We were Paycheck to Paycheck our first three years of marriage… Then we paid off $52,000 in 7 months

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My wife and I were paycheck to paycheck our first three years of marriage.  It sucked.

In April 2011, I was normal. I woke up in our nice house, with the nice cars in the garage and name brand everything.  I was 28 years old, married with a new baby at home, living paycheck to paycheck, and sitting in $52,000 worth of debt. I was “living the American Dream”…..I was normal.

I started learning more and more about normal.

  • Normal is in fact living paycheck to paycheck since 70% of American households already do.
  • Normal is driving around a car that is dragging an average $495 car payment for the next 66 months.
  • Normal is a credit card balance of $5,600 and normal is graduating college with $30,000 in student loans.
  • Another great word for normal: Crap.

My wife and I made a decision that we weren’t going to be normal anymore. We were sick and tired of being the rat in the wheel. Just like you, we worked way too hard to feel this broke.

We finally had that “we’ve had it moment” which would result in us changing our lives forever. We sold stuff, we sold our luxury car, I started cleaning pools on my off days, we worked overtime, we sold more stuff, we cut out the crap we really didn’t need, we cancelled vacations, we lived on a written budget, and it worked.

Seven months later we had paid off $52,000 in debt.

People thought we were crazy and I actually remember wondering if we were. But, we were the ones that no longer had payments. We finally had this thing called money. We were able to start paying cash for things and were actually paying less. We started saving more than we ever thought possible. We started living OUR lives the way we wanted.

Do you know what it is called when you are debt free, paying with cash, dumping a ton extra on your mortgage, and saving more than you ever thought possible?

(It’s called winning).

I became so passionate about getting out of debt and stepping away from normal, I decided to share our story with others. People started wondering what we were doing, so we showed them.

  • We started helping a few close friends with their money problems.
  • Then we started helping their friends.
  • Then we started doing classes to show people how to manage money.
  • Next, we started this blog to create a way to give my cash flow plan out to the entire world.

Today, Money Peach has grown into the go-to website for learning how to save money, make more money, pay off debt quickly and every little thing in between when it comes to your money.

However, before you do anything with your money, the very first thing you must do is PAY attention to the money cash flowing in and out of your life. We call it our cash flow formula and we simply give it away AND show you exactly how to use it.

The Cash Flow Formula

How did we do all of this?

Two words: Behavior Change.

You see, what we finally realized was personal finance isn’t all about the numbers, it’s about behavior. Once we changed our behavior with our money, things started happening. The needle started moving a little….then a lot…..and then we broke free from the chains of payments.

Imagine laying in your bed at night and not owing anyone a dime. Imagine having a cash reserve on hand for the unexpected. Imagine looking forward to retirement because you started saving more instead of paying the bank. We once imagined these things….now we get to live it.

 

How did we do all of this?

Two words: Behavior Change.

For the longest time we were living inside the bank’s plan. We worked hard on our good credit score so we could borrow money….so we could increase our credit score….so we could borrow even more money….so we could….you get the point.

The banks have it made. They allow us to believe we can have anything we want right now without even having to pay for it right now and then we become a slave to the finance world in the form of lifelong payments.

Who wins in the end??

Of course the banks do!

But What If We Changed The Rules?

What if we stopped doing business with the banks?

What if we paid off all of our debt and told the banks we no longer needed them?

What if we saved up cash and bought things at a discount instead of paying retail?

What if we stopped sending money to the banks in the form of PAYING interest and instead sent money into our investments in the form of GAINING interest?

I’ll tell you what would happen – IT WOULD WORK!

What About You?

There is going to be a moment in life (and maybe it’s right now) where you’ve had it with the system the banks have you in.

Their system.

Yes, you can get out of debt.

Yes, you can save money.

Yes, you can fire the banks for good!!

What is the first step, right?

Start with a Plan

Please take our free cash flow formula plan and I will show you exactly how to use it. I will walk you step-by-step over the next few weeks to learning how to handle money in YOUR favor…not the banks.

And – it’s all 100% free 🙂

 

Help Someone Else, Right?

I would love for you to share this on any of your social media channels.

I am only one person and I need your help to officially fire the banks from selling us their “rat-in-the-wheel” system!

It’s time to take back control of the money!

Thanks for being here my friend!

-Chris Peach

148 Comments

      • I work 3 jobs just to pay off bills. By October I’ll have the majority of my big bills paid off minus my student loan.

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      • Good for you guys, my wife and I read the total money makeover a week or two before we got matried. We paid off 60k in a year and a half and have been debt free for a couple months now. It is truly amazing what can be done with behavioral change and of course God’s help. Though we are finding step 3 to be the hardest now that we have cash, we have a plan that we are on pace to achieve!

        Thank you for posting this, it is encouraging to us and man others I’m sure!

        Reply
    • Omg, that’s great!! I need some help getting started.I think it’s a fantastic program. Thank for all your input also.Please I need suggestions to start.

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      • This is great!!! My husband and I just had a conversation this morning like this, because we are that family who lives paycheck to paycheck. He wondered if he needed to get a part time job also. I feel like since both of us work full time, we need that time with our 10 month old daughter. I feel that we also live in a decent house, and we only have one vehicle (its not a luxury car).
        We do have debt, including school loans. Just wondering if there is any advice you can give us!

        Reply
    • I was scrolling through FB and I see a pic of my favorite news anchor I watch every morning! It was posted by a friend who lives in Utah so I was curious on why you guys are famous there too. 🙂 I also rember Andrea talking about you guys are cash pay only folks several times. I think this was my sign for my hubby and I to kickstart this thing. I am a stay at home mom with FOUR special needs kids. It is literally impossible for me to work out of the home due to their busy therapy and dr appointment schedules. Not to mention different schools. We literally live penny to penny. Often times running out before payday even. So here’s my question, how in the world does one start when you are already soooo far behind? Thanks for your time. Btw- I’ve always adored your sweet adorable little family.

      Reply
      • Thank-you Brianna for the nice words 🙂 Yes, your favorite news anchor is married to Money Peach!

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  • What an awesome journey. Now to make that first behavior change so I can have a story just like yours. Thank you for sharing. Your family is an inspiration.

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    • Jarnette,
      Thank-you! What is the one question you have with how to “start” your debt free journey?

