How Walking Dogs Helped My Family Pay Off $55,000 of Debt

A simple job turned this family's life around.

Back in 2013, we were a family of three expecting to expand our family by one more before the year’s end. This was such an exciting time, but the uncertainty of our financial situation clouded it.

I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in 2012. By 2013, my monthly student loan payments were more than my car payment and our mortgage. We couldn’t afford for me to go back to work due to childcare costs for our firstborn, so we remained a one-income family.

Click to read more about making this the year you pay off all your debt.

But our debt was starting to crush us, and we knew that once our second child was born, expenses were only going to go up. We had some tough choices to make.

Running the Numbers

We sat down and realized that our consumer debt was over $55,000. We needed to make some changes, and one of those changes was that I needed to find a way to earn an income without it all going toward childcare.

To figure out how much side money I needed to earn, we looked over our budget and realized that if I could make between $200 and $500 a month, we could cut a year off of our debt payoff plan.

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Dogs, Toddlers and Babies — Oh My

Thankfully, a friend of mine gave me the idea of becoming a dog walker. Through a connection, I found my first client who lived in a new trendy neighborhood by my house.

I wasn’t sure about this whole dog-walking gig. It wasn’t fun picking up poop, and it was even less fun trying to explain to my then 18-month-old that he couldn’t play with said dog poop.

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Slowly the Business Grew

Eventually, word got around that small neighborhood, and my dog-walking gig grew. I went from walking one dog to four, and I went from keeping up with one child to two — and then eventually, three.

Most of our friends and family could not believe that I was willing to work at a job that was anything but glamorous. However, that side hustle pushed us even further towards reaching our goal of paying off all of our consumer debt.

By the time I stopped walking dogs for income, I had earned over $5,000 every year from that gig.

Debt Freedom at Last

In just two short years, we had accomplished our goal of paying off more than $55,000 of debt. Had it not been for my little dog-walking business that grew from just a little bit of side money to a part-time job, we would never have met our goal in such a short time span.

So, when it comes to figuring out how to make a side hustle work for you and your debt payoff plan, run the numbers and determine the amount of money you need to earn for the side hustle to be beneficial to you and your family. Then, jump in and get hustling.

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