Debt Free & Saving Money

When I posted my 2011 Intentions and Goals (some people would call them New Year’s Resolutions but I prefer intentions/goals), my number one priority was to pay off my credit card debt.

I am thrilled to report that my American Express has been paid in full!  A hefty five-figure sum.  Paid. The weight of the world on my shoulders has been lifted!

The reason I had credit card debt in the first place was fallout from an ill-timed real estate transaction in Phoenix.  I never clicked with Phoenix and you can read about that story here, but it was a life lesson.  A learning experience.

I learned what I place value on, that I adore San Diego, the beach, the weather, the friends I have here, and the life I’ve built here.  Those things matter more than home ownership just for the sake of owning a home in a city that wasn’t for me.  Different strokes for different folks.

But in order to buy the home I bought (and have since sold), I racked up lots of credit card debt.  I put things on my credit card that I never should have, but hindsight is 20/20.


Going into 2011, I know my #1 intention was to pay it off.  And I did!  And I will never repeat the same actions that got me into the bind I was in.  So, I lived, I learned.

I am now debt free:

No credit card debt

No mortgage

No student loans

No auto loan (one car is paid for, the other is leased, but I don’t consider this true debt)

No other loans

No money is owed to anyone

And that is all a great feeling!

Intention #1, however, was two-fold: paying off debt and saving money. And I am happy to report that I have also saved quite a bit of money, too.

I don’t talk about my paid work, but I work like a dog and have been fortunate enough to squirrel away some savings the past few months.  Like the animal references there? Being able to save money has made me feel so productive and that all my hard work is going toward something and like I am accomplishing things, not just working to get out of debt, and pay our day-to-day bills, but also to save.

Enough talk about my financial life, let’s talk about what I’ve been eating.

Fresh pineapple.  It was on sale at Target for $2.49 for a whole pineapple.  Score.

Need tips on how to clean & slice a whole pineapple?  Here you go.


Some Vegan “Lentil & Bean” Sloppy Joes (no bun) with a salad

I dressed the salad with Vegan Slaw Dressing

I also had a couple No Bake Oatmeal Raisin Carrot Cake Bites

From my last post about possibly getting an iPhone, thanks to everyone who chimed in on whether you have one, if you want one, if you like your iPhone, and giving me the pros as you see them to iPhones.  As I had said, learning to use the touchscreen after coming off years of Blackberry keys is a concern, but most of you said it’s not that bad.  An iPhone may be in my future.

Dessert: GF Peanut Butter Marshmallow Bars with Vegan Chocolate Frosting

If you like butterscotch chips, peanut butter, marshmallows, and chocolate, then this recipe is for you.



1. Are you debt free?  If you have debt, how does it make you feel?

I think most Americans are drowning in debt!  I don’t really consider a mortgage, or an auto loan, as true debt.  We all need someplace to live, and most of us need a car.

The debt I am referring to is from major credit cards, department store cards, student loans, personal loans, or other loans or debts you have incurred.

Debt for me is very heavy on my heart, mind, and spirit.  I don’t feel free when I own (large) sums of money.  Even though I didn’t think about it every day, I thought about it most days, for the 18 months or so that I had credit card debt and I hated it.  I hated that I had used less than stellar judgment and got myself into debt and that I had to work extra hard just to get out of it; to remove something that I could have avoided all together.

Life lessons and a learning experience, though.

I did a post on Life Lessons and #4 on that list about repeating a lesson in life until you learn it.  Well, I have learned. Now I can move on to the next lessons my life has in store for me.

2. Are you doing anything to save money?

I think that, again, most Americans are not only drowning in debt, most people don’t have any money saved!

If you, your spouse, or anyone who is providing you financial support cut you off tomorrow or you lost your job tomorrow, what money do you have saved and how long could you support yourself? Did you just have a panic attack thinking about that because you realize not very long and that you have zilch saved? Thought so.

Whatever you need to do to start saving money, be it buying conventional produce not organic, quitting your Starbucks habit and brewing coffee at home, not impulse buying cute dishes or random items at Marshall’s, using these tips to save money on your grocery budget, wearing old workout clothes and not feeling pressure to buy the latest and greatest brand name or current trend, telling your spouse/significant other you’d prefer to skip gifts for birthdays, holidays, anniversaries and just save money instead, whatever it is, you will feel better with something in your bank account than wearing the latest yoga pants or that your significant other bought you roses for your anniversary that cost $40 bucks and will die in a week.

Sorry if that sounds harsh.  It is. But saving money is hard and can be harsh.  Do what it takes is my approach.

However, as with food and exercise and lifestyle choices, we all must make our own financial choices and decisions, too, and do what’s right for our own situation.

