Education: Master’s Degree
Job: Teaching-10 years
Family of 5– 3 children ages 9, 8, and 4
Home: Own, 30 year fixed
Cars: One paid off, one with a car note
Question 1: Mrs. H$, if you don’t mind sharing, what did you financial situation look like prior to taking action?
Up until recently my financial situation was not scary because of my students loans, a divorce, and child care costs. I was always living paycheck to paycheck (like 78% of working Americans) hoping there were never any major financial situations. Currently, I have $31,000 in student loans and have only been able to pay on them within the past two years. Prior to 2015, because before I qualified a deferral as a result of my monthly income as a teacher. Additionally, child care costs are $2,100 a month for my three children. This consists of after school care at the local community center for my two school aged children, preschool and day care for my youngest child.
Question 2: What inspired you to take action and what was your first step?
I wanted things to change because I couldn’t take the stress money was causing me. Paying my bills would make me sick at times and the thought of what if something were to happen what would I do sacred me. My first step to changing things was reading up based on your advice. I work in a good environment with knowledgeable people who I know I can trust to give me sound financial suggestions. I listened to what you had to say about budgeting and decided to make one that would work for me. It took me three months to get a budget layout that works for me because I would constantly tweak the one I found online.
I knew it would be hard to constantly update my budget when I bought things from the store so I decided to download the Google Sheets app so now when I’m checking out I have my budget open and I just plug the numbers in right away. My budget is always with me and it isn’t “out of sight out of mind” so I can be more diligent with my choices. (Readers – I highly recommend connecting everything to Mint, easily code every transaction and set goals)
Question 3: What were some of the ways you created or shifted income to help target student loans or specific debt?
I first decided to pay off my credit card (Smart move! -MLW) Once I paid off my credit card, I used that amount of start paying extra towards my student loans. However, because I owe so much paired with the deferment, I haven’t been able to make much of a dent. The good news: I’m excited because after this month I will be finished paying off a long term medical bill so I will take that $150 I was paying on that bill to apply to my student loan! With the extra amounts going towards the student loans, I will be able to pay off one of my six student loans in five months, or by January! I will still have a lot to pay off but it will be a goal I have been working on and it will feel liberating!
Read how to take action here!
Question 4: What is best advice you could give someone looking to pay off some student loans or consumer debt?
You have to budget. Search online for budgets layouts or use the one on here Josh provides. Once you find a budget you like, keep customizing it to make it be the best for you. Figure out a way for your budget to be easily accessed when you are out spending money (i.e. gas station, grocery) so you can enter things right away rather that waiting and trying to remember or use mint!
Find something small to pay off first. It feels so liberating to pay something off! Once you pay off your first small debt take that same amount you were using to work on paying off another debt. Once you know you can do it, you can do it. (so trueeeee!!!)
Question 5: Lastly, what are your upcoming goals and game plan to keep improving your financial situation (H$ is already killing it)?
I know I have to stay on top of my budget and never get comfortable (I love my take action post personally) thinking I have things under control. While right now, I don’t feel overwhelmed and stressed out because I know where all of my money is going, I have to stay focused. My upcoming goal is to reallocate my extra payments so that I can pay off one of my vehicles. The amount of money I owe on it seems daunting so I want to first pay off one of my students loans so I can achieve my initial goal and then determine a new game plan.
Great stuff H$!! I can honestly say I love hearing stories about overcoming financial situations that sometimes seem like it might be too daunting! H$ and her husband are both teachers and with three kids they could obviously have a million excuses, but they decided to make it happen.
My key takeaways:
Get on a budget! You have to know where you money is. Some will say you don’t need a budget, I personally think having a budget and checking it at least monthly KEEPS YOU ACCOUNTABLE
Start small and work your way up, like my debt snowball post, an extra $600 can alleviate $60,000 in debt in 40 months, and a $200,000 mortgage in 7 years. But it all starts with one step and like H$ said, making small successes that keep you going!
Have a plan and set small goals! I love hearing how H$ and her family are making it work within their lifestyle! And with 78% of Americans living paycheck to paycheck, unbudgeted expenses can set people back for months! Hope for the best, plan for the worst.
Question: Do you have an awesome game plan or story ? Feel free to reach out on my contact page if you would like to share!