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I started Saving With Spunk with the selfish intention to stay motivated through our debt payoff journey. And nothing motivated me more than hearing other people’s debt-free stories.
I troll Instagram for these stories. I am personally horrible at social media but Kyle and Jeanette from Living to be Debt Free are some of my favorites. They live in Grand Blanc, Michigan with their two-year-old daughter, Lindsey and another bb on the way!
Kyle and Jeanette just finished paying off $55,000 in student loan debt in 16 months on a starting income of $100K that dropped to $91K due to a new job. So even with a $9K pay decrease, they were able to average just over $3400 a month for less than a year and a half and they are now DEBT FREE.
I am adamant that the debt payoff journey is more important than being debt-free.
If you pay off your debt and haven’t struggled then you’re in the same place you were before with a little less money in the bank. I interviewed Budget Girl about her debt payoff and you guys loved it so I asked Kyle and Jeanette about their story to show you another journey and to encourage you that the fight can be won.
First off, what has this journey meant to you and what will you carry with you moving forward?
Kyle: My takeaway from this journey is that I learned that anybody can get out of debt. If you are reading this and you are in debt and feel lost, just know that you can get out. It’s not easy, but it can be done.
It’s really the process of evaluating what your dreams are in life, and realizing that if you want to achieve those someday, you probably need to get out of debt to achieve those dreams.
Those dreams can be anything, but you have to truly look at the financial road you are on and see if you are on that road to reach those dreams, or if you’re headed in the other direction.
Jeanette: An important lesson I learned while getting out of debt was the importance of value.
I learned that not everything holds the same value. We used to just buy things all the time before our debt payoff, because we just wanted nice, new things. Once we started paying off debt, we really stopped buying those random things and only bought stuff that we actually needed and served a purpose in reaching our goals.
To other people out there who feel like they need to buy nice new things, take a step back and think about the reason for buying them. Think about your priorities and needs, or think about whether something is REALLY worth it.
What kind of side jobs did you do and did you sell any big-ticket items to help with the payoff?
Kyle drove for Uber for a period of time, and Jeanette started selling old things we had at home on Facebook Marketplace. When Jeanette first started selling our old things, it was a combination of selling things to pay off debt, and Kyle’s desire for a more minimal lifestyle.
It was a perfect combination because Jeanette sold a ton of our old stuff and we really minimized. That accounted for thousands of dollars to put towards debt. But, we never sold any big-ticket items.
Now she has started selling things for other people and taking a commission. This also made us value the things we actually needed in our life – if we didn’t value it, we sold it, and this will stay with us in the future.
What things did you give up? Did you miss them?
(Editor’s Note: LOLOLOL)
Yes. But we still got pizza every month. This became a big part of our journey. We realized the importance of still having things in your life that you want, within reason.
We allowed ourselves $75 each month in our budget specifically for restaurants/eating out. Some people completely give this up (which is fine) but we chose to keep this in our budget, [just] gave ourselves a limit.
I think it is a cool part of our story to look back and say that we payed off that much debt, but still ate pizza along the way.
What helped sustain you stay on the journey?
We started a blog at the beginning of our debt free journey because we were inspired by hearing other people’s stories, and wanted to help inspire others with ours.
Our blog Livingtobedebtfree.com was a place for us to share our struggles and victories with the world. It helped us be able to talk about what we were going through and share what we learned.
We later became part of the Instagram #debtfreecommunity and that has been a great group of people who have encouraged and supported us. We would like to thank all of our friends, family, and Instagram supporters who were with us along the way – you never made us feel wrong for doing this and encouraged us to keep going.
Thanks so much for sharing guys. No matter what your income is, when your lifestyle inflates to meet it, it’s hard to get it back down. We each have our own experiences with letting our spending get out of hand but I think Kyle and Jeanette’s story of learning to find value in their things for more than just their new shininess is a lesson we can all benefit from.
If you’re looking for more resources on purging and minimalism I recommend The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo (You can get ahead of the game by just getting it on Kindle or Audible.)