Tag Archives: Debt Free Divas

What to (Really) Expect on Your Debt-Free Journey

What’s the process really like when you’re paying off over $100k of debt? Today we get into the habits and mindset changes Toni and her family made during their debt-free journey! 

Debt-Free Journeys: Different Paths and Strategies

I love a good debt free story. I enjoy seeing others work hard to get rid of the credit card, student loans, car loans, and other debt that is weighing them down. 

I also know personal experience is not always fast or even a smooth process. For us, it began with getting on the same page with how we wanted to tackle it. Then there was the reality of the numbers. 

My husband has his first post-grate job and I had a part time internship. With time, we found our rhythm and knocked it out. 

I’ve also had quite a few episodes on this podcast and on Couple Money sharing people’s journey, including Toni Husbands.

What I loved about her story is that it wasn’t a ‘We paid off ‘$100,000 in year and half story’. 

Which in all honesty, I enjoy watching and reading too, but when that's the main narrative being shared, it’s a bit discouraging because they tend to gloss over key details. 

When you dig into the article, you can see that both are earning six figures or I’ve even seen where parents chip in for them to buy a house in an expensive city. 

My problem isn’t with those details, but the fact that it gives the false impression of how easy it is to become debt free. 

In many cases, it’s a commitment and in that journey not only are you freeing up your finances because you don’t have that debt anymore, but you’re opening up options. 

In this episode we are discussing a lot of the nuances and struggles that can come up. We’ll get into:

  • Some of the hurdles and challenges she had to overcome 
  • Which habits helped and what she would do differently
  • Opportunities that opened up now that’s she’s dumped her debt

Let’s get started! 

Resources to Dump Your Debt Faster

If you want to chat some more about creating better money habits, questions, or share your own tips please join us over at Thriving Families on Facebook.

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Note: Interview is edited for clarity and length.

Starting Your Debt Free Journey in 2022

Toni Husbands: I'm looking forward to what 2022 has to offer and how we can make the most of it.

Elle Martinez: Yeah. I'm glad you say that. Anytime we can make a change is good, but this time of year, a lot of people that's on their minds. They've hopefully had a nice winter break. They could relax their friends and family, but they're looking forward to accomplishing something, especially when it comes to finances.

I think last two years for many families has been a case of let's just tread water. Let's just not, In a worst situation. But they're ready to tackle on, especially debt. That's one of the top three goals every year.

I've had you on the podcast before, and you're like my debt expert buddy.

Toni Husbands: Right, right.

Elle Martinez: Yeah; because you've been through that. You and your husband paid off over a hundred thousand dollars of debt.

One of the things I wanted to point out, which is I find amazing, first of all, that's a huge amount, but second of all, I think you're like most people, it was not an overnight, we paid it off in 12 months story.

So for those are just listening for the first time. Do you mind kind of doing a high level review of that debt-free journey?

The Bumps and Hurdles When Becoming Debt Free

Toni Husbands: Sure. Sure. So you're exactly right. It was not an overnight process, took us seven years to do that. And that was all encompassing of creating that mindset shift.

It took us, it took us a minute. I'd say at least 12 months to even just get on the same page that we both agree that we should be doing this. And we paid off $107,000 of debt over that time, but we didn't start with that much money. Right. We didn't start with that much debt, which kind of shows you like we were making progress and then life would happen or maybe a decision would be made and we will take on more.

Then we would make progress and then something would happen or a decision will be made and then maybe some more debt was, you know, so it was kind of a, it was a rollercoaster.

So while it wasn't a straight shot from a to Z like I said, there was a lot of wind rows. There were some pauses, there was, second guessing and reflection all of that, all of that in there. But the one thing that I'm, that I'm very thankful for on this side of the experience that we didn't stop.

There's a, there's a classic quote. Somebody said, I love it. It's just like, you haven't failed. It's just success in progress.

So that's the thing about wherever you are in your process, whether you started, I feel like it's kind of like that about paying off debt, losing weight -wherever you are in your process. Just remember you're not where you were at when you started.

As long as you just taking that next step, taking that next step. I think even sometimes it's you mentioned, you might feel like you've been treading water for a little time. Sometimes it's like mentally necessary to just kind of press pause, just press pause and just smell the roses for a bit, you know, or breathe for a bit.

Go through the process of getting out of that. So sometimes it just, either things happen to you or decisions that you make and, and it sounds good in the beginning, but you might hit my feet. I might have, yeah. Might have a different result, you know, further down the road. Each time, like you've learned from it grown from it, you've experienced something.

Maybe one person in our case, maybe one person wants to do something other didn't, but there wasn't, you didn't have the details at the beginning to say like, feeling like this is not a good idea, but I don't necessarily have like the facts to back it up.

So we just do it. It turns out not to be such a good idea, but guess what both of you now know you don't ever have to have that argument again. So it's just, it's a process.

That it is a process that we'll get through it. Each experience is another lesson learned and I'll will make you smarter, make you stronger for the end.

And eventually you will be sitting on the side of the podcast telling Elle how you paid out of it, how you cut out.

Don't Let Comparison Rob Your Family of Joy

Elle Martinez: Yeah. I love hearing, you know, when people reach out emails or social media about that success, and it doesn't matter if it took them a year or took them seven or however long. I am so excited for that.

I love you brought out some really good points. First off, you know, when, whenever I share a story on the podcast, my idea is that I would like to give models with people's stories, take ideas from it, rather saying, then giving them a map saying heal. This is the plan. You have to follow it.

Exactly because we are all starting out in different situations for some, they are maybe newly engaged and now they're in, before they get married, they have get their finances squared away. That's great.

Maybe they've already been married and what they're doing, isn't working, you know? And so now there's baggage w whether it's financial or even how they approach their money, that they have to undo first and then, you know, focus on that.

So our journey are going to look different because we're starting at different places and then we all have different goals, the following. So I love how you address that.

Sometimes we're making fast progress, we're going up that hill and sometimes we got to pause or go down.

Exactly. Cause it's all tied together. Right. There isn't a perfect budget. There are some great tools out there. There isn't like this one path that's going to make sense because we're in situations where maybe you mentioned, and this happened with us. We weren't exactly on the same page with the how.

We had an idea, like, okay, definitely want to pay off the debt, but the how the pace at which to go with. Also give yourselves grace for that. As you figure out a budget that you're both happy with, especially with families.

Staying Motivated to Pay Off Your Debt

Elle Martinez: Now that you're on the other side at any point while you were paying off this huge amount of debt, were you frustrated either at the speed of it or even the process of it?

If so, like how did you stick with it?

Toni Husbands: So, yes, yes, yes.

So, hello. Good question. I think that number one and most important for me in terms of sticking with it. It's like celebrating small wins, celebrating and appreciating small wins. So when you pay that first thousand dollar credit card off, that's a win, that's a milestone, and don't like the little that something, or when you pay the first 500, whatever.

Maybe it's I haven't overspent in the last 30 days, whenever you see changes or progress, like celebrate those, appreciate those.

One of the things that I did. So we were still kind of using just basic spreadsheets and printing it out. And I would print out my budget and put it on my refrigerator. Then after the month was over, I would file that. Over the over time I built kind of a nice little. File folder of budget sheets.

