Being $60k in debt will make anyone feel like they don’t have enough money. It can make you feel like you have failed, like you have let down your dreams and those who look up to you.
I get it, I was $60k in debt.
Yes, you read correctly, I’ll say that again.
I was $60k in debt.
Each month I was living paycheck to paycheck with nothing left to show for the long hours at the office. My debts – instead of going down – were going up. I was spending every spare cent just to pay the minimum amount on all my loans and credit cards.
I was miserable, unmotivated and couldn’t see a way out. It was affecting my motivation, my health and my marriage. All the parts of my life that I hold dear.
Something had to change.
It wasn’t until I learnt how to manage my money that things started to turn around. Once I got my finances under control, I started to feel more secure and confident in all areas of my life, not just my finances.
I’ll be brutally honest here; it was hard work every single day. It took constant daily diligence to pay off $60k in debt in 2 years.
Financial security is something we all aspire to and when you are in debt from student loans, credit cards, car loans … its hard to see a life where you have financial independence, your retirement is being funded and you can leave your crappy job and find one you love.
But it can be done. If I can do it – a girl who LOVES shoes and fancy dinners, you can too!
So today, I wanted to share my step-by-step formula on how I paid off $60k in debt in 2 years:
1 | SAVE A $1K EMERGENCY FUND IMMEDIATELY
Save $1k as soon as you can and only use it for emergencies. Emergencies are unexpected things that happen such as your car breaking down or you get sick. My biggest worry when I was in debt was that I didn’t have money for unexpected emergencies, what if the toilet breaks and floods the apartment (no joke… this actually happened), what if my car breaks down (and it frequently did) or what if I have to fly home due to an emergency?
Being stressed out about having no money is horrible. You make decisions based on your next paycheck and have no money for when emergencies arise. By having an emergency fund, you are always covered for any emergencies that arise. Save $1k as soon as you can and I promise you will sleep better.
2 | CREATE A ZERO BASED BUDGET AND STRICTLY FOLLOW IT
A zero-based budget is where you allocate every single dollar from your income until there is a zero balance and how we paid off $60k in debt. It helps you plan where your income will be spent for the month on paper before spending it in real life. If you want the full technical explanation read it here and download the Allocated Spending Plan.
Whenever you go to spend money, refer to your budget and if it isn’t planned – don’t spend it!
3 | REDUCE YOUR BILLS
Cut out any unnecessary spending like subscriptions – do you really need cable TV or a Birchbox subscription? Cut out any expense that is not essential. We cancelled our cable TV, stopped magazine subscriptions, reduced our internet plan etc. Evaluate every utility bill and see if you can get a better plan with a different supplier.
4 | SELL, SELL, SELL!
Looking around your home, is there any items that you longer use or that have become an eyesore? What about old surfboards you never use or an outdated laptop? Do you have two cars but really only need one? Can you use public transport instead?
Keep items in your home that make you happy, or as Marie Kondo says ‘keep only what brings you joy’. Not only will you spend less time looking after all these things, you will also create more time to do more of what you love in your life.
5 | SAVE EACH AND EVERY MONTH
You may be looking at your budget and be thinking I can’t even pay the minimum on my credit cards let alone think about how to start saving. But trust me, this step is critical to your financial abundance and how I paid off $60k in debt
Start small, even if it’s just 1% of your monthly salary; save it and don’t touch it. It may seem like a pittance at the time, but after one year of not even noticing the money being automatically transferred into a savings account; we had $5k saved!
6 | PAY THE SMALLEST DEBT FIRST
And finally the last step; it’s time to focus on paying off those overwhelming debts that are stealing your happiness.
Once you have reduced all your bills and created some immediate cash flow by selling items you no longer use, put all available funds into paying off the smallest debt first. This is often referred to as the snowball effect. Focus on paying off the smallest debt first whilst still paying the minimum on all your other debts. Once the first debt is paid off, put that available cash into paying off the next debt until it is paid. And so forth.
7 | COMMIT TO YOURSELF
Before any real change will happen to your financial situation, let alone pay off $60k in debt, you need to 100% commit to yourself. Commit to making a change in your spending habits, commit to reducing your bills, commit to spending less. You can no longer do what you have been doing as that has lead to a life of debt, stress, of living pay check to pay check and never knowing if you will have enough to put food on the table. Commit to yourself that you will take daily action – no matter how small – to gain financial security and reduce your debts.
By paying off $60k in debt in 2 years my husband and I have been able to enjoy living in Europe. We have the extra cash flow to go snowboarding in Switzerland, swim in the beautiful beaches of Ibiza, enjoy fancy dinners and always have an emergency fund. I no longer stress about if we have enough money next month to pay the rent or if the car breaks down, will I be able to get it fixed.
And the best thing of all…. we never have to stress about if we can pay the bills.
So what are you waiting for?