How Quitting My Job Helped Us Pay Off More Debt Then We Could Have Dreamed Of

In the last three weeks we paid two three student debt loans completely off that equalled $3,900 $5286 (We paid off another loan after I started this post!). That debt is no longer on our shoulders (and we now have an extra $130 a month to pay off more debt!). Although, we still have debt, we are paying it off faster than we dreamed. Two years ago, when I quit my job, we never thought we would have come this far. Here is my story.

The College Debt Trap

picture of spiderweb as a representation of debt trap

My husband and I decided to go to college after we had already been married a year. Due to circumstances we took out student loans to pay for college. We didn’t really fully understand the consequences, and enjoyed our time as students.

When my husband graduated college with a degree in engineering, he already had his dream job waiting for him in another state. We packed our bags and moved across the country not knowing what to expect. We did know one thing, we had accumulated a large amount of debt.

We both went to college near my hometown. I graduated college two years before he did, and was working full time but not making much money. He worked student jobs, and manual labor in the summer. The year before he graduated he took on a full time job. Even though we were both working, we barely made enough to cover our expenses.

The Move Across Country

Move across country to get job to pay debt

When my husband got offered a great job, we thought it was the answers to our prayers. We would finally be able to afford things, or so we thought. Before we moved we got rid of most of our belongings, so we wouldn’t have to pay to move them across country. Unfortunately, I still had to take out a personal loan of $6,000 to help with moving expenses. When we arrived to our new place we decided to take an additional $6,000 loan to buy new furniture. We thought we would be able to afford it, and didn’t understand the financial ramifications of our decisions.

I was fortunate enough to find a job only three weeks after arriving to a new city. Together my husband and I were making good money. Unfortunately, we were both exhausted most of the time and spent too much money on takeout. My husband ate out every single day for lunch, and we ate dinner out three to four times a week.

We spent several years just living paycheck to paycheck. Even though we weren’t completely terrible with money, we still were making poor financial decisions. We knew we needed to make changes, but for some reason we were complacent with our lifestyle.

The Debt Breaking Point

Debt Breaking Point

In March of 2015 (2 years ago) I had an accident, and needed two surgeries. I was struggling with depression, anxiety, and felt overwhelmed most of the time. Since I already needed to take time off, I decided to quit my job. We really didn’t know how we were going to manage, but we talked about it and made the decision together.

That period of our lives was very difficult. Not only did we have the extra expenses of my surgeries, but I no longer had a job to rely on. We determined that we really needed to examine our finances and create a budget. It was very painful to see how much of our money we were spending haphazardly. We thought we were making good decisions, and for the most part we were, but we still managed to waste thousands of dollars on practically nothing!

After we took a hard look at our finances, we were in so much debt we didn’t even realize it. Although we were making monthly payments on time, we were deep in debt. When I quit my job we had: credit card debt, medical bills, two car payments, student loans, and a mortgage.

Things seemed hopeless, and I moped around for two months (part of that time was because of the surgeries, but still). One day I decided we were going to get out of debt sooner than we could dream! I stopped hosting my own pity party, and started to get serious about making changes.

The Debt Turn Around

debt turn around

I wish I could say that we snapped into action and instantly changed everything, but it took us a few months to really make changes. It took  time to get used to living a more minimal lifestyle, but we were able to make it work.

When I was working I was only making between $800 and $1,000 a month due to the nature of my job, that depended on billable hours only (case manager). Still, I suddenly had to figure out ways to reduce my expenses monthly in order to compensate for the loss of income.

Saving Money

Since I needed to cut expenses I had to save money. I started doing research and learned how to really save money. Here is what I did:

