This is something I'm pretty proud of and wanted to share. It's also incredibly personal, and I'm more than a little nervous sharing, but maybe it will encourage or inspire someone having their own financial struggles. This started out as a ridiculously long post, so I ended up splitting it into a series. Be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2!
I did it!
Didn't we just pay off my husband's student loan? Well, this morning, I hit the final "make payment" button on my own Sallie Mae crutch. Aside from our mortgage payment (which is covered by our renters each month), we are entirely debt free!
I'm honestly excited for the day we are really 100% debt free and ready to buy our own house again (which will be a very different experience the next time around). It's a pretty incredible and empowering feeling as is, though.
My best advice if you're just starting out is to get Dave Ramsey's book from your local library and read it cover to cover. Budgeting your finances should be done like budgeting your calories - thoughtfully and with regard to your overall well-being. It doesn't mean it has to be complicated. It also doesn't mean you can't splurge occasionally, just so long as you take responsibility for your choices. Also, be sure to make decisions as a team if you're married or sharing finances with a partner. There's a reason they say money is a top cause for arguments in relationships. If you are open and honest in your communication, setting limits and boundaries you both agree upon, it takes a lot of the tension out of that part of your relationship. Pretty much like any area of your relationship, right? Plus, it helps to work together to achieve your goals, and to have someone say "no, we don't need that jet ski right now - I'd rather pay off the mortgage and get a newer/more reliable car first" when temptation strikes.
It feels like it's going to take forever when you first set out to pay off your debt, but once you get rolling - it goes so fast! It really is a matter of knowing what you're spending and where. I think people (myself included) can so easily tell themselves that $5 here or $10 there doesn't add up to much, but it really can. That's $5-10 each time that could be going toward your debt - $5-10 of debt that you don't need to be paying interest on!
It seems hard when you're looking at giant numbers and feeling the burden of all the debt you may have, but I promise, if you work hard at this, you will never regret becoming debt free. It's not about moving your debt around trying to get lower interest rates - just get rid of your debt. I don't care if you think your interest is tax deductible, you don't need it. Here are some simple tips you can follow if you're looking for a jump start and a little guidance:
And, I cannot stress enough just what a difference budgeting has made in our financial well-being. If nothing else, it has truly opened our eyes to our own spending habits, and helped us to prioritize where we actually want our money to be going.
I'm really proud of what we've accomplished - really proud of my husband for orchestrating this. It hasn't always been easy, but it has definitely been worth it.
What has been your greatest struggle in managing your own finances? Our next mission is to build up our savings again and then create reliable retirement and college savings for our family. I'd love if you could share some tips you've learned along your own journey!