Welcome to my new Destroying Debt series where I interview people who are working hard at Destroying Debt in their lives. These stories always inspire me and I learn something new every time I hear how someone else is paying off their debt.
Today I have the privilege of interviewing my friend Kristin from Believe in a Budget. I stumbled across Kristin's site when I first started blogging and was inspired by her story of paying off her credit cards with the goal of paying off her student loans next.
Kristin had a tab on her website asking for guest post submissions. I contacted her and she agreed to let me write a guest post for her site. 'The 12 mistakes I made while paying off debt' became my first guest post and I am so thankful for Kristin to allow me the honor of writing on her site.
I am happy to return the favor by making Kristin my first interviewee.
Not only is Kristin paying off her debts, she is planning to make a cross country move in the near future and is doing it using cash! She is also the queen of side hustles.
(My comments will be in bold and Kristin's in regular font)
Hi Kristin! Thank you for letting me interview you.
What was the moment when you realized how much debt you had and that you needed to do something about it?
The big moment for me was when I got serious about keeping a budget. For years I was really naive about debt, bills and saving money. When I finally decided to review everything, I was in total shock about my debt. I knew I had credit card debt and student loans, but no idea how much I owed.
I am sure that was a scary moment, how much debt did you start with?
I owed a whopping $38,000.
What kind of debt was it?
Primarily student loans and credit card debt.
What is the reason you are working so hard to become debt free?
I really want to be in control of my life and be financially independent. I don’t want to feel like I have financial limitations because I am in debt. I currently have no credit card debt and it feels great. I can’t wait to be completely debt free!
Do you follow a budget?
Yes! I created my blog Believe In A Budget to hold myself accountable financially. I actually schedule my budget out several months in advance using a spreadsheet I made in Apple Numbers. This helps me plan for the future and incorporate things like for vacations and one off expenses, like new tires for my car.
You schedule your budget out several months ahead, I am impressed!
How long have you been aggressively paying your debt down?
I have been paying off my debt for the past couple of years. Last year I paid my credit card debt and it was an amazing feeling!
Unfortunately, I became ill in January and racked up more debt in medical bills. Even with a good insurance plan through my employer, my out of pocket expenses were over $7,000. This was a huge setback for me, but this month I was able to pay off one small medical loan early.
Medical debt is no fun, but that is great you were able to pay off one loan early. How much money have you paid off to date?
I have paid off over $5,000 in credit card debt and over $1,300 in medical debt.
Do you work any side hustles or second jobs? If yes, what are a couple jobs you have done?
I am all about the side hustle! Over the years I have tried almost every gig, with some side hustles being a total success and others being a complete failure.
One of the best side hustles I did was dog walking and pet sitting. The demand was high, the pay was good and I absolutely loved playing with dogs and cats. This was a really stress free and fun side hustle that didn’t feel like work.
The toughest side hustle I tried was donating plasma. I loved that this side hustle actually helped people in need, but my body just couldn’t handle it. I fainted both times I tried to donate and decided this was not the best side hustle for me.
Yikes, what has been the key to being able to pay down your debt as fast as you are doing?
Have a plan! Aside from the minimum payment, I use the snowball method to pay a little extra debt each month. This has helped me pay off my medical debt faster than I anticipated.
How do you stay motivated to paying everything off?
I am extremely motivated to get out of debt! I have to remind myself that my debt didn’t accumulate overnight, and not to beat myself up if it takes me a little bit of time to pay everything off. Because I have turned into such a planner, I can look at my budget spreadsheets and see that I will be debt free in the next 3-4 years. (yay!) I love knowing that someday I will be able to apply the money I put towards debt payoff to my retirement account instead!
Have you trimmed expenses, and if so, in what areas?
I have worked really hard to streamline my expenses. The biggest expense I save on each month is cutting down on going out to eat, drinks with friends and buying coffee.
It took me a while to reign in this number, as I used to waste hundreds of dollars each month in this area. Now if I want to go out to dinner or meet up with friends, I plan for it and work it into my budget.
I use mystery shopping at restaurants as a way to eat for free. I also cash in reward points for Starbucks gift cards. Planning ahead has really saved me a lot of money!
Now that is a great idea to use mystery shopping and eat for free!
What method do you pay down your debts with, debt snowball, highest interest rate etc? Why did you pick that one?
I love the snowball method! Paying off debt is a mental game for me, so when I paid off my smallest credit card first, I felt really encouraged to pay off my next credit card.
Is there anything you would be willing to take on more debt to have/buy?
This is a tough question! My car is 11 years old and I plan to drive it another couple years, until it won’t run any longer. I would most likely want to purchase another new car, but this would mean incurring a car loan. I’ve actually started putting a small amount of money away each month to help pay for a new car!
Sounds like my car. I am also putting some money aside to replace it.
What do you want to do when you are debt free?
I really want to work on saving more money for retirement. I also want to increase my emergency fund as well so I can always be financially prepared for a disaster or emergency.
What advice can you give someone else who is either just starting to pay off debt or in the middle of paying everything off?
Don’t get discouraged as we all have to start somewhere! It’s also nice to have someone who we can relate to, whether it’s a loved one or an online support group. When I was starting my journey to get out of debt, I wasn’t ready to discuss my debt with friends and family. Instead, I read personal finance blogs, which was really inspirational and motivational for me.
Thank you Kristin! I would love to have you back on CWAS again when you become debt free. You can find Kristen at Believe in a Budget, on Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+ if you want to keep tabs on her story of paying off debt.
Are you in the middle of paying off debt and want to share your story? Or have you already paid off all your debts? I would love interview you! Contact me at Charissa[at]cookwithashoe[dot]com.
Like this post? Check out all the rest in :
- Paying Off Debt Series
Hi! I’m Charissa. I’m on a mission to help hardworking women overcome money struggles and gain financial peace with a Biblical perspective so they can have the freedom to impact their families and communities. Ready to make some changes that will impact your finances in 2020? Click here to get a free worksheet to help you make it happen!