Debt Free Journey Reports

2018 Debt Free Journey Report

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2018 was an amazing year for me! I put $18,200 towards my student loans and I will be debt free a few months into 2019!

My Story!

If you have been following my story at all, you probably know my story. If not, I tell my story at the beginning of every monthly report for those who just stumbled upon my blog. I gain different followers every month and I don’t want anyone to feel blind as they find my posts! If you have read my story, feel free to skip ahead to my monthly report. I tell this story so I am not just some stranger, but instead someone who just might inspire each and every reader to follow the same journey! I want everyone to know where I started to help encourage them.

My name is Elyse. I am 24, single with no kids and I am proudly on my way to being completely debt free. I never really thought of myself as someone who was in debt. With no credit cards and no car payment, I was not the average American.  All I had was a few student loans. Everyone has student loans, so it never really crossed my mind that I was in debt. But, it wasn’t until a few weeks before my 22nd birthday that I got a loan for a Jeep and my very first credit card. I should say credit card(s). There were two or three that “showed up” that month.

For that month of December 2016, I thought it was so cool that I finally had a credit card. I was excited over it actually. I was learning about all the different rewards I could cash in and it was fantastic. Even though I had never needed a credit card, I was determined that I needed them then. I even went on vacation using mostly my credit card. I had racked up a pretty decent amount of money on my credit cards and started picking up extra waitressing shifts to get it cleared. While I have never paid interest on my credit cards, I have definitely gotten close.

I was excited about all of my new things, until my student loan bill came due. I had officially been “on break” from college for 6 months. My grace period was over. A $415 student loan payment showed up in the mail. I didn’t think that I had $415 to put towards my student loan every month. So I broke down and started budgeting. Turns out, I was eating $415 worth of food and fun!

I had over $34,000 in debts when I had totaled it up.

Towards the end of the month, I was cleaning off a bookshelf, getting ready to move (again), and found The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness. This $15 book completely changed my life path at the time. Dave describes being debt free as such a rewarding and achievable thing. In his book, he says it will take work and it will be hard, but it will be worth it. He has been right. I call this my “God wink” moment because what I needed came into my life as soon as I needed it.

In the first month of my debt free journey, I paid off $1,500 towards my debts. I obviously had been withholding money from myself and my goals. For every month since then, I have focused on hitting huge financial goals. There have been days were I have completely questioned my sanity. I sometimes wonder why I don’t just make minimum payments forever like everyone else. But I also know that someday, I will be able to travel and just stop to enjoy life because I won’t owe any money towards my house, car, college, or credit cards. Knowing that “This too shall pass” has been the motivation to keep me going this year.

“Sometimes, you have to live like NO ONE else, so someday you can LIVE like no one else.” – Dave Ramsey

If you haven’t read the book, I recommend you go buy it RIGHT NOW. It will be $20 that changes your life completely. I will wait, just be sure to come back to read the rest of the post.

I officially started my debt free journey on January 1st, 2017. Originally, my goal was to pay off my debt in one year. Turns out, I don’t actually even make enough money for that to even be a possibility. Read about how I paid off $15,000 on my $38,000 (pre-tax) income last year. Since then, my goal has continued to change every month. Some months, it seems totally doable to knock it out in just a few short months. In other months, the rest of this journey seems like it is going to last forever.

Even if I didn’t make my original goal, Debt Free At 23 has such a great ring to it. Debt free at 24 still isn’t terrible either.

In 2018, I paid $18,216 towards my student loan debt!

I started in 2017 with 8 accounts and $34,000, but here is what my debt snowball looks like now:

Debts  Starting Debt   Principle Paid To Date  Debt Left
Amazon Card  $                  10.99  $            10.99 PAID JAN 17
Mary Kay Card  $                275.00  $          275.00 PAID JAN 17
Credit Card  $                649.88  $          649.88 PAID JAN 17
Student #1  $             2,087.41  $       2,087.41 PAID APRIL 17
Jeep  $             2,500.00  $       2,500.00 PAID JULY 17
Student #2  $             3,550.00  $       3,550.00 PAID SEPT 17
Student #3  $             4,950.00  $       4,950.00 CONSOLIDATED
Student #4  $                450.00  $          450.00 CONSOLIDATED
Refinanced Student Loan             19,529.00       16,299.00    3,300

I am starting the 2019 new year with $3,300 in debt remaining!

Reflection of 2018:

Time has been flying by me while I have been on this journey. I started 2018 with losing my full time military job in January. My part time job as a waitress became my full time job. I put in a lot of hours at the restaurant. My military contract also ended this year. I had previously thought that I would be staying in the military, but after a lot of hard decisions and thinking, I decided to get out of the military.  Shortly after leaving the military, I got promoted to the full time bartender. Being a bartender has lead me to meeting some good friends. I continued to bartend for most of the year while continuing to pay off my debt.

During the month of October, I started planning to have someone take over my lease and move in with friends. I moved out of my apartment that was costing me $550+ a month to a friend’s spare bedroom for $400 a month! Living here has been a huge help to my debt free journey! It cut down on my expenses. I have also been sharing groceries with my roommate’s, as well as cooking duties.

All year, I had thought that I would be debt free by the end of the year. I thought I would be in a very different place than I currently am. But I know that everything will happen when the timing is right. This year, on average, I paid off $1,656 a month! My best month was June at over $2,542.

Looking Forward to 2019: 

2019 is going to be a big year for me. By the end of the year, I will be debt free and I will have closed on my first house! I am excited and nervous all at the same time for the home buying process. 2019 also is bringing a new job! I will be moving into a full time financial advisor position. That means lots of studying and learning in 2019.

My goals for 2019 are..

  • Pay off last $3,500 in student loans
  • Save $3,000 for emergency fund
  • Save $7,000 for closing costs (and close on first house)
  • Make $55,000 in total income for the year (2018, I earned $48,900)
  • Run half marathon in 2 hours and 45 minutes
  • Get my financial certifications
  • Weigh 140 lbs again
  • 52 Books in 52 weeks
  • 2-3 blog posts per month
  • Spend 1 hour a week with God
  • Volunteer for 2 hours a month
  • Start rebuilding sinking funds!

I can’t wait to see what 2019 all has in store for me!

If you haven’t started your debt free journey, what are you waiting for?

Maybe you are saying that you should start in the new year. Or maybe you are waiting for a new job. Or more money. Is your financial plan includes winning the lottery? If you are one of these people who says “Wow, I wish I could pay off my debt or save money like that.”

Stop. Waiting.

You will be waiting forever if you keep thinking that something in your life is going to change your finances without you changing your lifestyle. If you get a raise, you are likely to raise your spending. When you get your taxes back, you will suddenly need a vacation or new home repairs. Stop waiting on tomorrow. Start TODAY.

Where do you want your finances to be in one year?

Follow these 8 Steps to change your finances today.


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