How I Paid Off $5,000 in 3 Months

Zandile Chiwanza
Mar 21, 2018 · 4 min read
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

“When I first started getting serious about paying down my debts, I had to really think about why it was important for me to get out of debt as soon as possible,” said Kristin Sutton, founder of this platform Debt Free Black Girl in a recent newsletter.

Good question. Why is being debt free important to me? Well frankly, I am tired of dealing with the emotional consequences that come with debt such as stress, anxiety, shame, depression, low self-esteem just to name a few. Since I started this journey I have had to constantly remind myself why I am doing this in the first place. It has helped tremendously to keep me focused and remind myself of my purpose and changed my outlook on my finances.

Here’s what I did to accelerate my debt payoff in no particular order:

Pick A Strategy

I love the debt snowball method. This reduction strategy where you pay off debt in order of smallest to largest, gaining momentum as each balance is paid off. No matter which strategy you choose you have to tailor it to your current situation and make it work for you. I chose the debt snowball method but I did not focus on the smallest debt but instead the one that gave me the biggest headache. I zoomed in on my most pressing debt and tackled it with all my energy. Seeing that number go down motivated me and started a chain reaction. I am looking forward to tackling the next one. Make sure to continue making minimum payments on all your other debts and pay as much as possible to the one you decide to pay off first if you choose this method.

Positive Patty

When I set out on this journey I told myself I would pay off $10,000 in 10 months. Well, I paid off $5,000 in three. Not only did I celebrate this, but it also motivated me to pay off my initial goal in three months less than I originally planned. I’m well on my way to paying off $10,000 in eight months. My attitude did half the work. Putting on my positivity pants allowed me to see the bright side of my finances. Surround yourself with positive financial affirmations and change up your vocabulary. Complaining about it tends to be a drag; owning my debt uplifted me.

Treat debt like a bill

After my fixed expenses, I pay off my debt FIRST. I don’t treat it as an afterthought. This little trick helped me to condition myself to prioritize how I spend my money. On top of this strict intent to pay, I encourage you to put any extra income towards your debt once you have a strategy. According to a quick Google search, a want is a “desire, something you wish for or hope for” while a need is “something you require because it is essential or very important.” In order to start changing my spending habits, I had to keep track of how I was spending money first and then identifying my essentials and non-essentials supported by a budget has allowed me to buckle down a lot more. At the moment, 40% of my total income goes towards my debt.

Mo’ money

It’s no secret that in order to pay off debts income is a BIG factor. The more money the better. As much as I didn’t want to I went out and got a good ol’ seasonal job just before Christmas. Retail is always booming that time of year. I did not know if I would keep this job for a long time but I knew I needed a boost ASAP. Side note: Having two jobs also keeps me booked and busy so I rarely have time to come up with fun ways to spend more money. These small things count.

Fight FOMO

I put a stop to the madness late last year by embarking on an ambitious three-month challenge of NO spending. This challenge is a good method to cut down on spending by spending no more than you absolutely have to. I made many mistakes in the beginning but I soon began to take control of my spending and show my money who is boss. A large part of this is notifying your loved ones about your financial journey. If they respect you they will respect your priorities and keep the shenanigans to a minimum themselves.

Another hack to curb the fear of missing out is to set aside money for entertainment, this is also an important part of budgeting. For example, I love going to concerts — so I account for that when I am budgeting my expenses. This curbs my impulse purchases out of sheer boredom because I have already planned my fun ahead of time and when I think of spending money I already have something to look forward to.

No matter how big or small your debt is, getting into the groove of paying it off is not a simple task but living that debt-free life in the near future outweighs anything that will set us back on payments in the moment.

What are some tricks that have helped you pay off your debt

Originally published at on March 21, 2018.

Zandile Chiwanza

Written by

Journalist. Based in Toronto. Writing through my financial journey.

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