      Reply
      • A few months late to the game here, but I’m a recent university graduate, apparently one of the “normals” who racked up nearly $30,000.00 in debt over the course of obtaining that education…and now I’m a teacher. I’m not sure if you’ve heard much about teacher salaries, but they’re…not very high. Considering the 80 hour weeks, the lack of summers (even though people think we get them), and the fact that a very large chunk of each paycheck goes back toward teaching our students, we really get paid akin to McDonald’s workers. Haha.

        I really want to pay off all my debts, but the thing is- I already live on the minimum. I’ve already looked carefully at what I can take out of my budget. I’ve never lived extravagantly, always just above poverty level. How can I start paying off debts when I’ve already cut all feasible costs, and have nothing of value to sell?

        Reply
        • Hi Amanda!
          Thank-you for what you do and I will be the first to agree that you are not paid enough and you bring incredible amount of value to society by the time/effort/energy you all put in for the future of this country in terms of our childrens’ education. There are two answers to your question and they are very simple: bring up your income and/or cut back from your lifestyle. It sounds like you are already cutting back to the max, so I would recommend using your skills to provide an increase in your income until you debts are paid off. Have you thought about tutoring on the side? Check for an email from me and maybe we can brainstorm ideas to bring up your income since it sounds like you have cut back pretty hard already. Also, check out Jessica’s story. She is also a teacher and was able to do some amazing things with her money in a short period of time.

          Reply
        • Hi Amanda,

          My husband and I are McDonald’s workers (40 plus years for me, 40 years for him). We’ve worked smart and hard, and promoted nicely over the years. We paid off our first house when I was 39 years old (in less than 15 years). It was the last of our debt – debt free at 39. We had worked on all the other debt first and did the house last. Since then, We bought a second house. Now, both houses are paid in full. We live debt free and enjoy 6-8 vacations a year. Grateful to have the opportunity at McDonald’s and the life the company has provided for us and our four children. And, all this by the Grace of God.

          There are lots of opportunities under The Arches:)

          Reply
        • Amanda,

          I am also a recent graduate and now a teacher(going into year three of teaching art). I had about $15,000 in student loans when I graduated, now I’m down to $3,600. Some things I have done to save money and pay off my loans quickly have been tutoring during the school week and summer, selling art on the side, and offering art camps in the summer. I also live with roommates, no credit cards, shop at thrift stores, and limit vacations. I have also been making sure to save money every paycheck. It’s not always been easy and I would like to have more of it already paid off, but I’m almost there. Get creative and just keep at it!

          Reply
          • Kendra! You are awesome:) Thanks for sharing.

        • If you are a teacher, check into the Teacher Loan Forgiveness programs through you student loan company. I have been blessesd and all of my undergrad debt has been forgiven! My former school district also paid for my Master’s.

          Reply
          • **ATTENTION TEACHERS, LOOK AT THIS COMMENT*** Thank-you Felicia for sharing this!

  • Your plan on saving money is a great one. I work with high school students. Your information will come in handy. I want to learn how save now vs. later. Thank you
    for sharing and help

    Reply
    • Tina,
      Thank-you for working with the high school students! I am starting to see a shift in the way we are teaching our future generation to handle money and it is because of the people like you! Keep it up the strong work and I will make sure we touch on Kids & Money in an upcoming post!

      Reply
      • My husband and I have always lived almost debt free. We currently owe a few more years on our home, and a little on a honda. I was really upset when my 6th grade son came home to tell me that one of his teachers was giving a lesson on finances. She explained to the class that she has 3 credit cards and that is normal and expected!! And so it begins here, in 6th grade that it’s ok to have credit cards because the teacher said so!

        Reply
        • Robin,

          Wow! That is ridiculous. This is why we as parents need to be teaching our kids the right way to handle money. Wow. Speechless.

          Reply
        • My daughter as a freshman in high school was required to take a financial planning course. It was based off the Dave Ramsey teachings. I’m proud to say she is already saving cash for her first car, keeping coins in a jar for her future house and utilizing the envelope system. She babysits and has saved $350 im cash in a few months.

          Reply
  • I like what you guys are up too. Such intelligent work and reporting! Keep up the superb works guys I’ve incorporated you guys to my blogroll. I think it’ll improve the value of my site 🙂

    Reply
    • Thank-you Bertram! What is something you would like to read on Money Peach about your own money? What money topic would be helful to you?

      Reply
  • This is a very cool post. I’m only 22 years old and I will graduate college next may but I’m already living paycheck to paycheck due to rent, a car payment and groceries. Hearing about how much you were able to save with some minor adjustments to your lifestyle shows me that I don’t have to live this way. Thank you for this!

    Reply
    • Hi Daniel!
      You’re 22 years old and you feel broke – welcome to being 22 🙂 You are in the absolute perfect position in life to really make some small changes now that will save you a bunch of headaches and heartache down the road. There are 2 posts that you MUST read being 22-years-old. Number 1 is on Car Payments and why they are not a way of life. The second post you should take a look at is about Investing Now While You’re Young. Thanks for reading Daniel and for the nice words. They mean a lot, but if I later found out you did a few tweaks at age 22 and became a debt-free millionaire in your 30s, you wouldn’t be able to knock the smile off of my face!

      Reply
  • great post! My husband is a CrossFit coach, firefighter, husband and dad! So hard doing them all. A year and a half ago I finished Dental Hygiene School with $57,000 in debit. We could use some advice. You are right we make great money but live paycheck to paycheck!

    Reply
  • As young adults renting our first home this is so insightful to my boyfriend and I! We are in the beginning stages of what could or could not result in living to work, or working to live. Thank you and I’d love to hear more about it.

    Reply
    • Hi Morgan,
      Don’t let anyone tell you that renting is a bad thing. Renting is actually a great thing to do for a short period of time. When you are renting and something breaks, you don’t reach in your wallet to cover the expense, you pick up the phone and have it fixed by the landlord. You are much better off renting while you are getting out of debt and socking away a down payment. When you are living with only a mortgage in your life and no other payments, life is good. Renting is great, just don’t do it forever 🙂 Thanks for reading Morgan!

      Reply
  • With 3 kids and two full time working parents we struggle with staying disciplined… Any tips?

