Molly’s Money | A Real Reader’s Debt-Free Testimonial

February 5, 2015·

If this is your first time here, Molly’s Money is a regular series I write on this blog that includes ALL things personal finance – debt management, budgeting, home buying, savings, investment, etc. I am NOT a financial advisor, but I am married to one! These are just things that I have learned over the years as I struggled with my own personal finances and ultimately, became debt free in 2012. Got a question about money that you want answered? Leave it in the comments below or email me!

It’s crazy to me how when I started writing this Molly’s Money series back in August of 2012, I NEVER even fathomed how much you guys would love it, appreciate it, and really take it to heart. I’ve had, literally, HUNDREDS (maybe even over 1,000 of you by now) email me over the last two and a half years telling me your stories, asking questions, using resources, asking for my budget spreadsheet, etc. in your quests to become debt free, save for retirement, or become financially stable.

It blows me away.

You guys are honestly the ones that inspire me to keep writing these posts and sharing my experiences and thoughts and advice with you! I mean, the fact is… money is awkward to talk about and people just don’t talk about it enough. It’s such a tough subject!! Even for ME it’s tough… and the Good Lord knows that I’m not perfect and I don’t always get this stuff right (ask my husband… haha!), but the point is – it’s so important to learn and grow when it comes to our finances!

Anyway, when I got an email from a reader named Mallory a few weeks ago, I KNEW that I had to interview her for a blog post and share her story with y’all. I remember when Mallory emailed me last spring telling me she was in debt and wanting to get a copy of my budget spreadsheet  to help her in her journey of paying off her debt. When she emailed me to let me know she became debt free a few weeks ago and to thank me for my Molly’s Money blog posts and resources, I think I literally cried. I have never even met her in real life, but the fact that I was able to help someone literally made my year!! SO AWESOME.

I wanted to share her story and her experience with y’all to have another perspective from someone who is young and totally debt-free! Mallory has put herself in such an amazing position to be secure financially as she gets older!!

Check out my interview with her below: 

molly's money: how to create, set, and MAINTAIN a working budgetHow old are you? How much debt were you in when you started this journey to becoming debt free? At what point did you realize you were in over your head?

I am 23 years old.  I had about $3900 in debt which might not seem like much, but for someone in an entry-level job paying all my own bills, it felt like a lot.  I never felt “over my head,” per se, but I knew that debt was only going to grow with time and interest, and that thought scared me.  I’ve heard a lot of people talk about how bringing debt into a relationship is pretty major baggage and the single gal in me thought I’d make myself as baggage-free as possible!  😉

Once you realized you were in over your head, what was the first thing you did?

The first thing I did was map out a budget. {Editor’s note: She used my budget template! Woop!}  I figured out my necessary inflexible expenses and worked from there.  I realized that the area where I was bleeding out money was in eating out every month, so I cut that out almost entirely.  Working downtown, I’m in walking distance of many of my favorite restaurants, and coworkers frequently ask me to eat out with them, so I knew this part would be hard.  I started focusing on meal prep on the weekends so I wouldn’t be tempted to eat out as much for lunches.

What steps did you take to get out of debt? What was the single most important thing you did to get out of debt (budget, cut expenses, etc?)

During that time from June 2014 to now, I focused on making extra money where I could…mainly by selling my clothes and home goods!  We have a local resale shop that buys “designer” things so any LOFT, Madewell, Ralph Lauren, etc. stuff I could bear to part with (or had sadly outgrown during college weight gain) got sold there!  I then took what they didn’t take to Plato’s Closet.  Great, quick way for cash! I would force myself to use the $40 or so dollars I made every time on gas in my car. Between finding these seemingly “little” ways for cash and cutting out most of my extra expenses like shopping and eating out, I was able to start paying some bills.  I also made sure to put a little bit of money into savings each month in case of emergency.

How did you approach savings while you were getting out of debt?

This is the tricky part — I didn’t want to make just the minimum payments each month, but I wanted to be able to save.  I found myself making a different payment amount each month…just whatever I could, while putting at least $50 into savings. Realistically, I hoped to pay off about $500/month in debt while also saving money.  And I did it (even a little better)!  I made my final payment on January 8, 2015 to become debt-free with a “general savings” account with $1375 and $425 in a “travel savings” account.

What would you say to someone who is in a similar position to the one you were in?  What’s your biggest piece of advice to someone looking to get out of debt?

If someone is in a similar position to me, my best advice is to do more than the minimum.  I have a close personal friend who makes the minimum payment on her student loans each month, and guess how long she’s going to be in debt?  About 10 years.  I hated the idea of that.  Debt is like a weight that pulls you down in the pool when all you want to do is swim and splash on the water’s surface.  Whether it means having a garage sale (or two), selling clothes to a consignment shop, getting a second job (I did this – just for one night a week)…do what it takes to be able to beat the minimum each month.

What are your financial goals for the future now that you’re debt free?

Looking toward the future, I now have some lofty savings goals.  I maintain two accounts: general savings and travel savings.  I just emptied out my travel savings account for an upcoming trip to Denver, but will replenish it with my automatic monthly transfers of $150 over the next few months.  My general savings goal for myself is to hit $10,000 in 2015.  Right now, I’m just below $2000.  Remember, I’m in an entry-level job, so $10,000 is about 1/3 of my take-home pay.  But I know that if I can meet this goal, I’m continuing to set myself up for a financially secure adulthood.  A mini-goal I have is to open an IRA.  Roth or traditional, I’m not sure yet, but it is a priority for me to start saving now toward my retirement.  After all, the earlier you start, the more interest you earn!

Congratulations, Mallory!!!