How We Paid Off $22,000 in Debt in 14 Months (Part 2)
We're officially debt-free! Hooray!!
Today, we're covering how we accomplished this at a tactical level. Read part 1 here for how we did it, emotionally.
1) Increased income
I know. This is like reading a "how to lose weight" article and hearing that the secret is to eat well and exercise. But it's true. Increasing income is the number one way to reduce your debt. Since starting our journey in May 2017, I was fortunate enough to received 2 increases in base income, as well as several small stock pay-outs. N also kicks ass at his job and received an income increase as well as a spot bonus.
2) "Downgraded" apartments
You all KNOW how I felt about our last apartment. It was close to metro, but the layout sucked and it was a bad leasing office. So we moved in February. And even though we're saving $300/month on rent alone, we hardly think of it as a downgrade. Our current unit has MORE square footage, and windows, and a patio that doesn't face a parking garage. It IS farther away from metro, but nothing's wrong with a little exercise!
3) Set Up Automatic Transfers
With both of our paychecks, a set amount goes STRAIGHT into our emergency account, and another set amount goes STRAIGHT into our savings account, all before the paycheck goes into our checking account (#groundbreaking.) When the paycheck comes in, we immediately pay off the portion we pre-determined in the budget toward the debt. This "pay yourself first" mentality is really key. EVERY DOLLAR HAS A JOB!
4) Cut (Most of) The Crap
I found a cheaper gym. We shopped around and found cheaper car insurance. We (mostly) stopped mindlessly renting on amazon prime. We reduced our Audible subscription. We found a cheaper cell phone plan. We make a grocery list and meal plans and (mostly) stick to them. We pack our lunches. We put the A/C on lower (or higher? idk whatever is less comfortable!) We don't eat meat every night. We use reusable bags (5 cents for every plastic bag in MD adds up!) I stopped getting (as many) manicures. And really? We hardly notice a difference.
Children make impulse decisions. Adults practice delayed gratification. When we want to buy something, we write it on the "To Buy" section of our spreadsheet. Then, we WAIT. A few days, a few weeks, whatever. By this time, I have either....
a. Realized that this is NOT something we NEED to buy, or,
b. Found the best place / most cost effective way to buy the thing. HINT: That's mostly either Goodwill, Marshalls, or the Ann Taylor Loft sale section. God damn do I love me some Marshalls.
6) Practice Gratitude
This is a phrase I wrote down and pinned to my cubicle wall, courtesy of the Frugalwoods.
"When you prioritize your time, you have all the time you need. When you prioritize your money, you have more than enough for living well."
I am so damn grateful that we have everything we need to live a full, healthy live. THINGS don't make me happy. SHOPPING doesn't make me happy. It's a thing I do, it's not a HOBBY.
My CATS make me happy. My family, friends, health, yoga, exercising, going on walks, reading a book, singing, taking baths, chilling on my porch.... THOSE are what make me really happy. So I do those instead.
7) We Splurge On What Matters
We shop at MOM's organic market and buy bougie, organic produce. We gladly participate in weddings to support our friends. We donate to charity monthly. We take trips to visit our far-away friends and family. We get frozen yogurt at our favorite place on the regular. We have plants. We buy candles. WE INVEST IN THINGS THAT GIVE US JOY. Because that is self-care. We are not trying to needlessly punish ourselves here, people.
That's the point of money. It's to spend it on things that matter and give you joy, NOT on a year's worth of $6.99/month subscriptions to Microsoft word for a computer you don't use anymore because ONE DAY YOU'RE GOING TO NEED IT (true story.)
Well, that's pretty much it, folks. Adulting is hard. But the journey continues!