The Secret to Getting Out of Debt: Forget Snowballs and Interest Rates

I was in debt for nearly ten years, and for ten years I tried every debt elimination method known to mankind. I was like the overweight person who has tried every diet, but years later finds themselves more overweight than when they started.

The last two years of my personal journey to debt freedom something finally clicked. It didn’t matter how I ordered my debts, how many half payments I made, how many times I transferred balances from card to card chasing a lower rate, or how many times I consolidated my credit card balances. The only thing that was going to get me out of debt was boosting my income.

The 70-Hour Workweek

If you don’t do something radical to improve your income, you will be in debt forever. I hate to break that news to those still in debt who spend their nights creating elaborate repayment plans while dropping Netflix memberships to create an extra $15 to throw towards a $37,000 credit card balance. That’s like trying to dip out the ocean with a teaspoon. You obviously need a much bigger spoon.

So how does one go about increasing their income – particularly those already busting their butt 50 hours a week in a full-time job, trying to be a devoted spouse, a parent to their kids and run a household? The answer:  more work.

For a short period of time you need to find more work. Easier said than done, particularly in an economy where unemployment is high and even part-time jobs are scarce. I started my final push to debt freedom in December 2007, so I understand just how bad timing can be. But you can’t use the broader economy as your excuse to staying in debt, limiting your opportunities and stifling your dreams of financial independence.

Exactly what am I saying here? I’m saying you need to work another 20-30 hours a week earning money for the sole purpose of repaying debt. I don’t care what you do (as long as it is legal), but maximize those 20-30 hours to earn as much as possible.

Part-time retail work at minimum wage may not be the answer. Starting your own business may require capital – something you probably don’t have much of if you are in debt. At great risk of sounding like a back-of-the-magazine ad, I highly recommend considering a low-cost opportunity you can do from home. Maybe something related to your full-time gig that doesn’t conflict with your full-time gig.

If you are a teacher, consider tutoring at night and on the weekends. If you are a programmer, consider doing some freelance work. If you like doing yard work, offer to mow lawns for friends and neighbors. And no matter what you decide, start a blog and write about it – landscaping, programming, child care, pet sitting, delivering pizza – all interesting topics that you can develop into an interesting blog if you put your personal touch on it.

I was interested in finance and frugality. I used to work in the financial industry. I also enjoyed writing. It only seemed natural to declare my side hustle writing about finances (after mowing lawns and part-time work wasn’t yielding enough money to make significant dents in our debts).

Idle Hands are Useless at Paying Off Debt

So that’s not quite how the saying goes, but comparing debt to the devil’s workshop was a stretch (then again, maybe not). The point is that while you are sleeping in, watching television, or “just relaxing,” you are essentially wasting time that could be spent developing a second income stream to pay off debt.

I know you work hard, and you have a family, and you deserve a break. You can rest after you are debt free. For now, you need to work.

After starting Frugal Dad, I made a goal to get up every morning at 4:30am to answer emails, comment on other blogs, write new content, research and do anything else I could do to help build my blog before heading off to my full-time job. Those three hours each weekday morning were some of the most productive times of my life. I was completely focused on my mission.

On lunch breaks, I carried a memo pad and pen and brainstormed ideas for topics. At night, after the kids were in bed, I set things up for the next day, reviewed daily statistics, etc. On the weekend, I carved out a few hours dedicated to trying to get ahead for the next week. I banked a couple posts, cleared my inbox and read 20 other blogs in the personal finance niche to stay current.

It wasn’t easy. My first month blogging I earned $33.88 – that’s only a fraction more than a dollar a day. But I pushed ahead. In six months, I had earned a total of $4,600 (after taxes) to go towards debt repayment. Now I was getting somewhere.

I stayed at it for two more years from that point, and my family just recently celebrated debt freedom. I can’t say it was easy. There were a couple times I wanted to quit. There were many setbacks. There were more than a couple times we were tested with a medical emergency, or something breaking, but we just refused to stop until we got back to zero.

