Update: I’m now debt free! To read my story and how being the debt free community helped me, click here.
My partner and I decided to get out of debt when he was put at risk of redundancy in his job. It made me realise we had over £400 per month of minimum debt repayments; nearly as much as our mortgage each month. This added so much pressure to us financially, and considering our debt wasn’t a necessary expense, I wanted it gone.
Luckily, my partner quickly found another job and was able to take a small voluntary redundancy payout that went towards our debt. We have spent a year paying off the other rest of our debt (£16,000 in total).
But there is so much more to my story. And I would never have paid off debt if it weren’t for the Instagram debt free community.
Soooo…. What’s this Debt Free Community Thing All About?
When I first started paying off debt, I created my Instagram account. Immediately I found the debt free community, i.e. a group of like-minded people with the goal of paying off debt. Everyone is connected through the use of the hashtag #debtfreecommunity, and this little corner of Instagram is unlike the rest of social media.
Where social media tends to be a place to flaunt your assets, the debt free community is the opposite. People post about their cars breaking down. Or how much debt they have. Or what they are cooking for dinner from leftovers in the fridge.
It’s a wonderfully refreshing and realistic place to find your tribe. So I’d highly recommend starting an account (you can do so anonymously). Or at least check out the hashtag.
Ok, I’ve Had A Look at the #DebtFreeCommunity: How Can I Start Getting Rid of Debt?
As for repaying your debt, start by assessing your current financial state. Add up your debts. Add up your savings. See where you are with both.
If you are lucky enough to have savings, you might want to use some of these to reduce your debt and leave yourself with a small fund, for emergencies only.
We aimed to have £1,000 in savings as a starting point, which we then didn’t touch unless something in the house blew up. Thankfully that didn’t happen much, but our car needed repairs and this covered them. But if you feel you need a larger or smaller fund, and you are totally honest with yourself and realistic about your reasoning, that’s fine too.
Then, tackle your debt. Firstly, you will need to draw up a budget,. Be as realistic as possible about what how much you can live on. If you have a surplus, this figure can be allocated to debt.
I do my budget around payday and transfer the surplus straight to debt as soon as I get paid so I don’t have an opportunity to spend it. This might work for you, but if you are concerned that this will leave you short, you can transfer half now and half later.
If you don’t have a surplus, you need to cut your expenses. Start looking at ways to up your income and sell some of the stuff you no longer need, also.
What Way Should I Tackle My Debt? (and Why This Divides the Debt Free Community)
The Dave Ramsey method suggests paying them in order of size, starting with the smallest, in order to keep motivated and gain momentum.
My personal opinion is that it is best to pay your debts in order of expense. This means you pay the one with the largest APR first, then work your way to the smallest APR. This is the advice on MoneySavingExpert.com, too.
Here’s where things get a little tricky with the debt free community. Those who use the hashtag are worldwide; people from the USA, UK, and Australia, to name a few places. People from the USA tend to follow Dave Ramsey’s advice more closely than those elsewhere. (Although many USA followers adapt his plan to suit their circumstances.)
I’m UK-based, and only heard of Dave Ramsey after I started my own debt free journey. Therefore, I already had a plan in place, and I’ve now adapted Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps for UK followers.
While I feel there is so much merit in his plan, I don’t agree with his advice to pay off debts by smallest amount to largest. For example, if your smallest debt is interest-free, and one of your larger debts has an APR of 49.9%, it makes sense to tackle the latter.
Some people in the debt free community are committed to the Dave Ramsey method, and others are doing their own thing. To be completely honest, the most important thing is paying off debt and if one method keeps you more motivated than the other, you should go for that.
When it Comes to Debt Repayment, Slow and Steady Wins the Race
Like any goal, it is best to start slowly and build momentum. It will be tough to ignore the enthusiasm to sign up for lots of overtime, live off practically nothing or deprive yourself as you start your debt free journey. It will be much harder to maintain your debt free journey if your expectations are too high.
Within a first few months, you can re-visit your budget and make tweaks as you learn to cut your expenses, and you will; it just takes time to learn how to live simply and frugally. Remember to re-adjust your figures as you go.
And one last tip for anyone at the initial stages of your journey- celebrate your achievements, no matter how small.
- When we made our first £100 overpayment, we toasted with prosecco.
- After we paid off our car, we went out for cocktails.
- When we fully funded our holiday from side hustles, we celebrated with banoffee pie and a movie.
Each of these things became a fun post that I shared with the debt free community so that other members could cheer us on!
Those little things that cost a few pounds, make such a difference in helping you develop a positive mindset that ultimately makes the difference in the long run in determining whether you give up or achieve your goal of debt freedom.
Comment below and tell me your Instagram debt free community account name so I can follow your journey!
Wanna be debt free?
My book, How to Get Out of Debt, has everything you need to become debt free. From increasing your income, reducing your expenses, building a budget and even changing your mindset with your spending habits, this book is your debt free plan.
Click here to purchase the book on Amazon, or alternatively you can get the book for free by signing up to Kindle Unlimited’s free trial if you are a new customer.
One year from now, you’ll wish you started paying off debt today, so take action now and get started 🙂