HOW WE PAID OFF £18,000 OF DEBT IN 2 YEARS





21/6/2018



*Fresh faced newlyweds in 2014 and JOB (Just Over Broke)





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These days, I feel like too often my conversations with people tend to revolve around needing more money. It's usually the number one reason that people say is prevent them from living a more fulfilled life. It was the same for us in deciding when would be the right time to pack up and see the world. For me, I was in debt at 18 before I even started university. Those student overdrafts & credit cards scream "FREE MONEY" and when you lack financial education it can be easy to be sucked into the offers, telling yourself you'll pay it back well before the interest free period ends #lesigh.



We live in a world where we're taught that being in debt is a good thing as it will help you to build up your credit score. I call Bullshit!!! So, off I naively went on my spending spree in the form of clothes, eating out and several holidays a year and before I knew it, the fun stopped and the interest free periods ended and in the blink of an eye I'd topped over £12,000 debt in the form of credit cards, car loans, postgraduate loans, money owed to my mum, the list goes on.



On the other hand, AJ has always been the opposite to me, he'll tell you he had back ups of back ups of back ups worth of savings. When I met him, he couldn't even get a mobile phone contract because he was "too clean", he had no debt at all and over our dating years he helped me to calm my spending but unfortunately a business opportunity gone wrong landed him with a significant amount of debt too and an awful case of depression.



We were newlyweds and we had more money going out each month than coming in and there were times when all we could eat was "poor man's food" because there just wasn't enough for anything else. I remember battling to decide whether to spend the money gifted to us on our wedding day from our family & friends on our honeymoon or paying off some of the debt. We chose the honeymoon! I can't remember the exact moment when we started to turn things around but I remember crying almost daily about how much we were struggling.



We wrote down a list of everything we owed, it totalled over £18,000 and we went online to research what we could do to pay down our debts as quickly as possible. It took us 2 years to get rid of the debt in its entirety and I've listed below all the techniques we used in no particular order bar the very first technique. If debt is something you're struggling with, I hope that some of the things we did will help you too and please don't suffer in silence. Ask for help if you need it.



1. Get some financial education: One of the best things I did with regards to our finances was to completely change my relationship with money by reading 'Rich Dad, Poor Dad' by Robert T. Kiyosaki. It helped me to understand how money truly works and how the rich make money work for them. Which is completely different to what I had been taught previously. Though I haven't got round to implementing all the strategies, it's a keeper in my eyes and is one of the books that I currently have on me.



2. Snowballing: As suggested by Dave Ramsey - We listed all of our debts from smallest to largest and would make minimum payments on all of the debts with interest. The rest of our 'spare' money would then be used to pay as much as possible on the smallest debt each month until it cleared. Then repeat until each debt is paid in full. We were able to pay off an entire credit card in one month using this method, I can't believe we didn't come across it sooner. I have now created a debt snowball calculator to help you clear your debts, check it out here.



3. Stop Saving: We desperately wanted to save but it just didn't make sense with such a large amount of debt. We made the conscious decision to pay off our debts first before even saving a penny. What would be the point in have £1000 in saving as if anything happened to us, the debt would swallow it instantly so as scary as it sounded, any savings we had immediately went towards paying off the debt.



4. Transfer Credit Card Balance to 0% Interest Card: Exactly as it says on the tin, we were able to give ourselves a breather from all of those crazy interest charges for a period of 18 months by simply doing some research, it was a fairly simple process that took months off of our repayment plan.



5. Place Baby Plans On Hold: Initially we didn't really have a set time for baby making, we wanted to make sure we had some baby free time to ourselves and we also didn't want to bring a baby into the world whilst we were in debt. We knew that whenever baby Gordon would arrive it would be right but ideally when that time came, we wouldn't have to worry about our finances on top of all that comes with being new parents. So when I did get pregnant, everything was bought with cash and we are now able to put money away for her each month into a locked savings account so she'll be able to start her adult life financially much better off than we did.



6. Spend On Almost Only the Essentials: I say almost because we would treat ourselves occasionally but it was a rarity. It was a year before we spent any money on clothes. We were pretty unsocial, only going out with family and friends a few times a year, unless it involved a night in, we wouldn't really get involved. I found this difficult as I love to go out and explore new places but it was necessary. Short term pain for long term gain, it definitely hurt at the time but it's over and now we live a life where we can freely explore the world.



7. Money In Envelopes: We ensured that we had enough money to cover our direct debits in our bank accounts but anything that could be paid in cash, like food shopping we would withdraw. If we had budgeted £200 a month on food, it would go into an envelope and once it ran out that was it! It forced us to be super lean at times!



8. Date Nights Indoors: Our date nights have always been super important for us and used to always involve going out. Paying down our debts meant we needed to ensure our date night spending was limited. We gave ourselves an allowance of £50 a month and had to get super creative with the way we spent our time, we'd often recreate some of the things we enjoyed doing outdoors like wine tasting and games nights but now it was much more cost effective.



9. DietBet: Who knew that you could turn losing weight into a way to make money. DietBet challenges users in a little friendly weight loss competition. You place an agreed amount into a pot held by the website and need to lose a percentage of your body fat in order to win and only those who lose the suggested amount would win a cut of the pot. This can be done amongst friends or other users on the site. I did DietBet for at least 6 months, lost a great deal of weight and won some money in the process.



10. Start a Business: It's risky but our businesses to date have generally done very well at generating profits for us. Though it can take a while before you see a return on your investment, SuperFunkyMe in particular helped us to pay off a number of expensive bills. We've taken some risks, including that one time we chose to use our rent money to pay for an event. We chose to ignore the threatening reminder letters from our landlord and by the following month, we had made almost triple our money back from selling jewellery. It's not something I suggest you do and it definitely had my heart racing but we had faith in our business and it didn't let us down.



11. Set Your Mind & Keep It Set: It can be really emotionally draining and can affect your mental health, particularly if you have a significantly large debt. Please please seek professional help if you feel so overwhelmed that you can't see a way out. However, if you feel that you can control your finances, start now, get focused and stay focused!! It felt like it would take forever for us to come out the other side but we did it and you can too!



Stay tuned for next weeks blog post where i'll show you how we saved over £15,000 in one year which led to us quitting our jobs.

Love & Light,


Chi