Monday, August 15, 2011

Kicking Debt's A$$

We just kicked Debt's Ass!
  (happy dance...)
It is hard to believe. 
I want to pinch myself. 
Is this for real?  
It is!
(yay, I can do my happy dance again)

Long story short,  It doesn't take long to build up debt.  Paying it off is a different story.  I debated on whether I should even blog about this.  I mean, it is sort of personal.  The Mexican es muy privado. Hard to believe I know... with a blogging wife who uses his picture all the time. I decided to go ahead in the hopes that if anyone out there in blogger land is feeling the stress of debt, they will read this and know it is possible.
I knew it was time to do something when every single cent we made was going towards bills and living expenses.  Since I was the one who did our bills (my hubby basically handed me his paycheck) I was more intune as to how bad our situation was.  I felt like we were suffocating.  We were always playing catch up.  Always on payment plans.  Using change for gas.  Started receiving calls from bill collectors.  I could go into more detail, but just know... it was bad!

Once my husbandand and I discussed things, we were in agreement something had to be done now!  Now! that our son was young.  We didn't want things to continue to spiral out of control and end up in a worse situation years from now.  We didn't want our son to experience any hardships due to our bad financial decisions.

We were living paycheck to paycheck and it was hard to come up with any extra money to even make a dent in what we owed.  So where did we start?

First, we cut out anything that was not a necessity.
  • We got rid of cable t.v.- Actually, this was easier than anticipated.  This freed up a good bit of $$$.  Its ridiculous how much we paid for satellite/cable t.v..  We bought a digital t.v. antenna from Wal-mart, mi mexicano mounted it on the side of the house, and ta-da!  Digital t.v..  We receive a good amount of stations.  Really, I can't believe what a rip off cable/satellite is.  We have not been deprived at all.  We are at work daily anyways.  We have a limited amount of time to watch t.v..  We get all the normal local channels plus 3 channels en espanol, 3 different PBS channels, even MTV tres, music channels, and more.   My son didn't suffer at all.  He has 3 channels that are geared towards children available 24/7. (and best of all, the shows are educational...not mind numbing like "Spongebob," not that anything is wrong with Spongebob, because I LOVE Spongebob...just making a point) and all FOR FREE!!!
  • We did away with our home phone service.  We use cellphones.  Why do we need a home phone?

Second, we searched out the best deals for services we did need.

  • We switched to the cheapest cell phone provider we could find.  Here in our area that is Metro PCS.  Luckily our contract was up with Verizon.  Both of our phones were able to be used with Metro PCS.  We had unlimited talk, text, and web for $80 per month ($40 ea. phone)
  • We switched to a different trash service.  It was cheaper, plus when signing up you got your 1st three months free!
  • We even did away with grocery shopping!  For the 1st six months we bought our food through      Angel Food Ministries  .  We bought a $35 box of food which suprisingly would last us 2 weeks.  We live in the city where   Angel Food Ministries was founded.  We would go to the distribution center to pick up our food.  I'm not sure if this is something they did for everyone or just the people who went to the distrubution center....but, sometimes we would receive 2 or 3 boxes of food when we had only paid for 1.  They would always say, "Please take it, it is something we are doing today.  God bless!"  It really was a blessing!  If you or someone you know is in need of food, not eating healthy due to the cost of food, having a hard time, trying to get their financial situation under control etc.... I highly suggest visiting
  •  I contacted our insurance agent and made sure they were giving us the best rates on car and home insurance.  Guess what!  We got it lowered!
Third we came up with a budget and other plans....
  • We got on a Debt Management Plan.  Yes, I know we probably could have filed for bankruptcy but The Mexican was totally against it.  The debt management plan was great though.  They were able to get the collection calls stopped, and interest rates lowered.  We paid one monthly fee and they distributed the amounts to the credit card companies.  I think they charged $3 a month for this service.
  • We did away with our checks and paid everything in cash!  We paid daycare, electric, gas and water all with cash.  We had no false sense of having money.  We could see it with our own eyes!  No money, meant there is really no money!  No using our ATM/Debit/Credit cards for anything! 
  • No eating out.  We made breakfast at home.  No stopping for coffee or a cappuccino on our way to work.  We brought our lunch to work.  We prepared and ate dinner at home.  
  • The Mexican and I did not buy any clothes.  My work provided me with uniforms.  When it was getting close to Christmas, my mom always ask for a list of possible gifts.  I'd always tell her shoes for me, work shirts, shoes, jeans for The Mexican.  Whatever we needed most. Luckily, I have some awesome friends who have kids older than my son.  I was always receiving hand me downs.  With a growing child this was a big blessing.
  • Very limited entertainment.  No movies, bowling, fairs, zoo, NADA.  Lot's of trips to the park and we did make an occasional trip to the dollar theatre.  Birthday parties always provided fun entertainment for my son.  Luckily my nephews live next door and that is unlimited entertainment!

