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Debt is a problem that many families are facing. If you want to get ahead with your savings but debt is holding you back, you will appreciate this inspiring story.
Ashley Patrick and her husband were successful at paying off $45,000 of debt in a short time, and now they are debt free aside from their mortgage. After working 10 years as a police officer and detective, Ashley is now able to stay at home with their 3 kids… something that wasn’t possible when they were in debt.
Ashley and her husband followed the debt snowball approach of Dave Ramsey, and in this interview she shares details of their experience. If you’re going through some of the same challenges in your own life, I hope this interview with Ashley will help. You can also check out her blog Budgets Made Easy for much more on budgeting, saving, and paying off debt.
Ashley’s Debt Pay-Off Story
What types of debt were included in the $45,000 that you paid off?
The $45,000 included a credit card that we put what we owed the IRS on, a vehicle, and my student loans.
What was it about Dave Ramsey’s debt snowball approach that really worked for you?
It worked for me because it helped me focus on one debt at a time. I do not do well when trying to do too much at once. So, focusing on the smallest debt only helped my motivation and focus to pay it off very quickly.
→ Related reading: Debt Snowball vs. Debt Avalanche
What were your sources of income while you were paying off the debt?
I was a detective and my husband is a fabricator and mechanic. He worked a lot of overtime and did side work to help boost our income. We also sold some high-priced and smaller items to pay off our debt.
Did you and your husband have the same level of commitment for paying off the debt?
He was not as excited about it as I was. He just goes along with whatever I want to do. He is pretty flexible. He wasn’t as extreme as I was but he definitely helped us get there. Sometimes it’s about balance.
Did you have a budget prior to your commitment to pay off the debt?
I had a budget but it wasn’t zero-based. I also didn’t follow it as closely. So, I paid my bills on time every month but whatever was left was spent on who knows what.
Had you ever made an attempt to pay off the debt in the past?
Not all of it. I always paid off my debt early and didn’t use debt for everything. But I never thought about being 100% debt-free. I was normal and just thought debt was a part of life. I never liked debt and only used it sparingly. I paid cash for a lot of things already but never focused on paying everything off before.
What types of sacrifices or spending reductions did it take to make your debt payoff possible?
We sold things and for my husband, that is a huge deal. He doesn’t sell anything, and I mean anything. So, this was a big step for him. We also made due with things we already had instead of replacing them right away. He also cut back on buying tools he “needed” for work. If he really needed something, we bought it but when you are intense, you realize the difference between a need and a want.
We cut back on our TV channels, data limits on our phones, bought generic products, and said no to going out with friends as much. We cut back on eating out all the time and cooked meals at home.
→ You may be interested in our free Debt Snowball Worksheet
How has this experience changed your mentality going forward?
I now realize that debt doesn’t have to be a normal part of life. My mission in life now is to help inspire others to be debt-free as well.
I do without things now instead of just rushing out and replacing them. I spend less overall because I just don’t want to give up the cash.
What impact do you think it has had on your long-term financial future?
I will be 100% debt-free including the mortgage, I will help pay for my kids’ college education, and I will pay cash for a new-to-me car. I hope it will have a long-term impact on my children and how they handle their finances. I will also be able to retire very comfortably.
What advice do you have for readers who have debt that they would like to pay off?
Start with a budget and then get to work on the debt snowball. You can be debt-free, it does not have to be a normal part of life. Focus on one thing at a time. Play around with the numbers and see how quickly you could be debt-free. Be specific with your goal. Do not just say I want to be debt-free. Set a time frame and see what you need to do to meet or beat that time frame. Once you believe it’s possible, everything else will follow.
If you have any other questions about my debt pay-off story, feel free to check out my article How We Paid Off $45,000 in 17 Months.
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