I would actually go back through and look at my budget sheets to see progress. And it was like for me, therapeutic to see cross offs or little notes that we had made, okay, we can do this or whatever. I would start to see my list. I had listed all of my items and my debt items in a little section and I had a whole section and I would see those numbers shrinking.

That would, especially in the times where things were not so dynamic because, paying $400. Oh on, $40,000 of debt in the beginning it's like trying to, I'm looking at last now. So trying to move the snow with a star, something like that.

doesn't seem like it makes me feel like it doesn't feel like it, but you look at that over over months then years and stuff like that, then you can kind of remind yourself like, oh wow. Even though I'm feeling like this is kind of slow going. When I look back at where I started, because I have this record and we can even do that now with our tools.

Go back and look at your history, you know, pull up your go back and look at your progress and all the graphs and all the pie charts and everything, all the nice colorful tools and stuff like that.

Look at that history and, and reflect on that and just remember like, wow, I haven't, I'm not where I want to be, but I'm not willing to start it much further beyond where, where I've started. So keeping a records, but even maybe journaling, the system journaling and go back and read that.

Breast you were about not being able to stay on budget and now you're budgeting in your sleep. Those things are, even if you can't necessarily see them or maybe you can't touch them and in a physical sense, but that's still like concrete progress.

That mindset shift on Monday just to the point where now I can even see this in my budget sheet. Where my husband started to come on board and so now you see more of his notes on the budget sheet. Whereas before he was just like, I don't agree with this, but now he's like making, then once we got out, we were still arguing about how to approach, our finances and you can start to see more of his notes and stuff like that.

That was another milestone for me. I would don't minimize even small wins. Those are going to be huge fuel for your momentum or just your mental sanity or your personal motivation.

Cause it's going to take some of that. You have to figure out what it is that you can keep yourself motivated to go because the debt, I don't want your snowball list or however you doing there, you know, there, there might be an extended period of time. And so how are you going to keep yourself going and, and, and excited and do stuff around about continuing to make that progress in each of them? For me, it was looking back at my budget.

Elle Martinez: Yeah. I love that. I never would've thought like how powerful journaling could be cause we're all different. Some of us are visual, our mutual friend, Michelle she loves the vision mood boards, like establishing that and tracking progress with that, but journaling is also a great one.

It sounds like you've picked up some really good financial habits as you're developing that muscle and paying off. What habits have stuck now that you're this new phase, you're more on the investor side and which habits or mind shifts did you have to make because now you're no longer paying debt and you're investing?

Toni Husbands: Good question. I will say honestly right now, the habit that I don't even struggle with anymore. Recognized thing needs versus once that's something I don't struggle with at all anymore, or I don't allow the temptation for the shiny new thing, because I am thinking now about, okay, so I can go.

I spend my money and basic my heart on time on this shiny thing, that'll look nice and Instagram photos, or I can stay focused on, the goal right now, which isn't investing.

We're having a save more and invest more, which again, they don't have immediate payoff. You know, like it's not something I can touch. I'm not buying a piece of property every month, right? I'm not buying something here or I don't know what the next thing is, but I know that I'm going to want to do something. So I have more of a focus on using my money or diverting my money to things that are going to build wealth versus spending for trinkets that don't have any long-term value.

Now there are some things that I like to eat , like travel. I like to do so those are things like, I plan for makes sure that we're doing with cash. That we can pay cash for it that I'm not traveling with strings attached. Cause I like to say I'm not coming home and having to worry about how I'm going to pay the bills later.

I think the thing I think about too is I don't want to be in that place.

I do that. I don't want to be in that place where I am burdened by debt. for me, that was a sense of, it was stressful, you know, source of anxiety. I don't like that anxiety. I like the the options. I feel like doing, like investing money or buying property or thinking about, oh, I'm buying this and my children will one day be able to benefit from this.

Those are the things that give me like joy and a sense of freedom and like even creativity.

Having to spend on things are items that are just going to pile up interest in it terms of debt or, or that I'm going to have to be kinda juggling or, or shifting or borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. Like that was not an existence that I enjoy at all. I don't want to go back down that road.

I think those are kind of the things both the positive and I'll say the thing I want to avoid that kind of keep me in this place now wanting to maximize and be super, super efficient with the money that I have.

You know, it's like, we only have this, we have a finite amount of time and, years of energy, I don't want to like maximize it. And I don't want to spend that time. Yeah. It's enough. I don't wanna spend.

Elle Martinez: Yeah. I agree with you and you brought up something interesting, like opportunities. COVID and the financial fallout, depending on where you were; if you were in a good financial spot, I've heard from a lot of people, new opportunities, or they took advantage of opportunities.

On the other side of unfortunately seeing where they were just at the beginning and their employers put pressure on them to kind of leverage that they had to keep their job. And maybe they made decisions that they felt didn't put their families interests first.

So for those listening and they're at the beginning of their journey, I'd love to maybe share some encouragement for them.

Now that you've paid off that weight, got that debt off your shoulders. What opportunities have opened up for you because of that?

Toni Husbands: Okay. Oh, I left my pursuit. So we have in the last, I'm going to say five or six years, maybe a little bit more in the last five or six years. Been real estate owners for about probably not going on 20 years now.

We've had real estate, but in the last maybe five or six years, we've really started to Think about developing a portfolio portfolio and we're like rental income and would become a major passive income source for us.

One of my goals is to achieve a financial independence. Basically financial independence is where your passive income exceeds your monthly living expenses. And and so we have Dell delved into some things that I never would have thought before. We've obviously started adding to our real estate portfolio from a perspective of rental income, but we've also taken advantage of the opportunity to save and build a patch so that we've been able to like purchase real estate purchase houses and flip them.

That was something that I did in 20 maybe 2018. I bought my first home water for cash and then,

Elle Martinez: wow, that's a big accomplishment.

Toni Husbands: We flipped it and we were able to sell it. Now I will say in that experience, we didn't make a profit in the actual transaction. What that transaction did was give me the confidence to know that I had like assemble a team and going, cause I know nothing about construction.

I'm not even interested in like swinging hammers. That's not something I'm interested in at all, but the idea of acquiring property, fixing it up and then adding that to our portfolio over to income is something that was a good thing.

The next year from that experience that we've made no money from, I think we on paper, we lost $5,000 from that experience. We ended up purchasing another property and two years later, I think we made 70,000 from that.

Those experiences have come because we, number one, freed up my our cashflow to do some different things with, and also just Taking that, that burden of stress of worrying about finances off the table.

Now we're now some creative ways for adding to our bottom line. After that experience again, and I say just meeting the people that I work well with on, on renovating houses has led to now we've purchased talk about the opportunities that happen in as a COVID.

I probably wouldn't have thought about that had not everybody come home and been remote. So we ended up moving to a vacation town, which is about eighty miles outside of the city that I currently live in. We bought a property that our teaching right now, we're in the process of renovating it now to turn it into a vacation rental that number one we can use when you want to come up here, because this is a nice place, but also that pays for itself and also generates it.

We're looking at the passing it on so that we can accomplish our goal of financial independence. So these are some things that when we're not stressed about finances.

We're not fighting each other about finances. So just whether to buy a place here or where to buy this place, so those are the kinds of the base that we have now.