    Reply
  • Hi! Great read! I’ve heard amazing things about you through mutual friends. Would love to be a part of one of your Dave Ramsey Financial courses!

    Reply
    • Hi Rikki!

      We are opening up a class in the very near future done through Money Peach! Make sure to subscribe to the email list so you don’t miss it when it goes live very soon. Also, if you are looking to take a class right away, Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University is offered somewhere near you and is a great class. Either way, you will be covered and thanks for the nice words! Very cool 🙂

      Reply
  • This is my families first month using your computer budget sheet, and the cash only system. My first trip to Wal-Mart with my envelope was such strange feeling. I walked around the store think of all the thing I would normally just get because I was there. However, I made it to the register with just the things I had on my list, and paid with the cash from my envelope. It was almost painful to part with my cash!!! I never really thought about what I spent when I would just swipe my debit card, but the missing $20 from my envelope really got my attention! This month we will already pay off two smaller medical bills and make an extra car payment! Thanks for sharing your story it’s a real inspiration.

    Reply
    • Thank you Tara for sharing this with me and everyone who sees this comment. This stuff really works and you just proved it! This money thing is all about your behavior, and look at what you have done in just a few weeks using envelopes! Congrats to your family. Be proud and give yourself a pat on the shoulder from me! Impressive 🙂

      Reply
  • I love everything about this article! Last week I cut up my credit cards and I felt liberated and scared, but no longer tempted to use them for anything and everything I bought! It is all about behavior! Thank you for the great article top remind me of why I’m making this journey!

    Reply
    • Emily, you are very welcome and THANK YOU for reading and your feedback! I remember the exact day we cut our cards up and it was right around the time we really STARTED our momentum towards a debt free life!

      Reply
  • This is a very inspiring story! Congratulations to yourbhuge accomplishment! I am very curious about the investing part. Not sure where to start there.

    Reply
    • Hi Brenda, we are putting together an Investing 101 Post with some recommendations to financial advisors we trust and have worked with. Make sure you subscribe to the email list and I will make sure the investing 101 post goes out soon & you will be notified when it goes live! Thanks again 🙂

      Reply
  • My husband and I don’t make a lot of money and between the both of us we are about $32,500 in debt that’s including two car loans and credit cards we don’t own a home and really wish to get out of debt so we can buy a home for our little family. What do you suggest?

    Reply
  • This is very inspiring. My husband and I are also “normal” and living paycheck to paycheck. Do you guys offer any type of consulting or can you refer us to someone who can work with us one on one to help us become debt free?

    Reply
    • Hi Hai-li! Yes I do offer financial coaching/counseling. I will get in touch with you via email with details. Look for me in your inbox 🙂 Thanks for reading Money Peach!

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  • Write! This is great and so inspiring! I would love to be able to do this! How do you start?

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  • My husband and I started this very early on, mostly because we didn’t have a lot of money to start with and we wanted me to quit my job to stay home with the kids. We lived simply and did without the things others thought important…new cars, the best tv packages, name brand anything. 15 years later, we have 4 kids still living on one average income. We only have a mortgage, but that is because we just bought a bigger house and have yet to sell our other one. Then we will be debt free again. Our last two vehicles we paid cash for. We use our cash back credit card for everything and pay it off every month while collecting 1% back on everything we buy. It’s not as hard as others seem to believe. You’re right, it’s all about behavior.

    Reply
    • Amy,

      Thanks for the comment! You’re right – it’s all about behavior change. Thanks for sharing and good luck w/ paying off your debt. If you have done it once, the second time should be a breeze 🙂

      Reply
  • So what exactly did you do? Hire someone? Cuz people who are really living paycheck to paycheck can’t afford that. I’m not even sure I 100% believe that you guys were really living paycheck to paycheck…you have a “luxury” car, more than 1 in fact..you are a firefighter and your wife works on Fox10AZAM. Not exactly jobs that don’t pay well. My husband works construction in the elements everyday, I’m unemployed and we have an almost 2yr old and 4 pets. We can only afford 1 car, that doesn’t have payments and barely runs. Most months we juggle our bills, partial payment here to get us until next month when the act starts all over. THAT is paycheck to paycheck. So tell me, how does my family get out of this hole and start living?

    Reply
    • Hi Tabitha!
      Income is not the #1 factor for why people are living paycheck to paycheck. It’s behavior. This is the reason why you see professional athletes, movie stars, and top billboard artists filing for bankruptcy. Former Dbacks Pitcher Curt Schilling made $114 million in his career and he is bankrupt. It’s usually not an income problem.
      We also don’t drive luxury cars. We used to, which is partly why we were paycheck to paycheck. Both of cars are used and have over 100k miles on them. My truck was built in 2001.
      I remember feeling just like you are right now and it’s frustrating. Where to start? How do we manage this? What can we do right this second? I get it.
      Start by getting on a budget and telling your money where to go. You’ll learn a lot when you run your numbers the first time. Start with one foot in front of the other and take that first step. Here is a blog post that may help you get started. https://www.moneypeach.com/2015/05/13/how-to-start-a-better-life-with-money/
      Also, I want you to feel there is hope down the road and life gets better with time. Look for an email from me in the next few days and I’ll help you as much as I can.

      Reply
  • Amen!!! We are all sold the bill of goods that we must keep up w/the Joneses; I have been a Jones and there was nothing to keep up with! It’s crazy how the ‘normal’ American lives in so much debt. We too have found our way out of the credit/debt carousel and it is immensely liberating!

    Reply
    • MiChelle, I like that and I may “borrow” it from you – “I have been a Jones and there was nothing to keep up with!”
      Thanks for reading and thanks for sharing 🙂

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  • Awesome story!! Congratulations on being debt free!! I am currently trying to change my behaviors with the way I use my money. Stories like yours assures me that it is possible for people to change their ways/behaviors on how they use their money. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Reply
    • Thank you Kayla for reading and good luck on your own debt free journey. To be honest, you don’t need luck, just a little tweak in your behavior and the passion to say “I’m done, time to get REAL with my life and my money!”

