We have been paying off debt for quite some time now. Two years ago we decided to speed up the process as much as possible, in order to get completely debt free as fast as possible.
We have been paying off approx. $50,000 during the past 2 years. It has been hard work, but it has been so rewarding to see the numbers in our accounts get lower month after month!
We will get out of the debt later this year, and we can’t wait to get there. We have put this post together, to share our experience with you, and hopefully help you get out of debt faster.
Our most effective ideas to pay off debt fast
The first and most important thing is to get a clear overview of your expenses.
You need to know exactly where you spend your money, in order to find out where to put your focus.
We mapped our expenses in categories like House rent, Food, Transport, Fun, Clothes, Travel etc.
Tip #1: Figure out how to lower your monthly rent
We quickly found, that if we in any way could reduce our monthly rent, it would be the single most effective area to set in, in order to get debt free faster.
We decided to rent out two rooms, and it gives us an additional monthly income off $550, and actually, we don’t use this money to pay off debt.
We use this extra money for traveling. That makes it possible to see places, even though we don’t set money aside for it.
We could use this money to pay off more debt, but we just love traveling too much, and we feel like we already have postponed it for too long :)
Maria likes to spend time alone, so let other people into our private zone didn’t seem like a good solution at first, but as we went over the numbers, again and again, we realized, that we had to try and see if it could work out.
So we chose to do a test period of 3 months, and today (1,5 year later) we still rent out two rooms, and we actually enjoy spending time with our tenant, who is also a good friend.
It turns out there are a lot of other financial benefits of having a tenant. There a lot of things we can share, we can buy food in bulk and our tenant even has a car we can borrow once in a while!
Tip #2: Take a new look at your expenses for transportation
Paying off debt is a long process, that often takes years. So it makes sense to take drastic decisions like moving to a new (smaller?) apartment, to get closer to work, and save some money on transportation. The sooner the better.
We are fortunate to be able to work from home, so choosing to not have a car was a pretty easy choice for us.
I (Morten) have monthly meetings with my clients, and we have found that it’s a lot cheaper for me to take a taxi, whenever I need to go somewhere outside of town.
It’s 5-6 times per month, and when you calculate in expenses for insurance, gas, repairs + all the extra trips we would drive if we had a car, it’s pretty clear that we save a lot of money. On top of that, I really enjoy driving a taxi.
Who would have thought driving a taxi would actually be a part of our game plan to becoming debt free?
Tip #3: Agree on a realistic budget
When you want to pay off debt quickly, it is very important to set a realistic budget, that you know you can stick to.
It can be tempting to make it too optimistic, but it might end up ruining the whole thing. The most important thing is that you can stick to it, and don’t get sick and tired in the process.
Setting an unrealistic budget is a sure road to failure – be honest and then stick to the plan.
We spent a lot of time getting the numbers right, and in the end, we agreed, that this was a budget we could commit ourselves to 100 %.
We have decided to use all the great clothes we already had in our drawers and cabinets for a long time, and this part of becoming debt free has been a wonderful exercise in simple living.
If you want to see the budget we have been using during the last 2 years, you can see the actual numbers right here:
Click here to check out the budget we have been using during the last two years.
Celebrate the milestones along the way to becoming debt free
We have chosen to go out and eat dinner at a cheap (but nice) restaurant, every time we pay off another loan. When we started out we had 6 loans, and now we are down to 2, so we have been out celebrating 4 times now.
The longer the journey you have in front of you, the more important it is to set milestones along the way. We have been out eating and celebrating approx. every 3-4 months.
Celebrating once in a while will help you keep your eyes on the goal, and motivate you to stick to the budget.
It has also been a good encouragement to remind ourselves, that the process of getting debt free goes quicker and quicker every month, as the interests get lower and lower along with the debt.
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Morten is the founder of GoDownsize. He has filmed and interviewed people living in tiny houses and RVs since 2011. He grew up on the coast where his dad took him boating from a young age. He has completely rebuilt two RVs in which he travels with his family for months at the time. Read more about Morten here.