Paying off debt is one of those subjects in personal finance and money matters that never seems to get old. We’ve covered it a few times on Run The Money — both with my story and the stories of others like reader Jody.
I think seeing or reading about others paying off debt has to do with people believing it’s possible for them after seeing somebody else do it first. Kind of like the sub 4-minute mile. Until Roger Bannister broke the 4-minute mark in 1954. Then, other runners saw it as attainable and reached it themselves.
Let me tell you. Paying off debt — no matter how large — is possible.
Enter Danielle from the personal finance blog, The Pennies We Saved. She and her husband are in the process of paying off debt totaling $73,000. So far, they’ve paid off over $48,000. Not too bad!
She was kind enough to share her story with us and how she changed her life to get her finances under control. Take it away, Danielle!
Paying Off Debt: My Q&A with Danielle from The Pennies We Saved.
Danielle, can you provide the readers a brief introduction of who you are?
I am a California girl currently living in the beautiful (but often cold) state of Minnesota. I have been married for five years to my financially savvy husband, J, and mother to a little girl who turns one in July.
J and I both met in California in the summer of 2010. I guess you can say that from the very moment we crossed paths, our love story began immediately. We dated only for a year and a half before getting engaged, only to marry six months later in 2012.
The California housing market was pretty crazy. We were living in a 600 sqft apartment for $1,300 a month at the time. Not a good situation, if you ask me. So, I came up with the brilliant idea of moving to Minnesota, where J grew up. It turned out to be the best option for us, financially.
We arrived in Minnesota on September 1st, 2012 and lived with my in-laws for 9 months before purchasing our home in 2013. It was a major fixer-upper, and we cash flowed every single upgrade.
Tell us about your financial situation prior to May 2015. What did being in debt prevent you from doing?
Before May of 2015, our liberty to travel freely was quite limited. Prior to us getting engaged, I was the natural spender. I would book all of my vacations on credit cards and pay the minimum payments each month. J taught me a lot in that regard, his view on credits cards was polar opposite of mine. He didn’t even have one when we started dating.
So when we did get married, we would ONLY travel whenever we had available funds. In the beginning, traveling was either upstate or driving a State or two over to sight see or visit some family. If I had to guess, we never spent more than $400 per road trip vacation.
It took us a couple of years before buying airline tickets to visit my family back in California. A couple of years too long, but it felt good to know we were able to pay for that trip in cash.
You decided to pay off the debt starting in May 2015. Take us to that moment.
During that California trip in May of 2015, J and I hopped into my parents’ Porshe Cayenne (a vehicle I would love to own one day without the worry of a payment) and drove along the coast. We talked a bit about money and our financial situation during that drive and I asked J if he could imagine what it would be like to live on the beach one day.
His answer was pretty much no, because we couldn’t afford it. Which, he was absolutely right. I probably would have been OK taking out a half million dollar loan to make it happen if he suggested it!
I knew in that moment that anyone could pretend to have money in order to make their dreams come true. It is so easy to put on that facade and just go with it. But I wanted to know what it would be like to be financially free, so I knew something had to change. We set up a plan and never looked back since.
How far along are you and your husband with paying off debt?
We started out with about $73,000 in debt. To date, we have paid off over $48,000 and hope to destroy the remainder by the end of this year. That’s our goal, but we’ll see how it goes!
What kind of financial legacy do you want to leave your daughter?
Setting a financial legacy for our daughter is extremely important to us.
We want her to know that she does not have to depend on credit cards or rely on them to build credit. We do plan on starting a college fund for her once our debt is paid off. This way she will be free of the dreaded student loan debt upon college graduation. We also want her to know the importance and value of money and that saving, investing, and giving is vital.
Also, for us, having peace of mind knowing that she will be OK in the end is all that matters.
Tell us about your site, The Pennies We Saved. What’s your goal with it?
I got the idea to start my site after reading a post on Millennial Money Man’s blog. However, it took me a while to finally brush my fears and worries aside.
My goal is to reach as many people as possible and help them find ways to attain financial independence through my tips and advice. I am not a financial professional by any means, but I believe that some of the greatest advice comes from those who have personal experiences to share with those along similar paths.
What’s it like trying to be a mother and wife while growing your business?
Running a blog isn’t the easiest thing in the world, especially when you have a family to be present for and have a job. I currently work for a few hours a day, 5 days a week. I am home by 7:30PM most days, and sometimes earlier depending on how slow work is going.
Since we don’t utilize a daycare facility for our daughter, my mornings are a mixture between blogging, keeping up with things around the house, caring for my daughter, and attending play dates. In the evenings, I devote the few hours I have to more family time.
It is definitely a busy routine, but I am still working on ways to make time for both. In the end, creating lasting memories with my family comes first.
As time goes on, I hope to improve my readership and provide valuable content for my blog visitors.
How does your faith impact your financial decision making? What does Philippians 4:13 mean to you?
My faith impacts my family’s financial decision making a great deal! I believe in the power of prayer, but I also believe that God won’t hand you everything you ask for without you first putting forth any effort.
Philippians 4:13 reads, I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. It is one of my many favorite bible verses, which you can see at the footer of my blog. It is also one which repeat to myself almost every single day.
For me, it has nothing to do with the relation to money or becoming financially free. I see it as a way to be content in every situation (good or bad), to be OK whether you fail at certain things, or find joy in your successes. It’s quite encouraging.
One more question. How can readers get in touch with you?
What’s your take on Danielle’s story? Are you in the process of paying off debt? Please tell us and share your story below.
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