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  • My boyfriend and I had this moment the other day. Combined we owe $100,000. With this much debt Nd the income we have, get a great loan on a house will be hard. We have decided to do something like this. I applaud you for being able to do this. Hope we can as well! Congratulations 🙂

    Reply
    • Hi Ruth,

      The fastest way to do anything in life is simply one step at a time. I am sorry you are facing $100k in debt, but the best thing you can do now is to START. Get on a Budget and find a place for your Debt Snowball at the top of you budget and pay that off like crazy. The most important thing: START.

      Reply
  • That’s awesome!Me and my husband have tried and tried to get our selves out of debit and we fall right back into debit.HELP!!!

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  • That looks like Andrea! Hubby and I also did FPU many years ago. Best thing we could ever have done.

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  • My husband and I became debt free in 2013. It was a great accomplishment. We love knowing that everything we have is ours even our house. Love not owing anyone anything. Being debt free is so linerating. I live the freedom it gives us to help others in need and support things we believe in. I was 27 when we paid everything off. I am blessed to be where I am before the age of 30. It takes a lot of hard work and discipline. Financial freedom feels way better than keeping up with society.

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    • Melody! Debt free including the house at age 30 is so AMAZING! Wow 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

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  • Congrats on that!! Such a beautiful thing. I wish you could help me…lol

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  • It is nice to see a fellow young couple becoming debt free. My wife and I became debt free a few months ago at the age of 23 and 24 by paying off $60,000 in student loans. I am still driving my “college car” while we are saving up for a good down payment for our first house. Congrats to you and your family on becoming debt free! It is such an awesome feeling as I am sure you know. Funny thing, I have been thinking about starting my own blog on money, finances and investing for millennials. I have been reading other blogs on tips with how to get a website developed and get my thoughts and advice out to everyone else. Any tips would be great.

    Good luck on all of your future endeavors!

    Reply
  • This is definitely great advice. It’s exactly how I live my life besides one part. Being a loan officer, I feel there is more advise that should be mentioned that was forgotten. You should still be building credit and have credit out. You should have a few credit cards and use them. Just find the right ones. Look for low interest rates, no annual fees, or ones with benifits. The moral of the story is. If you are debt free and haven’t had debt for 10 years and one day want to buy a house or a large purchase that you can’t pay cash for you are going to have a harder time getting that loan. On average to buy a house you need a score of 640 or above. You won’t get that score by being debt free. Even some EMPLOYERS look at credit scores before hiring. All I’m saying there is a smart way to have debt and a sofficating way. Be smart. Think it through. Don’t be too scared of a little “debt” because it could help you.

    Reply
    • Hi Christen!
      Thanks for the comment. I didn’t forget to advise anyone on going into debt to build credit. I actually think that is a horrible idea. The lending industry wants you lean so hard on credit that you feel you HAVE to borrow money, pay back interest, and live a life of payments if you want to “get ahead”. I am not mad at you or anyone who feels that borrowing money and making payments for the rest of your life is a great plan – in my humble opinion, it stinks. You’re 100% right when you say you’re going to have a harder time getting a home mortgage because of not having credit. However, I don’t mind jumping through a few hoops via a manual underwriter to avoid having to go into debt and pay interest to raise my score so I can……go into debt and pay interest to raise my score so I can….go into debt and pay interest to raise my score so I can…be a rat in the wheel. Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating for BAD credit, but if you don’t borrow money for 10 years, you won’t exist in the world of credit. Here is what is so dumb about the credit score: When we were paycheck-to-paycheck and flat broke we had a credit score of 780. We were so PROUD of that score and we were literally paying the price by making payments on stuff for things we couldn’t afford in order to be part of the “cool kids club” of credit score rankings. Fast forward today and we are debt free, have actual money in our accounts, have built up a pretty good net worth, and our credit score went DOWN to 690. Your credit score does not determine wealth at all like many people believe, it simply tells the banks that you like to borrow other people’s money and pay interest back on time. They call it “credit worthy”. If I gave someone a with a credit score of 580 a million dollars right now, their credit scroe would still be 580 tomorrow. It doesn’t measure wealth at all. Lastly, I have seen many many many people work with certain lenders who actually do manual underwriting and look at things such as: Paycheck history, W2s, Rent/Mortgage history, Utility bills, cell phone bills, and other items to determine if you can really afford the loan or not. If you don’t agree with me at all and think I am completely backwards, that’s fine. There are plenty of credit cards, debt, and payments to go around for everyone. However, I have been on both sides of the credit score, and the “dark” side is a much better life. Thanks for the comment Christen and for reading! I still respect you for your opinion, however we just have different ideas about debt 🙂

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  • This is great but I’m in so much debt I don’t think I will ever see daylight. Think $$$,$$$ ugh

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  • Very encouraging that it can be done. I often feel like taking control of my finances is out of reach. Being a single mom doesn’t make it any easier. Where can I start? I hate living paycheck to paycheck and just want to provide a wonderful life for my daughter and make sure she doesn’t make the same mistakes with money as i did.

    Reply
    • Hi Stephanie,

      I don’t know your exact situation, but I will always recommend to everyone that they need to get on a budget. If you’re not doing a budget, it’s not going to work. Once you get on a budget, you will notice that you are maxed out – meaning what comes in is ALL going out. It’s hard to get ahead when this is going on. You will need to either bring up your income, cutback your lifestyle, or a combination of both. However, you won’t really have a full understanding of where you are at unless you get on a budget. Use the Money Peach free budgeting tools to start and reach me at Ask Peach if you have any questions 🙂 Take everything one step at a time. If you would like more help, contact me at Ask Peach!

      Reply
  • I think that is excellent that you guys paid off your debt! Congrats! I think you guys are a big inspiration and I am most deff going to be talking to my boyfriend about this. Because it would be amazing and so much stress and worry off our shoulders if we could do this. Thank you for sharing your story!

    Reply
  • Great article. As a college student—with paid for college tuition—how should I prepare to tackle debt in the future?
    I am working roughly 20 hours a week at $10/hour. I pay for my utilities payment, food, and gas. I feel as if I should have a ton of money saved up by now and I don’t consider my savings “a ton”. Thanks in advance!

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  • That is great and very inspirational. Congrats. My husband and I are struggling. I have student loans that are just draining us every month. We have a few credit cards and have to pay for daycare for our youngest son. We have dental work that our two boys need but we cannot afford it which makes me feel terrible. Also my car was in a wreck 3 month ago and we still can’t afford to fix it (it is more than cosmetic). I know that this is not what life is supposed to be like. How can we get started on our path to financial freedom ?