And, of course, there are some things that are worth the splurge and we all have to decide what that is for ourselves.  Depriving ourselves all the time backfires.  There is a balance between fiscal discipline and deprivation.  Like me wanting to buy an iPhone and deciding if that’s the right decision for me, at this time.

Talking about money, debt, savings, planning is hard because it hits nerves but we need to talk about it and acknowledge it and plan accordingly.  Where are you at with these things?

97 comments on “Debt Free & Saving Money”

  1. Congrats congrats Averie. You must feel fantastic. I agree with a lot of the points on debt and savings. That is why my husband and I live in a very tiny apartment (under 600 sq feet).

  2. Hey girl!

    1. I do have student loans, but that is the only debt I have incurred. I have never (and I am 30 years old) had any credit cards, store cards, loans etc. Great, right? No, no its not. Because I don’t have any credit at all.

    2. I am happy to admit that we do save as much as possible, We have also stopped purchasing new unless completely necessary. Not only is it significantly cheaper, but it allows me to do tiny shopping and helps my carbon footprint!

  3. Great post! Congrats on being debt free! :)

    1. I still have both credit card debt and student loan debt from college. I wish I had been slightly smarter about my money back then. I’ve been working hard to pay them off though!

    2. I am good about saving. I have an emergency fund to cover necessary expenses in case something happens. I’d definitely rather have this then pay off my debt because it makes me feel more secure about life. I know if something happens and we have no money coming in we still have something. Right now I’m also saving for our wedding and that’s taking a ton of effort but we want to pay for it all ourselves.

  4. Good for you! That feeling is so awesome! Besides our mortgage we only have a couple thousand on a line of credit and even that makes me feel ill. I try to budget our groceries and entertainment.. wait who am I kidding, every part of our life is budgeted since buying a house and having kids. Lol! I think the key is first making a plan. Like you say, what’s ok to splurge on and what can you save on. That makes perfect sense to me :)

  5. Congrats on being debt-free! That is fantastic! Way to go!

    We have a mortgage, but no other debt.

    Savings: Just cancelled our Satellite TV and will be “live TV” free as of March 23rd. That will be a great start to some savings. We don’t buy each other anniversary gifts, and only small “token” gifts at birthdays and Christmas. Cooking & baking from scratch, and not eating out is another great way we are saving.

  6. Congrats on paying off your debt!! That is amazing!!! I currently have no debt, but not too much saved either!! Really got to work on saving for a rainy day!!

  7. I have debt…it is so sad. I am tired of it. Congratulations on being debt free! That is a huge accomplishment.

  8. Congrats! That is so awesome! and saving too! you are rocking 2011…Keep it up

  9. I think having debt is one of the worst feelings ever. It is just a constant burden on your mind and it feels like no matter how hard your work, it will never go away. But on a lighter note, that pineapple looks divine! :)

  10. thats awesome that you are debt free!!! I am too right now, but I have been extremely lucky to have gotten scholarship money and stuff for college.

  11. Hi!
    We have dept. HATE IT! mortgage, auto loan, student loan. . . even though that’s the kind of “good” dept, it doesn’t make us feel good! This is something many people don’t talk about so thanks for putting the topic out there!

  12. Averie for so long I have been so ashamed of the amount of debt we have — but as we’ve taken control I am so proud of how far we have come! In 2 years we paid off over $30K in credit card debt, saved a nice amount and will have both of our cars paid off within the next 6 months. If both Jason and I lose our jobs (which I hope never happens, but you never know) we can support ourselves for 6 months (that is assuming we don’t get unemployment and stay unemployed for 6 months). I feel good about that number for now and once we get the cars paid off we will be in even better shape.

    I cannot wait to tackle the mortgage (and we’ll do that once the cars are paid off and we have more money saved). We follow Dave Ramsey’s Debt Snowball plan and it has worked wonderfully for us. To save money we set up a budget each month — is a great tool! We also each get a certain amount of “fun” money that we can splurge on whatever we want. Anything more that we “want” and don’t “need” we have to talk about first. It works well for us.

    Good for you for getting that debt paid off! It is such a relief — like a huge weight lifted off your shoulders. And how awesome are you — no mortgage, no money owed to ANYBODY!

  13. I don’t like be in debt either and I think I manage our finances well enough…never been in credit card debs – everything always paid in full so we can avoid that high interest fee.

