In today’s edition of the spending strike series, Ally is sharing her getting out of debt story plus useful tips for getting out of debt that you can implement yourself.
Our Journey to (Someday) Being Debt-Free – Tips for Getting out of Debt
My name is Ally and I blog over at Ally’s Sweet & Savory Eats (www.sweetandsavoryfood.com). My little blog has been going strong for 4 years now. Still quite hard to believe! I blog about all things relating to food – cooking and baking has become my passion and sharing it with my readers truly gives me the biggest joy.
Kelli and Michelle recently asked me if I’d like to be part of their Spending Strike in January. I had just finished the book and loved it. I asked my husband what he thought and he looked at me and said “don’t we already do that?”
Well, yeah, we pretty much do. So instead I asked the girls if I could just tell my story. So here we go. I hope you enjoy.
Besides cooking and keeping my blog up to date, I also have a TON more going on. My husband and I have been married for 7 years. We both were born and raised in small town Iowa and after college and a short “tour” of different towns for our various jobs, we landed in another small Eastern Iowa town a little over 4 years ago. I was 8 months pregnant with our first and had just recently quit my job due to our move. Do I recommend this? Not a chance! But it was a bit of a situation that was out of our control.
After moving into our new home (new to us, but certainly not NEW), I started my journey as a new mother and most recently a non-working mom. To say our budget was tight was an understatement. We were relying on my husband’s income and I remember telling people it was my job to “make my husband’s pay check stretch as far as it can go”.
I wasn’t lying. That really was my job. Every two weeks I stretched and pulled that thing to its limits in order to get all our bills paid and food on our table. It was a challenge!
We had never been “spenders”. I wasn’t one to go shopping once a week, nor was my husband. Really the only extras we spent our money on may have been dinner out. But, needless to say, we were still coming up short.
Fast forward a year later, I was pregnant with our second child. At this point, our money situation was screaming in our face “girl, you’ve got to get back to work!” As much as I hated it, I visited a temp agency and was able to land a job quickly in the corporate office of a local, large company. The pay was awful, and we did now have to pay for daycare, but it was still bringing in more money than when I was staying home.
For the next year, we cruised along. My belly grew, but our wallet not so much. We were getting by better than when I was staying at home, but we still weren’t making any headway. Ever feel that way? Paying the minimums on credit cards, but never seeing those balances move down? Yeah, that was us too.
Our second child was born in March of 2011. I took 9 weeks off from my temp job and returned just after Memorial Day. I was back to work for about a month in our department when rumors started circulating that we were going to be let go. Did I forget to mention that my husband changed jobs right about then as well? Better job, a bit better pay, same type of work. So….I started looking for other work. It was not an option for me to not work at this point. We had BILLS – student loans, credit cards, department store cards, the list seemed endless. We had been working hard at getting rid of them, but to be honest, we weren’t doing enough.
Within about a week, our department did get word that we had one week left of work. Crap! Luckily I had come across an ad for a job that was actually in my field – marketing and journalism. I called about the position and the lady on the phone told me that they had already conducted their interviews, but I was welcome to send over my resume, to see “if they could take one more”.
I’m not kidding, ten minutes after I hit “send” on that email she called me back and scheduled me an interview. Within in a week, I was let go from my previous job on a Tuesday and I accepted new job on a Wednesday. I would be lying to say someone wasn’t watching over us.
The new job took me down to part-time status, yet paid me much more and allowed us to decrease our daycare costs. It also offered a very flexible working schedule, so we were thrilled. At this point, we were both in new jobs, our schedules had changed a bit, but we were looking forward to our future. At this point it was June of 2011.
For the next year, we tightened our budget a bit more, but still didn’t follow a plan. We basically just watched our spending a bit more, saved a bit more and went on our merry way. Looking back, it KILLS me that we weren’t doing more at this point, but at the time we thought we were on track.
So here we are – two children under the age of two, one full-time job (and might I add with a crazy schedule), my part-time job, my blog (yes, it was still going strong!), and our bills. They weren’t going away. Our lives were so busy at this point, that frankly they were once again getting put on the backburner. Like most people that work outside of the home and who are trying their best to raise young children, you get tired. Really, really tired. It took most of our energy just to get through each day.
Even though I enjoyed my work I had dreams (and still do) of expanding my food blog, and hopefully someday having a successful published cookbook. At the same time, my husband enjoyed his work, but it is a hard field he works in. The hours are long, the individuals he deals with can be stressful and I’m pretty sure as soon as he “puts in his time” and is able to retire, he will. With all of this being said, we just didn’t seem to have our act together. We needed to be doing more, but we just hadn’t found the right system for us.
Around the Fall of 2012, my husband came across the Dave Ramsey program. A co-worker of his had talked to him about it, telling him all the debt they had paid off and how they had recently paid for a new deck off the back of their house with cash. Cash! Does anyone even do that anymore?
This intrigued us. Immensely. Just hearing someone else’s story about becoming debt free is thrilling. You can’t help but not feel good for them. But, then you get to thinking….if they can do it, why can’t we?
I still remember the day my husband came home and told me about this ‘Dave Ramsey’ guy. I’m not going to lie, I was a bit skeptical. He told me he was going to go online and order his books and cds. ( The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness). I’m pretty sure I rolled my eyes and felt nervous about that $49.95 going out our door, when it could be used towards an existing bill.
When the books arrived (all 3!), he started reading one and I started in on another, when he finished one and I finished mine, we switched and read each others. After about a month we were done reading. We learned a lot by reading those books! But at the same time, I remember thinking this is all common sense – why hadn’t we been smart enough to come up with this program?
In December of 2012 we embarked on our new journey.
Want to read more? Stay tuned!
Part II will be posted on The Sustainable Couple next week!
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