How I Plan On Knocking Out $30,000 Worth Of Debt In The Next Two Years

eliminate debt

First off, can I just say that I didn’t even realize I had $30,000 worth of debt?

I paid off my credit card balance two years ago, and I felt lighter and freer. It was only a $2,000 balance but knocking out any debt is cause for celebration.

It wasn’t until I sat down and looked at our monthly spending that I realized we paid more than $1,000 a month on debt (not including the mortgage). Bills, per month:

  • $700 in car payments
  • $99 in student loan payments (should be higher to pay it off sooner, but eh)
  • $250 for financing our furnace/AC unit (0% interest, but still, it’s debt)

I showed my husband the numbers and we pulled out our calculators (on our phones). We decided to get aggressive. If we didn’t spend the money on car payments or student loans, we’d be able to do so much more and not feel like our income is stretched to the limit.

We used to have old, clunky cars with no car note, but in a two-week period, my car’s brakes went out while I was driving and my husband’s steering column gave out while we were pulling out of the Red Lobster parking lot (we couldn’t turn the wheel). We had a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old at the time—we needed newer and safer cars. Student loan debt is around $5,000, which I would have made a larger dent in paying if my loans hadn’t been in deferment while I was in grad school.

We have some big plans in the future, which include being able to do whatever we want with OUR money. We set a goal of knocking out this debt within the next two years. July 2015, the only debt we will owe is on our house.

How are we doing this? Welll….

  • Our kids are going to public school. We paid about $500 a month for my daughter’s private school and $245 a month for my son’s 3-day a week program. I know her tuition may seem like a lot to some of you and for some, it may look affordable compared to what some of you are paying. But it was too much for us to pay, particularly since our public school system is tops in the state. With those two expenses gone, we’ll have about $750 a month to put together knocking out debt. 
  • We won’t be eating out as a family, like, ever. My daughter has to adhere to a strict gluten-, soy-, nut- and egg-free diet now after disappointing test results from the allergist. Since I don’t trust other people to prepare her food and I don’t feel like interrogating waitresses and chefs whenever we go out, whatever she eats comes from me. (Man, it’s almost like it was back when I was breastfeeding.) We’ll probably save about $50 a month, easily. We do spend more on groceries but…
  • We’re adopting an “Eat all the food we buy” mentality. I already shop pretty smart, but it bothers me when I have to throw away food because I didn’t use it before it went bad. It’s literally throwing money away. Now I’m freezing everything and turning leftovers into new meals.
  • We’re decluttering our house. You ever watch an episode of House Hunters and people complain the closets are too small? You might have too much junk instead. We’re joining our neighbors this summer and hosting a garage sale and selling bigger items on Craigslist along the way.
  • We’re looking for “free” and “cheap” ways to entertain the kids. Of course, I still plan on taking them on one nice vacation this year but for the most part, we’re buckling down. I started taking the kids to the library every weekend to stock up on books for the upcoming week. We started getting our movies from the library instead of hitting up Redbox. (On those rare occasions we use Redbox, I find a coupon to get at least 50 cents off.) I deleted my HuluPlus account, but we kept Netflix.
  • We got rid of the “fancy” cable and home phone. It took me a long time to be comfortable living without a home phone but now I just make sure my cell phone is always charged (a challenge). We didn’t need all 900 channels we had before. Truthfully, I’m trying to let go of cable altogether but my husband needs his 24-7 ESPN fix for some reason. Hmph.
  • We’ll be using the snowball method to wipe out our debt quickly. Basically, we’ll be paying off our furnace loan (finished in June 2014) and then using that money to wipe out our car notes.

It’s going to take a LOT of discipline to get to this “debt-free” status but we’re willing to do it if it means we’ll be able to live more comfortably in the next two years.

Is anyone else knocking out debt and wants to join us on this journey?


  1. sounds like an awesome plan! :)
    Our only ‘debt’ right now is a car payment, and that’s intentional because we’re trying to build credit for when we (one day) are ready to buy a house. We are doing similar thing though to save every penny for that house!!! Staying in a tiny 3rd story apartment for cheaper rent, sharing 1 car between my husband & I, No cable, no home phone, cloth diapers, and this week I’m working on de-cluttering as well!

    Amazing how much money you can “find” if you put your mind to it :)

  2. Melissa H-K says:

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    Also, check out this issue of The American Feminist:
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  3. We are debt-free with the exception of our mortgage payment. Our cars are paid off and we are about to buy a new car since our oldest will need it for college. We stopped using credit cards about 9 years ago and have adopted a lifestyle of “if we can’t pay for it in full, we’re not buying it!” It is hard sometimes when you can’t go on the fancy vacation, wear designer shoes or handbags or oven go out to restaurants. That is when we remind ourselves that we don’t have that dark cloud of debt over our heads! The interesting part is that I have had people tell me that they have no clue how I do it all. The say that we dress nicely, have a nice home and always have our kids involved in activities that are not free. It is all about prioritizing! Anyone can do it, you just have to want it badly enough. I commend you and your hubby for taking the initiative to become debt-free!

  4. My husband and I have a similar plan. We have six figures in debt including school loans on both sides, a car note and some credit card debt. We have paid off about $20,000 in the last three years and have been really focused on increasing our income but maintaining how we currently live – that way, each bump in income is really just more money toward debt. It’s difficult to maintain a lower level of lifestyle when it feels like you have so much more money, but we want to leave our son (and fingers-crossed, future children!) something and with debt six figures deep, we need to buckle down if we ever want to own a home or get ahead in other ways. I keep six month benchmarks…right now I’m looking to have $10K paid down by Christmas…after that it will be another amount paid down by the summer. Aligning each goal with Christmas and summer allows for family celebrations and treats if we hit the goal!

    • @Pamela – I love the idea of having six-month benchmarks. I will have to look at our debt and set mini-goals along the way!

  5. This is really inspiring to read. My goal this year was to get out of debt and I totally fell off. I’ve heard many good things about the snowball effect though and I’ve been half heartedly doing it. I will get it together though, but I’m not quite there yet:) Kudos this is a great plan and if you need encouragement a long the way you can count on me.

  6. Great plan! We recently made the choice to give public school a try. I’m glad we did because we’re moving back into the city and a good drive away from the private school we were going to enroll Moo in. And I know about allegories. Both Moo and JJ have things they can’t eat or drink.

    I’m definitely joining on this journey to become debt free!

  7. Sounds like a plan. Good for you! We have a ton of debt: student loans, car payments, and medical bills. I had hoped to be 1/2 way to the debt free paradise before I was 31, but we’ve had some set backs. It might have slowed us down but we’re not stopping. I’ve still got 2 years until then. I’ve been trying to get the hubs to let me pen our money makeover story. I’ve always loved reading money makeover stories and I love Dave Ramsey. Good Luck! You guys can do it!

  8. We actually took loan out from his 401k because the interest was so low and paid off ALL our outstanding bills and have just been paying back the 401k loan at a double the minimum monthly payment. I love you ideas I am trying the “eat the food we buy” method currently lol.

  9. Sounds like a great plan. How is it going being over 6 months into it? Is it easier/ haeder than you thought?

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  11. Tara, I am on a 2-year plan myself. It’s nice too no that I am not the only one trying to crawl my way out of this debt. I feel confident that I can knock it out by the end of 2016. Let’s do this!