  • Started a Budget
    • My husband and I sat down and figured out how much money we could spend on groceries, entertainment, etc. This is really important because before we were not paying attention to where out money was going. Budgets are important because it is so easy to spend money and not realize where the money is going. Once you understand what you are wasting money on, you can work on fixing it. You can’t fix your problems if you don’t understand what they are. Keeping track of what you are spending money on, and limiting how much you can spend in each category (groceries, entertainment, etc.) will help you get spending under control.
  • Planned Meals
    • Planning meals really helped us save money. If you plan for your meals your are less likely to eat out. If you spend purposely at the grocery store you get better deals. I also had to break bad grocery store habits. Check out this article about how to break bad grocery store habits.
  • Packed Lunches, and Avoided Convenience Foods
    • Now that I wasn’t working there was no reason for me to eat out, or grab convenience foods. We saved a lot of money, since I was spending $2 to $5 a day on these things. I had extra time so I began making lunches everyday for my husband to bring to work. He was spending $5 to $10 a day eating lunch out! At a minimum that’s $140 a month!
  • Saved Money on Gas
    • I wasn’t driving very much anymore, so we started saving so much money on gas. When I was working, I had to fill my tank once a week, since I had to drive to meet clients. I did not get tax compensation for this due to the tax bracket we are in. All the gas money came out of our pockets. Now, I only fill up once a month. I make my shopping trips purposeful and try to only drive my car when necessary. This saves us a lot of money!
  • Saved Money on Clothing and Beauty Products
    • I no longer needed to dress up everyday, so I stopped purchasing clothing as frequently. I also found myself going through beauty products less. My husband started purchasing clothing at thrift stores more frequently, and we learned to cut back on unnecessary expenses.
  • Started a Stockpile, Bought in Bulk
    • I now had extra time to do research, so I was able to start learning how to coupon. I started a stockpile and have been able to maintain it. I also started shopping sales, and purchasing bulk items. We bought an extra freezer (on sale of course), so I can freeze meat and cheese when I find excellent deals. There is a huge learning curve to couponing and stockpile techniques, and I have made a lot of mistakes. Eventually I stopped extreme couponing because I learned it wasn’t worth my time. Now I casual coupon, and use other methods to save money at the grocery store. That is another story. Here is an article about what I have learned about stockpiling!
  • Learned How to Say No to Myself
    • I was used to purchasing pretty much whatever I wanted. Although I am still very blessed and have so many wonderful things, I learned how to say no to myself. I really think about something before purchasing it. I realized I didn’t need more costume jewelry or purses (even if they were so cute). I stopped purchasing media (books, movies, music, T.V.  shows) and started using the library. It was a little adjustment, but I am much happier.
  • Stopped Going Out as Much
    • I am not saying we never go out. Life is a balance and you still need to enjoy yourself. We just stopped going out as much. We used to eat out several times a week, that dropped down to once a week, if that. We also choose places that are cost effective. Instead of going out to movies on the weekend, we stay home and watch movies through our streaming services. Our town is lucky enough to have “cheap seats” that only charge $1 admission on Tuesdays, so we still get to go out occasionally for a great price! I have also learned how to cook many of my favorite restaurant style dishes, so I can still have amazing food, but for a fraction of the cost!
  • Saved Money on Car Repairs
    • Since we have two cars, and only one of us is working, having a car out of commission isn’t the worst thing in the world. My husband is fairly good at fixing cars, but it takes him awhile to do it. Since we don’t have the pressure to “need” both cars, he can take the time and make many repairs himself. Of course, he doesn’t have the tools to fix every problem, but he can at least figure out what the problem is. We have saved thousands of dollars over the past two years doing our own car repairs and maintenance!
  • Saved Money on Utilities
    • I started to become more conscientious about the energy I was using. One black friday a store had LED light bulbs on sale for $0.99 a piece. We decided to invest $30 and change out all of our light bulbs. We also bought foam inserts to put behind each electrical outlet and light switch. Since making these changes our energy bill decreased significantly.  That small investment paid for itself many times over!
  • Saved Money on Pet Supplies
    • We love are dogs and were feeding them the highest quality dog food, and the best treats. Since they were over two years old, and really healthy, we chose to purchase a less expensive dog food. We also started ordering all of their treats and toys online for a fraction of the cost. This has saved us money over time, and our dogs are still healthy and happy. We still make sure our dogs complete annual physicals and the vet tells us they are really healthy, even though they are on less expensive dog food!
Making Money

In addition to saving money, I wanted to try to make extra money on the side. Here is what I tried, and how it worked out:

