My Debt Free Story: How Dyana Paid Off $34,000 Debt in 48 Months
My debt free story is a OneSavvyDollar series where we interview millennials who have successfully paid off any major debt i.e. student loans, car loans, credit cards.
Please note: If you’re currently unemployed and facing so much uncertainty with your finances, it’s best to save as much as you can right now. If you’re still employed and carrying on with your financial plans and debt free journey then read on…..
The aim is to inspire, encourage, and motivate you to take hold of your personal finance because “financial fitness is not a pipe dream or a state of mind. It is a reality if you’re willing to pursue it and embrace it.” – Will Robinson
Can you tell us a bit about you?
I am Dyana, a 20-something mom of 2 living in little ol’ Arkansas. Writing has always been a passion of mine as well as inspiring others, so when I started my debt free journey I decided to start a blog to hold myself accountable.
As it gained traffic, I began to teach others what I learned along the way and my growth has been insane to say the least.
What and when was your “sick and tired” of debt moment?
My sick and tired of debt moment came when I only had roughly $30 after my bills were paid to take care of my daughter and I.
I couldn’t afford to leave the home without my credit card and begging for my overdraft fees back was the norm. I just felt like I was failing my child. It was a hopeless situation where I was surviving versus living.
How did you acquire the debt and do you regret doing so?
My debt consisted of student loans, credit card debt, personal loans, and medical debt. I do not regret my student loans because I felt like my degree was my golden ticket into a higher paying position and thank goodness it worked out.
My medical debt came from a lack of insurance knowledge and resources when it came to my first pregnancy so I do not regret that either since it taught me so much about insurance.
I do regret my credit card debt as a lot of it came from impulse spending. Instead of facing my triggers I often shopped through them which put me under about $5,000 in credit card debt.
How much debt did you pay off in total? How much money in interest and time did you save in total?
I started my debt free journey in September 2016 with $34,907 total in debt. It took me a total of 4 years to become debt free, but during that time I went into debt about 4 more times.
Since this brought the total back up I don’t really include the extra balances when calculating how much I paid off. I was able to become debt free a year early due to leveraging any extra money I received.
How much income were you earning when you accomplished this?
When I started my debt free journey in 2016, my income was at $32,000. It stayed in this range until August 2018 where it grew to $50,000.
Can you describe the specific choices you had to make to become debt-free?
In order to pay off debt I had to tell not only myself but my children no A LOT. I lowered our personal funds to $100 every two weeks (about $33 per person) and even gave up buying Christmas gifts for 2 years.
When I got pregnant with my son I moved out of a duplex I loved to a crappy apartment in order to keep my debt payments the same while paying for his childcare.
It was a huge hit to my pride but the move allowed me to pay off the remainder of my auto loan and credit card debt within a year.
I once loved self-care services like getting my nails done but obviously sacrifice is needed on a debt free journey so I also gave up all beauty appointments and shopping for clothes.
Was there any time during your journey where your friends and or family challenged your plans to become debt free?
Yes, all the time! I once had a coworker tell me that I’d never be able to pay off debt and it was a huge blow to my confidence but I’ve learned that this journey is not the norm so most people wouldn’t understand my decisions.
Were any resources such as blogs, books, podcasts particularly helpful to you in staying on track with your debt free journey?
For the first year or so I didn’t know the debt free community existed!
When I found out I wasn’t the only person on this journey I found inspiration in podcasts like His and Her Money.
The community on Instagram has been a huge source of motivation. Their kind words and genuine encouragement helped me push through some of my toughest days.
How did you feel when you made that final payment?
Honestly, nothing! It was like I was in shock!
It felt like I was making a regular payment because my mind had been in debt payoff mode for so long that it refused to believe I was really done!
What steps are you taking to ensure that you stay debt-free now?
I had this fear that I’d go back in debt, but I came out of these 4 years a completely different person.
I practice delayed gratification to keep myself from impulse spending and am working to fully fund my emergency fund to ensure I’m prepared for large unexpected expenses!
If you could go back in time and advise your 18-year-old self, what advice would you give her?
I would tell her to find happiness in herself, without the noise of the outside world. That she is good enough and doesn’t need to impress other people just to fit in.
What advice would you give anyone who has debt and seeking encouragement?
I would first tell them that they can totally do it! That they have to truly have faith in their ability to reach the finish line because their goal of debt freedom depends on that faith.
To focus on that vision they have for their financial future daily and use those emotions as fuel to continue on this path. Every day will not be perfect.
You will not feel motivated all the time, but things you do consistently becomes habit and it’s the habit of moving forward that will get you to all zeroes.
How can our readers keep in touch with you?
Congratulations, Dyana! Here’s wishing you much success on your financial journey.