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I officially began my debt-free journey in January 2016. (Although, it started far before that!)

My Debt-Free Journey

I was single, living with one of my best friends, and working at a Public Accounting Firm. That sounds like a pretty good life for a girl in her early 20s!

But it wasn’t actually that great.

We went out to eat, we went to bars, we did what young people are “supposed” to do. And it was fun, for a while…

In the end though, I was left with a credit card bill, student loans to pay, and money stress!

My goal was to pay my loans off early, but every time I made an extra payment, I struggled to pay off my credit card that month. I was essentially working against myself!

I grew tired of making a great salary, and having nothing to show for it. Other than the ability to barely pay my $500 minimum student loan payment each month.

This is what led me to Dave Ramsey and the debt snowball method for paying off debt.

In this post I want to share:

  • My SECRET for how to get out of debt
  • HOW I got into debt
  • WHY I was motivated to pay it all off
  • WHAT I learned

The SECRET to getting out of debt

Ultimately, what it all comes down to is this:

I had a PLAN.

I worked really hard.

I worked A LOT.

And I rarely spent any money!

I know, that’s not a very good secret, but it works. People do this every day and they are successful.

Paying off debt is hard enough by itself, and it’s harder still to do it quickly. Especially if you have a lower income, multiple kids, or “insert excuse here”.

I hear you, but I also know that becoming debt-free has been one of the most life-changing experiences for me! You can do it.

When you hold the mindset that this is only for a SEASON of your life, it becomes easier. You can become focused and accomplish debt freedom! Remember that it is short-term, temporary, and most importantly not forever.

Not only do you come out on the other side with no debt and a sense of peace, you learn about your spending habits and what is really important to you!


My debt was made up of student loans ($39,035) and a car loan ($21,500).


I am classifying the items below as mistakes I have made that led me into debt. However, I am a strong believer that everything happens for a reason.

Without student loans, I wouldn’t have learned all that I did throughout my accounting career.

Without a car loan, I would not have learned

  1. that I LOVE Nissan Rogues and
  2. that the car you drive really doesn’t matter a whole lot.

Without moving out of my parents’ house, I would not have grown my friendship with Morgan! She’s always been one of my best friends, but living together helped us learn so much about each other. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.


The expectation was set from the moment I applied to college. I was going to have to get student loans and I had to pay for them after I graduated.

To say we didn’t really have a plan would be a lie, but it was definitely not a good plan!

I worked all throughout college, at a minimum wage job, on campus, that was controlled by the school. It wasn’t part of a work study program, but students weren’t allowed to work over 20 hours per week.

In hindsight, I should have found another job that paid more and didn’t have a limit on how many hours I could work. But then I wouldn’t have this great story to tell!

Don’t get me wrong, the job wasn’t terrible. I walked to it every day, since I lived on campus. Plus, I was able to save some money, which helped keep the student loans to a minimum.

I even got to work full-time in the summers when I wasn’t taking classes. This helped build some awesome friendships with my co-workers that I still cherish today!

After graduating, I knew that I wanted to pay my debt off FAST.

Finances have always been top-of-mind for me, so I was setting goals while I was in college for how quickly I would pay my student loans off.

My goal was to have them paid off by the time I was 25 years old! (I made my final payment in September of 2017, just two weeks before my 26th birthday!)

Even with that goal in mind, I didn’t create a real plan for how to accomplish it. I originally wanted to live at home until I paid it off. My desire for privacy and to feel like an adult made it easy to persuade me not to when an alternative option was presented.


As an accounting and business student, we learned that having a car loan is not financially prudent. I drove my parents’ old PT Cruiser throughout college and it worked just fine.

I didn’t feel like that advice applied to me because I didn’t have a car loan at the time. I was “smart”.

Something happens when you graduate though. I think all those wise lessons you learn just jump right out of your head. At least that’s what happened to me!

I felt like I needed to buy a brand-new car because that was what “normal” people do. Every excuse people use for buying a new car, well I thought it:

  • “I NEED a brand-new car because that way I know it will run well. There are no previous owners trying to sell me a ‘lemon’!”
  • “My car can’t get me ALL the way to my new job from my parents’ house. That is 20 miles away. It’s WAY too far in my old PT Cruiser.”
  • “My PT Cruiser is old and falling apart. It’s UNSAFE for me to drive. Plus, the air conditioning is broken, so I will be way too hot.”