Right. It's about progress about like how are we going to build wealth? How are we going to provide for our family? How are we going to leave a legacy, for our children's children, which is something that is definitely very important to me.

Those are the discussions we're having now because we're not bogged down in. You know, do I pay my car note or did we pay our chase bill and we pay it, you know, or do, or do I buy some little shiny thing to make me feel okay for, you know, make me feel a little bit better for, for the next 30 days, but then I have to keep up the notes on it.

You know, those are the types of things I'm looking at now, purchases that will put money into our packet versus taking money out.

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Music in this episode was provided by artists from Audiio.

Finding the Best Debt Free Plan For Your Family, Budget, and Timeline

Dealing with debt can be a grind, especially if you have a ton of debt or if it is high interest.

Today we’re going to see how the debt lasso method can speed things up with credit card debts and we’ll get tips on how to pay off over six figures of debt without sacrificing fun!

Creating a Plan to Pay Off Your Debts

One of the most popular goals families make when it comes to money is paying off their debts and with good reason. 

Even before the pandemic, debts were a considerable chunk of an average American family’s budget. 

The median household consumer debt was $67,000 according to data in New York Fed’s quarterly Household Debt and Credit Survey.

Getting rid of that debt is not always so easy. 

You need something that is realistic so you can stick with it as well as a way to speed things up if you’re deep in debt. 

We’re going to look at how you can create a debt free plan that fits your family and budget. 

Today’s financial experts are John and David Auten-Schneider and Toni Husbands. 

In this episode we get into:

  • Deciding which plan would work best
  • Getting your spouse on board
  • finding that balance between hitting your financial goals still enjoying your life

Let’s get started!

Listen to the episode on Apple PodcastsSpotifyAndroid, or on your favorite podcast platform.

Resources to Dump Your Debt Faster

If you’re looking to create a debt free plan that fits your family, budget, and timeline here are some helpful resources to review. 

If you’d like to chat more about your money system, please join us in our private and free Facebook group – Thriving Families

We’re families looking to support and help one another out.

Hope to see you there!

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Using the Debt Lasso to Pay Off $50,000 of Credit Card Debt

Carrying a ton of debt can be tough. When it’s credit cards, it’s especially frustrating.

What makes credit card debt so challenging is the high-interest rate. Even if you’re paying each month, it doesn’t seem like it’s making much of an impact.

It can almost feel like being stuck in quicksand. You’re sinking debt into debt and you’re just drained.

Two of the most popular methods for paying off debt are the debt snowball and avalanche, but if you’re dealing with several cards and they all have a high interest rate, then you may want to try the debt lasso

John and David Auten-Schneider created this method to knock out over $50,000 of credit card debt. They’re also the creators of Debt Free Guys. I spoke with them about the process behind the debt lasso. 

Dealing with Credit Card Debt

Elle: David, John, thank you for joining me today. I’m really excited to talk to you guys about a goal that kind of transformed my husband and my trajectory with our families and opening up options, but I’m sure also has done the same for you, which is paying off debt, especially when we’re talking about high-interest debt.

John: Thank you for having us.

Elle: Every year Fidelity releases, their money resolutions [survey] and paying off debt is usually in the top three.

The frustrating part is it seems like you start off good. You’re motivated. And then by the end of the year, you’re like, I really didn’t make any progress.

I think a big part of this is not finding a system that works for you.

John: Absolutely. Absolutely.

David: Yeah. It’s interesting. That was one of the things that John and I at the very beginning, realized that if we didn’t have something that would work for us, it wouldn’t last.

Because we knew it was going to take us several years to pay off our debt, we knew that we needed to figure out something and get into a groove that that would propel us forward and keep us motivated to keep going.

Elle: It’s interesting. You’re saying you knew that it was going to take years. We have a mutual friend, Michelle Jackson, and she recently had put a great post about personal finance unicorns, where not everybody pays off their debt in a year and a half.

They don’t knock out $60,000 in a year. It’s usually a process [such as your own situation].

So you guys came up with something different. Two of the biggest methods are the debt snowball and the debt avalanche, but you guys forge your own path with the debt lasso.

I wanted to talk to you about that. Why did you create that method and how does that work?

Escaping $50,000+ of Credit Card Debt

John: Yeah, absolutely. So well, so our story is, is that we sort of, at some point just profoundly discovered that we had $51,000 worth of credit card debt.

We got into a panic and a funk and depression, and after we came out of that, we came out of it committed to paying it off.

We started to look at the options that were available at the time to pay that off. We stumbled upon the snowball and the avalanche method and fortunately, my husband’s really good at math.

He crunched the numbers and he’d estimated that it was going to take us like four to six years to pay off our debt with either method and that was just deflating. Like I don’t have that kind of patience.

It just seemed too hard. In our minds, we thought that the faster we could pay off the debt, the more likely we were going to achieve our goal of becoming debt-free.

Our background actually is in finance. So we were helping other people with their money and telling them how to save and invest. We weren’t doing that ourselves, like the cobbler’s kids and their shoes.

David looked at the numbers and we thought, well, what is inhibiting us from being able to pay off our debt faster with either of those methods,

David: – besides our bad spending habits

John: besides our bad spending habits. And it was the high-interest rate that was whether it was the snowball or the avalanche method. It was that high-interest rate.

Tackling the High-Interest Rates

At the time we were paying anywhere between 15 and 20%, that was slowing us down. So we asked the question – how can we make that go to zero?

Is there a way to make that completely go away? We started to do some research and we found out that there are actually zero interest balance transfer credit cards.

And we thought, well, is this an option for us to maybe do some consolidation and to pay off our debt faster?

The next problem was those balance transfer fees, so they’re not well, does that make actually make sense?

We actually found out with our particular situation, it did actually make sense to pay those transfer fees, especially if you can find the 12 to 18 month terms that the zero interest rates would last.

We thought, well, geez, we can just eliminate that. And that actually helped us. We had estimated we pay off our credit card debt in three years.

We were really committed and aggressive with it and we ended up paying it off in two and a half years.

Elle: There’s a couple of things I wanted to talk to you about that because you guys use balance transfer.

Again, high-interest debt. I can totally understand wanting to lower it, but for some people that advocate for the debt snowball or debt avalanche, they kind of want you to completely avoid credit cards.

So how do you resist the temptation of relying or getting back into the credit card habit while you’re moving and you’re opening these accounts?

John: Yeah, of course.

How the Debt Lasso Works

David: So the debt lasso method is more than just a balance transfer or refinancing of your debt. There are actually five pieces to it.

Those five pieces are the things that help you with that whole process.

The very first step is to commit and you have to commit to not adding more balanced to your credit cards.

There’s a number of ways to do that, but that’s the first thing you have to commit to doing. If you don’t commit to doing that, you’ll never pay your debt off.

The second is to commit to a specific amount every single month that you’re going to pay towards your credit cards.

And that amount must be well above your minimum payments. That way you are actually making progress because you’re paying a bigger chunk.

So that’s the first step is making that commitment. The second step is similar to the debt snowball. You want to go out there and you want to look. In this amount that I committed to paying every month, can I knock out a credit card or two in that first month or two?

Do I have a credit card that has a really low balance, a knock those out and that way you get a little boost right at the very beginning?

