Debt Free Living: How to start (How we paid off over $90,000 - Part 2)

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by Robin

debt free living

Ages ago we shared Part 1 of our Debt-Free Living series.  In that post, we outlined how we got into debt problems - and just how much debt we were faced with.  I had promised Part 2 shortly - and I've tried to write it for months. Months!

The other night I realized that the things that were stopping me from tackling the writing of that "how to pay off your debt" post are very similar to the things that stop people from tackling their debt:

Where the heck do you start?! It's a huge rat's nest of problems to pull apart and address.

That's what this part of our Debt-Free Living series will address: where the heck you start!

Debt Free Living: Where to start

We didn't get truly serious about solving our money problems and paying off our debt until we had our first baby.  I so wish we started earlier, and we half-heartedly did, but our approach was distracted.  A baby has a way of making you focus, doesn't it?

As we talked about in Part 1: Our Debt Story we were pretty buried under debt - much of it "good debt" - student loans, mortgage, etc. - but much of it was the regular old consumer debt - just buying pretty meaningless stuff.

Our first step to Debt-Free Living: Commit to a Real Heart Goal.

Of course, paying off debt in itself is a worthy goal. But it's a bit abstract, no? If you don't pay it off quickly, that number just looks worse, but your day-to-day life looks pretty much exactly the same.

A more tangible, from-the-heart kind of goal is the ember that will keep your debt burning efforts going best.

For us, it was the goal of one parent working part-time to have the most loving caregivers around our baby as much as possible.  (Now, I am not slagging babysitters or childcare for children - we used both - it is necessary and can be wonderful when the fit is right.  But for us, we wanted our baby to spend most of her waking moments with someone whose eyes lit up with love for her.)

That was our motivation: get the debt off our backs so our arms could be full of our babies.

Your motivation might be the same - or very different - and that's the key. It's the goal that YOUR heart wants.

  • How do you want your life to look?  And I don't mean the stuff you look at. What is the real life you want to live?
  • How will your life be better if the debt was gone? Get concrete with your answer. This solid goal will keep you going when things get tough.

As I said in Part 1:
paying off debt

Our Second Step to Debt Free Living: Remember What You REALLY Want.

The key to evicting debt is discipline. Blech.  Discipline is such a loaded word, but I have a favourite definition that helps me:

Discipline is remembering what you REALLY want.

Inspiring!  I really want to make my own decisions for my future, without nasty-old debt limiting me.  Knowing, really knowing this, helps us to keep that credit card in the wallet and buy less crap.

For us the best reminder was creating our FamilyVision Statement.  I think it will really help you too!  Check out the simple idea here.

Our Third Step to Debt-Free Living: Don't Carry a Credit Card Balance - EVER.

The worst of our consumer debt was sitting on credit cards.  You know, that balance that grows like mould on old bread.

In the early days of managing money together, we let those balances carry over and just paid the minimums.


You will NEVER pay your debts if this is your approach.  That interest will grow the debt until you are paying many times more than the value of what you bought with the credit card in the first place.

So we committed to never carrying a balance.  If you do this you will never pay a cent in interest to the credit card companies.  Their interest rates are huge - 18%+.  Those companies don't need your money - you do.

In order to stop carrying balances we got a Line of Credit with a much lower interest rate and paid the credit cards off.  And then we never carried a balance again.

A Line of Credit can be its own beast if you let it.  If you choose to take this route use discipline - to remember what you really want - and commit to it being a one-way account.  One you just send money to - not take money from.

So that's how we started killing our bossy debt.  Our next post will cover more of our strategies for the day-to-day death-to-debt challenges - Coming Soon!  Be sure to subscribe to our weekly newsletter so you don't miss anything!

You can read all our Saving Money Tips right here!

1 comment

  1. I read the article on Vision Statement and it was very good; the ending also said you made those goals and had the trip to Costa Rica, Yahoo! In your update I hope you touch on retirement savings??, college savings (a hard one) and fun things for you and hubs. Did you guys ever replace the van?


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