    Reply
    • Hi Kelly!

      Start off by donwloading the Free Budget Form or Spreadsheet and get on a budget that works. The biggest raise we (my wife and I) ever received in our working lives was the day we both got on the same budget. As far as paying off your debts, the #1 way is the Debt Snowball. This will show you how to ingore the math of personal finance and focus on what really matters – behavior. Contact me at Ask Peach and I can help you more once I know more about your situation. Good luck 🙂

      Reply
  • We have 60k in school loan debt. We have paid off the rest of debt except for our home. We were approved for a 250k mortgage loan but opted to buy our home for 130k to help pay off debt. We are a single income family of 5 and would love to adopt more children but are living paycheck to paycheck because of student loan debt, Heath insurance, (almost as much as mortgage), phone payment, we do not have cable or a home phone. We have small kids so working outside the home right now is not an option we want to look at. We don’t do extracurricular things with the kids but need to send one to preschool and unsure we can afford it. If my husband works more we would never see him. We own Dave Ramsys financial peace and are taking steps to follow. Do you have any different advice?

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  • Me and my husband took Financial Peace University and ended up paying off 25,000 in car/motorcycle debt (which is all we had) in 7 months. Now we are debt free at the age of 20/21 living in Hawaii! Seriously God has blessed us more than we could ever imagine and it was just cause of a simple life style change to watch what we spend.

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    • Wow! If you aren’t some of the coolest people in Hawaii, then something is wrong 🙂 You guys could really help a lot of young people by sharing your story! Awesome job Allyson

      Reply
  • I think something like this would really benefit my family greatly! My husband and I have been married 2 1/2 years and we not have a 7 month old to take care of and I feel that paycheck to paycheck just isn’t the life we want! This is an excellent thought and I would love to do this for my family.

    Reply
  • Thank you for this info. Between me and my husband we have a total of $40,000 in debt with school loans, car payment and credit cards. My husband is the only one working with having 4 kids we can’t afford babysitting in need of help in doing his cash envelope system do you have any recommendations?

    Reply
    • Hi Jana!

      I would recommend starting with three cash envelopes: Groceries, Entertainment/Dining Out, & Clothing. These places seem to be the most common for overspending and breaking the budget. Use cash and when the cash runs out – no more buying anything. It forces discipline with our money AND our behavior. Also, make sure you’re doing a budget. This money stuff will NOT work if you’re not on a budget. You can always grab the budgeting tools we have used for the past 4 years right here at Money Peach! They’re free 🙂

      Reply
  • I’m 19 and in my junior year of college. I’m about to take a huge step and study abroad for 6 months as a part of my major. I have not taken out any loans and have saved for 2 years so that I could do this without having to. People think it’s impossible or if you have that much money “your parents pay for everything else” when in fact they don’t. I saved 17 thousand dollars at this young age to make a life investment in myself. I completely agree with you that loving the Normal life is losing. I learned from my dad that debit is something you never want to be in. You give someone else ownership over everything you have and you just get to use it. I plan to never know the feeling of finally paying off a car loan, because I never want to take one out. I’m very happy to read an article like this because I think a lot of people need to realize they’re being played by the companies that have all the money and want yours too. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  • That is awesome!!! If you can do it so can I. I get some mad about being in debt, that I just want to go shopping. My husband is really into Dave Ramsey, and so he tells me all these stories. I just feel like we get started and something happens that pushed us back, and I just want to give up and continue to live “normal”! We are waiting for another FPU

    Reply
    • Kelli,

      You said it exactly right! “If you can do it, so can I” – I hope our story motivates you to re-launch your debt free journey and good luck!

      Reply
  • My husband and I have had this attitude from the gate. We paid off his student loans 6 months after graduation, and our car payment as well. It’s so great to hear someone further along in life confirm that we are doing the right thing. Sometimes it’s hard to make the sacrifices to live the way I think is right, when I see so many people my age enjoying vacations, cars, newly renovated houses, etc that I just don’t feel I can justify. These articles keep me motivated to keep going, and know that one day it’ll pay off and everyone else will wish they were in our shoes.

    Reply
    • Hi Brooke!
      That is the main point is for you to stay motivated!! There is a saying from Mahatma Gandhi that goes: “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win”. Just stay focused and realize the light at the end of the tunnel is YOUR light – not anyone else’s. Thanks for reading:)

      Reply
  • This was fantastic! My husband and i are in so much debt. Between our house, car, credit cards and just recently having a baby I feel like we are up to our knees in debt! My husband works two full time jobs and we still cant get it under control with our bills/spending. My husband just recently decided that he wants to go to medical school but wants to be out of debt before diving into that. I feel like its never ending and we need some serious help! Any advice or direction would be appreciated!

    Reply
    • Hi Kait!
      I would START by downloading the Budgeting Forms and setting up a budget for your family that works. Also, get your Debt Snowball ready here and start setting up a plan of attack to get out of debt before you husband starts medical school. Lastly, check for an email from me in the near future 🙂

      Reply
  • would love to know more about how you did this in 7 months 🙂

    Reply
  • My wife and I have paid 450k in debt (mainly student loans) down to under 100k in less than 2.5 yrs using common sense and self-control. No courses, no spreadsheets, no BS! Just an unwavering belief that a moment of pain (sacrifice) now equals a life time of freedom! Maybe we should write a book about it!?

    Reply
  • I so need help getting out of debt quick. We have 8 kids in our home and it is crazy. We can’t seem to get ahead at all.

    Reply
    • Hi Suzanne! I don’t know if I have a “Get out of Debt Quick” solution, but go to https://www.moneypeach.com/debt-snowball and start there. Also, check your email today from a message from me. 🙂
      If anyone ever tells you they can get you out of debt quickly, RUN!

      Reply
  • This is a great article and I want to be able to make these changes in my life. But every article I read like this is always couples or single people. I’m a single mom and it’s a struggle trying to pay off credit cards and save money. Any advice for us single parents? Thanks!