John Schneider: Step three is the actual debt lasso method where you try to ideally lower your interest rate down to zero, but that option is not available to everyone.

So the lower, you can lower your interest rate the better into as, few locations as possible, which is why we call it the debt lasso.

The fourth step is to automate the entire process. You’re committing to a specific amount that you’re going to pay towards your credit card each month.

You can put that in your bill pay system so it goes out automatically , that eliminates the risk that you won’t make a payment. Or you’ll rationalize away making the amount that you commit to in step one.

Then number five is to monitor. You want to make sure that even though everything’s sort of on automation. You want to just make sure everything’s running smoothly and you’re not missing any payments.

When you do pay off any card, then you rolled that additional payment that was going towards that card to the next card.

And that’s that entire five-step process that helps folks pay off their debt as quickly as possible.

Finding Money in your Budget to Pay Off Your Debt

Elle: Wow. I love how you guys start off with the commitment because it does take a significant change.

Of course, one of the biggest things is the money has to come from somewhere.

Realistically, initially, it’s going to be from your budget. I mean, hopefully you’re earning extra income.

For you, what changes did you have to make with your budget? Where was it coming from with your first part of this debt lasso of those payments? Which one was the hardest and which one was the easiest changes to make?

John: Absolutely. Actually, the very first step that, that we took when we came out of our funk of having so much credit card debt was that David methodically and meticulously went through every expense of ours for the previous 12 months.

He grabbed all our account statements, all our credit cards, checking everything that he could find, any itemize, every expense that we had.

It really blew us away when we did that spending analysis is what we call it. Because had you asked us prior to this analysis, what the quality of our life was? We would have said, you know, it’s okay. But when we looked at our spending, it blew us away. We were living like rockstars on, you know, a bartender budget.

You know, we were just living way beyond our means, but we were traveling well, we were eating and dining. Well, we were drinking well, we had some really nice bottles of wine. It just blew us away.

We realized that if we could reign in our spending is especially in a few particular categories that would help us save a significant amount of money.

So were able to reign in our spending in those particular areas. Probably the number one win that we had – and this is likely the case for most people, most Americans – was that we reigned in our grocery spending in our dining spending dining out spending.

There were some weeks that we were spending $400 a week at the grocery store and $400 dining out. And

David: – for two men –

John: $800. That’s just two men in our thirties. We have never been skinnier. So I’m not sure what we’re doing wrong now, but nobody needs to eat like that.

We were able to lower that and we saved about $30,000 a year by becoming super meticulous with our grocery shopping and reigning in our dining out.

The other thing that we did, and this was the most challenging to answer your question was we were very, very, very social creatures.

We were constantly going out to happy hours and parties and clubbing and to bars and whatnot with our friends who were traveling a lot, most often on credit cards.

So that was the hardest part for us, but we were able to reign that in and we tell people we didn’t stop going out to your point earlier. Cause we. We knew we were social creatures.

We couldn’t just cut cold turkey, but we stopped going out as frequently. And that, that not going out as frequently, also freed up some more money that we could put towards expedite paying off our credit card debt.

So that combination, as well as eliminating our high interest rates really helped fuel paying off our credit card debt. And that’s how we got that paid off in two and a half years.

Paying Off Debt While Still Enjoying Now

Elle: Yeah, that is fantastic. Congratulations because first of all, $50,000 of any kind of debt is a huge one, but credit card debt, which for so many people can sink them to get over.

That is incredible. But I do want to talk about this just a little bit more before we wrap things up. With personal finance, I found for us and for a lot of couples is finding something that’s sustainable. Right?

We’ve talked about this before we hit record of diets and finances going all drastic and yeah.

The big stories are usually these drastic stories that get the headlines. But if you, you want to hit your goals, you have to have something that’s sustainable.

How did you guys strike that balance of paying off debt, which is a good goal to have, but still living and enjoying your life?

David: Yeah. So I think for us one of the biggest, I think issues that folks have today is that people don’t feel like they can have a fabulous life and less they’re in some way, showing everyone else that they’re living a fabulous life.

The easiest way to do that is by your experiences in the past, it used to be things. I think to some degree it is still things, but we’re seeing this shift towards people blowing their budgets and their fi financial future on experiences versus things.

What we realized is that we did have to have something sustainable. One of the things that we came up with is our fabulous life calendar, which is a part of our fabulous life combo you can get it debt free, guys.com.

The idea with that is that we knew that we still wanted to have a great quality of life. Every single month we wanted to be doing fun things and being out with our friends and doing all that.

We knew that if we didn’t fill the calendar up with things that were either free or lower costs that we still really enjoy doing, then we would be susceptible to dropping a hundred, $150 on brunch and day drinking on a Sunday with our friends or having a happy hour that was supposed to be two beers, turned into something that is way longer than a happy hour.

You know, you can do happy hour, then you have appetizers then you have dinner. That kind of thing was what was wrecking us financially. We knew that we needed to fill our calendar up with the great quality of life fund things that we could keep control of the costs of.

And that is what allowed us to feel like we were living fabulous while we’re still paying off our debt and how we have since then had this fabulous, not fabulously broke life because we still focus our a lot of our time and energy on things that are within our budgetary control, which allows us then to focus our money on growth, on investing on enjoying the things that we really want to enjoy instead of things that are kind of disappear quickly after you’ve spent the money.

Elle: I think you’ve hit a lot of good points. It isn’t about deprivation. Yes. You do have to cut out your budget, but you shouldn’t, you should still have joy in your life.

So you mentioned your pay off debt course. Do you mind giving a little more details?

David: So the credit card pay off plan is basically a distillation of what we did over those three roughly three years to learn what we needed to do to get ourselves to where we could pay of debt off and then start paying it off.

So it really comes down to the first set. Is it is all around your mindset. How do I change my mindset to focus on what’s important?

The second, is that the whole idea of how do I reduce my interest and get myself ready to really start paying my debt off?

The third step is how do I create a budget that really works for me? We define our budget as dynamic and focused on happiness. And a lot of people hate the word budget because they don’t focus on what makes them happy when they’re budgeting. They focus on all the other stuff. That piece there, we also kind of loop in this idea of, how can I make more money?

There are some easier ways, not necessarily easy, but there are some easier ways to make a little bit more money to help you pay off your debt faster.

Finally, the thing that most folks don’t have is how do we create a plan with them all of that; that will work for the time period that it will take for me to pay off my debt?

That’s kind of all encapsulated in this course. We have a supplemental piece to that, that our folks who meet with us every Thursday night, we do, I’m sorry, Tuesday nights, we do a group session. They call it financial therapy because we’re constantly talking about wins and challenges and how everyone can contribute to this idea as a group, people are moving through paying their debt off.

John: So you can find information about the credit card pay off plan at debtfreeguys.com.

But if you want to get an idea of how the debt last one method might work for you and how it might work relative to the snowball, the avalanche method, you can also go to debt-free guys.com or go to debtlasso.com to download a free copy of the debt lasso calculator.

Paying Off $100K of Debt (without Feeling Deprived)

Let’s be clear – getting out from under a ton of debt doesn’t happen overnight. You need a plan and a system to get you free. 

One of the challenges families face is when one or both of you are reluctant to get it done because you feel like you’re going to sacrifice having fun for the next few years. 

