Howdy folks. I hope you all are having an excellent day! I was re-reading one of my posts from a few months ago recently, and a comment from a reader really stuck with me. It was in this post, where I was describing how the hubs and I would really like to move to our favorite mountain town. Hubby was offered a job there a few months ago and we were dying to take it, but ultimately we had to decline it.
Note: This post contains affiliate links.
The reason? Debt. Our big, ugly, putrid, life-sucking, student loan debt, to be precise. You know- that stuff that all the talking heads in the media say is going to be the next bubble and cause catastrophic and long-term financial consequences for thousands of millennials? That’s going to prevent millennials from buying homes, getting married, having children, etc., etc., etc.? Yeah, that.
Anyway, we have some student loan debt. 🙂 And since the potential new job comes with a lower salary than Mr. CMF’s current job, we are staying put for now so we can make more headway on the debt, and faster.
Here’s the reader comment from that post that sticks with me to this day:
“Wow, what a hard decision! Money isn’t everything, but debt can certainly nail us to the floor!”
Debt can nail us to the floor. What a brilliant way to put it. When it comes to our student loan debt, we very much feel nailed to the floor right now.
(As a side note, I really wish something like Scholarship Owl had been around when I was taking out loans for grad school, it would have made it so much easier to apply for a whole bunch of scholarships at once. That’s one thing that I definitely wish I would have spent more time looking into).
But here’s the thing. We aren’t crying and wallowing in self-pity about it. As a former co-worker of mine used to say, “You just need to put on your big girl panties!”
Oh tell me about it. Big girl panties definitely in order here.
Here are some of the ways that we are “bringing the hammer down” on our debt and working on defeating it sooner rather than later. And so can you, my friends. Debt does NOT have to be forever. If you too are feeling nailed to the floor by debt, then read on because this list is for you.
How to Hammer Your Way Out of Debt
1. Cut expenses everywhere
Even if you are immune to expensive lattes there are probably still areas where you can save money. Think you’ve cut everything extra that you can possibly cut? Then take a look at your fixed expenses- you know, the bills that show up every month like clockwork. Getting rid of cable and landline or pricey cell phone service are two great examples of easy ways to save on your fixed expenses. It’s also a good idea to check in with your billers regularly to see if there are any other ways you can save.
2. And then cut some more
For example, if you are among the 28% of Americans who don’t know how to cook: here’s a great opportunity to learn something, become healthier, and save a boatload of money in the process. Improve your frugal skill set and learn how to do things like your own basic auto and home maintenance, and you can save even more- possibly up to thousands of dollars!
3. Use any extra income to pay off debt
For example, any and all extra income from Mr. CMF’s employer is currently being thrown at our student loan debt. Every single cent that I earn from blogging and writing is going toward debt. Basically, any bonuses, raises, or tax returns that you receive will be well spent if you direct them toward getting yourself out of debt! Here’s a great debt payoff calculator for you to play with, to see how much faster you can get out of debt by making extra payments.
4. Sell your crap!
This one is another technique that we have been employing to help get ourselves out of debt faster. I have been *trying* to list at least one item for sale every week on either eBay or Craigslist, and we’ve been making some money there. I’ve even been selling some things that I really kind of wanted- like my tickets for a concert out of town next month. BUT the silver lining is that I bought the two tickets for $100 and ended up selling them for $200. Sweet! That’s a nice return, and my student loan balance will thank me for it.
5. Learn to enjoy cheap entertainment
Rather than a pricey concert, the hubs and I have been trying to spend more time getting outside this summer while the weather is nice (since that’s not the case year-round here in the upper Midwest!) We’ve been enjoying walks on a daily basis. We’ve been riding our bikes a lot. I’ve also started a garden this year, which has been a really fun thing to enjoy- both the gardening aspect, and getting fresh veggies!
6. Get on top of your financial game
We’ve really upped our game this year in terms of taking control of our finances, and as part of that I finally got around to signing up for the free services available from Personal Capital. I’d heard so many bloggers talking about this service for so long that I figured I’d better check them out. For us, using Personal Capital (review here) really helped us to see where our money was going and establish a better budget, as well as better plan our retirement savings strategy.
Using these strategies and others, we are making substantial progress on our student loan debt. We’ve already knocked out more than a third of the balance this year, and if we keep this pace we are hoping to be student loan debt free possibly as early as summer 2016- by the close of 2016 at the latest.
How about you? Are you debt free yet? What steps have you taken to “hammer your way out of debt”?
CMF’s favorite FREE money management tools!
Some of the best online tools out there for money management are at Personal Capital, and the awesome news is that they are all FREE! Cash flow tracker, 401(k) fee analyzer, investment checkup, net worth monitoring, and many more! I’m a net worth junkie, so the net worth monitor is my favorite. Check out my Personal Capital review here, or click here to check out all the awesome tools for yourself!
Aldo @ MDN says
I’m glad to say that I am currently debt free!!! It took me two years of sacrifices to get it done, but it got done. Now I’m just trying to fully fund my emergency fund. I had to cut a lot of expenses (cable, eating out, etc.) but it was worth it and now that I’m debt free I still don’t have those expenses. I realized that I don’t need them… well, I eat out every now and then, but not like I used to.
Anyways, just keep at it and soon enough you’ll also be debt free.
Dee S says
That’s so awesome Aldo! We’ve also cut cable as part of our debt annihilation plan, and we’ve barely missed it! I’m sure we’ll never go back to it even after we are debt free.
Shannon @ The Heavy Purse says
Wow – that’s fantastic that you and your husband have been able to kick your debt by a third. It’s amazing what a few actions can do. Debt really does nail you to floor and limit your options, which virtually no one realized when they went into debt, especially consumer debt. With your focus and attitude, soon your debt will be history and no longer dictating your decisions.
Dee S says
Thanks Shannon. We’ve really been busting our butts and trying to get rid of our student loan debt once and for all. It’s a big inspiration to see the balances continually going down every month. Hopefully some time in 2016 debt freedom will become a reality for us!
Great tips! This is definitely the way to make it happen. We are debt-free now and we used these methods to get there.
Dee S says
Mrs. Budgets @MrandMrsBudgets says
I’m a big fan of personal capital as well to help us plan out our retirement goals. Congrats on being so close to debt freedom!
Dee S says
Thank you! We love PC too- I especially love all the neat graphs of our finances they provide, since I’m a visual person 🙂
Dee: You have a good list of frugal steps. One that I wanted to bring up was the one on selling items. Using Craigslist and Ebay are great resources. However, I have also found that some items that may be of lesser value or more difficult to ship can be sold locally to specialized stores in mid-size and larger cities especially. In addition to using Ebay, Craigslist and Amazon, I have sold clothes to Plato’s Closet, tools to Retool, sporting goods to Play It Again Sports and children’s items to Once Upon a Child. Likewise at least where I live I have been able to sell books, CD’s and DVD’s to Hastings Entertainment. Every little sale helps out. Again, thanks for your helpful post.
Dee S says
I’ve sold to Plato’s Closet before too. They can be picky about what clothing items they take, but they usually give you a decent amount considering the clothing is pre-owned. And Ebay, Craigslist, and Amazon are places that we utilize frequently to sell items too. I haven’t used the other places that you’ve mentioned, but I’m going to keep those in mind the next time we want to sell an item from one of those categories. Thanks Carey!