During the four years it has taken us,
my husband had a job change and was laid off. That did not stop us.  We remained determined and we ended up paying off the one car we still had a loan on.  We ended up buying a junker (well, it looks like a junker, but runs spectacular!)  for my husband to drive due to the work van using so much in gas.  We actually have money in savings and it will continue to grow from here.

We can now,
buy clothes, get my hair done! get manis and pedis..... not trying to go overboard.  The clothes are a must!  My hair is a must!  The mani and pedi is a treat to myself occasionally.

I do not think we will get cable/satellite back.  There is so much available online.  It's almost like flushing good money down the toilet now.  We will continue what we have been doing.  Its like a routine.  We may occasionally splurge on going out to eat or something, but our main goal now is to save.

The Mexican was very supportive and there was no way we could have done it without being on the same page.  It took us a while to get on the same page, but once there..... there was no turning back!  He would always tell me, "This is a piece of cake!  We can do this!  When I lived in Mexico.........." (then he'd tell me about stories of growing up in poverty and although it seemed bad at the moment, it could be a lot worse)
He was right and I'm glad I had him to fall back on.

I can not begin to describe the feeling of knowing besides our home, we are completely debt free!
This was a hard lesson to learn.  I know that after all the hard work we have put into getting out of debt, we will never make the same choices again when it comes to money.

I prefer to have this feeling over holding a designer bag ANYDAY!

Yay!  we did it baby!


  1. Congratulations! Your story is amazing! My husband and I have been through some very similar things...but he and are not on the same page at all about the sacrifices that are necessary to become debt free. We just keep ending up in the same boat over and over again. Maybe I'll share your post and see if it inspires him! You and your husband are definitely inspirational! Congrats and enjoy your celebratory manis and pedis :-)

  2. Thanks for ur sweet comment Jen!
    I hope if you decide to share my post w/ur hubby it will inspire him or at least plant that little seed in his head....

    It took my husband and I a while to get on the same page. We had to get past the arguing and blaming first, realizing it took us both to get in the shape we were in and it was going to take both of us to get out of it.

    Thanks for the congrats amiga! =)

  3. One word I have to say about this... Inspirational! I'm glad you shared :)

  4. That is awesome! We have no debt but that's because we ran away from it when we left the US, now we just need to start saving! I'm going to use a couple of your ideas.

  5. Rita,
    Thanks for commenting. It makes me feel I did the right thing by sharing our experience with the supportive comments I've received. We'll see how long the post stays up.... Once my husband sees it, he may blow a gasket that I shared so much "personal info".... LOL

    Use away amiga! I hope people can benefit from any info I shared and I'd love to know what tips people may have to go along with mine.