Snowballs, Interest Rates and Spending are Still Important

The order you pay back your debts with the money you earn from your 70-hour workweek is still important. And of course, if you don’t reduce, or at least hold firm, your spending, you will simply spend all this new money and remain in debt (I like to describe this as running faster on the treadmill while someone increases the speed – you’ll sweat a lot harder, but get nowhere).

There are risks associated with working a 70-hour workweek. It puts a strain on your physical health. Relationships may be strained as well. Your social aptitude will suffer. You won’t have a clue who won American Idol, that Lost is finally over, or who’s playing in the Superbowl. It’s alright; you can catch up later and you can always use an Amazon Kindle to quickly catch up on the way to and from work.

Despite the risks, the rewards are 100% worth the effort. Since paying off our credit card and school debts, my wife and I have felt more freedom to enjoy life than any point in our 12-year marriage.

We were able to buy our first home (and now we’ll work to pay off our mortgage early, though not quite as hard). We own our cars free and clear. We have an emergency fund for the first time in our lives. We are beginning to learn about investing and savings products that we could never afford. And most importantly, we have options.

Debt has a way of trapping you – in bad jobs, in bad relationships, in bad locations. It’s a suffocating financial cancer that eats away at your future dollars, and your current enjoyment. It adds immeasurable risk to your life. It is not to be ignored for another moment.

You simply cannot win, financially, while you keep debt around. Draw a line in the sand today – no more new debt…ever. Make a plan to boost your income. Make a plan to reduce your expenses. Throw every single extra dollar that comes into your life towards that debt. You aren’t throwing it away, you are investing it in your financial future.


  1. Love your site and love this post. I am just beginning to take a look at increasing my income and earning some on line. Going back to school to increase my income as well. I know that is an investment in me. Thanks so much for getting up at 4:30 am and inspiring me today.

  2. Hi and thanks for your post.
    One question: you suggest a 70 hour work week, but then you also say the first month you were able to earn 34$ from blogging. Despite the fact the two are not mutually exclusive, how did you get to earn from blogging? What strategies did you use to make an income out of that? (If I can dare to ask…)

  3. I think the key to working 80+ hours a week is to vary your jobs. Doing one job for that many hours is a lot more draining than doing one job 40 hours and then bartending on the weekends. The waiter/bartender route is work but it’s also social and it’s different than being on a computer all day.

    You DO get used to working a lot of hours. I think it’s definitely harder if you have kids that miss you, but remember, it’s temporary. I’ve worked with one woman who worked 80 hours a week because she was like $80K in credit card debt. She was making insane progress. She was on track to pay everything off in 2 years. It was inspiring.

  4. I think the essence of your post can apply to other facets of life as well. Sometimes, big problems require radical change. If you are real overweight you need to work hard to change it, not just drop a soda a day. I think sometimes people think small changes can make a major impact, and it doesn’t always work that way.

    Do you still get up at 4:30 everyday? Are you still working as many hours?

    I have said this before: Being frugal will only get you so far, as you can only cut so many expenses. However, income potential is unlimited. Which is the better route to make a big difference???

    • No, I now sleep in until 6:00-6:30 (sometimes later!), but I still work about 15-20 hours a week keeping the site going. Most of that time is scattered around the evenings after the kids are in bed and the house in quiet.

      You bring up a good point – it’s important to recognize when you reach your goal to take your foot off the accelerator. It is tempting to continue working a frenzied pace to build savings, etc, but restoring balance in your life is more important. Besides, with no debt payments, those savings will increase soon enough.

  5. A very inspiring post & so true. Sometimes I do get tired of working those extra hours & just want to say “the heck with it!” But then I think about why I am doing this and why my husband is taking odd-jobs on the weekends and I get going again.

  6. A very inspiring post and reminds me why I did start a small side business this year – boost the income so I could pay off debt. And taking it a step farther of growing the small business into a full-time job that I can enjoy in a few years time!