    Reply
  • Loved the post. I was hoping you might be able to help me, a college student with $110,000 of student loan debt and gaining. I go to Baylor University with scholarships but I still pay over $30,000 a year to attend here. I probably have another year and a half at least as well, because I’ve changed my major multiple times so I’m far behind my degree. I’m overwhelmed at the prospect of paying off this huge debt. I wish I had gone to a cheaper school while I was still deciding on a major, and I still don’t think I’ve chosen the right degree, but I’ve already got so much debt I can’t allow myself to turn back again. I’m a server at BJ’s Brewhouse and I make pretty good money there, but I never seem to be able to save. What can I possibly do to start saving for when I have to begin making loan payments? I’m blessed with a car that my parents got me and it’s already been paid off but it’s a 2001 Honda that keeps springing up new problems. Luckily my dad has paid for those but I can’t keep allowing him to pay for me because he and my mother have over $150,000 of debt. Is there anything I can do? Please help.

    Reply
    • You are going to graduate school with $150k in debt it sounds like. This breaks my heart because this just shows how student loans are getting out of control. This is insane and it needs to stop. This is a whole different topic of discussion that we could get into later.

      A lot of what happens when you graduate is going to be dependent on your income. If you are going to go $150k in debt before you even start your career, then you need to make sure you are applying your education to a career where you can get this debt paid off.

      When you graduate, you must continue to spend like you are a broke college student. You cannot go out and buy a new car or a new house. You literally need to continue to live a Top Ramen and water lifestyle. This doesn’t sound great, but it is going to allow you to ATTACK your student loan and get it out of your life.

      If you have multiple student loans, use the Debt Snowball Form to line up your debts and pay them in the right order.

      Lastly, you need to start living on a budget. It is the #1 reason why we were able to pay off $52k in 7 months after we were paycheck to paycheck, why we are able to build wealth, and why we are actually excited about our future. It is a must for anyone who wants to win with money.

      Good luck Emily and GO BEARS!

      Reply
  • I need some serious help. I’m only 23 and I couldn’t finish school because of the debt I was already piling up due to losing my job. I don’t even know where to start.

    Reply
    • Hi Bianca!

      I just sent you an email. Check your inbox 🙂

      Reply
  • I love the thought of not being normal. Congratulations to you and your family. I hope to one day be in the position to be able to do that. I live paycheck to paycheck with a baby and still not having luxury materials, sounds like it will be awhile for me to have that option.

    Reply
    • Briann,

      Just take it one step at a time. Start by getting on a budget and actually seeing WHY you are paycheck-to-paycheck and then making adjustments in your life that allows you to escape the “normal”. By putting it all on paper and having it stare right back at you will be a reality check – we all need it sometimes. I have free budget tools for you to use right away to get your ready for next month. This was the most important thing we ever did with our money and I promise you it will be for you as well. But, you have to actually DO THE BUDGET! Good luck and always feel free to Ask Peach if you have questions or need help:)

      Reply
  • I’ve just started reading “The Total Money Makeover”. Like so many others have said it’s hard to make head way on one income with 5 children. I’m curious if you cut out cable, cell plans ect. It’s also difficult for me personally when my spouse doesn’t seem to be on board with making the necessary behavior changes. I still hope we can be debt free in a year!

    Reply
  • How do we start doing this if we need our cars, we don’t have anything to sell, and we can barely pay bills as it is. I have 1,800$ in school debt. My husband as 13,000$ in debt from school, and both of our cars. In my mind, there’s just no way for us to get out from under all of this.

    Reply
    • Hi “Putnamgirl” 🙂

      I am so sorry you are feeling so trapped underneath all of this debt. The first thing I would do is to start a budget for the upcoming month. Go to my Budget Page and download the free budget tools there. If you have never started a budget, I also have a link to a post I wrote called the 5 Steps to a Budget that Works.

      The budget is the first step. If you try to take 10 different steps at once, you will become overwhelmed and give up. Take this first step and then let me know what you find out in your budget.

      Reply
  • I ended up losing a high paying job in sales due to sickness, ending up raising a grandchild and getting divorced in a year. I took in 2 roomates, and adjusted my spending habits completely. Because I didn’t want to lose my house. It ended up working out better for me and enjoy the company. I’m working again and not earning that much money but I live better than I did before. Also I have a lot more quality time with my grandson.

    Reply
  • Currently in the process of paying off around $30k in debt. Do you recommend using the “snow ball method” or paying off the high interest first? My husband got a second job making a little over $600 a month. We are using his extra pay checks and $500 a month that we were able to cut down on in our budget also.

    Reply
    • Hi Alicia,

      I always recommend using the Debt Snowball Method. The reason is because it works, and it works every time. It causes you to change your behavior with money because it ignores the interest rates. If interest rates were the main problem, people wouldn’t be in debt. Think about this: No one ever fills out a credit card application and thinks to themselves: “I cannot wait to carry a balance and pay 24.99% interest”. The Debt Snowball will allow you to feel early wins and therefore place a shift in your behavior with money. Great question!

      Reply
  • But to pay off that much debt, you actually have to make that much money within 7 months. The concept of debt is to buy what you need and not what you want. That’s the problem with america is too many people buy what they want. Congrats to paying off your debt.

    Reply
    • James,

      You and I are on the same page! When you are getting out of debt, wants go away and needs are what you focus on….and then you start needing less 🙂 Thank-you James!

      Reply
  • Hey. I loved this post. The feeling of lying in bed and not owing anyone a cent sounds amazing. The past 30 days I have been on a “fast”. Only gas and groceries and it has been hard! My husband and I are both in school and have a one year old. He is in his masters and I’m getting ready to apply to medical school next year. Between the 2 of us we have almost 70k in student loan debt already and with medical school you can pretty much add on another 200k to that total. I was hoping to get some tips of ways to save money and not keep getting further in debt but it seems impossible. We are in the process of selling our nice car (which has a $280/month payment attached to it) to buy a “commuter” car. Just looking for more ways to save. If you have any ideas we would love them.
    Thanks!

