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Just 10 days after my 30th birthday, I transferred more than $4,500 to pay off my last credit card thanks to my yearly bonus at work. At this moment, I became free from credit card debt for the first time in over five years.
“I became free from credit card debt for the first time in over five years.”
When I first began my journey to financial freedom, I was overwhelmed and could not see an end in sight. However, budgeting and following the snowball method helped me to focus on one debt at a time. A $450 medical bill was the first debt to be paid off. Once this was gone, I started to build momentum and began to tackle my credit card debt next.
From an outsider’s perspective, paying off $18,000 worth of credit card debt in eight months would seem nearly impossible, and it was not easy. It required a lot of sacrifices, dedication, and hard work. There are not any secrets or a one-size-fits-all plan due to factors such as location and income. I wish I knew of the secret because I would bottle it up and sell it. Then I could reach my financial goals faster, but I digress.
Here is what I did:
Stopped using credit cards.
To see any decrease in the overall balance, I knew I had to stop using my credit cards. If I could not pay cash for it, that meant I simply could not afford it. This helped me stop making impulse purchases and buying stuff just because it was on sale. Every $1 or $5 purchase adds up!
Created a zero-based budget and stuck to it.
A zero-based budget includes assigning a job for every dollar, including both fixed and variable expenses. In my budget, I only accounted for the necessary expenses, not wants. When I first began tracking my expenses, I noticed that eating out and beauty services accounted for a huge portion of my dollars. If I wanted to meet my goals, I had to cut back on these areas drastically. For the first six months, I did not eat out or get any beauty services. I cooked all my meals at home and brought my lunch to work every day. I also started doing my hair and pedicures. Cutting these two things out added hundreds of dollars back in my budget instantly. It was like a mini pay increase.
“If I could not pay cash for it, that meant I simply could not afford it.”
Used the snowball method.
I love the snowball method. It helps create momentum and you can see instantly that you are making progress. Some may argue that the avalanche method is better because you are saving more money, but if I were trying to save money initially, I would not have been in this situation in the first place. To me, a few extra dollars is worth learning how to change my behavior and attitude about how to manage my money.
Participated in a no-spend challenge.
I love no-spend challenges, and I usually incorporate one in my monthly goals. How this works is you set a goal amount of how many days you do not want to spend money at the start of the month. Of course, there are exceptions, such as paying bills and buying groceries and gas, but you are free to approach it however you want. You then track your spending throughout the month, documenting every time you swipe your card or spend a penny. The most I have gone so far was 25 days without spending money within a month.
Got a side hustle.
I work full time and I am a full-time mom. My husband also works full time, but his job is more demanding than mine is so his hours vary. That being said I had to get creative with side hustling. I started by selling any and everything that I was not using on websites such as Facebook Marketplace, Mercari, and Poshmark. I have made more than $3,000 and all went towards paying off my credit cards. I even used a few phone apps such as Ibotta, Ebates, and Dosh to earn cashback on purchases I planned to make anyway.
Why being gazelle intense worked for me
Some may see this approach as aggressive, or gazelle intense, but it worked for me. Once I set a goal, I become laser-focused; stopping only once the goal has been completed. The process was hard, do not get me wrong, but it was so worth it. I feel so much lighter and it was worth saying no to anything that did not help me reach my goals. As a bonus, this process has helped me learn so much about myself, and I am sure I will learn even more because my debt-free journey is a long way from being over.
Will this aggressive approach work for you?
Following the steps above can help you to become credit card debt free, but it all boils down to what you are willing to sacrifice and how much work you are willing to put in. My motto is and will always be “A short time of sacrifice is worth more than a lifetime of being in debt.”
“A short time of sacrifice is worth more than a lifetime of being in debt.”
Share any tips you have used in the comments below that helped you eliminate your credit card debt.