  7. That must have been infinitely more difficult as a single parent. I am blessed to have the full support of my wife. I remember growing up, my mom worked long hours to keep our heads above water and I’d spend evenings with my grandparents. Of course, at the time I felt a little slighted, but as a I grew older I realized my mom made incredible sacrifice to raise me on her own.

  8. Excellent post. Hard work is the quickest way to debt freedom. I’ve seen great results from working my second job as a pizza delivery dude. I’m working a ton of overtime hours in my first job too, which is really helping the cause. Although working from 2a-3p may seem crazy to some, when you are highly motivated to destroy debt is becomes easy. The only really tough day is Friday job 1 from 2a-3p then job 2 from 5p-1a and then Saturday job 1 from 2a-3p and job 2 from 5p-1a. As you stated above, I’ll have plenty of time to sleep when I’m either our of debt or dead :-)

    Great job Jason, you are an inspiration to the rest of use still digging our way out of debt.

  9. Great post. I often roll my eyes at comments I read from folks who complain about not being able to get out of debt due to being a single income family, just not making enough money or whatever. Who ever said getting out of debt was easy? It likely won’t be nearly as much fun as it was racking up the debt on stuff you couldn’t actually afford. If your primary job doesn’t pay enough to whack down the debt get an extra PT job, even for a few months. If you are home with your kids all day, there’s no reason you can’t be earning money in the evening or on the weekends.

    I know I’ll take some heat for saying this but the one that always grates on my nerves is the stay at home parent who complains about how difficult it is to get out of debt. Yes having a parent at home with the kids is wonderful. That doesn’t meant that the parent staying home all day can’t have a PT job every evening or weekend when the other parent is home. Correct me if I’m wrong here, but being a stay at home parent means always having a parent available and not sending them off to day care. So why do you both need to be home in the evening? It kind of implies that the SAH parent thinks the other parent isn’t up to being in charge in the evening. In addition to the extra cash even a PT job would earn, it would probably be really good to maintain connections with other aduts when surrounded by your children all day. Being a stay at home parent doesn’t have to mean you’re with your children 24/7. In fact if you’re never apart it means the other parent doesn’t get any quality 1 on 1 time with the children.

    A one income family means a parent is always there for the kids, but let’s face it, it’s a riskier lifestyle financially. Having all your eggs in one basket means you’d better have a reeeeally great emergency fund. A lay off in a dual income household is tramatic enough but at least there is still income coming in. Having the only source of income suddenly vanish put everyone in jeopardy.

    • Wow. Jenn, you are really on your soapbox about stay at home parents. Wonder why you didn’t bash the two income families that have debt up to their eyeballs because they are so greedy in their consumerism. Your point of view is very jaded—and off base.

      • Agreed! My pet peeve is hearing how two income families are struggling to make ends meet with their fancy cars and big houses.

        Though I sort of agree with Jenn too. I think it’s ridiculous for the stay at home parent to work “every evening and weekend” (seems to me they’re doing that already), but I know some parents of young kids who started their own small businesses (or did freelancing work) when they had the chance. Very flexible hours, they get to be their own boss, earn a decent wage and keep some career momentum.

        • My first two years of homeschooling I also ran a part time dayhome and put all my earnings toward my student loans. This was exhausting but was still worth it. Once those two years were up, my husband’s salary had increased enough to continue paying down the student loans without the extra income. We are a single income family with no debt apart from our mortgage which we’re making extra payments on; we do have an emergency fund. My husband is a teacher and also refs on the side to make some extra $ for the family. If he didn’t ref and coach then I might continue bringing in some extra $. It is the single income homeschool families that I personally know who live within their means though it can be a struggle while the dual income families I know tend to be more focused on buying toys and “stuff”. I realize this is a generalization, however.

          • I’m a 2 income family and do it because I’m paranoid about one of us getting laid off. I’m also in a field that I can’t exit and enter very easily..(engineering).

