Dyana went from struggling to afford her daughters $50 monthly daycare fee to paying off her $13,283 debt in only 18 months. She gets her debt-freedom inspiration from her children and is continuing to pay off debt as she is realistic with her goals and continues to make financial sacrifices. Dyana developed her money mindset and has been accomplishing one goal at a time. Enjoy reading!
"I remember feeling so stressed out and defeated one day that I was just like, I can’t do this anymore. Something has to give!"
What was your "enough is enough" moment?
My moment came when I made the huge decision to move out of my mom’s house after my daughter’s first birthday. I was a full-time college student so I only worked part-time, and my paycheck was barely enough to cover my car payment.
My daughter’s daycare only charged me $50 a month for childcare, but I couldn’t even afford that. I remember feeling so stressed out and defeated one day that I was just like, “I can’t do this anymore. Something has to give!”
How much debt do you have in total and how much debt have you paid off so far?
To date, I’ve paid off $13,283.88 in 18 months. In two months, I’ll have my auto loan paid off so I’ll be down to just my student loans.
I currently have $1,500 put back into an emergency fund, but my goal is to save up three month’s worth of expenses.
I’ve cut off most of my retirement contributions to help pay down debt, but I do at least have $10,000 saved with the help of employer contributions.
How much income are you earning as you accomplish paying off your debt?
When I started my debt-free journey, I was only making around $25K a year. To date, I am slightly under $40K a year.
What specific things do you do to save?
When I made the decision that I was going to be debt free I knew that I had to make some major sacrifices. To free up extra cash, I switched to a prepaid cell phone plan and moved into an old townhome costing me only $525 in rent. I also began working from home to save money on gas and car maintenance.
Instead of buying new outfits, I go to consignment sales and thrift shops to buy gently used clothes. I cut off all trips to the nail and hair salon and began to do things myself. Something as simple as painting my own nails saves me $40 a month.
When money got really tight, I side hustled for a little over a year which brought in an extra $400 a month. Any extra money that I came across, including tax refunds and insurance settlements, was used to pay down debt.
How do you keep yourself motivated?
I remind myself of the end goal every single day, multiple times a day. Watching my balances go down is like a guilty pleasure, and achieving small goals gives me the extra boost of motivation I need to continue on when the process gets stagnant.
Although they're too young to understand my struggles right now, I want my children to have lives built upon good financial decisions. They’re my biggest source of inspiration and, like most parents, I want them to have the things that I didn’t.
How do you manage the days where you just wanted to go out and spend money?
Honestly, this has been the hardest habit to break. When the sun is shining and I have nothing to do it’s difficult to keep myself from wanting to spend.
During those days, I found ways to distract myself and occupy my time. Normally, I'll take my daughter out to play or reorganize my apartment.
Sometimes, just looking at my pitiful bank account balance was enough to stay put.
What would be your money advice to your 21-year-old self?
Life is not a competition so there’s no need to keep up an image that you cannot afford. You’ve got to live within your means and separate your wants from your needs. Ensure that you’ve got enough money saved up in case of a financial emergency, and stick to your budget like your life depends on it!
What steps are you taking to ensure you meet your ultimate debt payoff goals?
I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t worry about going back into more debt sometimes. To ensure that I don’t go backward on my journey to debt freedom, I stick with a zero-based budget. This allows me to see exactly how much I have to spend and on what. Even as my spendable income increases, I still stick to the same budget.
After some research, I decided that I will continue renting for a few more years. Holding off on home ownership will allow me to save up more money and get my student loans to a lower balance.
I’m confident that I’ve developed such a frugal mindset that I could never go back to my old spending habits. It was unnecessary spending that got me to this point and I've been fortunate enough to learn from my lessons.
What advice would you give anyone reading this looking for encouragement?
I encourage everyone, no matter what their financial situation is, to continue pushing towards the finish line. It doesn’t matter if you got there running, walking, or crawling, what matters is that you got there.
I’ve read so many debt payoff stories, but I could not find one that was similar to my own. Sometimes I felt like my goal was impossible because I didn’t even make half of what they were making and I’m the sole breadwinner of my household. Needless to say, I'm glad I continued to push through.
Start off by setting small financial goals for yourself to gain momentum and celebrate all of your wins no matter how small!
Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us Dyana. We look forward to an update in the near future!
Check out Dyana's blog following her journey to financial freedom and helping other women take control of their finances here.