Preface by Jacque: If you recall, I said I was leaving sloppy finances behind in 2015. That’s why I’m super excited about this guest-post by Candice of Young Yet Wise! Debt is never cute, so Candice has decided to bless us with some money saving tips. You’ll never look at your coins the same again!
Before we get started this is a judgment free zone, like planet fitness. I have a confession to make. Although I am a personal finance blogger there are some things I don’t like to do when it comes to money and budgets are one of them. There I said it. Just writing that sentence makes me breathe a little easier. Please don’t give me that look I know you don’t like the dreaded “b” word either.
Even though I don’t like budgets I realized that it was something that I had to do to keep me on track with my finances. Creating a budget is kind of like cardio, you know you just do 10- 20 minutes of it so you don’t get fat. It was important for me to give my money a plan, so that I could start paying off my debt.
“A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.”
― Dave Ramsey
I wanted to knock out my credit card debt first because my credit cards had the smallest balance. There are two ways to pay off debt. The avalanche method, where you focus on paying off the debt with the highest interest, Or the snow ball method where you pay off the debt with the lowest balance. I usually go with the snowball method to create small wins for myself.
I needed to know how I accumulated all this credit card debt. Like seriously how Sway? I looked over the last 3 months of my credit card statements so I could know exactly where my money was going. Many times we THINK we know where our money is going, but this exercise makes everything clear as glass.
I know it may seem like a scary task, seeing how you’ve spent your money, however it’s a very helpful exercise. I was shocked to find out that I had spent almost $600.00 on weave, wigs, haircuts, color and hair products in the past 3 months. Thinking you know where all your money is going and actually seeing where all your money is going are two very different things.
Once I was able to see exactly where my money was going, create a budget, and get into the habit of paying off my credit card balance in full each month it was time to tackle my student loan debt.
I graduated college with $38,000 of student loan debt. About 12 weeks ago I had about $20,000 left to pay. I admit on one of my small loans I was taking my sweet time as if it were a guy that I didn’t really like. You know the one that text you good morning and you sort of feel your eyes rolling. You don’t want to be rude, but you end up responding back 4 hours later. Sallie Mae was that guy. (Except you better not be late with their payments)
Anyway I was taking my sweet time and only paying the minimum balance. Then complaining when my balance didn’t seem to be moving. If you’re wondering why your balance isn’t moving it’s because you’re only paying the minimum amount. I also realized my balance wasn’t moving because I didn’t create a plan to make it move. I would tell myself I wanted to put more money towards my student loans yet there I was still only making the minimum payment.
It was time to create a concrete goal for my debt. My smaller student loan had about a $4,300 balance left. I told myself that I would pay off this debt by January 1st 2016. (I know look at me setting bold goals and giving myself a specific deadline) Paying off debt alone wasn’t very fun, so I decided to create a debt challenge. Where people compete to see who could pay off the most debt in 11 weeks. You can read more about the challenge here http://youngyetwise.com/how-a-debt-challenge-helped-10-people-pay-off-over-30000-of-debt/, but in those 11 weeks together everyone in the group paid off a total of $39,500 of debt. And I ended up reaching my goal of paying off my $4,300 balance by the New Year. Whoop Woot.
The competition factor played a huge role into me stepping up my debt payment game. The first few weeks of my debt challenge I was only paying a few hundred dollars, then I noticed people in the group were paying $1000 + and I felt as though I was slacking and had to pay off more. If our friends can pressure us into taking another drink, or buying that pair of shoes because “we deserve it”, why can’t our friends pressure us into paying off our debt?
If paying off debt is one of your goals in 2016 I’ve created a Slay your debt in 2016 workbook just to help you reach your money goals! You get yours here http://youngyetwise.com/slay-your-debt/ lots of great tips and motivation to keep you on track with kicking debt to the curb this year.