            Regarding why SAHM’s don’t work nights/weekends. My opinion for what it’s worth is that many of the families I know in this situation really split up the duties where dad =work and mom does EVERYTHING regarding the kids + housework. Some of the guys I know are so hands off they don’t even know where their kid’s pj’s are. Yeah, they play with their kids, but ask them where the children’s motrin is and they look at you as if you have 5 heads.

            I don’t mind SAHM’s worrying about money..heck I do it with 2 incomes. What I do mind is when they assume I’m sacrificing my children’s well being because I work. I’m not shy to tell these people that my home day care provider has been raising kids for almost 30 years. My kids love her like family and she’s so much more organized than I would ever be. I’d be interested if there are any statistics about whether dual income kids are somehow worse off as so many people assume.

    • I agree that families that have a stay-at-home parent need to have great emergency fund, but all the ones I know do and are more fiscally responsible than the dual-income couples I know.

      My husband and I are DINK’s (dual-income, no kids)…we make headway on our savings goals and debt repayment (car loan and mortgage) faster than people we know because we live on one salary and save the other. BUT, most of our DINK friends are actually doing worse than the two families I know that have a SAH mom…mainly because they spend more than they earn and the SAH moms’ families don’t. That’s all that matters – spend less than you earn…not whether both adults work or not…

  10. Wow, makes me happy all I have to worry about is a car loan and a school loan.

    I do regret the car loan sometimes, but it beats not having reliable transportation.

    Inspirational post.

  11. This is a great post and one that hits at the crux of the problem with debt repayment. Even if you stop buying stuff on credit, and cut back on other expenses, most people can’t get out of serious debt on their present income.

    Of course, the reality today is so many people cannot get even one job, let alone two or more. And the other issue is the physical aspect: Some folks in their 50s or 60s, are not physically able to work at certain jobs (standing on your feet) or work more than X number of hours. It’s not about being slackers.

    If someone had told us in our 20s what the real cost of debt was, as we are now hearing from so many others and financial bloggers, if we were truly educated about money (which people today still aren’t, for the most part), imagine the difference in our choices.

    Most people I know would gladly work extra jobs if they could find them to save and to get out of debt.

    It’s truly great that so many people can be entrepreneurs but the reality is that the average person doesn’t have the ideas that can generate an online income. Again, we know plenty of people who have committed a lot of time to good ideas but simply could not make it work online. (Online was their only option when the offline world offered no work.)

    What we need today is a radical change in the educational system at all levels and increased emphasis on job training and retraining throughout our entire work life. You can’t work 70 hours a week no matter what age (as many have done) and still have time to explore new job markets, learn new skills and network for jobs…beyond who you already interact with.

    It’s a very very different world out there. Even young kids who are real hustlers are having great difficulty. People need to create jobs, and frankly, very few people who make their living online, via blogging, employ others. We needed businesses of all sizes to hire people and more than that be open to folks of all ages and to invest in training if necessary.

    Everyone wants the person who walks thru the door to know everything. That doesn’t work for most jobs and smart hiring involves realizing that you need more than someone with a set skill set and that you can teach people who otherwise have great abilities and potential. The whole hiring process is really bad today, which is a huge part of why good, talented people don’t have jobs. (HR departments are the worst obstacles to good hiring. IMHO and not just me.)

  12. This has to be one of the best articles I’ve ever read on how to get out of debt and I do it for a living! I’m passing this article on to my clients.

  13. Wow. This is the kick in the butt I needed. Were you speaking to me in this post? ;-)

    I’ve been thinking long and hard lately about our expenses and came to the conclusion that there isn’t much more I could do. I don’t really want to spend hours making my own laundry detergent to save a couple bucks. It’s just not worth it to me. However, I do have several other avenues I can pursue to get my income up. Heck, it may even allow me to stop working at the job I currently have.

    I just want to do what makes me happy. If sacrificing 70+ hours a week gets me to that place sooner, I’m all for it.

