I Paid Off $30,000 in 10 Months — Here’s What Worked for Me

Karolina Grabowska STAFFAGE / kaboompics.com

Debt is a struggle for a lot of us. We go to school and take out student loans. We buy a car and finance the purchase. We book a sweet vacation and put the entire thing on our credit card. Then, we end up wondering how we got into the mess we’re in.

That was my experience throughout my early 20s. I did everything I thought was right. I went to school for accounting, financed my education and then found myself holding a piece of paper stating that I owed $30,000. Ouch. And that’s where my debt-free journey began.

Click to read more about the average student loan debt in every state.

I decided to pay off my debt as quickly as possible by working two jobs: staff accountant by day and nail tech on nights and weekends. I also decided to reduce my expenses down to a bare-bones budget, meaning I didn’t have a budget for dining out, Starbucks, traveling or clothes. I rented out my home for a profit and moved in with my partner to help save costs. The plan was simple — not easy, mind you, working 70-80 hours a week was rough, and there were days where I felt like I “deserved” my fancy coffee — but it helped me pay off the entire $30,000 in 10 months.

You can make a ton of money and have very little expenses, but if you can’t convince yourself to stick to your debt-payoff plan, it doesn’t matter. Here are the small, day-to-day things I did that kept me focused, motivated and truly made the biggest difference in achieving my goal.

Tape Your Budget to Your Debit Card

During my debt-free journey, I created my budget in Excel and then scaled it down so it was closer in size to my debit card. Then, I printed it off and taped it to the front of my card. Sounds weird right? But it worked. This is because when you tape your budget to your debit card, two things happen: First, you are reminded of your financial goal every single time you look at your card. Second, anytime you want to purchase something, you have to physically remove your budget from your card. Do that a few times a day, and you’ll find it’s a wee bit annoying.

Make Your Money Work for You

When paying off debt, it’s important to place as many barriers or checkpoints in your life between you and spending money impulsively. If taping your budget to your card seems a bit too strange for you, then find a card sleeve and put your card in that.

Related: 15 Easy-to-Use Budget Templates

Get Obsessed With Podcasts and YouTube Videos

There’s a lot of power in feeding your mind positive messages that support your goal. When I was paying off debt, I would sit in my cubicle, home-brewed coffee in hand, and listen to Dave Ramsey, Suze Orman and Robert Kiyosaki all day. Their voices played in my ear constantly.

Whatever you focus on gets improved, and this is true of our minds as well. I found that being obsessed with bettering my financial life kept me focused. It also provided a sense of community while paying off debt. Dave, Suze and Robert became my unofficial mentors and helped me stay focused on my plan.

Podcasts weren’t popular then, so options were limited. Now there are thousands of podcasts for you to listen to — and the best part is, they are completely free.

Unsubscribe From Store Promotion Emails

We get a lot of emails every day, and each one is trying to persuade us to spend money. Email marketing works very well and advertisers have gotten great at getting in our heads. This is great for business, but not so great when you are trying to pay off debt.

That’s why I chose to unsubscribe from all promotional emails. If you are trying to unsubscribe, a lot of emails allow you to do that manually by clicking “unsubscribe” at the bottom, or you can use a free website like Unroll.me to unsubscribe from hundreds of emails in just a few minutes.

Make Your Money Work for You

More on Resisting the Urge to Shop: Shopping Mistakes You’re Making and How to Stop

We often hear stories of people accomplishing financial goals by working two jobs, moving in with parents, selling a car and so forth. I talk about this often myself. But it’s important to know the mundane, day-to-day stuff that helps people achieve those goals, too. These simple daily things helped me stick to my plan and pay off my debt in 10 months, and they might help you too.

Click to read more about strategies one family uses to stick to their budget.

More From Our Smart Money Squad:


See Today's Best
Banking Offers