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Getting out of Debt

What to Expect on Your Debt-Free Journey

6 Minute Read

So you made the decision—you decided to kick debt out of your life forever! That calls for some serious celebrating.

But before you start dancing circles around Sallie Mae, make sure you’ve completed Baby Step 1 by getting $1,000 in the bank. If you haven’t yet, back up. You’ll need this money if any unwelcome emergencies try to crash the party.

Related: 15 Ways to Save $100 to $1,000 With Minimal Effort

When you’re ready to continue with Baby Step 2—paying off all your debt (except the house) with the debt snowball method—find inspiration along the way by listening to others share their debt-free stories. Millions of people have been where you are today. And you’ll be where they are sooner than you know it!

Until then, check out our list of 16 things you can expect when you start your debt snowball. And remember, you’re in good company!

1. You’ll have some doubts.

When you face a mountain of debt, doubts are totally normal. Don’t beat yourself up for having them. Instead, redirect that energy into confidence. You’re doing the right thing for your family, even if no one else understands it. You will succeed!

2. You’ll get gazelle intense.

Imagine you’re a gazelle grazing in the wild. Out of the corner of your eye, you see a starving cheetah—your biggest enemy. Should you sit there and wait to be hunted down, or run like your tail is on fire? Yeah, you run! You want to get out of debt like a gazelle gets out of harm’s way—fast!

More than 5 million have beaten debt this way. You can too!

3. You’ll listen to (or watch) The Dave Ramsey Show—a lot.

When you listen to your broke friends talk about how broke they are, you become like them. When you listen to inspirational folks talk about how they destroyed debt, you become like them. Fill your mind with daily encouragement by following us on Facebook or Twitter, listening to the podcast, or watching the TDRS Video Channel.

4. You’ll start selling stuff—and lots of it.

If you haven’t used it in the past year, you probably don’t need it. That’s why Craigslist will suddenly be full of your old camping gear, Christmas decorations, and cell phones. You’ll even sell the car if you have to! You’re just that hardcore.

5. You’ll become a bargain shopper.

Maybe you don’t clip coupons in the traditional sense, but you’re going to be on the hunt for bargains before you know it. Hey, if you can get something on sale, why would you mess with full price? That’s more money in your pocket and less debt in your life.

6. You’ll make a monthly budget.

This may be your first time budgeting, or you might just be buckling down. Either way, you’re going to have a handle on your income—and it’s going to feel so good! When you give every dollar a name, they won’t go anywhere without your permission.

Related: Create your budget in less than 10 minutes with the free budget app EveryDollar.

7. You’ll start carrying cash.

Using the envelope system will revolutionize the way you spend money. When the cash is gone, it’s gone. No overdraft fees. No sky-high interest to pay. Who knew something so simple could be so powerful?

8. You’ll get your family on board.

Getting out of debt takes a team. When your kids buy into your debt-free dream, they’ll stop complaining—and start saving. It’s amazing. Invite them to your budget meetings and show them how important they are to making your family goals a reality!

Related: Get age-specific tools to help your kids become smart with money.

9. You’ll work hard.

Sometimes it takes a second job or some freelance work to earn the extra cash you need to knock out your debt. Whether your delivering pizzas, driving for Uber, or house-sitting over the holidays—it all adds up.

10. You’ll start thinking visually.

A debt thermometer chart and a rewards system are small ways to turn something as boring as electronic payments into easy-to-see wins. Even a celebratory pizza party with the kids can be enough to keep you all going.

11. You’ll learn how to say no.

There are things you need. And then there are things you want. You’re going to become one of the rare people who knows the difference. For the time being, your budget is all about needs. You’ll get to what you want after you’ve said farewell to debt—once and for all.

12. You’ll eat leftovers and brew coffee at home.

Leftovers are going to be your new best friend. And when it comes to coffee, you can save a nice chunk of change if you brew your daily dark roast at home instead of buying it on the way to work. Those small savings add up over time! 

13. You’ll learn who your true friends are.

True friends don’t care what brand of jeans you wear or what model car you drive. True friends will support your efforts to improve your life. And they won’t expect you to keep up with their lifestyles—even if they aren’t quite ready to get out of debt themselves.

14. You’ll get creative.

You know what they say—necessity is the mother of invention! With all your extra cash going toward debt, you’ve discovered how to stretch a meal with rice, wrap a gift in tie-dyed newspaper, and bungee cord your car mirror back on. No shame.

15. You’ll pause your 401(k) contributions.

You’ll get back to contributing to your retirement soon. But first, you’re going to put everything you’ve got toward getting out of debt. (Yes, even if it means missing out on your company match temporarily.) This is a great motivator to get out of debt ASAP!

Related: Learn how you can retire inspired regardless of where you are on your financial journey.

16. You’ll pray.

Work like it all depends on you, but pray like it all depends on God. Give it your absolute all every day, but realize God owns it all. He’s in control. So trust Him.

Making the decision to eliminate debt from your life is one of the smartest things you can do for yourself and your family. When it gets difficult and you start to doubt yourself, stay the course and find encouragement by reading and listening to others who have been where you are. Your debt-free scream is closer than you think!

You’ve got what it takes to kick debt out of your life—once and for all! Sign up for Financial Peace University today to stay on track and pay off your debt faster than ever.

Success! Your guide is on its way! 

Jump-Start Your Journey

Jump-Start Your Journey!

Pay off debt. Save your money. Get started with our free 4-Day Jump Start. 

Jump-Start Your Journey!

Pay off debt. Save your money. Get started with our free 4-Day Jump Start.