  14. wat a lovely article…. i wish lot of ppl read and follows ur idea..i had a crunch time long while back and sleepless nights. but sticking to goal of paying off debt asap and saving for rainy days has put me in a great possition
    i now save and invest a lot…i have got in habit of saving and the returns from that gives me a lot of pleasure.
    start saving early for realy realy great time for later so u can spend that money later..
    but if u never save u will never have money to spend…..not now, not later. never ever

  15. I enjoyed reading this post and the responses that followed. To Sarah, I have to agree being a woman in my early 50′s is a big reality check when it comes to working 70 hour weeks. However I do think that some tweaking regarding the extra hours and the type of job would help make this idea work. I was working almost 70 hours a week for 3 years(this ended 2 years ago)and because I did not change my spending I wasted most of this opportunity and my health suffered as result of the excessive hours. I am now at home caring for my granddaughter, working successfully on my spending issues with a therapist and enjoying a simpler lifestyle.Your post does inspire me as I think there is some reasonable amount of time that could be beneficial to put toward working an extra job to help with my retirement fund.

  16. I guess I am the lone dissenter here. I think people need to be very careful about what they’re sacrificing when they commit to all those extra hours. When it comes to your health and relationships, you don’t always get a chance to “catch up.” You can damage your body so slowly you won’t notice it until later on. I learned the hard way that you can’t buy back your good health.

    And as for relationships, life goes on for everyone else — the difference is you’re not there, or you might be so tired and grouchy that you might as well not be there. Either way, if you’re not careful the message you’re sending is that money and work is your top priority.

    I’m not saying earning more income is a bad thing, but perhaps all things in moderation? Find something manageable, and listen to your body and the people around you to make sure your strategy is working.

    • I totally agree that we don’t want to sacrifice our family or marriage relationship in the process. But if it is a ‘short-term’ sacrifice it can work if both parties are in agreement. I think the physical and emotional factors/stressors should be seriously considered in making a commitment to increase work hours. I have seen friends decide to go back to work to ‘help the budget’ but ended up loving the extra income and putting it towards eating out, nicer clothes, trips, etc. So you have to pretty determined, I guess, to apply all extra $ to debt reduction if this is, indeed, the goal.

  17. Having a bigger income shovel works! As as I said above in a specific reply, Mr. BFS and I only have $3600 left on a car loan and $70,000 left on a mortgage. We don’t have kids yet, so we live and pay off debt on his income and save mine for all our different goals, especially early retirement.

    This works great, but the car loan only started taking big hits when Mr. BFS started sports officiating in the evenings for high school football and basketball. I was hoping my blog would also lend a hand, but I obviously am missing something as I’ve “only” made about $600 in 4 1/2 months (if you ever need anything that I can help with, I’ll trade you for your blog income knowledge, lol). Any ideas how I could make $4000 in the next month and a half? That would be awesome. :-)

    Seriously though, making more money to apply to whatever goal you have is always a great choice. Saving and cutting back can only take you so far.

  18. Well said, and just what I need to hear. My blog has been collecting dust for far to long! It’s such a good reminder to hear about the dedication it takes to make it work. 70-hour weeks sound brutal, but there really is no way to get rich quick.

  19. great tips, and it just shows that it is possible to pay off your debt through hard working and smart budgeting. i took on a second job over the past few months for an extra 20hrs per week so i could pay off the car loan i had. it worked, and while the hours were long and i was exhausted everyday it definitely was worth it!
    Preferred Financial Services Blog

  20. I’m stuck temporarily in a lousy job in the health care field. Its good as a second job, though. I say temporarily, because our homeschooled family eight years ago decided to buy land and build our home after selling our first. It’s a very modest house, but just what we wanted– a timber frame in an old English style. Before we started, I was a free-lance artist. I’m planning on starting it up again, right after I finish the last ten feet of chimney.

    My job in Maine is paying to train me as a PSS (Personal Support Specialist). Every worker in the health care field in Maine and several other states are required to have this training. Many Africans are entering the US, settling in Portland and getting this training. You can work for an agency or for yourself as long as you can find a way to be paid (if outside of an agency). My daughters who will probably help us out in our later years as we opt to stay at home, should get this training so she can be paid to care for us.

