Checking In With the Debt Destroyers!

debt-destroyers

It’s not an easy thing, whittling away at debt or making sacrifices to attain financial stability. When faced with the spending temptations of summer, paying off debt can be particularly tough. It takes focus and hard work – but as the Debt Destroyers know – the pay off is worth all that effort. And there’s nothing  to say there can’t be a little ice cream involved in any budgeting plan.

As ever, I’m in awe of the Debt Destroyers awesomeness and dedication to rocking their financial goals. Let’s take a look at how they fared over the last while and catch up with their progress!

IMG_8658_2Name: Abbey
About Me: I’m married, working, and a mother to one child. I work about 55 hours a week and I’ve recently decided to go back to school which has added an extra pressure in terms of finance and time.”
Goal: Pay off $20,000 in debt in one year.
Challenge: The problem is both my husband and I spend like we are making three figures each (not the case!) and don’t have a child. The time issue “allows” me to spend more unnecessarily. I take my lunch to work daily but I am easily swayed. Recent weight loss has also contributed to spending money on a new wardrobe.

What Was Challenging:
I seem to have lost my drive for debt reduction in the last few months. I have been spending money like crazy. The Summer semester has started up so I’m hoping that I’m so busy I stop spending. I also haven’t figured out why I’m doing this, in fact today I bought a shirt I DIDN’T EVEN LIKE because my friend bought the same one. 6 hours later I was back at the store to get my refund of $42.76. Who does this? Who buys a shirt they don’t like that cost $42.76? A weirdo, that’s who. I’m re-dedicating myself as I type this so I can blow everyone away with next month’s progress.

 

What Was Awesome:
Hmmm, I’m not so sure that I have a lot of awesome stuff to report. I am still making my payments as I’ve scheduled, so that’s about it.

KatrinaName: My name is Katrina, but I often go by Trina.
About Me: I work as a support analyst and love spending time with those I love and my 2 dogs.  I love trying new things and would love to start traveling again!
My Goal:  
My goal is to pay off credit cards as well as medical expenses.  I’d also like to start saving up so I can set more aside in my savings account as well as budget better on the things I do enjoy.
My Challenge: 
 My challenge is to keep up my current action plan for eliminating debt, but more importantly to limit eating out to only once a week.  I’d rather take what I spend eating out and put it towards paying off debt sooner, and when you live in the suburbs of wonderful Chicago, it’s too hard to eliminate eating out all-together, so I’d like to limit what I do spend.
My Progress Update:

What was challenging:
I had to cancel a trip in April that I was planning on due to my budget, but I have 2 more vacations coming up this year, so April was a rough one because I paid for the hotels for one trip and found out the amount I’ll owe for the second trip to a friend. Thankfully she’s an awesome friend who knows my plan to get out of debt, and understands when I can pay her back, so I don’t have to put more debt on my cards! I was able to put the trip on a card that had just been paid off *cringe* but was able to pay it off within the same month, thankfully. But the trip did put me over my credit card rewards, and I earned a check back!

What was awesome:
I earned a cash back check from my credit card…but that also goes hand in hand with my challenge! I was also able to pay back off a credit card that I had to use within the same month I used it. I used some money saving tricks to get deals on the trips I’m planning and kept in mind tips I saw on the facebook group.

1231348_10202256486075890_284286934_n (1)Name: Shelly

About Me:  I’m a single mother of a college student and about to become an empty nester except for the two cats we have. I am a Legal Assistant and I also work part-time at a retail store.

Goal: Pay off 15,085 of credit card and student loan debt. Also pay off about $8,900 worth of medical expenses from this summer. I would also like to build up a six month emergency fund, which will take a long period of time.

Challenge: Sticking to my food budget and using my extra income to make extra payments on the credit cards and medical expenses.

What Was Awesome:
I paid off one doctor bill and I am one payment away from having a small debt paid in full, then I can really tackle my student loan and have that paid in full by the end of the year. My daughter has decided that she does not like living in Nevada and is moving home in 10 days. She did not like the school and the fast paced life in the Las Vegas area. Even though some of my home bills will increase, it will be a joy to have her back home. Even the cats have missed her.

What was challenging:
Again my daughter’s overwhelmingly high truck insurance. Thankfully, she is on her way back home to Wisconsin and she can be back to low insurance coverage. My car started smoking on the way into work one morning, had to be towed to the shop and ended up the water pump failed. I’m lucky enough to be friends with the owner of the shop and a long- time customer, so he is letting me pay over time. Still need a lot work done to the car and hoping to get that all accomplished by the end of the year.

Name: Hayley
About Me:
 I run a UK debt blog called A Disease Called Debt (www.diseasecalleddebt.com) which I started to document our family’s journey to become debt free. Having been in debt for 15 years, the hubby and I had our lightbulb moment in January 2013. We really want to be debt free more than anything. It’s been a very long and sometimes tedious journey so far given that at the start we owed over £41K, however we’ve now reduced our debt down to just over £27K in the course of just over a year!
My Goal: To eliminate our consumer debt completely.
My Challenge: Having eliminated one of our debts before Christmas, we’re now focusing on paying off the remainder of our debts, which has been consolidated into a Debt Management Plan. We’re in a debt management plan because a few years ago, we ran into some serious problems with our debts. Our new challenge for 2014 is to reduce our debt down to £15K by 31st December.

