long run. When I see sales or find something great but maybe seasonal I go ahead and get it and hang onto it.
Every family is unique, but this is what helped us pay off our debt. The other tips help me maintain my “extra-ness” without breaking the bank.
Currently the only debt we have is our mortgage. Hopefully we can keep to our plan and remain debt free. It’s so easy to get into debt; but getting out is 100% worth it.