  21. “Debt has a way of trapping you – in bad jobs, in bad relationships, in bad locations. It’s a suffocating financial cancer that eats away at your future dollars, and your current enjoyment. It adds immeasurable risk to your life. It is not to be ignored for another moment.

    You simply cannot win, financially, while you keep debt around. Draw a line in the sand today – no more new debt…ever. Make a plan to boost your income. Make a plan to reduce your expenses. Throw every single extra dollar that comes into your life towards that debt. You aren’t throwing it away, you are investing it in your financial future.” <<<—GENIUS!

    • I started Frugal Dad for less than $50 – that included a $5 canned template which I learned to modify myself, the domain name and some logo work from a friend of mine who was at the time starting up his own design service.

      My expenses have basically stayed the same. I’ve upgraded my theme and logo recently, and had to upgrade hosting a time or two, but other than that my expenses are very low. I’m a frugal business owner, too.

  22. You’re right. Idle hands do not pay off debt. I used to work two jobs just to stay afloat (but piling up debt was not an option for me. I kept things paid off). The problem was that when I worked two jobs, I had no time to enjoy the extra money, leaving me unhappy. When I quit the second job, I had extra time and no money to spend doing stuff. There was no happy median. For me, cutting back expenses and accepting a lower standard of living was the trick. Now I use my extra time doing free stuff and go out to earn the extra money just when I need it. Lazy Man did a good post on this recently!

  23. Alex, once I had a small audience established, and was moving up the ranking of the search engines, I investigated hosting advertisements as a way to monetize my content. I wish I could say I was savvy enough to have planned it all along, but honestly, I sort of stumbled into it after I realized others were making money from their blogs.

    Prior to that revelation, my only income from writing came from farming out content elsewhere, or the occasional magazine/freelance writing gig.

  24. Nice inspiration post. I have been thinking about getting a part time job for after work, maybe as a waiter somewhere. It’s not in my field (IT) but it’s relatively stress free and you can make some decent money.

    I would also like to turn blogging into a second job. I guess that’s possible, but I need a lot more work!

  25. So… when you mention blogging in the post, you mean, right? your first month income was 34$? WOW! That’s a lot in my opinion…

  26. Very good post! I am coming to realize this more and more lately. I wrote a short post on whether earning money or saving money was the best way to increase your wealth. While the ultimate answer is both, earning money has FAR more potential than any saving you can do since you are limited to saving only what you have at any given time and there is no limit to the amount of income you can accrue.

    Thanks for the motivation!

  27. I agree that adding more income will definitely help to pay off debt quicker. The problem with that way of thinking though is that it does not fix the root problem that got you into debt in the first place. I also really like my free time and don’t want to give it up.

    I am a big fan of cutting expenses. When I say cut expenses, I don’t just mean change your cell plan to a lower one. All expenses must be reduced or eliminated. There are so many things that people feel are needs, when they really are not. Here is a list:
    My biggest gripe is cell phones. Cell phones have really only been mainstream for 12-15 years. A cell phone is not a need, it is a want. Cancel it and use an IP phone like Skype or Magic Jack. That will save you probably $50-100 a month or more.
    Cable television is another biggie. Cancel and watch tv and movies on the internet for free through Hulu and the like. There is another $50. Better yet, get rid of your TV. The library is free. (Well it doesn’t cost anything extra above the taxes you pay)
    Stop going out to eat. Learn how to cook from scratch.
    Downsize your house/apartment.
    Get rid of your car and use public transportation, a bike or walk. Exercising more will also improve your health.

    Some of these things may sound extreme, but time is something you cannot get back. Spend more time doing the things you enjoy.

