When I first began following the Debt Free Community on Instagram I was drawn in by the stories everyone would share about their debt free journeys. I find it fascinating to read about the progress others are making and also reassuring to know that I am not the only one in my position.

Your Debt Diary is a guest blog series by money bloggers and members of the debt free community for My Debt Diary. Each week someone new will share their debt story. This week Amia from @singlegaldebtfree shares the beginning of her debt free journey and her plans for the next five years and she works towards becoming debt free.


What stage are you at in your debt free journey right now?

I am still right at the beginning of my debt free journey. I officially started in June 2018 with my first goal so save a mini emergency fund of $1000. I had never saved $1000 at one time for anything before that in my entire life, and it amazes me now looking back. I currently have $104,513.93 in debt, and pre-debt free journey in May 2018 when I first started really looking into fixing my money issues I was hovering between $107-108,000.

I started this journey because at the beginning of this year I realised, I’m 28 now and would like to buy a home in the next few years. I started doing research on buying homes and how much you would need to save for down payments, closing costs, pricing for appliances…and then I stopped. I was looking at homes that were very low priced and very much not what I would want if I bought a home because of my debt payments.

I added up the numbers for the first time all together and realised I was sitting with six figures of debt and I practically already owned a house in debt. I decided then that I needed to figure out how to become debt free and then revisit home ownership.

What is your debt total?

My current total is sitting at $104,513.93. I am what the debt free community group on Instagram call #teamsmallshovel. I am single so my debt payments are smaller and progress is slower than some, but I’m still making progress!

What is your “why”?

My why is a few things, but it can all be lumped into freedom. I want to be able to purchase a home, travel (something I haven’t done much because of money), the ability to change jobs if I’d like, the freedom to help others in need, to have the security of a large amount of savings, and upping my retirement investing.

Are you following a specific plan or method?

I follow a mix of plans. I mainly follow Dave Ramsey and Anna Newell Jones. Dave Ramsey is so controversial but his general method of attacking one debt at a time with the debt snowball is just a great concept for me. I understand that mathematically it would make more sense to do interest, but I like having the small, more frequent victories along the way. I also haven’t stopped my retirement, and once I’m done paying off my credit cards, I will keep one open to put a small recurring charge on monthly to keep my credit score up.

Anna Newell Jones wrote a book called The Spender’s Guide to Debt-Free Living: How a Spending Fast Helped Me Get from Broke to Badass in Record Time, and she has a similar payoff process, hers is just called the “Debt Hit List” versus a snowball, but her idea of having a spending fast or diet (no frivolous spending days, months, years) is something I have used because it makes you so much more aware of where you’re blowing your budget.

I also really like learning new tips and tricks from the debt free community on Instagram. Seeing everyone’s victories and their honest setbacks is really motivating because you realise you’re not alone, even if you don’t have anyone to talk to about your debt in person.

What challenges have you faced along the way?

Learning to say no has been the biggest challenge for me. As a young single person, so many activities with friends revolve around happy hours, spontaneous dinners, special events at $30 a pop. So far, I’ve cut back significantly on spontaneous dinners and happy hours, and have said no to one trip to Harry Potter World (which I still cringe at thinking I said no), and I’ve tried to instead turn friend gatherings into more frugal or free ones. I’ve started hosting potlucks, wine nights, movie nights, and I’m starting a book club with friends in January.
Another challenge is getting discouraged. In September and October, I basically made a few extra payments, but zeroed them out by adding to my debt. I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere and that my six figure debt was just so overwhelming that what I was doing was ridiculous and it became “why bother” in my head. I was still looking at debt free posts and blogs and listening to podcasts, but I mentally checked out. But, I realised that freezing because of being overwhelmed wasn’t okay and wasn’t going to get me anywhere. So, I made myself smaller goals, and while I’m still updating my total debt payoff, I’m only really focusing on whichever is the group of debt that I’m paying extra towards at the moment, and right now, that is credit cards.

What are you doing to speed up the progress of your debt free journey?

I picked up a side hustle. I am a librarian, and there are such things as substitute librarians so I sub in a different library system than my full time position on weekends. I also just picked up another side hustle that I’m hoping will grow. I am trained as an archivist, so I am actually going to be processing and preserving family archives for an old coworker. Contract archival work pays well and I’m hoping that after getting this project completed in a few months and having the experience I can offer this to others.
In a non-making money way, I am trying to spend less. I give myself much less fun money than I did pre-debt free journey and I stick to it. That’s where the tracking spending and non-spending days really helps. On the days I spend I write down exactly what I spent, which I how I realised I eat out way too much.

When do you plan to become debt free?

This is a tough question. In my dream world where I hustle extremely hard, bare bones budget and all, I would love to be debt free in 4 years. More realistically, because life happens and something will break down or come up that costs a lot, I think it will actually be closer to 5. I’m going to work my hardest so that it doesn’t go over 5, and I really hope I get it to 4. Either way, I will be 32 or 33 completely debt free and I feel like that’s a win.


I’d like to thank Amia for sharing her story in today’s post. Please make sure to visit her Instagram at @singlegaldebtfree

You can read last week’s post here. If you would like to share your story with Your Debt Diary please leave a comment below with your email address or Instagram and I will get in touch. You can find me on Instagram here.


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