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Toni Husbands, the creator of Debt Free Divas and the author of The Great Debt Dump shares what helped her family pay off $100,000 of debt while still enjoying life in her city of Chicago. 

Digging Out from a Mountain of Debt

Elle Martinez: With everything that happened in 2020, and then what this is the first week of 2021 is very eventful as well. The idea of financial security and getting your footing is on the minds of a lot of family.

Specifically one of those goals, as you know, I’m sick and tired of the debt we have and getting rid of them.

I want to jump in with that. Cause you and your husband, Colin paid off a considerable amount of debt. It was over a hundred thousand, right?

Toni Husbands: $107,000 in debt, consumer debt. I was like to remind, so that did not include a house. It took us seven years to do that.

Elle Martinez: Wow. I’m glad you share that information.

Cause I know sometimes I enjoy reading those articles, but you do after a while, get tired of seeing like I’ve paid off a hundred thousand dollars of debt in two years, or these dramatic stories, but many families the story is we came up with a plan and it took some time, but we got there.

First of all, I want to talk to you about how you paid off your debt. You use the debt snowball method, right?

How the Debt Snowball Works

Toni Husbands: I did and that was popularized by a Dave Ramsey, uncle Dave as I like to refer to him.

He’s a little shorter for some people, but I can across his book in 2005 at a conference that I was attending with my mom, he was speaking there at that time.

And his book, the total money makeover. So I read his book and that’s where I became aware of the concept of the debt snowball.

Just to explain it real quick, the debt snowball is basically a process where you list your debts in order of smallest to largest. You focus all of your available cash and pay your minimum on everything, but you focus all of your available cash on the smallest debt on your list.

And the purpose of that is that so that you can achieve quick wins.

Elle Martinez: Gotcha.

Toni Husbands: So you pay that one off and then you go down to the next smallest, once you’re finished with that. Basically the amount of money that you’re using to retire debt grows or snowballs.

As you start to take things off on your list, that snowball grows and you develop momentum and that’s kind of what carries you on through the process.

Why the Debt Snowball Works

Elle Martinez: Okay, so you read this. What about it clicked for you and when you were paying off your debt? Did you make any adjustments to fit your family and your goals?

Toni Husbands: Before I came across Dave Ramsey, we probably were working on this process for some time. I had read other books, are there. There are a lot of different processes, a lot of different approaches.

I known about Suze Orman. I read about the automatic millionaire. Like I was intentional about trying to work on this problem.

At that time, we didn’t even have that much that we, well, I shouldn’t say that much. We had maybe about 40, 45,000 at the time, you know?

When I came across Dave Ramsey, that’s when I had quit my job because we, although we had the debt, we were able to make the payments.

I think that was always our financial philosophy. Can we make the payment? Right?

Elle Martinez: I’ve been there.

Toni Husbands: We can make the payment. We can afford it. Right. Regardless, not looking at the total bill, but before we would, we would try different things.

We were both engineers and so we would create these like really magnificent spreadsheets with all of these colors and bells and whistles.

Then we would like put it on our, putting it in a folder somewhere and not look at it for three months, you know?

Probably two things that happened when I read Dave Ramsey, number one, we had to make a change because a third of our income was mine because I had left my job. We were starting the laundromat. So a third of our income just left and we had to be more intentional and more careful about how we were using our money.

On top of that, I think at this point, just wrote down everything that we had them start to look at it on paper. That was the big thing for me. It’s like looking at it on paper.

I stopped with the spreadsheets. I just would write down everything, put it on my refrigerator and have it there in black and white.

We would look at it every day. We would have discussions about it, we would argue about it, but it was on the top of our mind. It was in the forefront of our mind.

It was something that we paid attention to constantly. I think that’s one of the biggest things that really helped me to stay focused and not just come up with these fancy spreadsheets, Pat ourselves on the back. ‘Yeah, that was good’ and then just not, you know, then kind of go back to our regularly scheduled, you know, and not in that, you know, continue to work on what we needed to work on. That was the big thing for me is like posting it somewhere where it was visible. Daily.

Elle Martinez: Yeah. I love what you bring out because I think that’s not addressed enough, which is how do you find a sustainable plan that already is aligned with really who you are and what you want to accomplish?

Because You could have the perfect template for paying off debt or budgets, but if it’s not you, or it’s not close enough to you, you’re just not going to keep it.

I have that same idea when we talk about like money management apps. People always ask me, well, what’s the best one?

I was like, it’s the one that you can actually keep. There’s so many different options there. I might have a personal favorite, but what works for me, isn’t going to work for someone else in their family. But with that, you have to come up with a plan to tackle it.

Finding Money to Pay Off Your Debt Faster

A big part of that is finding money within your budget. Again, this is something that’s very personal because initially at least it’s going to come out of your budget somehow.

For you guys, Where did that money come from? What was the hardest part that you had to change or adjust and what was the easiest one?

Toni Husbands: That’s a great question. I will tell you that the hardest part wasn’t actually the money part. It was the I would say mentality part because I wanted my husband to make all the changes. So I was like, ‘if you stop doing this and if you stop doing this’, and can make progress, right?

Elle Martinez: Yeah.

Toni Husbands: I didn’t need the cable, you know, you watch them mob package or whatever , so we cut that out. We’ll be good. Right?

That was interesting too, because he was just like, no, and I will tell you too. He was not, he thought Dave Ramsey probably still does is a coop. He was, he was like, he’s just trying to sell books.

He’s very like analytical and critical. That’s the engineering brain so getting him on board was hard, honestly. And it was good. I can say we, we, we debated, we had a lot of intense fellowship, right?

Elle Martinez: That’s a nice way to phrase it.

Toni Husbands: We had a lot of discussions and honestly, I had to stop thinking about what he could do and what I could do in a way that didn’t affect him.

There were things I do in my own hair, right? I started now that’s a big one, especially in the African American community. We spent money on our hair.

I took to YouTube, you know hairstylists since, you know, I figured out how to do a lot of things at home and stretch the amount of time that I would go to a salon, you know, once a month or getting my hair braided all the time. Like figuring out how to do those things myself. Now I might not have looked like I just stepped out of a salon, but I was paying debt off.

Elle Martinez: You got to find that balance. Yeah. I got schooled by friends. I’m like, what? You just go to Supercuts, you get your hair done it cheap, you know? And they’re like, no, not for us. but again, that’s personal because in every situation, first of all, it’s what matters to you, what matters most.

Everybody’s going to be different, but for you to make that sacrifice and find ways to still fit that personal care in with your budget while still dumping the debt is really key.

Slashing Food Bills

Toni Husbands: Another one is cooking. You would think that would be an easy one, but I hate to cook.

I shouldn’t say hate, but I don’t enjoy the cooking experience. How about that? We lived at the time we lived downtown and a very cool little swanky neighborhood, lots of restaurants. And so we was just my husband and I, we would, you know, you can walk outside and go to this restaurant, go to this restaurant.

My husband loves to eat. I’m not that big on cooking. And if I didn’t go, if I didn’t cook, we would just go out or order in or something like that. We had a lot of options.

We were able to save so much money by going to the first of all, switching the grocery store that we went to. We stopped shopping in our little swanky neighborhood.

We found Aldi. That was a huge, at that point I was tracking it at 30% savings by doing nothing else but switching grocery stores.

