Debt Freedom: Where Do I Start?

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If you want to change your financial future but have no idea where to start, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve been there. Nearly four years ago, living paycheck to paycheck, barely able to pay my bills and still eat, I decided that I didn’t want to live that way anymore.


I made a choice, and you can do it too. It takes a split second, but it changes everything. Decide right now that you’re going to give this your all. Try it for six months, and I promise your life will be forever changed. With that, let’s jump into it!



How do I get started? 

 The most common question I get when people find my Instagram account is how do I get started? I love getting this question because it means they are interested in becoming debt free and are taking the first step to making it happen, so I compiled my answers into this post.



Stop Borrowing Money 

Yes, this is indeed the first step to becoming debt free. You’re not going to make any progress building financial stability when you’re digging a hole at the other end! You have to draw a line in the sand and say this. Is. It. We’re not borrowing money anymore.



Determine how much debt you have 

 Adding up your debt can be a scary step, especially if you’ve been avoiding the numbers, but grab a glass of wine or a beer and sit down to write all of your debts down from smallest balance to largest balance. You can use my Excel Debt Snowball Template to organize your debts. You need to know how big your problem is before you can start to tackle it.


If you don’t know what debt you have, you can look at your credit report. Federal law allows you to get a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each credit reporting company. Credit Karma also does a fantastic job of showing your debts, and it’s free – just make sure to ignore the credit card offers (they’re sneaky like that). For student loans, you can look at the National Student Loan Database.



Create a zero based budget 
 A what? Yes, a zero based budget. It’s a type of budget where you are telling all of your money where to go before you get it. It can go towards debt, bills, savings, etc., but every dollar needs to go somewhere.

Before payday, you should have your estimated income written down with a list of all of your bills, debt, cash needed for your cash envelopes, and any other expenses you need to budget for before the next time you get paid. It takes a few months to get the hang of this, but do NOT skip it. Go through your bank account to get an idea of how much money you spend on groceries, household items, gas, spending money, restaurants, etc. and then make sure you’re accounting for all of those things when you do your budget.

I messed up the first time I tried to get out of debt and neglected this step. Years later when I picked it back up, I realized how dumb I was to skip this part of the process. It’s not going to be fun, but you have to suck it up and do it. It takes around three months to get the hang of your budget.


My YouTube video Zero Based Budget Tour goes into more detail about what a zero based budget is and how we do ours in Excel. The video is a little long, but it’s useful information! 


Dave Ramsey also has some great paper budgeting forms along with the Every Dollar app that has a lot of categories to remind you what you need to put in your budget. 



Read The Total Money Makeover or attend Financial Peace University (FPU)

These are two resources that I highly recommend:The Total Money Makeover and Financial Peace University.

You can rent the book from your local library or purchase the book on Amazon. The Total Money Makeover is a book that you will want to own to reference back to it.

Financial Peace University is a nine-week class. Each week there is a video lesson by Dave Ramsey, small group discussions, and homework from the lesson. It’s a very interactive class that keeps you accountable.

If you have the cash, I highly recommend going through the course. It may seem a bit pricey, but once you have the kit, you can go through the class as many times as you want. I’ve been through it three times!


Follow like-minded people 

Check out the hashtag #debtfreecommunity on Instagram for others doing the exact same thing. People from all over the world with different lifestyles, scenarios, and starting points are becoming debt free. You can do this! 


Get mad at your debt and do everything you can to get rid of it! 

Sell everything in sight. Cut back on your expenses. Pick up a part-time job, work overtime, or do both. Those are some of my tips on how to get started, but the main takeaway here is you have to get started! You may have wandered into debt, but you can’t wander out.


Sit down, make a plan, and start working your way out of debt. I can promise you it’s worth it.If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me. 


I love talking to you and helping you reach your goals. Make sure to sign up for my email list below to stay up to date for new posts and motivation as you start this journey!


Debt Free in Sunny CA Amanda Williams

Welcome!

I'm Amanda. My husband and I paid off $133,763 of debt in less than four years! During our journey, I realized what my true passion was in life: helping others become debt free and reach financial independence. You can learn more about us here.

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      About Amanda Williams


      Amanda Williams is owner and founder of Debt Free In Sunny CA: A company inspiring financial literacy and debt free living. Josh and Amanda paid off $133,763 of debt in 3.7 years. She has built a dedicated, engaged, and loyal audience of thousands from the ground up. The #debtfreecommunity hashtag was created under Amanda's direction and has generated an online movement, bringing thousands together on a daily basis.