    When you boil it down to what you need, the list is not very long:

  28. You flat out nailed it! As of last August 2009 I was $38,000 down in credit card debt. Something snapped and I said “enough”! I took on a night teaching job that cleared an extra $1000.00 a month. We trimmed expenses to find another $500.00 a month. I have another part time gig that yields $100.00 a pop (takes about 1 – 2 hours per). I’ve been averaging 4 -5 hits a week. As of today I will be writing my last check of $3000 to the credit card company. Next up, two car loans to pay off. Then I’ll address the mortgage. Oddly, working all the hours (always 80+ each week) has not been too brutal, I think it’s because of the HUGE reduction in stress that debt elimination creates. When you’re sending in $3,000 plus each month you blow through these bills. It’s extremely satisfying. As a side note I do like Dave Ramsey’s approach of bangin’ out the small ones first so you get the emotional high of puttin’ these things to bed quickly.

  29. yes make more money and control expenses, i had almost a decade of experience swimming in consumer debt too….you nailed it!!

  30. My blog only earns .02 cents some days but I have started it and will continue in this way. Turn off the tv and if you have to offer to do things for free (allowing your employeer to give you just a tip anything that they can afford) You will have so many jobs you will have to put folks into a que so that you can handle them fairly.
    20 years of this type of living leaves you zero debt and a nice fat retirement !
    I don’t know the movies others have watched but I will catch up from the comfort of my retirement seat!

    • You may only be earning a small amount now, but it looks like you’re putting together some great content over at Glossy Money. I’ve enjoyed reading through your archives. Keep it up!

  31. Frugal Dad,

    Extremely well put I worked 3 and 4 jobs for years. It is the only way to get ahead. David Ramsey has folks believing that on the average one income that a family can dig the way out of debt just not true. You can cut expenses only so much. For programs like Money Saving Mom that teach live below your means that might work if your husband is an attorney if hubby’s income is $45K and you have 6 kids cutting expenses all you want it just does not work but then again, some folks have family help as well.
    AARP, MSN , and USAA all agree expenses cut as far as you can go fall in around $55K for the first person (unless you have housing and transportation covered diffrently) add $20 k for each family member and yes it is give or take some but if your family does not have one line item in the budget such as extra medical , then it might be something else like added transportation cost.
    That means around 70K for two adults now if the wife stays home and starts having kids this quickly becomes an equation that does not work. Again not ever child will right away run 20K per year however, children get more expensive as they get older as we all know. We all can’t turn to Mom and Dad when we run short or turn to our church or cheat companies out of items by abusing coupons, or refuse to provide toys for our children. Expenses can be cut until we are all living under bridges but let’s be realistic.
    5 or 6 people trying to live a middle class lifestyle and living on less than the income, the numbers just don’t add up.
    Let’s do the math fast here:
    Let’s say Dad earns 60K
    minus takes (let’s say he got a great break and he only owes 6K in taxes)
    Now the family has 54K tithe around 10% ok now the family has just under 48.6k
    Savings 10% Pay yourself first now the total is around 43.7K
    Housing let’s say the family has a reasonalbe home now we fall into 22K
    This leaves the family 21.7K for everything else all year long
    Transportation let’s say this family is lucky and this falls around 8K
    Food for the family again this family is very lucky and know the value of a dollar so $6,000 covers food for the year
    Now we are at $7,700 we have not talked medical, vacations, cell phones, do the utilities run over and above the housing cost, maintenance on the home, clothing gifts, Let’s just say everything else comes in at 500 per mo for everything else. This leaves this family $1,700 for the year provided nothing goes wrong with the above and no one thing in any catagory is raised.
    This is an extremely tight budget. It does not take into account the great recession. Emergency cost, or any number of things that can and will go wrong or anything cost being raised which we know it will.

    • Jenna, I went through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace class and recall him teaching on several occasions that part of “gazelle intense” was the reality that if you had tons of debt, part of the solution was doing EXTRA work (for a time), not just rigging up a debt repayment plan on the “average income” that you were already earning. While you are getting rid of debt, doing things like saving & investing for retirement may not happen (OTHER THAN the 1K “baby emergency fund!”) til you can knock out some debt. Eventually you have room to do the things you ‘should’ have been doing all along.
      By the way, when a coupon is redeemed, the retailer gets the face value plus 8 cents or so back from the manufacturer. So they make money on the deal. The manufacturer times coupon release and pricing so that they don’t get hurt in the deal either. Just because some folks act fraudulently doesn’t mean one shouldn’t coupon any more than all of us should give up going to the store just because some folks shoplift.

