“Guess what I got” I gleefully exclaimed as I fell through the front door.
“Toilet paperrrrrrr”, I sang out.
I danced around my suitcase eager to show off my treasures.
The Mr. looked at me with what can only be described as bewildered amusement.
“Just wait there” I shouted over my shoulder as I barreled down the hallway with my suitcase to change out of my work uniform.
Not even a minute later I bounded into the living room carrying the goods.
“LOOK DANNY”, I shouted.
“I got 6 whole rolls of toilet paper.”
I lovingly displayed the assortment of rolls.
“That means I now have 20 rolls total and won’t have to buy toilet paper for weeekkkkkkkssss”.
All different brands.
All extra rolls that were under the sink at the different hotels I stayed at throughout the week.
All a part of a journey I was on to be completely debt free.
You see over a year ago I asked my parents for Dave Ramsey’s “Financial Peace University” course for Christmas. It was a course I had taken in high school, but like many things I learned in high school, it went in one ear and out the other. (I’m still am waiting on the day I’ll need to know the pythagorean theorem)
My dad being the true hero he is volunteered to do the course with me.
And the rest was history.
No, no, no, you know I’m going to tell you more. Although in general you should know that talking about money makes me feel itchy. I’m dealing with it.
January 2020 I started the course and had over $25,000 in student loan and credit card debt. *itching intensifies*
I grew up being taught incredibly wise principles about saving money and being responsible, so unfortunately the only person I can blame this all on is… London… (??) Obviously if London wasn’t so pretty I wouldn’t have been so tempted to just go nuts buying last minute 3rd row seats for an opening night show. So reallyyyy my debt accumulation has absolutely nothing to do with my blatant disregard of responsibility and refusal to believe that buying incredible experiences with borrowed money would have zero consequences. Nope, that definitely wasn’t it.
Dave said I needed to have “gazelle intensity”. I like gazelles. Seemed like an elegant proposition. So with that… I was off like a racehorse… *Ahem* I mean gazelle.
Fancy date nights became picnics at a park.
I couldn’t possibly fathom going years without shopping so I decided to learn how to make my own clothes (by that I mean I subjected my poor mother to the long grueling process of teaching a non-detailed person very detailed things).
I used up all of my skincare. Do you know how much skincare almost all of us have just lying around?
I didn’t buy coffee unless it was a special occasion or I was on the precipice of insanity. I actually brought my own creamer with me everywhere I went.
And speaking of bringing food with me… I meal prepped. Oh the meal-prepping. It never ever ended. But I did it. Every single trip I had my little Strongbags cooler filled with all the meals and snacks I could possibly want/need.
Then the pandemic hit and I accidentally moved in with my parents. I say accidentally, because if it had been a thought out thing I probably would’ve thought of a way to not have to pay all of my bills and rent in Michigan during that time, but needless to say it was the best 3 months of my life.
There was a pretty pivotal moment during those 3 months where I sat down with my dad and asked him what I should do. I had taken a voluntary leave from work and was collecting unemployment money and honestly, I was pretty scared I would loose my job. I didn’t want to pause my gazelle intensity because I had been doing really well thus far, but I also didn’t want to find myself jobless with no savings.
He counseled me to just keep doing what I’m doing, but to chuck the money that was meant to pay off my debt into my savings account instead and just let it hang out in there until my job wasn’t so unstable.
So I did just that and I kept chugging along.
I didn’t get my nails done… ever.
My mom cut my hair.
I bought razors twice in 12 months. Twice… Each razor lasted me almost 6 months *winces*.
I downgraded all of my shampoo, deodorant, bodywash. I am now a walking billboard for how wonderful Aldi deodorant is.
I started a little tag, #ThriftyAndGlamorous to show y’all it was possible to be glam while still saving money and I had so much fun finding amazing nail polish for $3, mascara for $4 and DIY’ing random things.
I budgeted, budgeted and budgeted some more (even wrote a whole blog post about it. Click here to read about it. https://twirlingamongroses.com/2020/07/30/budgeting-but-make-it-sparkly/).
I learned about investing thanks to a 6 hour tutorial by my wonderful father.
I even figured out how to have the Peloton experience without paying the Peloton price tag. (https://twirlingamongroses.com/2020/07/09/just-keep-spinning-peloton-dupe/)
I moved back to Michigan and started working again and then the day came that my airline announced there would be no furloughs. I cried tears of joy and immediately transferred ALL of the money that had been hanging out in my savings account and THREW it at my debt.
The debt snowball was picking up speed.
According to my Dave Ramsey app I only had about 6 months left until I was completely debt free. I could almost taste it.
It was exhilarating and I couldn’t believe how accomplished and strong I felt. I was doing this all on my own as a completely financially independent 27 year old. I paid all of my own bills, lived on my own and was going to see this through on my own.
Until December rolled around and I became a married woman. SURPRISE.
At that point I was determined to pay off the last bit… wait for it… all on my own (there’s a theme here). I had done all of the leg work and wanted to see this thing through to the end. I wanted all of the credit. All of the glory.
But Lord have mercy that is not how marriage works.
Apparently this whole, “what’s mine is yours” applies to everything, including debt.
To be honest I didn’t feel particularly grateful that my new husband was excited to get onboard the Dave Ramsey train and throw money at my big ‘ol debt snowball. I wanted to keep my snowball to myself. It was a nice sized snowball and I didn’t feel like sharing. I was stubborn and ridiculous.
And what do we do when we’re stubborn and ridiculous? We call our moms and expect them to support us being stubborn and ridiculous and then get told that we’re being stubborn and ridiculous.
Shocking, I know.
I swallowed my pride and made room for my husband to get on the Dave Ramsey train and together we chug-a-lugged all the way to February 24th, 2021.
13 months after starting the course, during a global pandemic and with a lot of help from hotel toilet paper the final payment was submitted and I/(we) became…
There’s just no words.
I cried enormous tears of relief and joy.
It is not an understatement to say that this changed my entire life.
My ENTIRE life.
I don’t make oodles and poodles of money, but now I know exactly where my money goes every month and every single dollar I make has a purpose.
I’m not rich, but I feel rich because my money gets to go where I want it to go instead of being told every month where it HAS to go.
I now check my credit score and bank balances with glee.
My investments are doing swimmingly and I feel prepared for the future.
But most of all, I feel free.
Free to chose how I want to live my life, free to do the things I want to do and to be honest it feels as if my horizons stretch out forever. Like I could do anything I want if I put my mind to it. I guess I never realized how limiting debt can be. How small it can make your horizons. How it truly reaches its nasty claws into every aspect of your life.
March 2021 at 28 years old, married and debt free I budgeted $150 to buy myself whatever I want. What did I buy? Most notably: Razors, fancy deodorant and pink silk pajamas off of Amazon. I’ve never loved something so much as I love these pajamas. Did I take pictures of myself in them in a hotel room in New Orleans? Yes. Is it silly? Yes! But am I so stinking proud of what these pajamas signify? Yes yes yes.
(And they were only $30… #ThriftyAndGlamorous)