    Reply
  • Thanks for the inspiration. I wanted your opinion on something. Here’s our back-story: My husband and I have been married for 17 years and have 5 kids. I am a SAHM and my husband is our source of income. Our current home is paid for. We did that by my husband working hard and trying to live pretty frugally. We still have a little bit of a student loan left (that we could easily pay off right now if we chose too) and 2 car loans with 2 years left to pay off. (We bought 2 brand-new Hondas in 2012. One with 1.9% and one with 0.9%. We plan on keeping the cars for at least 10 years.) We have no other debt but many expenses (insurance of every kind, time share maintenance fees, food, clothing, utilities; but NO satellite/cable fee.) My husband became self-employed in 2012 after several years being an employee and doing side jobs…now only doing the “side jobs”. The first year was pretty good, second year was meager, and this year has exploded with work. We now have a substantial savings built up. I want to move for better schools that are super close to the home. I’m not excited to have a mortgage again (it would be about $150k more than we would sell this home for) but I feel it might be worth it in the long run. (If next year is anything like this year we could pay the mortgage off within a short amount of time.) So is it financially irresponsible to upgrade our home/location when we have children approaching college age without a significant savings and we don’t have a substantial retirement savings account yet?

    Reply
    • Hi Stacy!

      Awesome job on paying off your mortgage 🙂 If I am in your shoes, I am going to stay put and here is why. If I have a paid off house, why would I want to go back into a $150k in debt? $150,000 is a premium price to pay to get closer to better schools. Also, your husband’s income sounds like it was great last year, but you had said “meager” 2 years ago. I would hate for you guys to go from having a paid for house to having a mortgage and then your husband having a slow year. IF you have the option to pay off remaining debt now, then have it paid off today. Get rid of the student loans and then get rid of the Honda loans. The interest rates are low, but if you have the money now to avoid paying any interest at all, I would choose that option every day of the week. You need to also plan for retirement. Your husband sounds like a rockstar, but does he want to work until he literally can’t walk anymore? Retirement is a guarantee (I hope), so I would plan for life after work first. Once you are investing for that, you can start looking into helping your kids with college expenses. Think about this – would you want to help your kids avoid student loans if at all possible? If you are debt free including your home, you’re going to have the ability to help out and cash flow much of you kids’ college expenses. So in summary, stay in your paid for home, pay off remaining debt, save for retirement, and helping your kids stay out of student loan debt seems to be a better option than going into $150k in debt to be closer to better schools. However, it is your family and I am sure there are circumstances that I didn’t think of or weren’t mentioned. With that said, do what you feel is going to be the best for your family in the long run. I am still staying put 🙂

      Reply
  • That sounds amazing! I would love to learn how to become debt free and not be “normal.” I just finished cosmetology school so have the debt from student loans and plenty of debt from hospital visits and everything else you can think of. If I could finally have money to spend on things I want instead of worrying about affording what I REALLY need, that would be such a stress relief and I could actually have a house to live in that actually fits all of my families needs instead of something that we can’t even fit a second child in with us.

    Reply
  • Any suggestions for a couple when one person is a spender and one is a saver??

    Reply
  • Congratulations, my family is also debt free thanks to following the baby steps. Cheers to being weird.

    Reply
    • Cheers! If normal is paycheck-to-paycheck with a bunch of “stuff” to impress people we don’t know, then let’s be weird!

      Reply
  • This was interesting to read. I grew up in a family of 15. I am the 2nd youngest (number 14) of 15 children in my family. My dad raised our family on a teachers salary, he was a music teacher my whole life growing up, and my mom was a stay at home mom. I always think it’s so amazing that they were able to raise such a large family with only 1 income and somehow we were able to make it. I guess this says that there really is a way to live with less than what we really think we need now a days. We did not have the latest fashion, we had a car/15 or so passenger van that you never knew if it would brake down on your 2+ drive to the city to get the things you couldn’t buy at the little stores in town. I think most of us liver very differently then we lived even 10 years ago feeling like we need the latest technology and the best job, nicest looking house & car, best fashion. I don’t think any of those things are bad or wrong or anything. But I do think the way of living has changed through the years. I just commend my parents for being able to do what they did and raise my brothers and sisters and I on what they did. If I could figure it out I think I’d practically be a millionaire by now.

    Reply
  • My husband and I took Dave Ramsey’s course. But we realized we were already doing everything recommended. Used cars. No credit cards. Paid extra on our mortgage. We didn’t use the envelope system though. I tried it for a while. And go back to it from time to time just to make sure I’m still on track. We own two houses and some water front property that we thought we might build on. Both the property and one house is paid for. But we now have two kids (twins) in college, so being land rich but cash poor is not working in this situation. We have managed so far with only a small student loan. We are trying to sell the property and the other house which would more than cover the college expenses and fatten up our savings nicely. Property taxes are usually a stressor for my husband. So I opened a Christmas club account at the bank and I’ve been putting $100 a month from my pay check. Hubby doesn’t know. Can’t wait to surprise him when the bill comes in October and I can say “Don’t worry. I got this!” Wish us luck on selling the two properties. Thanks for sharing your story and letting people know what’s possible.

    Reply
  • Wow…this has been qeighing heavily on me. My husband and I are trying to do this but are so overwhelmed by the immensity of it. This post gives me renewed energy to try again. We need to be a better example to our two year old! Thanks for the inspiration and reminder that we don’t want to be “normal”!

    Reply
    • Erin,

      Rachel Cruz (Dave Ramsey’s daughter) says, “More is caught that taught”. Your 2 year old is watching every move you make – even your money moves. I am glad our story motivated you and good luck with stepping away from “normal” 🙂

      Reply
  • I would love some help in this area. We are currently getting into debt because we can’t even afford paycheck to paycheck. Would love some help please

    Reply
  • Your Family is such an Onspiration! We will be Debt free except for my Student loan next year! We will continue to pay that off while saving money for our first home. 🙂 God Bless!

    Reply
  • Same boat, here. Was around 15k in debt and got debt free with a nice nest-egg. Took me about twice as long as you, though.

    Reply
  • My husband and I have never made car payments or owned a vehicle less than 10 years old. We have four children and some student loan debt, but also quite a few medical bills as my husband has a chronic illness. I work graveyards as a night auditor, making about half the poverty level, and have been working on my college degree online. We are 39 and 32, and are looking at ways to be more self-reliant, including cutting back on extras. We keep our internet because my schoolwork and job hunting are done online. We also have cell phones – a flip phone for my husband and my mother’s hand-me-down smart phone for me. They have been important during long commutes and my husband’s hospitalizations, although we have discussed cutting those. We shop at thrift stores and exchange freebies friends and church members. I cut my husband’s and son’s hair (sometimes the girls’ as well, but they are trickier), and I mend our clothes. My children are learning to sew, and we have a garden. Our furniture is second hand, and in some cases homemade. Birthday presents have a $5 limit. I’m sure there are more ways we can cut back, and I have been trying to find new ways to live by the old adage “Fix it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.” What advice do you have for us?

