How I Began My Journey to Debt Freedom

My little blog is two months old today, and to celebrate this tiny milestone (why not? who doesn’t love celebrations?) I decided to write a blog post about how it all began. By all I mean my journey to debt freedom and financial independence, and I’ll talk about the baby steps I took to embark on this adventure.

MAKE A DECISION

I realise now that the most important  thing to do if you’re tired of being in debt is to make a hard decision to become debt free. Once and for all! This may sound easier than it is in reality. You see, I don’t remember ever hiding from the fact that I had debt, or throwing bills away without opening them because I was too scared to look what was inside. This isn’t about me.

I’ve always been good at making all my payments on time. Unfortunately, I was mostly making minimum payments on my credit cards, which means I still owe what I borrowed a long time ago. This didn’t particularly bother me, and I continued spending my cash on travelling, shopping, eating out and other joys of life. For years. Sure, I had thought about eliminating my debt and how great that would’ve been, but this didn’t materialise into anything until I have had enough of living from paycheck to paycheck and decided it was time to stop spending! What I’m trying to say is that sometimes circumstances force you to make a decision to become debt free, rather than this being your own choice.

TAKE ACTION

Once the decision has been made, it was time to sit down, grab all my bank statements, a calculator, and a notebook, and spend the next couple of hours writing down all my debts, the minimum payment amount that was due every month and the interest I was paying to the bank. You can read more about this here. I had to call my bank to enquire about an interest rate on my credit card as I had no idea what it was. It was now time to look at my regular expenses. These included rent & utilities, transportation, mobile phone bill, cable TV, magazine subscriptions, etc. I realised that some of the expenses were unavoidable (like rent & utilities) and some (like magazine subscriptions) were not. So I cancelled the ones that I did not need. I also reviewed my unavoidable expenses to see if they can be reduced (this is still work in progress) and cut my mobile phone bill in half – I stopped making international calls and started using Skype instead. I also started budgeting to keep track of my money, gave up some luxuries along the way, implemented no spend days and, most of all came up with a plan to eliminate my debt. I am also looking for ways to generate some extra cash (I sold some unwanted items last month and increased the rent on the property that I sublet back in my hometown this month) while living a frugal lifestyle and paying off my debts.

SEEK INSPIRATION

I didn’t know this great community of personal finance bloggers existed until I stumbled across Cait‘s blog, Blonde on a Budget, back in May. Cait’s story is such an inspiration! I have started my own blog to help me stay motivated throughout my journey to debt freedom, and I’m so grateful for my readers and all the comments I’ve received so far. I’ve found other amazing blogs since then, including Laura‘s from No More Spending, Wendy‘s from Girl Meets Debt and Tonya‘s from Budget and the Beach who have been very welcoming, kind and supportive (thank you, ladies!). I know there are many other great blogs out there, and I cannot wait to read them all!

I may not be “an aggressive debt eliminator” like some bloggers out there who are doing amazingly well. It will take me over two years to pay off my debt. But I have a goal, I am taking steps (no matter how small they may seem) towards achieving it, and I’m sure that with my hard work, a little inspiration and your support, I will get there in no time!


Related Posts:
My Love Affair With Debt (We’re Breaking Up)
How I Paid Off £14,000 of Debt in 18 Months

 

How I Began My Journey to Debt Freedom - Girl Counting Pennies

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14 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing your story of how it all began…like you I had no dramatic “moment” of when I realized I had to stop living like this. I always paid my bills on time but I thought that debt was “normal” and that one day I will pay it all off but I want to “enjoy” my life now. Living paycheque to paycheque was tiring but I was so used to it that I just accpeted it. Then I met J, and he convinced me to start my blog so it would help me stay accountable to paying off my debt and introduce me to the PF community so I could learn a thing or two from others. I’m so happy I did and I’m so happy to have come across your blog. Happy 2 Months Blog Anniversary GCP and many more! 😀

    1. Thank you Wendy! Oh yes, living from paycheck to paycheck was very tiring indeed, and like you I thought it was “normal” as I didn’t know any different. I’m so happy to be here too and to be able to learn from others and share my own experiences. I’m glad you met J and that he talked you into starting your blog, otherwise, we may have never “met” 🙂

  2. Nice job!!! And I’m glad I could be part of your welcoming committee into the personal finance blogging world! 🙂 I know I had a lot of support from bloggers when I first started and you will find this to be a very supportive community. I too had my own kind of rock bottom moment which forced me to live more frugally, which at first was tough, but has become part of my life now. I think you’ll find the same thing to be true and have your debt paid off before you know it!

    1. Thanks Tonya, I’m glad I found the PF community. I think it’s important to feel support, especially when you’re dealing with something like debt repayment. Being here keeps me inspired and motivated to do better! 😉 I think it’s true that living frugally becomes part of your life. I have only been doing it for a little while so far but I can see some considerable changes in my spending habits etc, and I will keep embracing my newly found frugal living 🙂

  3. Thanks for this post and inspiring others! My wife and I are hoping to be debt free by the end of next month. You may find that the journey starts off slow but as you start to reach the end and see the light at the end of the tunnel you will get extra motivation to sacrifice more. What do you think has been the hardest part for you so far?

    1. Thank you Vincent! Congratulations on becoming debt free next month! This is quite an achievement and at this point I can only imagine what it feels like. I guess the hardest part so far has been the ability to make this long overdue decision to become debt free. It’s not hard to be allocating more cash towards my debts, the key is to be willing to do so… This is why I am here, to stay motivated! 🙂

  4. Welcome to the pf blogging world! You have to do things at your own pace and do what makes sense to you. That’s the most important thing, as everyone will have an opinion. Let’s motivate each other 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words! 🙂 I agree. I do things at my own pace and in my own time, everyone’s different and I do what I think is best for me in my financial situation. It may not be perfect for someone else, but it is perfect for me.

  5. I’m so happy that you stumbled across my blog and decided to join the personal finance community, Eva. And I would consider you an aggressive debt eliminator! 2.5 years is not as long as it sounds… plus, my guess is that you’ll get more and more motivated, as you start to see the numbers go down.

    1. I am so happy I stumbled across your blog too! It took me 3 days to read it “from cover to cover” and it was so inspiring! Here’s hoping I will get more and more motivated and can pay it off sooner, but for now I am aiming to become debt free in December 2015.

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