Ten years ago, my husband and I began our journey to pay off more than $37,000 in debt. It took a little more than 2 years, but we reached our goal.
Was it easy? Not at all. But, it was worth it.
As you read my posts, it may seem like I have a great system to help teach others to get out of debt. I know what to do and what to avoid. But, that wasn’t always the case.
When we began our journey, we knew nothing. In fact, we made a lot of mistakes. A LOT of them. In the moment, we felt as if we knew nothing. However, looking back, we had to make those mistakes in order to reach our goal to become debt free.
Other helpful articles:
- How You Can Get Out of Debt (Even If You Don’t Make Much Money)
- 10 Crucial Steps for Getting out Debt
- How You Can Stay Motivated When Getting Out of Debt
MISTAKES WE MADE WHEN GETTING OUT OF DEBT
Which mistakes did we make and how did we overcome them? I’m giving you insight into my life, so you can avoid making these same blunders while you work yourself out of debt.
1. Not knowing our spending patterns
We really did not look at what we were spending our money. Not doing so led us to make the second mistake getting out of debt.
When we took the time to develop our spending plan, we had a more accurate picture of our spending lifestyle
2. We didn’t have a complete budget
As mentioned above, we didn’t really know where were were spending money. As a result, some of our first budgets were not accurate. They weren’t even close.
Once you have a workable budget, you will be able to see where your money goes.
3. Not changing our lifestyle
Getting out of debt should not be fun. It should not be easy. In the beginning of our journey, we tried to life the same life we had all long. When we finally woke up and said, “DUH!” we were able to change things, such as dining out and were on track to get out of debt.
The lifestyle we lived was why we had debt. Without making this change, we were not only destined to make the same mistakes, but also create more challenges for ourselves to pay off our debt.
4. Not understanding our money attitude
When I declared bankruptcy in 2002, it was the lowest moment of my life. I knew I never wanted to go down that path again. Sure, I knew I should not get into debt, but the problem was that I didn’t know the why behind what lead me there.
Once I figured out my attitude towards money, then things started to change. My husband did the same. And, our views were not the same at all. Not even close. That lead us to mistake #5.
5. Not being on the same page with one another
Have a different view money was another mistake I made when getting out of debt. I had my thoughts. He had his. We started having several discussions about money. We learned more about not only one another, but also about ourselves.
Once we had these discussions, we were able to have more compassion and understanding about one another and worked together to develop a plan that worked for both of us.
6. Not finding more ways to save
We can all do better about saving money. Even years later, I still need reminders and ideas to help us save money. When we were getting out of debt, we just tried to make the budget work as it was.
We did make some lifestyle changes, such as scaling back on cable and not dining out. However, we didn’t look at other ways to lower our spending.
The first line item I looked at was groceries. We were spending more than $150 a week on groceries – for our family of 4! I knew I had to find a way to save. At that time, the only option available was coupons. There were not some of the great apps such as Ibotta, Target Cartwheel or Checkout 51. Once I figured out how to make those coupons work for our family, our spending went down and we had more money for our debt.
As great as it was to reduce our spending, the best thing that came from me figuring out these money saving tactics was this site.
7. Not making more money
When we were working on getting out of debt, I was a stay-at-home mom. My husband was making a decent income. I did not want to get a job. But, if we really wanted to get out of debt quickly, I had to find a way to make money.
As stated in #6 above, I began to make changes to our grocery budget and started my site. After I began my site, I realized that I could make money doing this! Once I figured that out, I started working even harder so I could make even more.
This site is one of the reasons we were able to pay off our debt as quickly as we did. The additional money we made went towards our debt. Every. Single. Penny.
While starting a blog is one way to make money, there are countless other ideas and tactics you can use to increase your income by working for yourself or trying out unique side hustles.
8. Not having a goal in mind
When we started, we just said that we wanted to get out of debt. However, that wasn’t really a “goal” per se. Once we said that we wanted to get out of debt so we could save to buy a new pickup, we had an actual goal.
Getting out of debt is a goal, but it did not have a prize at the end for us. We couldn’t picture a life without debt, but we could imagine that pick-up sitting in the driveway.
A clearly defined goal really helped us figure out what we really wanted to achieve by getting out of debt.
9. Keeping our plan visible
We started off right away by creating a debt snowball. So, we knew what we wanted to do. However, the numbers were on Excel, on a computer. It wasn’t visual.
One day, I decided to make a list and put it on fridge. Each time we saw it, we could see where we were before and where we were headed. That visual reminder helped us know that we did not need to go out to dinner. It kept my weekly grocery budget where it needed to be.
Not only that, but we had pride in what we were doing. We saw that we had already paid of $x in debt. That was to be celebrated as it wasn’t easy, but we were doing it.
If you’re just starting your journey to get out of debt, don’t worry. You will probably also make mistakes along the way. Hopefully, after reading this, you’ll avoid making the same mistakes we did. But, regardless of what happens, just be sure to learn from them and keep moving forward to your goal.