This flawed mindset led me to add another $323 monthly payment to my budget! I’m still not really sure how this happened. Why couldn’t I remember that car loans were bad?

But, boy, did I love that Nissan Rogue. So much so, that I fully intend to buy another one, that’s used, when I am ready and can pay cash!


As I have mentioned, my goal was to pay my debt off by the time I was 25 years old. While I didn’t have a plan per se, I did have a strategy: I would live with my parents until all my student loans were paid off.

As you probably could have guessed, this was not a great strategy. Here are the factors that led me to make mistake #3:


After living on my own at college, it was much harder than I expected to live at home again. My parents are pretty laid back and easy to live with, so this wasn’t necessarily the issue.

While in college I had developed my own routines and gained independence. This made it extremely difficult to adjust back to their routines and not having as much privacy.


My commute from my parents’ house was 30-45 minutes in the morning and over an hour in the evening!

This. Was. Brutal.

I hated every day of it, so I started looking for a roommate and apartments close to work.


One of my best friends was also living with family at the time. We complained together about our living situations and eventually decided to become roommates!

She was one of the best roommates I’ve ever had!

This situation opened my eyes to the reality that I would never be able to pay my debt off as quickly as I’d hoped. Something HAD to change.


I was first introduced to Dave Ramsey when my parents looked into doing his program. At the time, I was in college still and wasn’t really paying much attention to my debt.

It stuck in my memory though and I looked into his program more closely in November of 2015. This was the first month that I was unable to pay my credit card in full to avoid paying interest.

I had to ask my parents for a loan until I got my next paycheck. For me, this was mortifying!

Immediately I knew that I HAD to follow his program!

The baby steps are an amazing concept that really resonate with me. I love everything about what Dave Ramsey stands for. I love his story and his business model.

Dave Ramsey Baby Steps

Some might even call me obsessed!

I can’t help it though…

His baby steps and advice have inspired me so much and helped me immensely! I want to keep learning more and then share what I learn with anyone who will listen.


For more information on his teachings, I highly recommend reading The Total Money Makeover or going through his course Financial Peace University. They are both well worth the cost.


This method is BY FAR the reason I was able to pay my debt off so quickly!

To learn how to use the debt snowball method, read our post:

The Secret to Paying Off Debt FAST (The Debt Snowball Method Explained)


Opportunity Cost Defined:

“The loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen.”

Google Search

“Opportunity cost represents the benefits an individual, investor or business misses out on when choosing one alternative over another.”


Benefits I missed out on to gain financial freedom from debt:

  • Privacy and independence (living with my parents)
  • Momentary satisfaction (eating out, Starbucks treats, etc.)
  • Taking extravagant vacations (I still took vacations, but they were closer to home and less extravagant)
  • Driving a brand-new car (my used car wasn’t as glamorous, but it got me where I needed to go)
  • 401(k) match from work (I didn’t contribute anything to my retirement while paying off debt and I believe that got me out even faster)

Because of these small sacrifices, I now have financial peace and most of the benefits listed above. It was completely worth the wait!


Material items are not what make me happy. I have become inspired by the minimalist lifestyle, along with my fiancé at the time (now husband) Andrew! We decluttered our whole house and continue to live minimally on a daily basis.

I’ve learned my spending habits and what things matter to me most.

I don’t really enjoy eating out at chain restaurants anymore. We rarely eat at fast-food restaurants. When we go out to eat, we generally choose food carts.

Clothes and shoes are less exciting to shop for. (Trust me, this is a good thing!) I really only buy new clothes or shoes when I truly need them. I even enjoy bargain shopping at thrift stores!

We don’t have cable, so I’ve significantly decreased my screen time. We do still have streaming services, like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. This allows us to enjoy movies occasionally, without having a huge monthly expense.

We spend time going for walks, talking about our dreams, our goals, and simply enjoying the little things in life. It sounds cliche, but I really am so much happier with all these changes!

Becoming debt-free has given me confidence in my financial decisions and helped me believe that I can have a life I love. Without that experience, I would have never changed my career, built this website, or travelled all over the US.

I hope my story inspires you to start your debt-free journey!

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