I’m not a couponer or I don’t clip, but you know, you have to do things that you can do that, you can be consistent about. I got over my grocery store snobbiness.

We thought I’ll be 30% savings and food just right there. Cooking out how long save so much money over, going out to restaurants also better on your waistline to just, you know, just a side note.

Those are things that I had to kind of train myself and it wasn’t, obviously it’s not something that I didn’t get tired or we didn’t go back out, but we budgeted a date night or outside time, you know, smaller things, but not every day of the week.

Six days a week, we were cooking, we were eating inside. My husband doesn’t care where he eats. As long as there was food in the house, he would eat now.

That was a way to make a change without, without forcing something that I wanted on him when he wasn’t ready. I will say it probably took him about a year, about a year to actually kind of come on board.

When he started see like, Oh, we got rid of the first debt was $450 and that win being able to scratch that off was such a boost of momentum.

We were able to pay that one off and then the next one, and I would actually leave them up; checked off X off on my little sheet that I would print out every month.

We can start to see the progress that we were making and that was a source of encouragement and momentum.

Then he starts to kind of come around and like, okay, we can do then he volunteers to make changes on his own.

He’s not being told I’m not his mother. Right. That was kind of the biggest, the hardest thing for me is like, this is a grown man, a fully functional adult, you know, he’s going to make decisions.

Dave Ramsey, he has a saying those convinced against their will or have the same opinion still. Basically you can’t make people do.

As he sees that I’m sticking to this, that we’re making progress, he comes around and so now we’re arguing about what we’re going to cut versus about doing it or not doing it.

Elle Martinez: Improvements you get those steps you moving forward.

Toni Husbands: Right. I was like, ‘yay’ behind his back, but that’s okay. We’ll argue about what you want to cut next. That’s fine. Again, it took about a year to get to that point, but it was like continuous progress on my part in the ways and the things that I could do to show that I was serious about this.

Hitting Your Money Goals (While Still Enjoying Life)

Elle Martinez: Totally makes sense. There’s so many good points I want to get into, but I do want to focus in on your husband, Colin, and you had different approaches.

I think we’ve talked about this before, where he didn’t want to be deprived. That was one of the concerns, going debt free.

So how did you balance hitting that goal, becoming debt-free while still enjoying your life, because you have two kids. That time it doesn’t come back.

Toni Husbands: Right. Yeah. One of the things that we definitely loved to and still love to do is travel.

What we would do is if we just, we wanted to go somewhere or something came up, you know, where there was a trip involved. We would just pause our debt, snowball. Okay. We decided we would pay cash for everything. So we would know we were no longer charging plane tickets and hotels and things like that. We would pay cash for it.

We still traveled throughout this. So that could possibly be why it took so long. So we would pause our debt snowball. We will go on our trip. We would enjoy ourselves. We would come home with no strings attached.

Okay. No bills following us. Then we wouldn’t get back into the debt snowball after. We travel quite a bit, even now with two kids, we still, you know, pre COVID. We still two, three times a year small mini trips.

We take a lot of mini trips, but we have family in different parts of the country.

And then of course I just like to explore periods. So that’s one of the big things that we would definitely do. We started to become tourists in our own city. There are a lot of fabulous things.

You’ve done this before. You’ve done the $20 [date night] challenge. Things like that.

We started to like really get into either low cost or free things. You hear a lot of the bad stuff about Chicago, but it’s a very fabulous place to live. It’s there’s a lot to the cities. There’s a lot of great entertainment, you know, like live music and downtown, the taste is free.

There’s a lot of, especially during the summertime, a lot of things that you can do if you research and find things and pay attention. I was intentional about that type of thing too.

We have the festivals, the here, there, everywhere, dancing in the park, the free movies we would do all of that.

Yeah. Honestly, we still do. We still do things that are either very, that you pay for parking pretty much, or you can jump on the lesson, get there. We do that now with our kids .

We really have a pretty full dance card if you will, without spending a lot of money. The libraries have a lot of interesting speakers, the universities have a lot of very interesting things like plays that are, you know, five or $10.

We really had a very enriching experience and didn’t spend a lot of money.

Getting the Most Out of Living in an Expensive City

Elle Martinez: Yeah. I, I love that. We are fans of the library too. I mean, besides picking up books, there’s Storytime, there are crafts.

Now because of COVID, we can’t go inside our community library, but what they did is they did like a Storytime walk around cause it’s by a park, to get the kids engaged.

What I liked about your story is. A lot of people assume like ‘I live in a high cost of living area’, so I can’t do this. We almost put hurdles ahead before you even get started, but it does take effort, not going to lie.

Toni Husbands: Yes. It takes research and, and your taxes are paying for it. So I might as well.

Elle Martinez: You bring up a lot of good points. I know we scratched the surface, Toni. I’m definitely going to have to have you back on again and, you know, chat with you because.

You’ve already like got me thinking about so many different ideas, but for those that are interested in learning more about you, where’s the best way they can reach out?

Toni Husbands: So you can reach out to me through my website, Debt Free Divas.

I’m also on FacebookTwitter now, Instagram.

I’d love to talk with you, connect with you get you involved in the community of like-minded debt dumpers and support your journey!

Key Takeaways on Becoming Debt Free Faster

This month’s money challenge of tracking your finances really lines itself up well, With today’s episode all about paying off your debt.

Seeing the numbers in front of you gives you a clear idea of first of all, how much debt you are looking to pay off and how much room in your budget, you have to hit that goal.

Your next challenge. though maybe deciding which debt payoff method is right for you and your family.

While the debt snowball, avalanche and lasso may have slightly different ways of tackling your debts. There are some key points to them that make them successful tools for many families

The first is that you are making a commitment to get rid of that debt. That might seem like a small step, but it’s absolutely necessary when you’re dealing with a significant amount or with high interest debt.

You have to be sick and tired of having that debt draining your budget month after month.

And be ready to find ways to adjust your budget so that you can have more money to finally knock that debt out.

The second key to why I believe they work so well is that it gives you a focus target. You are tackling these debts one at a time, you pay the minimum on all but one. And then as you’re knocking these out, getting that momentum and having these wins. Then you move it over to the next debt

One point I appreciated with John and David’s conversation. They looked at all the numbers including the timeframe

I’m going to include a link to a free debt payoff spreadsheet that allows you to look at the different methods and find one that fits your own plans.

And as Toni pointed out, when you’re coming up with your debt-free plan, you may have to make some compromises, at least initially so you can get your spouse on board.

She started off with family activities so that she could show her husband that it was possible to pay off debt without sacrificing quality of life.

As they had these wins, he then joined on board and they were able to speed up the process.

Finally, whatever debt free method you decide to go on, make sure that you get it done by automating all of your payments.

You can go ahead and use bill pay to schedule these payments out which can help you stay on track.

If you need help with ways to find money in your budget to get that debt, snowball, lasso, or avalanche started, please sign up for our free course, five days to five K.

It’s a week long email course that shows you some ways that you can readjust your budget. While still enjoying life now. Just head over to simplify and enjoy.com/five K.

Besides the tactics strategies and tips on paying off debt another helpful thing is having the support. So, if you haven’t already please join our free Facebook group; it’s called thriving families.