During April, we made a huge dent in our debt, reducing our total debt down to £14,537.74 from £27,287.95! Considering we started off at over £41K in January 2013, we’re ecstatic about the progress we’ve made. The large debt repayment in April was due to receiving a mis-sold Payment Protection Insurance refund from one of our creditors. We’d been mis-sold a policy a few years ago, which recently came to light. With the refund we received, every penny of it went towards the debts!

ClaireName: Claire Murdough
About Me: I’m a Bay Area native recently returned from a year living in/around Beijing. I like chocolate, gummy bears, chocolate covered gummy bears, and of course… writing!
My Goal: Going full force against my student loan debt while also pumping up my emergency fund.
My Challenge: No coffee out, no individual servings (yogurt, granola bars, etc).
My Progress Update:

What Was Awesome:
I’ve been whittling down my grocery shopping to an art. I bike to the grocery store with a small backpack. Whatever fits, fits. Whatever is too heavy or bulky, I reserve for my monthly trip with a car. It’s great, and keeps me honest in buying veggies and bulk grains to supplement what I already have in my fridge. Definitely a unique kind of budgeting but works for me!

What Was Challenging:
Jeez, life is full of things to spend on. I’m having a hard time saying no to some of the fun festivals, trips, or events that crop up around the summertime. So far I’ve done well with picking and choosing my social splurges, but it’s still tough to say no sometimes. I will say that I’m choosing experiences over things like drinks/dinner out and it’s been great. Experiences somehow seem much more worth the cost!

Name: Valerie

Profile PicAbout Me:  I’m a 45 year-old working mom with one son and a step-daughter. I love my work in municipal government, where I have been employed for the last 14 years.

Goal: Pay off $26,000 in credit card debt by the end of 2014. In 2015, my car loan will be paid so the only debt I will have is my mortgage. My husband and I contribute the maximum towards our 457K retirement plans and will have pensions when we retire, so we are doing great with our future savings goals. In the last three months, I have consolidated all my debt with zero-interest onto two cards, established a realistic budget (trackable by spreadsheet), started paying with cash, and completely reigned in my spending. I don’t even use the vending machine at work for a $1 snack anymore!

Challenge: Totally changing my spending habits. I acquired the debt on my own through mindless spending and international travel before I re-married three years ago. I am extremely embarrassed by my debt to the point that even my husband doesn’t know about it. We both earn good money and I have worked out a detailed plan to pay off all this debt next year using my own income.

What Was Awesome:

  • Exceeded monthly budget by only $292 (last year, I was running an average of a few thousand over budget and overage includes $100 for unexpected car repair).
  • I made only two credit card charges – $100 for car repair and $28 for a gift (used store credit card to save 30%). Compare this to last year – credit charges for the month were a whopping $3,400 (38 transactions). It makes me sick just thinking about it.
  • Interest expense last April = $92, this year = $0.
  • Discretionary spending was down over 70% compared to last year. Clothing expense for April last year = $1,185 (aaaack!); this year = $0. I continue to be shocked by how irresponsible I was with money. I’m glad I’ve changed my ways, but wow, what a wake-up call!
  • I’m very pleasantly surprised by how little I miss spending money like there is no tomorrow. It sure beats getting all sweaty every time a credit card bill would show up in the mailbox. Now I actually look forward to getting them (only two now, instead of many) so I can celebrate my progress!

What Was Challenging:

  • I have three interest-free balances on one card and assumed that any amount paid beyond the minimum would be applied to the oldest and largest balance with the 0% rate that expires first. Wrong. In order to avoid paying off the newer balances that expire later and incur a large interest charge on the larger balance, I discovered that I need to save up the amount in my savings account and make a large payment during the payment cycle that the promotional rate expires. It caused some brain damage trying to sort out how to track all this (and a lot of annoyance with the credit card company for not working with me to adjust which payments are applied to which balance), but I readjusted my “on-paper” plan and am back on track.
  • My budget is VERY tight and there is little wiggle-room in it for unexpected expenses, which causes me to exceed it. At least I’m no longer spending more than my income. Still, I would like to have my finances arranged so that I don’t spend more than I make (done) AND don’t exceed my budget (still working on it).

MelaniePhotoAbout Melanie: Melanie blogs about breaking up with debt at deardebt.com and invites others to write breakup letters to their debt as well. She’s accumulated a total of 81k in student loan debt between two degrees, and has paid off 37k. Currently she puts more than 50% of her income towards debt, while living a frugal, fun life. She enjoys art, travel, giving back and making obscure pop culture references.

Challenge: To make dinner at home at 6 times a week, and only go out to eat once a week. Going out to eat is my one weakness!

Goal: To be debt free!

What was awesome:
I had a surge of freelance work to help pay down debt and paid over $1400 to debt.

What was challenging:
Trying to not go out to eat and continue keeping my place clean, after feeling so tired. 

Way to go Debt Destroyers!

And now it’s your turn! Are you ready to join the Debt Destroyers Super League? If so, send an email to claire [at] readyforzero.com and include your name, a brief description of yourself, your goal, and your challenge. We’ll include you in next month’s update!!

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