  6. man, that's the boat i'm trying so hard to get that debt down! aunque no sea mucho, como gente mayor...pero no quiero que siga creciendo..! we dont have cable or internt..we go to the library to rent dvds and use their internet. and we have cut back on our eating out! lol, that is what gets us///we do it like 5x a week!....eeek., but so far we haven;t gone out to eat in 3 all! yippeee

  7. Tara! You, go, girl! Wanna come and help get us organized? Dang. Eliminating cable to rid my house of Spongebob sounds good to me. I'm forwarding your post to my hubs. I like the idea of paying for everything in cash and getting rid of the debit card. Cuz if the cash is gone, then "sorry" no more money. Great lesson on budgeting, here. I'm happy for you, my friend. *hug*

  8. Carolina,
    Thanks for commenting! Sounds like you are going full steam ahead in the right direction. Eating out use to be a big one for us! We got use to eating out occasionally. To us, it even taste better when we do not eat out a lot.
    I'm going to get back into my Truthtuesdays next week.

    Thank you amiga!!! I'm still estatic. We've worked so hard and to know that we actually accomplished this goal (which 4 years ago, look unattainable...) is awesome!

  9. I bet it feels amazing.... when i got rid of the small store credit cards i had i felt a relief I;m now working on the school loan i never needed and ended up with ugh! Talk about drama. I'm so proud and excited for your family.

  10. Congratulations...that is a big deal :) and very inspirational. Thanks for the tips.

  11. Thank you for the detailed information as well as the inspiration! We are looking at the bottom of the barrel, not hit it yet but don't want to hit it. We are sort of middle-low income and my hubby's parents/family have needs (of 7 grown kids, he is the only one with a job). While trying to be compassionate- and understand we can't change other people- we are want to have a different type of life, not being stressed out about money, and take care of our own kids. So at our income we have realized we will need to have more self-discipline, communication and organization. I am checking out Angel Food Ministries at your suggestion. Didn't think about it like this before, but maybe we will need a bit of help ourselves.

  12. Ruby,
    Thanks for commenting amiga. Congrats on ur small store credit cards. I can totally relate on that feeling of relief! Whew! (wiping my head and letting out a deep breath) **hugs**

    Thanks for commenting Karen. I kinda feel like we accomplished something big (thanks for calling it a big deal..... to us is really really is!)

    Thanks for commenting. Sounds like your one smart chica! I wish we would have started earlier (b4 hitting the bottom or pretty darn close to it) it would have been a little easier. I totally understand helping family.We still have to deal with what is on our plate, but why not make it easier, right? =)
    Angel Food Ministries is a really great organization! There is no qualifying, income guidelines, nothing. They realize people need help no matter what their circumstance might be. I hope if they are in your area, you will give them a try.
    Good luck with everything!

  13. Tara thanks for calling me smart but I think I am just SCARED. That is what is finally motivating us for real.
    And then within the last few months my husband has had two medical problems which kept him from working for weeks and then his restaurant closed. He eventually has found 2 jobs to earn not quite as much as what he was making. At least I think maybe now he is scared too. Not that it is a pleasant feeling but at least I think we are on the same page. If I start to fall off the wagon hopefully he will remind me to get back on.
    I found a step-by-step to-do list which may help some other reader too. Have actually set this as my home page on my internet browser so it hits me in the face every day. No forgetting. No excuses.
    This website also offers a free spreadsheet tool so you can put in all your debts and see exactly how long it will take you to pay them off depending how much you pay each month.
    Seeing the dates laid out like a crystal ball into the future, when certain things should be paid off, is inspiration.
    We can see the math laid out and if we follow the plan we will actually be able to help the kids with college by the time the 10-year-old is that age. That is a very motivating idea.

  14. BethO,
    I'm sorry to hear about ur hubby! I can imagine how tired he is when he comes home. It's amazing what we have to do sometimes.
    You are so right about seeing the dates laid out, gives you major inspiration!
    Thanks for sharing the links. They are great. I'm sure others will find them helpful as well.
    Keep on keepin on amiga! You guys can do it. At the beginning it felt like an impossible goal for us, but we are proof it can be done.
    And, if we can do it.... anybody can!
    Much love and positive vibes your way!
    Thanks for commenting!