I Paid Off $30k Of Debt In Just 9 Months On a Single Average Salary.
If you're buried under a mountain of debt, it can feel suffocating. Believe me, I've been there. I remember the stress and anxiety I felt every time I opened my bills. I needed to do something, and I wanted to do it fast.
I've managed to pay off $30k of debt in 9 months during the GFC, when interest rates were higher than they are now and cost of living was a mounting pressure too.
I'm sure this anxiety and overwhelming feeling is exactly how many millennials and gen x folks might feel about the current state of their finances - we were born into a world where consumerism and instant gratification rule.
We have been conditioned for the whole premise of you want it, you have it (even though you might not have the money for it, or can't afford it).
Unlike the generations before us who had to save up real money for things they needed, or indeed wanted, we are constantly being told we can buy now, pay later. This whole idea of debt to fund lifestyle (live while you're young) has been around for us from day dot.
But the things is, we end up with a lot of throw-away things and a mountain of debt with it. Credit card interest, personal loan interest and buy now pay later charges and fees.
The hard realisation I was spiralling out of control
When I was in my mid-twenties I ended up heavily in debt - $30,000 worth including credit card, personal loans, and student loan.
One day I received a call from debt collectors chasing me for payment - this was my kick up the butt and a huge wake-up moment.
Was it scary?
Heck yes it was! If you are reading this I am sure you know the *gulp* feeling.
But here is the thing: I realised doing nothing about it would not change my situation. It would only make everything worse.
I built my first budget spreadsheet
Using Excel I built my first budget spreadsheet that helped me establish my starting position and help me reach my goal FAST. It covered all of my income and all expenses.
I started to budget... and haven't looked back since!
I looked at every dollar coming in and going out.
My focus? Finding money and prioritising debt payments. But also finding clever ways I could still enjoy life; daily lattes, hanging out with my friends, and trips to visit family while I threw extra money at debt.
It's been 15 years and I still budget saving $15k-$20k a year. Budgeting does not limit me. In fact it gives me freedom to do more of what I love without the fear of overspending or drowing in debt again.
I get to enjoy regular holidays with my daughter, go out with friends, and have a healthy emergency fund - all on an average income. No credit card - all paid for with cash flow and nifty hacks. And I am here to show you HOW you can do that too!
MY 6 TIPS FOR DIGGING YOURSELF OUT OF DEBT FASTER
1. Make a budget—and stick to it.
This may seem obvious, but it's important to sit down and figure out exactly where your money is going each month. Track your income and expenses to get an accurate picture of where your money is going.
Once you have a budget, make a plan to stick to it. There will be months where you overspend, but don't let that derail your progress. This is also where an Emergency Fund comes in handy.
Want to get started?
2. Start your Emergency Fund ASAP
An Emergency Fund is savings put aside for emergencies. Think big bills that pop up unexpectedly:
the car needs fixing
the fridge died
you need to take unpaid leave
you have an unexpected medical bill...
Even when paying down debt start a $1,000 emergency fund ASAP. Keep the money separate from your everyday spending budget to stop reaching for into on impulse.
And no, your credit card is not an emergency fund. Why?
Because it's not your money
It can cost you hundreds in interest
And let's be honest, you end up using it for more than just that with interest piling now into thousands. I know, I was.
3. Attack your debt with the snowball (or other methods).
The debt snowball method is simple: you make minimum payments on all of your debts except for the one with the lowest balance - attack that one first with all your spare cash.