Our journey towards becoming debt free was by no means an easy feat...
Starting our journey.
Our journey towards becoming debt free was by no means easy. I was the spender, the classic head in the sand, kind of a girl. I brought to the relationship a considerable credit card debt and a car loan, my then boyfriend (now husband) brought financial maturity and a house deposit. So we bought a house, and he graciously helped me pay off one of my credit cards. I continued to spend until one day, he and my older sister decided to teach me a couple of things about money.
My husband drew out graphs, showing how long my debt would take to pay off, if I continued with minimum payments. And better still, how much interest I was going to be paying. Seeing the graphs and figures in black and white made me change my attitude pretty drastically. We got serious when we decided we needed to upgrade our house, the onset of the GFC meant that our current house had not gone up in value, thus we started from scratch for a new house deposit.
Getting the job done.
I got out of debt by working multiple jobs. I started with Tupperware, moved onto packing orders at a warehouse, sewing of stuffed animals, and even delivering catalogues. I saved money where I could. But above anything else, I stayed motivated - the biggest piece of the puzzle.
To stay motivated, we did a lot of things. Celebrating the small wins was the biggest. We got by with things like cheap pasta, occasionally rewarding ourselves with a splurge on expensive garlic bread from Aldi. As the wins got bigger so did our celebrations - a bottle of wine was a luxury!
I used colouring-in sheets to track our progress and vision boards to remind me where we were going and how we were going to get there. It wasn’t easy. But when you choose to have your debt as your screensaver, you can manage to stay motivated.
We stayed consistently motivated by setting ourselves the bare minimum amount of splurge money – in our toughest days, this was as low as $40 combined. But this money was what kept us on track mentally, we could buy what we wanted, guilt- free. Sometimes we would save it up to have a night out, other times we blew it on takeaway. But we never felt guilty and we never felt restricted.
Falling off the wagon.
We are all human, so if you do fall off the wagon, that’s okay. Just don’t stay on the ground too long. Pull yourself together and get back on. Feeling restricted or losing motivation does happen, but it’s important not to add to your debt during those times and to remember why you are doing this – your end goal!
Once we had bought our new house, we were down to our final sum of consumer debt (my car loan). Despite going through tough times, our ability to keep in good spirit has gotten us to where we are today. The greatest motivating factor for us has been the understanding that one day, all of this will be ours and we will no longer have to worry about our finances week in, week out.