    • Can’t say I agree with these figures.

      We’re a family of 5, and live comfortably on one full time income ($35000 salary plus $3500 bonus annually) and some income from odd jobs here in there. (about $200-250/month) I find this completely doable. Our mortgage is under $800 per month (1600 sq ft home), we don’t have any car payments (we set aside my hubby’s annual bonus as money to replace our existing cars when they eventually die), and I spend less than $200 a month on groceries by couponing and using cloth diapers. We have a lower utility bill than some of our friends by using power strips, green light bulbs, keeping our theromastat at 76 or 77, and line drying our laundry.

      It’s all about choices. If your willing to give up some luxuries (eating out, big houses, new cars, etc), then it’s completely possible. I may not have all the latest things, but I still feel extremely blessed.

  32. Encouraging blog post mate. I myself should look for a part time job just so I can pay off the debt that I have got into while travelling. I do not regret my travels at all as they will last a life time, but I do need some way of paying everything off.

    And now that I’ve got the travel bug, I will be more keen on trying to save up specifically for travelling. I think it will not be easier to live a much more frugal life style at home, because I can now concentrate my spendings on what I really enjoy.

    It’s great how you decided to emphasise earning money over saving money, because sometimes no matter how hard you try you will never be able to save enough money if you do not have the right income coming in.


  33. It’s great to earn extra money to pay off debt, but some (like single moms) have a hard time doing that without paying for more childcare. It’s still important to live below your means and scrape up what you can to make an extra principal payment. It will get paid off eventually if you make more than the minimum payment. An extra job will certainly get it paid faster!

  34. This is an excellent and encouraging post. especially since I have earned about $50 with my blog! I often question myself about putting too much time into it, at least I can show this post to my wife and give her hope that my hours won’t be stretched forever!

  35. I totally agree with the 70 hour work week, but with adding in the debt snowball to boot the debt melts away like butter. I have worked two full time jobs in the past to pay off my debt and the extra income works wonders. I guarantee working the extra hours is less of a hassle than getting calls from debt collectors if you can’t afford to make your payments. Do whatever you can to make extrta money and get that debt paid off.

  36. Wow. Great post. Truly inspirational stuff. I’m pretty much where you were a few years ago…working our way out of debt, trying to make extra money while not completely neglecting the people who are most important to me. It’s like walking a tightrope.

  37. Great advice and tips! I would like to hear some more tips for students. I have recently graduated and have been taking advantage of my freedom to get as much experience as I can, and in as many new places as I can. Many of my opportunities are unpaid internships. I just started one close to three weeks ago, and I’m loving it! I need to find paying work in order to reduce the stress of watching my accounts sink! However, that is still only ONE paying position. What suggestions do you have for recent graduates/ or full time students? How can we start working off our student debt and get new experiences?



  38. Thanks for the information and advise. Writing a blog about something I’m passionate about is definitely something I’ve started doing – however I have not paid it the same level of dedication that you did and can see easily why your return is so much higher than mine.

    You are lucky that your spouse supported you in your activity and endeavours – I hope that I when/if I receive a return I shall receive similar support, but regardless of if it comes or not, I realize now that it isn’t just a matter of working smarter – but also one of working harder!

  39. This is a great post, but I think it’s only one way out…

    For example, I was able to get out of debt without boosting my income.Granted, it would have been much easier and much quicker if I had increased my income, but the truth is that I already made a decent income but spent it on stupid things and never saved any of it.

    I was living beyond my means, but most of it was discretionary and I was able to do without it while I paid off the debt… the upside is that it made me reevaluate my life and as a result I know live a much simpler and happier life. :)

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