We enjoy swapping stories, encouragement, and ideas on how to tackle our family and financial goals.

You can get there by going to simplify and enjoy.com/thriving families. We’d love to see you there!

Support the Podcast!

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast! If you enjoyed this episode and found it helpful, here are some ways to support it.

  • Spread the word! If you enjoyed this episode and think it can help a buddy get on the path to dumping debt and become financially free, please share.
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Music Credit

Our theme song is from Staircases. Additional music by various artists from Audiio.

Adapting Your Finances During This Coronavirus Crisis with Debt Free Divas

As many families find themselves dealing with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, it's becoming a necessity to adjust our finances and more.

Today we break down how you can create a plan to protect your family's finances during this crisis!

Dealing with Financial Stress from the Coronavirus Crisis

Our budgets and routines have been upended. For many families that means having to shift and adjust their budgets to ride out these tough times.

My friend and fellow personal finance author Toni Husbands has been there. She and her husband have paid off over $107,000 in consumer debt.

I interviewed her on my marriage and money podcast here or you can read her amazing journey on her site Debt Free Divas.

She's here to discuss with me:

  • how families can review and reevaluate their budget so they can cover their essentials,
  • grow their financial cushion, and
  • gives ideas on which resources to tap into to reduce financial stress.

She also shares how parents can use this time to connect with one another as well as keep the kids busy when work has to get done.

You can watch our chat right here or go through an edited transcript below!

Reducing Financial Stress

Elle Martinez: Thank you so much for joining me this morning. It's Friday, sunny, but cold here in Raleigh, and you have snow over in Chicago.

Toni Husbands: Oh, it's coming. I think it's not here yet, but it's very gray outside. Oh, OK. So it's not like the thirty five degree temperature range. And you want to come over, hang out.

Elle Martinez: Now, there's a reason I'm in North Carolina. I'm just born in New York. Lived up and down the East Coast. But I'm going to settle in the south and just keep everyone out there on Triple Bay. Well, I like to visit in, you know, get like that experience of snow and come back.

Elle Martinez: But, you know, all joking aside, I'm really I am glad that you've joined me today, cause, you know, in the community, I'm sure your community to my community, the conversation, of course, is more serious, especially with COVID-19 going around. But I feel as many people as been affected directly by the virus. The financial situations of a lot of people are affected with stay at home orders if someone is sick trying to figure out everything. So I kind of wanted to talk to you about this, because when you're in the thick of things, it's hard to. Not stress out, but, you know, you've been through. I've had you on the podcast, you've been through a lot. You've done some extraordinary things as a couple as a family to get your finances in a stronger spot. So, you know, when tough times happen, even unexpected things like this. At least you can ride through it. So thanks for coming on the show. I appreciate it.

Toni Husbands: Thanks for asking me. I definitely love to talk about this. This is the time to really focus in on what we can do to to alleviate some of that financial stress that comes with, you know, just uncertain times. And so this is this is the right conversation for the right time right now. Yeah.

Adjusting Family Finances

Elle Martinez: Yeah. And I think one of the first things people worry about and understandably so is like, what does this mean for our budget, whether it's because they've seen reduced hours or been furloughed or even if both are working. It's still like, wait a minute, there is this big question mark. What's the next month, two months, even longer going to be like? How should I adjust my budget? And so I kind of want to talk to you because you have been fantastic. Like I've. No, you for years and one of the amazing things you've done is like paid off six figures of debt. So I know for a fact that at least you've had to readjust your budget to hit a big goal like that.

Toni Husbands: Absolutely, yes. My husband and I paid off one hundred and seven thousand dollars and kept some of that. So that doesn't include the house. Are you guys a mortgage in some in some localities. But yeah, it definitely required an adjustment to our attitudes towards what was important towards our behaviors in terms of what we did with our spending. And it also required just kind of settling in to the long haul, which is which can be kind of a difficult thing to to process because. Pay off that much money, paying off that much debt. It took us seven years so that I might say I like it. It's so interesting for me to say that and just kind of like it rolls off the tongue. But thinking about like each day that we're turning each week, which turns into each month and trying to kind of hold it together over that period of time really requires a shift in mindset, a shift in my style. And that might be some of the things that we have to do today might not be a fun thing. It might be for us, but actually it might help us come out stronger on the other side of this. And I think in terms of like looking at your budget, it's right now we're in where we're in crisis mode right now.

Prioritize Your Expenses

Toni Husbands: So right now we're looking at survival. So the things people want to focus on are the essentials, food, medicine, you know, housing, transportation, if you are an essential worker. Those are the things that you definitely want to focus, you're prioritizing. And in a way, like I said, it's not fun while we're going through it and sometimes change. You know, I can think of so many, you know, trying to exercise more, trying to eat that are none of those things are necessarily pleasant when you're going through them. But once you make the adjustment and once you come out on the other side. Often times, you know, I'm sure that often you are better for it as a you know, as a person, as a as a family, as you have children, as a parent in terms of setting an example for your children. So it is hard work. Yeah, it's hard. Some people are really struggling, whether financially or even just like from a mental health perspective, because this is you know, we don't know what's going to happen. We don't know how long this is gonna last, you know, but what we can do is focus on the things that we have control over.

So right now, we have control over where we prioritize, prioritize our spending. And so I would definitely ask people to focus on making sure you can eat. That's number one. Making sure you have your medicines. You know, you can keep that going because your health is very important and your housing situation. However, everything doesn't require that we spend money because at this point, we're all this. Now, if we're gonna go through a financial stress test. Right, it's better that we're all going through it together because there's more resources and more help. At this point, that's a good point. Know definitely. All we might have to be creative. You know, we've seen the lines about people going through food, food, going to food pantries. This might be a time, you know, food pantries or if your state offers, you know, the supplemental nutrition programs that, you know, we might have to, you know, let go of the ego. Sometimes there is an ego thing about reaching out for help. If you've been self-sufficient and there's no shame in reaching out for help, especially in time now especially.

Know Your Relief Options

Elle Martinez: Yeah. And I think you bring up several good points. And I do kind of want to hit on that point, which is right now, because this is such a big issue, state level, you know, federal level with the CARES Act and so forth. There are some relief programs, also some community based programs like you were talking about the food pantry that I know sometimes you want to tackle everything at once, but something to set aside time for, you know, as couples, as families, is what relief options are available to you.

I know here in the state in North Carolina, utilities can't get cut. You can't get foreclosed or evicted. So those are some protections. And the reason I want to know that is because you want to tap into this.

What we're trying to do, you know, in a crisis mode and you probably, you know, done this, too, is what how can we grow this gap between what we're bringing in, whatever level this is right now and our expenses, if we can, you know, grow that, get even just a little bit, it can relieve some of the pressure.

Like you were mentioning, the SNAP program or used to be called food stamps. You know, there is this stigma with it, but this is unprecedented times. So if you need to even temporarily take advantage of that program and it's not like it is a lot of money for you know, if you look at the numbers, sometimes it's only just basically a week's worth of groceries.

But if you can take that money you saved, use it to, you know, take care of the rent or the mortgage or you take that money redirected to have a financial cushion. You know, really, like you said, let go the ego. There's, you know, don't worry about the stigma. We have to take care of your family in those foundational, essential expenses. Right? Absolutely critical. And, you know, just be aware of what's available.