    Ever since I’m gone to primal/paleo, I do focus on buying high quality stuff but not all…I skipped most organic produce and stuff but I picked the highest quality of conventional produce

  14. Congrats on being debt-free!!! That’s HUGE! *I* am debt-free…but when we married, I inherited my husband’s school loans, so, by association, I guess I’m not debt free after all :-)

  15. Congratulations on being debt-free! What a fantastic feeling.

    My family is finally debt free after years of paying off student loans, cars, and wasting a lot of money on a dumb real estate decision that we immediately regretted. I cook mostly from scratch, rarely buy new clothes, color my own hair. Rather than pay for a babysitter and go out, we stay in. Sometimes it is really hard not to go blow money at the mall, but we have goals in mind that we are working toward and that makes pinching pennies a little easier in the meantime.

    PS Nice score on the pineapple! They are $3.99 here, I am waiting for a sale :)

  16. Congrats to you! That is great, but I admit, I am jealous. I definitely have student loans and credit card debt from school. I’m currently in grad school, so that debt isn’t exactly getting paid down very quickly, although we’re doing good about not making it worse. We rent, too, which has its pros and its cons. I have had debt pretty much since I was 19 because I had to put myself through school and it is the worst feeling in the world. I feel like I’m suffocating, even though I don’t miss payments, and I’m constantly terrified about what will happen if I can’t find a job immediately after grad school or if my husband (no health ins!) gets sick or something…I thought your 20s were supposed to be fun and carefree! :-(

  17. Congrats on being debt-free! I love how you are straightforward about being financially wise! It really drives me nuts and is frustrating when I see people being frivolous in the short-term when they cannot afford to be and would be much better off in the long-term if they simply saved and avoided things like eating out a ton or getting nails done every week.

  18. You’ve got to feel so great about that. Seriously, a huge accomplishment and a burden on your mind…gone.

    I have only one big debt – student loans from my undergrad. I got scholarships and fellowships for all 6 years of grad school, so I never paid a dime in tuition, and I have a saving, which actually has more in it than I own on my loans! but I make more than I pay in interest, so i’m not too worried about it.

    I am still super frugal though – I cancelled my cable, netflix, etc, and i don’t buy books anymore (it was shocking how much I spent on books….for real) and get them all at the library now. And I can’t even remember the last time I bought new clothes, shoes, or anything really. Other than food. Hmmm. Maybe I need to shop. :)

  19. What a great topic. We have a mortage and a small amount of credit card debt. But we have always been really good about our money. When my husband lost his job almost three years ago we were so thankful and great fulll at the time that we had no credit card debt and we had money in saving to get us thru. It took my husband almost two years to get a job and with out the saving we had I know we would have been a lot worse off. We also have two kids in college so it has been a stressful two years. But we are so grateful that we did the best we could. Not we will work on getting rid of the debt and hopefully start rebuilding. Thanks for the topic Averie!

  20. Way to go! It’s not even March and you’ve already completed one of your intentions, pretty awesome.
    I have a student loan I’m trying to pay offend I understand the pressure and insecurity debt causes. Yuck. I try to be frugal do I can pay it off faster and most of the time I do pretty well. Right now though, I’m looking to move out of my very cheap living situation and go out on our own again because we’re tired of living in someone elses house. Some things, like independence, are worth the money.

  21. Congrats Averie! I’m sure you feel a weight is lifted off your shoulders! I definitely try to save money by “cutting corners.” Learning how to shop smarter has allowed me to lower my monthly spending.

  22. Finally coming out of blogger stalker territory to comment! Congrats on paying off your debt! One the biggest feelings of relief probably ever, right? I was also once in credit card debit as a result of really poor judgement, but we busted ourselves to pay it off and I’ll never make that mistake again. Debt sometimes feels like entrapment, and it’s nice to be free!

    Thanks for always being so honest and sharing your life lessons, even when they’re not the happiest!

  23. Congrats on no credit card debt. Me neither. It’s the worst debt to have. I still have loans but those don’t have the same awful interest as the credit cards. And if I never got the loans to go to school I’d never have a way to earn money. So worth the investment I’d say.

    We’ve cut way back since I don’t’ work and it has freed me. I dislike spending too much and now I only use it for things that are really important. Although I’d say we’ve managed to save and still get organics and give each other gifts. Because those things are important to us. We save in other ways.

  24. No debt, but also not much in savings. We’re stuck in the damned rent trap.

  25. Hi Averie! I have been following your blog for a looonngg time. I am so bad at commenting on blogs. I feel I never have time! I love your blog, and your amazing gf, vegan, raw lifestyle! I just graduated from the University of Pittsburgh, so I have lots of student loans hanging over my head. It’s not a great feeling!! I just enrolled in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition to become a holistic health coach. That adds another bill onto my budget but it is a rewarding one! I love San Diego, and would love to live there some day. Two of my brothers live there. Check out the Indigo Grille downtown, my brother is the Sous Chef!

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