If you are living on one income, you might think you’ll never get out of debt.
I used to read other stories of families who had paid off massive amounts of debt on just one income, and thought there was no way in the world I could do that.
For years I wasted time plugging along and paying our minimum debt payments thinking it was an impossible dream to get it paid off.
Being at peace with my bank account and having enough money for when those little emergencies turn into a crisis sounded too good to be true.
I’m here to tell you that it is very possible to pay off debt even while only one person is earning a full-time income.
Let me show you how it’s done!
Here are a few things we did to pay off our debt while living on only one income.
Write Down Your Purpose
Paying off debt is not easy. So writing down a reward or purpose or even multiple goals you hope to achieve when you become debt free is the first step to start your journey towards actually becoming debt free.
Put it somewhere prominent where you’ll see it every day.
Even tell your friends about it.
When your goals are written and concrete, you can hold yourself accountable (so can your friends) and help you stay motivated to live through the hard times when paying off your debt.
Let me give you an example of a reward we used when we were paying off our debt. When we successfully met our first goal of paying off one credit card, we took a full day and went to the beach and even stopped off for ice cream on the way home. It was our “One Is Gone Beach Day Fun” and our whole family remembers going and remembers what it took to accomplish that goal. Then, for other milestones of paying off debt we had similar fun family events to associate a reward with successfully making the benchmark.
Recognize Your Family’s Spending Habits
Before you can make any headway in paying off your debt, you need first to learn to where your money is going!
Warning, tough love ahead: You need to track every single penny.
Start by focusing on the unnecessary items in your budget such as eating out and commit yourself to a frugal lifestyle.
That means you have to set a budget and stick to it.
Is excessively eating out with your family worth the stress of having the debt hanging over your head? What about having the trendiest clothes?
The easiest way to curb spending is to put the debit card away and use cash. When we spend cold, hard, cash, we realize it more than when we use the plastic fun card.
If you want to be able to pay off your debt on just one income, you are going to have to first learn to reel in your spending.
If you are ready to get serious about paying off your debt, you need to get serious about your budget.
Start by writing down all of your expenses and your income, and create a budget that you can use to maximize your debt payments.
Even if you fail the first month, or you fall off the wagon a few times, get back up and stick with it.
When you are making your budget, don’t forget to budget for every single little thing you can think of. Think of expenses that you may typically forget to budget for, such as those extra trips to the grocery store, or birthdays.
Once you see on paper what you are working with, then you can better make decisions where you want your money to go.
For many of my friends, when they looked at their spending, they realized they were spending upwards of $1,000 eating out and that would completely PAY OFF an entire credit card bill. One month of eating IN meant they had reduced their bills by one full credit card. That’s huge!
Embrace Simplicity and Frugality
To pay off your debt sooner, you are going to need to make some adjustments to your spending.
Take a look at your spending (and your budget) to look for areas where you could cut back.
You won’t be able to see every single movie that hits the theatre (you can watch them for FREE when they hit RedBox), and you won’t be able to dine out every night like a king.
These are all sacrifices you will make to live on just one income and pay off debt.
When we were paying off our debt we planned our meals to keep from overspending on groceries, and frequently tried no spending challenges to keep ourselves motivated.
The little dollars here and there add up and will put you closer to a debt free life.
Instead of spending your days wishing you had more money, learn to embrace simplicity and live a frugal lifestyle.
Get Creative with Your Money
Living on just one income and paying off debt takes a little creativity.
One great way to stretch your money is by using coupons to buy your essentials or shopping at secondhand stores for new clothes (so many times I find clothes with the tags still on them).
Plan ahead for holidays and special events. Figure out what you can realistically put away each month for these events, and start early! You can still travel to see your parents for Thanksgiving, but it might mean starting to save in January to make it happen.
Make Temporary Sacrifices
You don’t have to work a second job to put extra money toward debt.
There are plenty of ways to make extra money from home right after your kids go to bed.
Taking surveys online or selling your unused items in a facebook yardsale group, will help you make extra money to put the extra money toward your debt.
Remember that these sacrifices are temporary but they will certainly pay off in the long run.
Stop Using Your Income As An Excuse
It doesn’t matter how much income your family makes; you can still pay off your debt!
When you stop using your income as an excuse for your financial situation, you’ll become more motivated and start believing in yourself.
Start by thinking about what you can do right now to pay off your debt, and then jump in and get started!
If you are living on one income, you might think you’ll never get out of debt. And while It might sound too good to be true right now, you can get out of debt and still live on one income! I’m living proof!
Of course, making more money can help you pay off your debt sooner, you don’t have to have more than one income to pay off your debt! Be consistent with working towards your goal, and you’ll be well on your way to paying off your debt on any income.
YOUR TURN: What steps are you going to take to pay off your debt while living on one income? Let me know in the comments below!
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