  • Sold Stuff We Didn’t Use
    • I went through all of the stuff in our house, and either sold or gave away things we hadn’t used in that year. I kept things that were sentimental or that we could use in the foreseeable future.
  • Bought and Resold Items
    • This was the most successful way I made extra income. I have an “eye” for deals. I was able to obtain items and sell them for a small profit. I also discovered a local auction house and got really nice things for super cheap. I once got a painting worth over $1,500 for $9 (I kept it). I spent a lot of time going to auctions and scouting deals. It ended up being totally worth it. My husband and I have spent hours and hours at various auctions. Once we would purchase an item, there was no guarantee it would work. The downside is that we have paid for items that were essentially worthless, or that wouldn’t sell. It also takes a lot of time hauling, cleaning, storing, than selling the items. We are lucky because we have extra room in our house, but the amount of stuff we accumulated became overwhelming. I would do it again if I was desperate for money, but decided to take a break from it for awhile. Here is where and how we sold our used items:
      • EBay
        • If we found niche items, electronics, or specialty items we would sell them on EBay. The problem is, we often lost money on shipping costs. EBay became really tedious and not profitable enough to make it worth it for us.
      • Craigslist
        • If we had furniture we would list on Craigslist. Please, if you use Craigslist use safety precautions. I found people don’t use Craigslist as much as they used to.
      • Facebook selling groups
        • This is my favorite way to sell used items. My area has many local Facebook selling groups that I can list in. Things went pretty quickly, and I learned the art of selling on Facebook. Read about how I did it here. 
      • Garage Sales
        • We had two really successful garage sales in the last two years! Last year 50% of our stuff sold within the first 3 hours. Read about how I had such a successful garage sale here.
  • Surveys
    • I tried to do surveys for money. I spent a few hours a day completing surveys. I tried at least 10 different survey companies like; Vindale Research, IPoll, My Survey, Zoom Panel plus many more. After trying different ones, I stuck with Zoom Panel, since they gave points for not qualifying for surveys. The thing that was annoying is that I didn’t qualify for 70% of the surveys I tried to do. I think it was because I don’t have children, and many surveys are geared at marketing to families. I spent two months doing surveys everyday and only ended up with $100 in gift cards. I decided there are better things I can do with my time (like write a blog).
  • Contests
    • I heard that some people make their living by entering contests online. I did research and decided to try it. I was careful to enter only legitimate contests (you have to be cautious because of all the spam). I would enter at least 25 to 50 contests a day. It was pretty easy, but my friends probably got sick of me “sharing” these contests so frequently on social media. I started getting tons of emails and found it tedious keeping track of everything I entered. I did win a few things here and there, but nothing substantial. I still enter contests occasionally, but only if it is something I would really like (and it is convenient to enter). Otherwise, I figured my time would be better invested somewhere else.
  • Cash Back
    • Yes, I have paid interest on credit card balances, but very little. After I quit my job, we paid interest for a few months, but then was able to pay off the balance in full. We still use credit cards because we have made so much money. In fact, we make about $50 to $75 a month. In the last ten years we have paid $800 in interest to credit cards, but made over $9,000 in cash back. Read about how we do it here. (Only use credit cards responsibly, they are not for everyone).
  • Roommate
    • We tried making extra money by having a roommate to help with some of the utility costs. Unfortunately this did not work out for us. We ended up losing money, and overall it was not worth it. We both really enjoy our privacy so we felt uncomfortable most of the time. While some people do not mind having a roommate, we value our space and privacy too much. We most likely will not do this again, unless we have family in need!
  • Blogging
    • I currently am not making revenue blogging. It is something I am working towards. I know it takes a lot of work and time, but I really have a passion to help others. It is not just about money for me, I really want to help others have financial freedom. My goal is to eventually make some revenue, mostly just to cover expenses and alleviate some the financial pressure that is on my husband.

We Were Doing Better Financially within Six Months on One Income Instead of Two!

We made so many changes, within six months we were doing better financially than when I was working! I actually figured out ways to save more month every month than what I was earning. Things started to turn around quickly.

Our messy finances started falling into place, and we started paying off debt, quicker than we could have imagined. We did a lot of research and came up with a plan that works for us.

Two years ago we had: credit card debt, medical bills, two car payments, student loan debt, and a mortgage. Now we only have student loan debt (less than before) and a mortgage! We have come a long way, and I am happy with our progress.

Choose Your Own Path

How I quit job and paid more debt than I could have dreamed of!

When I quit my job I experienced a lot of judgement. People thought that because I am educated, and perfectly capable of working, that I should work a traditional job. Although it is difficult and painful being judged, I decided I needed to create my own path (with my husband’s support, of course). It has been challenging and even scary at times, but both my husband and I are reaching our goals so we can live our dreams.

I believe anyone can do what they want to do if they work for it. I was in a unique situation, and was able to make it work. I had to give up a lot of things and work hard in order to turn my financial situation around. It was not easy, and I spent many sleepless nights trying to figure out how to manage everything. I was lucky because I have a partner that was really supportive and helped me figure everything out.

If you are Not Happy Start Working Towards Your Happiness

If you hate your job, and are miserable start making changes! It is easy to become comfortable, but it doesn’t always equal happiness. Take time to figure out what you want and work towards it. You may not be able to quit your job, but you could find a different one that makes you happy. Maybe you could work part time, and spend more time doing things you love.

The important thing is that life is too short to be miserable. If you are struggling financially you need to start making changes. It is painful at first, but worth it in the long run.

My husband and I continue to live frugally, but we have a balanced lifestyle. We “splurge” once in awhile and have a nice evening out. We also make the most of our time together and do fun things that don’t cost a lot of money. We are enjoying life more, and feel more financially secure. We still have a ways to go in our journey to be debt free, but we are well on the way!

Why I Started This Blog

I have learned so much over the past two years, and really want to share my story with everyone that will listen. I believe everyone can be financially secure and debt free if they work towards it. I really want to help and encourage others to stay on track.

I also believe every person thinks and understands the world differently. I want people to creatively solve financial problems, and think out of the box. Finances can seem boring, and technical, so I wanted a way to present personal finance in a fun, creative way.

