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”

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  2. I have never had credit card debt, but I do have a mortgage and 1 car loan (with the husband). We spend a lot, and save too. Fortunately, we don’t worry much about money … but I know how easy it would be to go crazy, and buy a giant 3/4 of a million dollar house, and then things would be a bit different – I see young people in my city doing it all the time, and they are completely strapped for cash and their credit cards are all maxed out, etc..

    We won’t buy a house like that until we know it is our final house/family house, and we have saved enough/ made enough from our house to put down a hefty down payment.

  3. YOU GO GIRL!! I admire your diligence and hard work to get this done!! You freakin’ rock! <3

  4. Wow awesome post, and congratulations. I have been pondering my own debt a lot these days. I have been trying my hardest to avoid taking out student loans, but my family members are trying to convince me it is better to have a student loans at a low interest rate than continue to make measly payments on about 6,000 worth of credit card bills with high interest rates. So I’m thinking of possibly taking out a student loan to pay off my credit cards. Sounds strange doesn’t it? Oh well.
    Congrats to you!!!!

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  7. Don’t you wish they taught this stuff in high school? I have always been pretty frugal but when I married my husband he had student loans and then we did the early 20’s dumb spending and had the loans, 2 car loans, a mortgage, and a boat and camper debt! We are now early 30’s and have grown up quite a bit – we only owe on our mortgage, woohoo! And we have quite a large amount in savings now. I think being pregnant a few years ago really made us understand what’s important in life.

    Just an FYI – many money gurus will tell you that leasing a car is the worst financial decision you can make with a car. I haven’t researched it since we own, but might be something you want to look into!

  8. I am very lucky to be debt free. Which, as a 25-year-old, is usually not the case. Most of my friends are paying just as much every month in student loans as they do rent. I’m also very good about paying off my credit card and saving money. I may still live like a broke college student, but it’s these things that allow me to follow my career dreams or do things like fly to San Francisco on a whim! Like you said, it’s all about picking and choosing what you spend your money on. Thankfully, I hate to shop ;)

  9. I have a car loan and a mortgage, but like you said, I don’t consider that true debt because I need a house and I need a car, and if I didn’t have a mortgage I’d be throwing money away on rent!

    I also have a massive amount of school debt, but I don’t consider that true debt either because if I didn’t have it I wouldn’t be a doctor making a good salary, and hubby and I have a plan to pay it off in 10-15 years(barring personal financial tragedies of course). Even with our mortgage payment, student loan payments and other payments(cell phone, utilities, groceries, ect) we still net more money than we would have had I not gone to school and worked a typical payed job.

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  12. Hi Averie!

    I am happy to say that I am credit card debt free :) I do have 2 mortgages, one for a rental property and another on my new home, I don’t think these will be paid off anytime soon and I am okay with it. They are generally covered with the rents I recieve anyway.

    I do save money, however I like to spend so this is a little challenging at times!

  13. Wow! I just read the Phoenix story, and it reads very similar to the experience I had studying abroad; I ended up leaving the program halfway through because I didn’t like what I was studying, the place itself was a letdown, and it felt like my body was rebelling against me. I thought it over for a long time before coming to the decision that life was too short to be stuck in a place I wasn’t happy, and that if I had the parental support, finances, and academic flexibility to get out, I owed it to myself to follow through. People on my program were less than supportive, but I was really listening to myself, and a few months later, I could not be happier that I made that decision! Pity that that program didn’t work out, but my process of stumbling, falling, and picking myself back up showed me what I really want out of life.

    As for debt, I’m free right now, but going to grad school will change that ;) But I grew up with a very finance-savvy Dad who has endowed me with a good money-saving habits that will hopefully save me!

  14. Nice job on being debt free! My husband and I are on our way to paying off his car and a credit card. We are only about $4,000 away! I have so much anticipation building! It will be a glorious feeling not making that $354 car payment (plus the extra we put down to speed the process up!!!) every month!!

    Congrats, that’s a HUGE accomplishment.

  15. That’s amazing Averie! What an amazing accomplishment! Do you mind if I ask how long it took you though?? I DO have student loan debts, car, credit card, etc. – and it’s SIX figures – around $150,000 to be exact. My student loan payments alone are $1500/month…it’s very, very scary. Especially since my job is causing me to mentally break down…for real. I am saving as much as I can though – and being uber conscious. But when your in this deep, it’s just still staying afloat. My only other options are to make more money. But it’s difficult when the best way for me to do that is over-time work in my field – which I hate and would leave me unable to do anything I remotely enjoy. Or time to focus and develop other areas (like writing, etc).

    Bah – sorry – that’s my MO. :)

    • Well my student loans took me 4 yrs after college to pay off
      My mortgage on one house took 5 yrs to pay off
      My credit card debt was an on-going process that took years/months depending on how you look at it. Seriously making headway vs. just barely chipping away.

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  17. My only debt is studentl loans… But trust me, that’s more than enough debt! The worst part about debt this large is that although I’ve been making payments for years, I never feel like I’m even making a dent.

    I don’t have a savings account but I keep a standard amount in my checking account for emergencies. At Christmas time, it did get a bit lower, but it’s right back up where it was before Christmas. I should save more, but I hate putting anything on my credit card that I can’t pay off immediately. It’s quite possible that I may lose my job any day now (the company is having a lot of difficulty), but I know that with what I have saved I can survive for at least a couple of months. Once my tax refund comes in, I’ll be set for another two to four months. It will suck, but I can get by if need be.

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  21. Congratulations on becoming debt free. What a feeling! I remember when I paid off my student loan I was so happy!

    I currently have no debt. I have savings I could probably live 7 months on maintaining the lifestyle I have now, longer if I was super frugal. I’m pretty good at saving and always have been.

    Unlike you I DO think having a car loan is a waste of money and is silly debt. It is absolutely silly to pay interest on an item that is decreasing in value every day. I always save up for a car and purchase it with my own money. Having said that I never buy new, just a good old used, reliable car that is fuel efficient.

  22. Couldn’t agree with you more on americans being in debt and how heavy it weighs on us in general. I grew up around my best friend who’s family was over $20K in credit card debt and then there were all kinda of other troubles and whatnot. Aside from my parents always teaching me to pay everything in full once u buy it, I know I didn’t want to be like my friend’s family. My parents said if I put anything on my credit card, I need to be able to pay it off in full every single month and since then it’s what I do. Its such a good feeling to be able to do that. And you are so right, saving is waaaaaaaaay important. You never know what will happen!!

    HAPPY FOR YOU!!!!!!!!! (even though I know this post is way old, haha)

  23. I just paid off my mortgage a few days ago. Before my husband passed away a couple months ago he told me whatever you do..if you arent going to move from this house..Pay off the mortgage with some of the ins. so…I did. It will be nice not paying 1800. a month to make someone else richer. I have one credit card that I keep up just to have one in case I travel to use to get tickets then pay it off when it comes in.

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