Reflect and Adjust Expenses As Needed

Toni Husbands: Right. Right. Exactly. Take this time, you know, to breathe. I think that's an honorable thing. Like breathe in and then less craft a plan, you know? And I think that's kind of what we had to do. Taking it back to my experience, is it? You know, we were at a point where we went from two incomes to one income and that's kind of way before then. You know, we were able to pay all of our bills and kind of, you know, kind of a, you know, laissez faire existence. Yeah. Because it worked at the time. It wasn't necessarily the best. You know, and we were doing the things, quote unquote, things that smart people did. You know, we bought a condo and we had credit cards and we would travel over it. But but we weren't necessarily being very intentional about when it worked out. And so when we went from the two incomes to one and the reason we that happened, it was a choice. You know, I quit my job to start a business. But then that focused that required us. And so that was that situation for me.

Toni Husbands: It required us to make sure we had our bases covered. And so that's what. Yeah, that's what a lot of people are doing now. It's requiring us to to make sure that we have the funds to care for what's essential. And then also at this point, and it kind of helps that we are most of us are under stay at home orders because some of those distractions that we might have had in terms of, you know, nails or hair or eat out, you know, those things are kept in check. Yes. Essentially kind of taken away from us. And so it does force us to like really look at where we're spending our money and what is what are essential items, what are essential items and what are things that we were we are just want for. Nice to have, you know. And this is again, it's a it's it's going to force us not always the best feeling, but if we take it if we take the best out of the situation, we'll be stronger for it.

Which Bills Should Be Paid First?

Elle Martinez: Yeah. And that's another good point, which is prioritizing your budget in your bills and taking the time. So, you know, sit down. I think we've hit on this like those essentials, the four walls, you make sure you have a roof over your head, the food, the utilities, you know, those things. And then financial cushion, which, you know, we've we've been in the personal finance space for a while. But honestly, like even before then, everyone's heard like have an emergency fund. But I think like this crisis right now really hit home. Like this is why you need to have some kind of financial cushion. There are things that happen that maybe you could have prevented. And then there's things that are just outside of your control. So those expenses you mentioned, like, you know, the nails, the hair. If we're not doing a commute anymore, that gas money, you know, for not eating out with our co-workers, take that money. You know, it's temporary, but take it put it toward savings. You take care your essentials. And then also just talk about it like do you want to continue doing it whenever this gets lifted or how is it going to look in the future? Just even having that reflection about your expenses and then prioritizing those goals are absolutely essential.

Connecting During This Crisis

Elle Martinez: And one thing I kind of want to wrap this up on on a happy note and we're really been real serious is you've talked about like this is an opportunity to grow. And one of the things is couples as families, we have this time together forced we're first.

But like I remember like two years ago, I did like a 20 dollar date night challenge or, you know, like a family day. And you're like, I crown you the winner because you always were like posting these things. But, yeah, have you guys done you know, how have you guys kind of kept the sanity and bonded at the same time?

Toni Husbands: Oh, yeah. Actually, I think I might be kind of going a little overboard. You know, kind of taking advantage. But and we've done a couple of things that we've done. Number one is just saying stay in contact with friends and family. And, you know, I was just share with you earlier how I just love that, you know, our group is still meeting that. Yeah, it's digital. It's something different to see a different face. Yes, you're different. You know, maybe a voice or something, you know. So using tools like Zoom or face time or. What's that? You know, you use the tools to stay connected to friends and family. My family does a does a weekly no stupid questions. I where we are tapping into my brothers. My brother is a former financial advisor. So very cool. Yeah. He was just like any questions anybody has about investing or stocks or or, you know, for what we've been doing that once a month on some days. And that's been actually really, you know, not only just cool for. Yeah. But also informative. We're learning and shit and passing on. And he actually lives in Seattle, I'm in Chicago, so they're in Tacoma, Washington, OK. Yeah, I know we are family. That's in Florida. And this in D.C.. So this is this is family that we don't see on a regular basis anyway. So now we're think regular regularly. So that's something that we've done as a as a larger unit. When in my own household, some of the things we do, we've done our my son is very much into like writing stories. And so he's 8, my my daughter six. And so they kind of crazy stories. And so my husband found this little like really cool little comic book maker. I put him on the tablet. Right. Now. So they create their story. So we've taken most thought. We've taken one of his stories and we we created a movie from it.

Elle Martinez: Like, was it flip a clip? Because my my 8 year old is into it, too. Yeah. Oh yeah. That's a that's an amazing.

Toni Husbands: Yeah. That's exactly what it is. OK. So we we took that. Yeah. That story that he created. And we we just did little, you know, with a little cell phone videos and things like that. Yeah. And using like kind of teaching ourself through a movie how to do special effects. And so those are some of the things that we're doing as a family kind of just to, you know, take advantage of this time, not pull our hair out.

Elle Martinez: Yeah, that sometimes happens. Yeah. We've been trying to do crafts, painting. We got a telescope like we upgraded the telescope because we had one and it kind of broke. And that's been fun. Now let's look at at night or we actually did one this morning because Saturn was out in the rings. Oh, kids actually woke up early. That was a good thing. But they wanted to join us.I see that.

Toni Husbands: Yeah. We got a telescope; got to dust that off. That's it.

Elle Martinez: Yeah. So tomorrow. Just to let you know, on the 18th there's a comment that should be visible on you here in Raleigh. I don't. Noon Chicago. Check it out. I should be able to watch it on the telescope. So that's kind of what we've been doing. But, Tony, I appreciate you always have some good ideas. I got to have you on again.

Toni Husbands: Any time, anytime, because I think I think we do need to kind of just like stay connected as a community, tap into the resources that you have. You know, like I said, with, you know, a brother, a financial adviser, something like that. Yeah, my father speaks Spanish. He's been doing Spanish lessons for now. So. And, you know, all through the magic of Zoom so we can really use this time wisely that we would have we'd been otherwise running from here to there and tearing ourselves out, you know, and just, you know, use I think I think repurpose this time when I've gone. I don't think we're gonna be here forever. Yeah. And so, you know, what can we what can we do or ask people what is some of the things that you never had a chance to do that you've always wanted to do? Maybe. Is there some way to take advantage of that time now? You know, I'm mentally set, you know, while you are trying to address some of the financial issues that we're going through.

Elle Martinez: Yeah, that's fantastic. So, guys, if you have any questions, you know, let me know. I love having Toni on. Maybe she can join me again. We can answer your questions. But also, I do want to point out, if you are are doing all right, like things are going well, consider if you can to maybe send someone to give some money to someone in your community. Right now we're in this together or the local food pantry. I know here they've been working overtime. And that's a resource that many of our neighbors need. So if you are doing pretty well, you know, consider giving. I know this is a crazy time or even volunteering. If they are following the protocol. I know a lot of food pantries are asking for volunteers as well. But thank you, Tony. If anyone wants to hang out with you and chat with you, what's the best way they can reach out to you?

Toni Husbands: So I'm on Facebook. You can find us. Just look for debt free divas on Facebook or Twitter. Or if you want to head over to my Web site, that preview that board. All right.

Elle Martinez: Thank you so much, Toni. I hope you have a fantastic weekend.

Toni Husbands: Thanks so much.