Since June of last year, Randy and I have been laser-focused on a huge goal: becoming debt free. We have been absolutely busting our behinds and “living like no one else” for months now.
So why are we doing this to ourselves? I’ve got two words for you, and if you know, you know:
Our financial guru, Dave Ramsey, coined the term “Gazelle Intense” from a verse in the Bible, Proverbs 6:4-5. It was something we learned a lot about when we did Financial Peace University last year, and it’s become ingrained into our vocabulary and lifestyle.
When we were in our 20s and even our early 30s, we were plain stupid. There’s no kind way to put it: we were d-u-m-b dumb. We put everything on credit cards in order to earn points, and I can’t tell you how many cars we purchased and said, “oh, we’ll get this paid off in a year” and never followed through. And then we’d add the negative equity into a new car loan. It had a snowball effect, and before we knew it we were $256,727.58 in debt with absolutely nothing to show for it, aside from my Bachelor’s degree (which is really only about 1/5 of our debt).
It’s not like we’re strutting around in designer clothes or have brand new furniture or top of the line appliances. The bulk of our debt was from buying cars we don’t own anymore, taking trips we couldn’t afford, and eating out. It is just beyond ridiculous and embarrassing. But! I am sharing my truth because I want you, my lovely reader, to know that you are not alone and that it is possible to absolutely dig yourself out of the hole you’re currently in.
I am very proud that we have turned things around and have been gazelle intense with our finances. To say we have “busted our butts” is putting it lightly. It would be more fair to say that we have absolutely changed our life to match our goals and by doing that, we have made incredible progress.
Yep. True story. Randy and I have absolutely changed our lifestyle and developed some much better habits. We have open and honest discussions about our spending; not only between the two of us, but with the kids. It’s become a total family lesson in finance!
1.) We canceled the extras: Goodbye Netflix!
We broke up with Netflix, Disney Plus, and any other subscription service that wasn’t something absolutely vital for us. Now we use Amazon Prime and free streaming services like Peacock and Hulu (which we get for free with Sprint), and apps like the CW. Sure, we have to deal with commercials and don’t have as much selection, but we are saving quite a bit each month.
2.) We eat at home as much as humanly possible. Goodbye Starbucks!
Sure, we’ll occasionally grab a dollar drink from McDonald’s when it’s in our budget. But for the most part, we eat at home or bring food to eat from home when we are out and about. With a family our size, going out to eat can easily cost $60 at fast food places like Chic-Fil-A and with our budget, it’s just not a good idea. Add on top of that the fact that I’ve developed a serious aversion to eating meat and I’m working toward having bariatric surgery this summer, going out to eat has lost its appeal.
3.) We created a budget, and stick to it. Goodbye emotional/hungry shopping!
Having a budget and sticking to it has been the hardest thing for me, personally. I remember when I was growing up, I’d go to the store with my mom and we’d take a calculator with us to add up the groceries while we were shopping. My mom had a budget of $75 per week to feed a family of four, and she made it work like a badass shopping ninja. And she’s passed on her ninja budgeting skills to me – by shopping sales, only buying what we actually need and never shopping hungry. The biggest tip my mom gave me is to make a list, and stick to the dang list. It’s too easy to be like, “oh yeah, that sounds good!” and totally blow the budget.
4.) We sold the things we could. Goodbye car payments!
We sold Randy’s really nice Volkswagen and we both drive two “hooptys” (AKA cars we owe nothing on and literally serve to get us from point A to point B). Want to know how dedicated we are to not having a car payment ever again? Randy’s car doesn’t have air conditioning, nor does it have power anything. And my truck? There are many things that are whackadoodle with it, but my favorite is that the windshield wiper is currently controlled with a little spring coil because the original part broke off. True story. 🤣 One day we’ll get less ghetto vehicles, but for now – they work. Best yet? They don’t cost us several hundred dollars a month in payments.
5.) We are busting our butts to make money everywhere we can.
I’ll admit: the first few months of our debt free journey, we weren’t super gazelle intense about bringing income in. The stress of the pandemic, me realizing how much I didn’t enjoy professional photography anymore, finishing my degree and moving cross-country for the fifth time in ten years didn’t help. I also decided to leave Color Street, because I was tired of busting my butt and making pennies on the dollar for a product I didn’t own.
So how am I hustling to bring in more income for our family?
It’s really important to me that I am home to be with my kids, and be available to them. I thought about getting a traditional job, but it’s hard to make that kind of schedule work with the kids’s school and activities. Not to mention, Randy works 45-50 hours a week at his day job with a 45 minute commute each way. That means me having a traditional job with uncontrollable hours would make it nearly impossible to see each other. So I work several little jobs around my own schedule, and it works for our family dynamic.
Here is the bottom line: getting in to debt is a lot easier and a lot more fun than getting out of debt. Getting out of debt requires not only dedication, hard work and commitment; more importantly, it requires consistency, honesty and humility.
Want me to share more tips about what we’re doing to get out of debt? Let me know!