In March of 2010, I took the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace class through my church. It was life-changing. If you don't know his plan, it is basically to pay cash for everything.
Step One: Get 1,000 in the bank for emergencies.
Step Two: Pay off debt, starting with smallest to largest. Put all extra money towards the smallest bill, and when it's paid off, you apply all that money as the extra towards the next one.
There are more steps, but I'm still on step two. The problem for me was that after paying my bills, I only had about 75 extra a month to put on my smallest debt even working extra jobs.
In December, I moved in with my mom to help me get out of debt and into a house sooner and to give her company after my dad's death. Even with paying her rent, I now have 550 EXTRA a month to pile on to my debt. I am finally seeing some real momentum with my debt snowball, and it's so encouraging.
As of today, I've paid off 16,971.20. I still have a LONG way to go.
I still need to make some changes to my lifestyle. I eat out too much. I have gotten out of the habit of using my cash envelopes to limit my spending. I still emotionally shop some days. But, I've paid off almost 17,000 dollars, and the debt baggage that keeps me from doing things I want to do (like short mission trips, traveling, giving more to charities, adopting, buying a house, etc) is getting smaller. Freedom is coming!
Proverbs 22:7 is one of the verses Dave uses in the class. "The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender." It struck me profoundly. I don't want to be a slave or servant to anyone or anything but Jesus. After all, we can't serve two masters.
I want to encourage you if you are struggling with debt. It is so hard to change our habits. I hear stories of people who paid off 50,000 in a year, and I wish that could be me. But, I'm doing this slowly but steadily....a hard lesson in patience.