5 Tips to Pay Off Debt Fast

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IMG_4087For years, my husband and I spent money like nobody’s business. We swiped without considering consequences. Spent without calculating. Made choices and commitments without doing the math. When weekends rolled around, we treated ourselves and justified our actions with the rationale that we deserved it because we had worked hard all week.

But then, Monday would reappear, and our bank accounts would reflect the facade we were living. Our frivolous spending led to pointless fights that never resolved or changed anything, and we would retreat to our own corners, often turning to a little retail therapy to heal the pain. We were drowning in debt and had no idea how to change our situation.

I know, I know. The answer seems obvious. Just stop spending so much money. And we would. For awhile. But then something “important” would come up, and we would decided it was “worth it.” And it would lead us right back down the same broken path time and time again.

Getting out of bad relationships is hard, and the relationship with money is no different. It lures you in, promises to change and make everything all better. But then it goes back to the same old habits, and you’re left feeling even more broken and miserable than you did before.

IMG_7208You get comfortable with the life you live. It’s all you’ve ever known. It’s what you’ve been taught. It’s how your parents raised you. You just don’t know anything different.

The key to changing your relationship with money is to get angry. Really angry. You can’t just dip your toes in the water and expect to make a splash. You have to dive ALL IN. You have to be willing to get your hair wet and go underwater. You have to jump in, even if you’re not sure if you can swim.

The reality is, if you don’t want it bad enough, it will never happen.

We decided enough was enough. We sold our house, paid off our credit cards, paid off my student loans, and are in the process of paying off my husband’s student loans and our car. In the last 18 months, we’ve paid off $233,000 in debt. You read that correctly. $233,000. And we only have $17,000 to go.

People ask us all the time how we do it, and while there are a multitude of answers, they can most concisely be broken down into five tips.

  1. Figure out WHY you want to be debt free. There’s a big difference between will power and WHY power. At some point, will power fails all of us. We’re human. But why power has the ability to transcend our decisions and keep us focused on what really matters.
  2. Create a visual example of what your life will look once you’re debt free, and hang it somewhere you’ll see it daily. Will you give more? Where will you travel? What kind of freedom will it give you in your life? Be thorough.
  3. Start living on less than you make. We currently live on 27% of our income and have been for the last 18 months. It was really hard to do in the beginning. We kept falling in the trap of thinking we deserved certain things. Here’s the reality: if you can’t afford it, you don’t buy it.
  4. Create a budget and stick to it. This was always our biggest trap. We used to create a budget, try it out for a month, and scrap it once it didn’t work. For most people it takes 2-3 months (for us it was 4 months) to really solidify what a budget should look like. It requires brutal honesty. It requires admitting where the money is actually going each month. And it also means constant tweaks and adjustments, based on events you have happening, side income you have coming in, presents you have to give, etc. We update our budget monthly.
  5. Learn as much as you possibly can. Find leaders in the field you admire. Read books on the topic. Have conversations with anyone and everyone. Everyone has an opinion on money. Everyone. {Note: I’m not saying take everyone’s advice. I’m simply saying to have conversations. You should only take advice from people who are where you want to be. If they don’t have what you want, why would you listen to them? It’s obviously not going to lead you where you want to be.}

Forming new habits takes time. Have grace with yourself. Focus on WHY power vs. will power and stay the course. It’s time to create the freedom you’ve been envisioning and desiring. It’s not too late. We’re cheering for you!

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Katie is a Butler University graduate, who was lucky enough to meet her husband the third day of college. After graduating as one of Butler’s top 10 women, she went on to do Teach for America; South Carolina. She was a second grade teacher in a school with a high Hispanic population and loved every second of it. Never intending to be a stay-at-home parent, she worked until the day before she gave birth, took one look into her son’s eyes, and decided she wanted to be a stay-at-home mom after all. After re-prioritizing upon the birth of their son, Katie and her husband decided to move back to Indianapolis to be closer to family. She recently graduated with her master’s degree in education. She loves to cook, celebrate holidays, watch movies, party plan, travel the world, take walks, and play with her Border Collie. You will likely find her seeking adventure, hunting for bargains, helping others get healthy through her passion as a health coach, or cuddling on the couch with her hubby, baby, and puppy. If you’re interested in reading more about her crazy adventures, check out her personal blog, A Quinning Love.