Choosing Freedom Over Debt

On Tuesday I wrote about how I have changed the way I spend my money in order to accelerate my debt payments. I wrote about ditching my car, cutting cable, eating healthier and cheaper, and destroying my frivolous spending habits. All of these changes have compounded into each other and allowed me to dramatically cut my monthly variable expenses.

The tips on cutting costs that Mr. Money Mustache lays out actually do work. Today I have the proof.

This week I have been busy inputting all of my spending from 2012 into my budget tracking worksheet. With all of this data collected I have analyzed it in order to illustrate how my new spending habits have impacted my finances compared to last year. The effects are great to see.

Variable Expenses

The secret to my extra monthly debt payments is keeping my spending under control. I have been able to cut my variable monthly spending by more than half. These costs include food, bars, shopping, restaurants, etc. Rent, student loan payments, utilities, etc. are excluded from these totals.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

This right here illustrates the effects of making smart spending decisions. More importantly, I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything compared to last year. I don’t miss the daily lunches out or the weekly junk food trips or cable. I didn’t need these things in my life and I don’t miss them now that they are gone.

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Mile One of the Debt Pay Down Marathon

Mr. Money Mustache says:

Developing a habit of small but frequent action that moves you in the right direction is all it takes to accomplish just about anything, given sufficient time.


Today I began my rapid debt pay down plan. It was as simple as a call to the student loan department at Wells Fargo.

I dialed in the number and after navigating through a few menus was put on hold. I waited a few minutes listening to a piano play a song I have never heard before but have probably heard hundreds of times. I waited a few more minutes, each second I became more hesitant about what I wanted to do. Finally, a man named John picked up the phone. After the obligatory identity verification he asked me what he could do for me. Well, I said, I would like to make an extra payment on my student loan. He asked me which loan, and I told him the high interest one. He asked me how much, and I said $6,500. Next he asked for an account and routing number and I provided that information. Then he asked me if there was anything else he could do for me, I answered no.

Just like that the call was over. Ten minutes on hold and less than sixty seconds talking to John. Eleven minutes, my savings account was $6,500 lighter and my debt pay down marathon had begun. I didn’t have time to hesitate and there is no going back. My first step towards financial freedom had been taken.

It was a relief to actually begin the process. I have been planning this for a few weeks now and I can even go back to August when I found NMHD as the time when I started to really want to do something about my debt. However, I was a little worried that I would not follow through, that I would not even begin my marathon. It would be so easy for me to delete this blog and pretend like I never even thought about making extra student loan payments. My eleven minute call changed all of that.

I have begun to make extreme extra payments and it actually feels good. I thought I would be worried about having less cash on hand but that’s not the case. I am happy to be putting that cash to use, even more than that I am using that cash to improve my situation in life and I’m no longer tempted by it. I could have put a down payment on a new car or I could have went out and bought a bunch of new tech gadgets. I would be lying if I said I haven’t been tempted. I am particularly fond of the Ford Mustang.

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