    Reply
    • Natasha,
      I don’t think you can cut much more from your life than you already have been. It sounds like you are living just about a bare bones lifestyle. I would start by getting on a budget so you can actually see what is coming in and what is going out. If you are making about “half the poverty level”, then your income needs to come up. Since you cannot really cut too much back from your lifestyle, there needs to an increase in your income. Think outside the box and think of something you can start doing today to bring in more money each month. At this point, anything that brings in extra money is going to be an option. A friend of mine over at Well Kept Wallet put together 80 ways to make extra money in 2015. Check this out and pick a few of these that you can do NOW. Anyone that can cut back their lives like you have is impressive in my book, now let’s work from the other end and bring you well above the poverty level 🙂

      Reply
  • I love your story!! I cannot wait until this is mine! We are only a few months away! We made the decision to stop using credit 3 years ago and while its been slow going because of job loss and unemployment streaks, we’ve survived on cash alone through all that and even we are amazed at how relatively painless this process has been! Our next tackle are my massive student loans, but I am confident that within 2 years, our debts will be far behind us.

    Reply
    • Lauren! Thank you and I would love to hear back from you in 2 years (or less) when you are DEBT FREE! 🙂

      Reply
  • I am struggling with a decision. I have a retirement account that needs to be moved to another account due to job switch. I have a lot of student debt. If I close my retirement account I could use the money to pay more than half of my student loans debt off then pay the rest off in 3 years and be almost completely debt free except for my house and husbands truck. I’m only 30 so not crazy worried about a retirement fund, but my financial advisor isn’t too crazy about the idea because of the tax on the money when closing the retirement account. It just feels like a heavy weight I’m never going to get out from underneath. I am about to have my 4th child and I want to be able to build a savings and not feel strapped to pay for things. Any advice is greatly appreciated!

    Reply
    • Julie,

      I have to agree with your financial advisor on this one. NEVER cash out your retirement early unless it’s to avoid a bankruptcy. Here is the reasoning behind this:
      Let’s just say you have been doing a great job of saving and you have $50,000 in your 401(k). If you were to cash out your 401(k) early, you are going to get hit right away with taxes. Then in addition, you are going to get hit with 10% early withdrawal penalty. Your $50,000 you had in your 401(k) is actually going to be about $30,000. Not to mention, you are turning off the machine called compound interest. You are earning interest on the balance you have in your investment accounts year after year, therefore you don’t want to decrease your investment account balance.
      Also, I noticed you said your 30 years old and your not too worried about retirement. Your 60 year old future self is shaking their finger at you. Here is an example of why:

      If you invested $100 every month starting at age 20, you would have $1.5 million at age 70.

      If you invested $100 every month starting at age 30, you would only have $580k at age 70.

      If you invested $100 every month starting at age 40, you would only have $217k at age 70.

      If you invested $100 every month starting at age 50, you would only have $75k at age 70.

      This is called the power of compound interest. For every year you delay planning for retirement, you fall further and further behind. It’s never too late to start investing, but it’s just so much easier if you start earlier!

      You aren’t going to want to hear this, but my advice is to roll your 401(k) into an IRA when you leave your job and leave it alone. It sounds like you have a lot of work ahead of you to pay off this debt and the only thing truly works is rolling up your sleeves and getting to work. It’s not easy. It’s going to be tough. You may want to give up, but keep going. Once you come out on the other side, you’ll be debt free and you’ll have some retirement savings intact to start really building wealth.

      In the meantime, get on a budget here. It’s the first thing I always recommend to anyone just getting started.

      Reply
  • This was a great read! How do I get started?? Do you have a book full of advices??

    Reply
  • Congratulations to you and your family…someday maybe we all will follow your lead!

    Reply
  • My husband and i decided the same thing and everyone thought we were crazy we have no kids yet so why not just start fresh so we can be debt free! We have a betond nice house all updated practically a brank new home! Well we put it on the market and in 6 days it sold! With a full price offer! With it selling we were able to pay off all our debt but one car. In the mean time while we are looking for a house we are staying in a apartment my inlaws own for just the electric bill. We are puttkng asuch money possible on our can our balance now is around 30,000. Should beable to pay it off within the year. Then buy a house that may just need some updating we can do our self We are trying to be as close to debt free as possible so we can have a baby soon fertility treatments are extremely expensive.

    Reply
  • I’ve been aiming for this for years. I’m know in the process of a buy back of my current car, but need to replace with very dependable car because my wife and I both work and I’m in traffic a lot. I’d love to buy a old used car and pay cash, but not dependable. We’ve got two car payments, two mortgage payments, and one minor school loan$30/mo. I’ve researched and read, but see nothing that I’m not doing. Any recommendations?

    Reply
  • I love this story that you and your wife did. That is amazing! I would love to try, but single mom with two kids one is infant, i work as much overtime as i can just don’t wanna keep my kids out from working so much. What else can i do? I live paycheck to paycheck and run out right before next paycheck.

    Reply
    • Hi Ashley,

      The first thing I want you to do is get yourself on a budget. Nothing else will matter if you are not on a monthly budget. Once you have this done, then start looking at your Wants vs your Needs and identify where you need to cut back (and possibly increase your income). Let me know if you need any other help by simply going to Ask Peach and I will do my best to get back to you ASAP.

      Reply
  • How did you get rid of your car? I would like to do the same, but I would have to pay just to get out of it. Any suggestions?

    Reply
  • I love those aha moments when you just realize “normal” doesn’t cut it. Congrats on all that you’ve accomplished and all that is in your horizon.

    Reply
    • Thank you Jason! Normal is being a C Average Student when it simply takes just a tiny amount of effort over time to become extraordinary. It wasn’t Rocket Science – it was consistent common sense over time. 🙂

      Reply
    • Thanks Crystal! I appreciate the kind words 🙂 If you need help with anything, just ask!

      Reply

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