One of the ways Nate and I are breaking rules is that we have not used a credit card in five years. Even though we haven’t used our credit card, we still had an outstanding balance.
When we bought our house 5 years ago, we opened a Sears card and bought a fridge, washer, dryer, dishwasher, king sized mattress and bed frame for a grand total of $5,000. Previously, we could easily have paid that off as we were living in an apartment and had relatively small bills and two decent incomes. In all of our infinite 23-year-old wisdom, we didn’t realize how significantly our bills would increase once we became homeowners and thought we’d have plenty of money left over to knock out our balance in under a year.
Ha. Ha. Hahahahaha!
Five years later and we just made the last payment on our balance! It’s an exciting day here in the Riedy household. It’s about dang time.
We were mostly making the minimum payments and every once in a while we’d pay a few hundred dollars extra on the total. We didn’t have a plan of attack and it kind of just became a normal bill for us. You pay your water, trash, mortgage, credit card… it’s just the way it was.
The series on minimalism that started at our church back in February also covered debt. A huge motivator for striving for minimalism is to allow us to be more generous with our time and money to point others to Jesus. How can we do that if we’re entangled in debt? We decided then and there we were going to destroy our remaining balance and hustle as hard as we could to pay it off.
In less than two months, we paid off the remaining $1,010 on our Sears card without using a single dollar from our regular paychecks. Did you hear that? Two months! Over $1,000! Not a single dollar came from our regular income! Say what?!
Here’s how we eliminated our balance:
1. Facebook Yard Sale: After purging not just our closet, but literally every single drawer and space in our entire home, I made $475 selling things on our local Facebook Yard Sale page. I sold Nate’s dresser, an ottoman, an end table, decor, baby gear, a cart, a side chair and tons of smaller items. Not only is our house less cluttered, but I made a nice chunk of change in the process!
2. Mystery Shopping: Nate signed up to mystery shop with reputable companies and does a few each week on the way home from work and on the weekend. So far, we’ve received checks for $69 of mystery shopping. Each company pays on a different schedule so it took a few weeks for the checks to start rolling in. There are lots of articles out there explaining how to mystery shop. Just make sure you don’t pay any money to sign up to mystery shop. Those are scams.
3. Traditional Yard Sale: We participated in our developments yard sale this past weekend. While we still have way too much stuff left over, we made $100 selling our old junk and sold some things for friends as well with all the proceeds going to a Kiva loan. A charity truck is scheduled for Tuesday to pick up everything left over and donate to a local veterans organization.
4. Turning a Hobby Into a Hustle: Nate is a civil war reenactor. It combines his love of history and camping into the ultimate guys weekend away. There’s typically an admission fee, food cost and little purchases that add up. Nate pays for his hobby plus pockets some cash by rolling his own rounds of black powder and selling them. The last reenactment, Nate paid for the expense of the weekend plus came home with $40. He also buys and sells gear and makes his own. Picture Nate with a needle and thread sewing pouches and other random knick-knacks. He made his own tent and then sold a tent he got for free earning $200.
5. Luck: Don’t hate us, but on the way to his last reenactment, Nate found $100 on the side of the road. His friends like to call it Nate Luck because things like this seem to happen all the time.
We made payments as soon as we had the money. We didn’t want the money to sit in our bank accounts and for us to accidentally use it. And just like that, we finally paid off our credit card. I wish we would have attacked that debt years ago. I wouldn’t say it was easy to make the $1,000, but it definitely wasn’t hard. With a little creativity, time and effort, we’re one step closer to financial freedom.
If you’re feeling weighed down by debt, give one of these ideas a try to see if you can lower your balance without straining your bank account. Now excuse me, I’m about to eat a bowl of celebratory We-paid-off-our-credit-card Ice cream.