While your motivation can usually be high once you begin your debt repayment journey, you could also very well feel defeated and discouraged before you begin as well.
When you lack the confidence to pay off your debt and don’t even believe you can succeed, you set yourself up for failure before you even get started. This week, I’m interviewing Aja for the Debt Mindset Series who has an interesting story about how she and her husband found the confidence to pay off six figures of debt despite having a high debt-to-income ratio.
Aja McClanahan is a personal finance blogger and writer who clawed out of over $120,000 in debt. She now writes useful, inspiring personal finance content for the masses on her blog, principlesofincrease.com and various other web outlets.
How much debt did you have and how did you accumulate it?
My husband and I had $120K in debt. About $60K was student loan debt. $30K was a luxury SUV and the rest were credit cards from a failed business venture. The first experience I had with debt was signing up for about $7K worth of student loans.
It was so easy I couldn’t believe they asked for the money back! It was almost like a joke to me. I couldn’t believe that a slick, tri-fold piece of paper would get me all that money. I did it each year and ended up with $28K in loans once I graduated. I was stunned that it was REAL debt!
When did you decide your debt was a problem? Did you have an ‘aha moment’ and what triggered it?
When I had my first daughter, I died inside at the thought of taking her to daycare. I realized that we had to make a way for me to stay home. That meant reducing our expenses, most of which were debt payments.
Did you implement a specific strategy to start paying off your debt? Why did you use that strategy?
As chance (well desperation and prayer) would have it, I stumbled upon Dave Ramsey’s radio show. It led me to buy his book, Total Money Makeover and I was totally relieved to actually have a plan. He called it the debt snowball.
It was clear and simple. All we had to do was follow the instructions. It took us way longer than we thought. But we created a budget, stuck to it and today are totally debt free.
What were some obstacles you were/are faced with?
In the beginning, we had a pretty high debt to income ratio. It was discouraging and demotivating. I was so so anxious to get out of debt, but the income wasn’t enough. Eventually, I started side-hustling like crazy and started a business that grew to six-figures.
There were still times when I felt like our progress was PAINFULLY slow. I used to listen to the Dave Ramsey radio show daily to keep my motivated. I loved hearing those debt free screams. I knew one day it would be us.
Related: 80+ Ways to Earn Extra Money
What motivates you? What would you say to people who think they can’t get out of debt in an attempt to change their mindset?
I’m motivated by the testimonials of others. Hearing about people who paid off massive amounts of debt was important for me to keep going. To someone who’s currently paying off debt, I would say take the time to convince yourself it can be done.
Listen to podcasts, read blogs and books to hype yourself up. It might take 6 months to build your confidence and that’s ok… I believe what the good book says about having faith and believing: faith cometh by hearing! Take time to hear and listen…the next thing you know, you’ll be pumped about your own debt-free journey.
Learn More About Aja
Got BIG Plans For Your Money?
Don't we all. But you won't be able to reach your financial goals if you don't save. Download my free guide to saving 50% of your income and make saving second nature. Make this year your most successful yet!