I really want to help people get out of debt, so they can experience life to the fullest. If you ever have any questions, concerns, or problems feel free to contact me anytime. I would love to hear from you, and get to know your story, dreams, goals, and problems. You can email me anytime here.

I am also really active on social media. Please interact with either my Facebook or Twitter! I am on both frequently and would love to get to know you and your situation!

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Here is a guide on how I was able to quit my job and pay more debt than I could have dreamed of
I was able to quit my job and we paid more debt than we could have imagined

23 thoughts on “How Quitting My Job Helped Us Pay Off More Debt Then We Could Have Dreamed Of

  • March 9, 2017 at 8:15 am
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    Hey Casey, I really enjoyed your post. It often does take a crisis to shake up our thinking and make us realise how much we are wasting. I know that work was responsible for a lot of our poor food purchases in the past though I work hard to avoid this. Glad you can enjoy being at home!

    Reply
    • March 9, 2017 at 8:18 am
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      Thanks! I’m still working and busy just in a different way! Yes food costs can really affect the budget! It is so hard to regulate when you are tired and stressed!

      Reply
  • March 9, 2017 at 8:52 am
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    Thanks for sharing your story! I’m a SAHM so it’s very important for me to know how to save money. You have many excellent tips! Cooking at home instead of eating out makes such a huge difference!

    Reply
    • March 9, 2017 at 8:55 am
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      Even cutting out little expenses can help save a ton! Thanks for the comment!

      Reply
  • March 9, 2017 at 1:15 pm
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    Amazing article Casey. Very nicely presented and its worth reading. Loved you ideas and thoughts. Keep up the good work. 😀

    Reply
    • March 9, 2017 at 1:18 pm
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      Thanks so much ? I really appreciate the feedback and I hope it is helpful!

      Reply
  • March 10, 2017 at 8:21 am
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    Wow! Great article! Filled with the great ideas and tips. You’ve done a lot of research and 8 know personally how you have managed your finances. Great job. I’m very proud of you!

    Reply
    • March 10, 2017 at 8:22 am
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      Thanks for the support and encouragement ?

      Reply
  • March 10, 2017 at 9:23 am
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    Casey, there are so many great ideas on how to stretch our dollar in this post. Good for you for turning your financial situation around. Thanks for sharing all those helpful tips!

    Reply
    • March 10, 2017 at 9:39 am
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      Thanks! I’m glad you liked it! I really want to help people save money so they can live the life they want!

      Reply
  • March 10, 2017 at 9:54 pm
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    I tried surveys once as well, and I don’t understand how people make meaningful money on them! I also have a roommate, and that helps a lot. I had two short term ones and one was a bit overwhelming because she was super chatty all the time so I lacked some privacy, but the rest since have been wonderful. It’s so important to weigh the value of your privacy with the income of a roommate!

    Reply
    • March 10, 2017 at 11:40 pm
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      I’m not sure how people make money from surveys either! I think some companies will give you a bonus if you recruit others? I think that’s how some people make money, by convincing others doing surveys is profitable lol! Having a roommate was very stressful, especially since it was in a house we own and this person was not respectful of our property! It was a mess! Anyways, thanks for the comment!

      Reply
  • March 11, 2017 at 2:47 am
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    You have so many helpful tips here! My hubby and I used to have shopping “dates” at the grocery store on double coupon days to try and get our bill the lowest we could and we would spend hours cutting out all the coupons from the newspaper. I couldn’t believe how much we could save. I don’t think they have that anymore but I still google coupons when I’m in line at some stores just in case. Personal finance is so hard to talk about, I’m glad you are sharing. Thanks!

    Reply
    • March 11, 2017 at 2:54 am
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      Thanks! I know you can save a ton of money couponing, but it takes so much time! I now only casual coupon and use in store apps. Personal finance is tough but so important! Thanks for the comment!

      Reply
  • March 11, 2017 at 9:34 pm
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    Great progress on your journey to debt-free! The money saved by eliminating a commute (gas and wear & tear on the car) is worth switching to closer job, remote job, or not that job!

    Reply
    • March 11, 2017 at 9:38 pm
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      Agreed! Plus the extra time not spent driving is worth it! You need to make most of the time you have! Thanks for the comment!

      Reply
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    • June 28, 2017 at 12:49 am
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      Thank you! I am glad you enjoyed the article! I love Spain you are lucky you live there!

      Reply
  • September 3, 2017 at 3:37 pm
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    Brilliant – that was a fantastic read thank you so much for sharing and congratulations on getting to the much healthier (financial and otherwise) point you are at now. It’s a massive achievement. I switched careers a few years ago and am making slightly less than I was, however simple living a frugality have helped me so much towards my financial goals. I am saving twice as much money as I used to. Thanks for the inspiration and keep up the great work!

    Reply
    • September 12, 2017 at 7:06 am
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      That’s awesome you are saving so much money! What did you give up or do to save so much money?

      Reply

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