I’m here today with Amanda who is the face behind Debt Free In Sunny CA! Amanda is going to tell us how she and her husband paid off over $133,000 in just 43 months. I don’t know about you, but I love a good debt free story because I always feel inspired at the end. No matter where you are in your financial journey, it’s always nice to get an added dose of motivation to keep going. So if you are first starting to pay off debt, in the middle of your journey, or have reached debt freedom, I hope you enjoy this debt free story with my good friend Amanda.
So you paid off over $133,000 worth of debt! That is incredible! What type of debt did you have and how long did it take you to pay it all off?
We were normal and had a little bit of everything! We had student loans, vehicles, credit cards, and a personal loan. It took us three years and seven months to pay everything off. We also cash flowed our wedding and honeymoon during this time.
What made you initially want to become debt free? Was there a particular moment where it just hit you or was it a gradual change?
My initial motivation for becoming debt free was to be able to make it in California and not live paycheck to paycheck anymore. My breaking point was when I was in the grace period of my student loans after I had graduated with my bachelor’s degrees. Looking at my student loan bill coming due along with my car payment and day to day bills, there was no way I was going to be able to afford all of it. Especially with my rent being over half of my income at the time. Like most of us, I was expecting a nice raise once I had my degree, but that’s not how it works. That was the wakeup call I needed to get my finances in order.
Now that you’ve reached this goal that you’ve set, what is next for you and your husband? Where do you see yourself in 3-5 years?
Our next goal is to save $25,000 in an emergency fund to be prepared for life! After that, we’ll save up for a starter sailboat so we can learn how to sail and gain experience. Our dream is to eventually quit our jobs and sail to different parts of the world. I’m hoping to make that happen in the next 3-5 years.
A large part of your debt consisted of student loans. What encouragement can you give someone who is starting out in college to help them stay away from student loans?
I have so much advice to give! First, it’s okay to not start school right away if you don’t know what career you want to go into. Once you figure it out, research schools to find one that’s affordable and offers your field of study. Community colleges and online schools are a great way to get an affordable education. I went to Western Governors University for $6,000 per year. Apply for every scholarship under the sun. Make that your full time job. Work during school and try to get in your field as soon as you can. Depending on your field, a lot of companies will pay for your education through education reimbursement. There are so many ways to go to college without student loans. I encourage you to exhaust all options to pay for your school without taking out student loans.
Sacrificing to pay off debt isn’t always easy! What advice and motivation can you give to those who are currently working towards becoming debt free?
My advice is to be patient! Your debt free journey is a marathon, not a sprint. Have visuals of your goal everywhere to remind you of what you’re working towards and why you’re doing it. Celebrate your victories, no matter how small and enjoy the journey. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes:
“Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use.” –Earl Nightingale
Some people call you the #debtfreecommunity Queen! Tell us the story behind starting the #debtfreecommunity and what it means to you!
Back in 2015, I started documenting my debt free journey on Instagram. There weren’t a lot of people posting about getting out of debt, so I would search #debtfree and #daveramsey to find more like minded people. I found several, but craved more. As I continued my search, accounts started polluting the hashtags trying to sell weight loss wraps. I put out a call to the little community we had and said that we needed our own hashtag. We voted and that’s how the #debtfreecommunity was born. (out of annoyance! haha)
The #debtfreecommunity has grown so much over the past few years. What started out as a few accounts trying to motivate each other has turned into an amazing, supportive community that is trying to change their financial future and motivate others to do the same. In one simple word, the #debtfreecommunity means everything to me. I don’t think we would have made it this far without them.
Tell us more about where we can find you and follow you on your journey!
Need more inspiration?
I hope this interview with Amanda inspired you to start your debt free journey or keep it going! If you need more inspiration, check out my other interviews and debt free stories. They are perfect for those times when you need to jump back on the budgeting train!