Debt Free Progress: Budgeting

I’ve never actually read any books by Dave Ramsey, but I would say I follow his guidelines for becoming debt free. A quick look around his website will show the baby steps to achieve financial freedom, from starting an emergency fund to paying off loans one at a time.

I’ve been budgeting for awhile. My “debt free” journey really began after I graduated college in 2015. Although I was on a 10-year plan for paying off my loans, I didn’t want to spend the next 10 years being tied down to that debt. My mindset soon became, “spend 4 years in college; spend the next 4 paying it off.”

One of the biggest things that has helped me is the app/website called Mint, which monitors and categorizes spending automatically. It also offers analytics in both circle-graph and bar-graph form to help me understand my habits and what is working or isn’t working.

As for paying off the actual loans, I did work several temp jobs the first two years post-college in addition to my regular job. Any birthday-, Christmas-, or tax return money I could spare I would put toward debt. I attacked the smallest loans first to get them out of the way, then slowly ate away at the larger ones.

The hardest part of my budgeting is food. I really don’t like to cook. Making something that tastes good cost money, and because I don’t want to spend money, the food I cook doesn’t taste very good. It’s a tricky balance to be able to eat well and spend wisely. I don’t eat well.

One final thing I tend to overlook (but that has a big impact) is the importance of surrounding myself with healthy people who uplift me. All of my most recent roommates have also been financially frugal. My friends may not be on the debt free journey the way I am, but they are working toward their own personal goals, and watching them progress helps propel me forward as well. And that’s just as valuable as any how-to guide.

 

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