I interviewed a woman on baby step 7, and this is what she had to say…

Tell me your story, how did you get out of debt and how much did you make at that time?

I got myself into significant debt before getting married. ($115,000 … student loan, car, credit cards) …. plus a mortgage on a condo. My salary ranged from $42,000 to about $52,000 while I tackled the credit cards (first) and then went to work on the car/student loans. When I got married, we sold my condo which let me finish paying off the car and made a sizable dent in the student loans. Just as soon as the student loans were paid off, then we could by a home together. (It took me years and years of pretty frugal living to get those credit cards paid off … after minimum payments and living expenses, there just wasn’t a whole lot left over for snowballing. Since I couldn’t get a second job, that meant slashing expenses. I didn’t spend any money on any extras for at least 3-4 years. No cell phone. No computer. No internet. No cable. No eating out.

What is the key to getting out of debt?

For me, the key to getting out of debt was the willingness to be as gazelle intense as possible, for as long as possible. (Short term sacrifice for long-term gain!) I hated that when my car needed a new battery, it was a crisis. When I needed to pay for a plumber, it was a crisis. I hated having to turn down all sorts of social events because they cost money … but I was also pretty desperate to escape the bondage of debt.
Paying off our house let me quit working at a high-stress job that I’d come to dread and gate. My wonderful husband is active duty military (and we’re stationed in fairly high cost of living California), but I no longer need to work for a salary just to help keep bills paid. This has allowed me to volunteer full-time for a local non-profit doing what I love without worrying about how we will pay the power bill or afford a car repair.

What has reaching baby step 7 afforded you to do, that you couldn’t have done otherwise?

We drive 2 cars we paid cash for … mine is 11 years old and my wonderful DH’s is 15 years old. We still follow a budget, and we’re socking away money for retirement as well as sinking funds for home/car repairs and the vet. We’re cash-flowing updates for our home. And we donate enough to charity that it makes itemizing our taxes worthwhile even without the mortgage interest deduction.

I absolutely love her story. She didn’t have a lot starting out, but through hard work and dedication, she made it to the other side.  To an amazing place without financial worries.  I absolutely can not wait to get there!
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