This idea all started when I had Mr. Jewels look up the total amount we owed on our student loans. I wanted to see how much we had paid off from the last time I had checked the total a year ago. The amount was much bigger, like over $200.00 more! After taking a closer look, our minimum payment was only going towards the interest owed, if that. I found one of those amortization schedule, plugged in all the correct information and by the time we would be done paying the minimum amount each month for 20 years we would have paid over $247,000.00 for a $45,000.00 loan! That's way more than our house is worth.
Let's get down to business, I searched and pinned and read every idea I could find that might help us to pay down our debt faster and yes we have been following the Dave Ramsey advice and all would be great, but I really wanted to have a real kickstart into getting us into the mood for paying off these loans. There really are some great articles out there of people's stories and ideas of how to get debt paid off fast. One lady didn't spend anything extra for a whole year, just bills, groceries, gas. One couple sold their home and moved in with parents until their debt was paid off. A little extreme, but it worked for them. We are the type to just take it one step at a time, just like the saying, "how do you eat an elephant? one bite at a time." We are going to do just that.
I really liked the idea of doing a spending freeze for one month so we decided to go for it and besides February has the least amount of days even when it is leap year. The results were amazing, over $1,000.00 sent off from our one and only income. We received a windfall from our tax return and the total amount sent to student loan debt was $3,270.63. Amazing.
The spending freeze rules were that we didn't do any spending except for groceries and a cheap date every once in awhile. We paid our bills, but didn't put any money into the fund accounts that we have for like school fees, car repairs, house repairs, donations, etc.
Tips to remember and advice for the next time we do this:
Have a meal plan for everyday of the week and every meal of the day. I didn't do this for every meal and we went out to eat a few times or had a pizza brought in. Oops.
Stock up the month before on snacks and other items the kids enjoy and chocolate for me. Hide these things until the kids get a hankering for wanting to go get something from the store.
Find lots of free things to do around town and at home and make a list. Ask others what they like to do for free.
Finally finish a project you've been putting off, one that doesn't cost anymore money of course.
Play all the board games you own.
Visit the library often
Stock up on yarn so that I won't run out of yarn before I run out of project.
Tell friends and family what you are doing so they can be supportive and helpful.
Check daily the balance of the debt you are wanting to pay off, it kept me motivated.
Make a list the month beforehand of things you would like to accomplish around the home during the spending freeze. Free things you can do, like organizing closets, cleaning cupboards, washing walls, rearranging the furniture in a room, whatever you can do that will keep you occupied enough that you will not want to go spend money.
Do a tightwad date night with friends, every one brings a dish to share and play games or watch movies even with the kids.
Be content, spending freezes will end, debt will be paid down, sacrifice does pay off.
Read inspiring books
Visit with friends often
Have a supply of snacks in the car
Invite others who would like to try a spending freeze and meet together often to encourage each other.
Write down your goals and your progress and get the kids involved.
It's not the funnest thing in the world to do, but with a goal in mind and lots of support and planning a spending freeze isn't so bad after all.