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Reader PF Story: Finally! Goals + Direction!

This is the final post of Kathy’s personal finance story. As you know, she is now part of team Mommy Snacks!!

We were elated at the news that we were pregnant but at the same time we were sobered by the fact that our financial life had to get back on track! 2009 was approaching, and we decided our first step was for BJ to take a second job. Because we had so neglected our debt, we believed that we needed to work extra hard to get rid of it.

I began couponing, thanks in part to finding some frugal and deal websites. I began to follow their instructions step by step! I was ravenous when it came to information on coupons. Whatever it took, I wanted to get the best deals and save our family lots of money!

After I started couponing, I would not buy anything unless it was free or under $1, with very few exceptions. We were so serious about getting rid of debt we tried anything we could think of, including applying for food stamps and WIC. We knew these were short-term solutions, but we felt desperate.

Slowly we began to see progress. All that BJ earned in his part-time job went directly to debt. Couponing and WIC helped us cut down on the outflow of our finances. As we neared the end of 2009, we made it a goal to be out of debt by May of 2011. We had cut down on our outflow and had increased our income.

In late December, we discussed the idea of me taking a temporary part time job to pay off our debt more aggressively. Could we be debt free by January 2011? BJ talked to my old boss on the campus and found out there was a position available at the restaurant on campus as a cashier/host. I applied and got the job!

BJ was working a full time job and part time job, while I was working a part time job when he got off from his job at lunchtime. When he had ministry work to do (which was often), college students volunteered to babysit so that all that I earned could go straight to debt. For the first time, I feel like we were being gazelle intense in our desire to be rid of debt. With working, couponing and trying to practice self-control we are seeing an immense difference in our lives!

In fact, next week we will be making our final credit card payment and will be debt free from our credit cards!! We will soon be able to shout out as others have before us, “WE ARE DEBT FREE!” Woohoo!!!

Are you working to be debt free too? Want to share your personal finance story to enourage others?
Please email me and let me know if you would be interested in sharing your story in a post!

Photo Credit: Hermes

About Andrea Deckard

Andrea Deckard is a personal finance expert and speaker. She lives by the following motto, "save on what you need so you can spend on what you want." She started Savings Lifestyle in 2008, and long-time readers remember the site as Mommy Snacks. Andrea is a go-to resource on frugal living for local news outlets such as WDTN, WGRR, and as well as national outlets like Good Morning America. She has also been featured in multiple national publications.


  1. Amanda Y. on August 17, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    Wow, I have to say in the most respectful way possible, I find it deplorable that you applied or could receive food stamps while trying to pay off debt that is no one’s fault but your own. Not WIC, but the food stamps part, that really saddens me. Why if you feel entitled to pay off your debt, should others not follow suit? Where does the limit get drawn? Is there more I’m missing?

  2. Diana B on August 17, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    I imagine her husband’s salary must have been low enough for them to qualify for food stamps. It would have nothing to do with her debt at all.

  3. Diane on August 17, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    If they were earning so little that they qualify for food stamps but were previously not using them (by putting the food money into their own debt pile instead of the government’s debt pile) how is that deplorable? And she did say that those would be temporary solutions, which sounds like she has no plans to play the system like some people do, and stay on them for as long as possible. So I don’t understand why you find that they applied for food stamps is wrong.

    I did a quick search and here is a short description about what food stamps can be used on.

    “You can buy any food except alcohol, pet food, or heated foods. You can also buy seeds and plants to grow food, as long as you are buying them from a store that accepts SNAP/food stamps (like a grocery store).

    You cannot use your EBT card to buy soap, toothpaste, toilet paper, tobacco, or anything else that is not food. ”

  4. Jeannie English on August 17, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    I’m proud of you for paying off your credit cards and 4 months ahead of schedule!
    Your sacrifices have paid off. Keep up the good work. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • MommySnacks: Kathy on August 17, 2010 at 11:43 pm

      Thank you ladies, for the encouragement! It means more than I can say!

  5. Briana Carter on August 17, 2010 at 11:03 pm

    First of all, you have to qualify for WIC and Food Stamps, which means your income is low enough that you need. It has to be used towards qualifying items so I’m sure that Kathy was using any other money that was saved from not spending the money on food towards their debt. It was obviously a short term solution…not sure why you are upset about that?

  6. MommySnacks: Kathy on August 17, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    Thanks so much for your thoughts. I knew that in sharing our story and the raw facts that others would have different feelings and opinions about our course of actions. I understand that not everyone would choose the road to “debt recovery” that we did. We did apply for food stamps at a time when we felt particularly desperate, but we did not qualify (nowhere near it). We knew even if we did qualify that it would be a short term solution. You are so right, we got ourselves into our mess and we had to work really hard to get ourselves out by couponing and lots of hard work. It was our duty to get us out and through this time we learned some very good lessons that remain very fresh in our minds. My desire and message is that getting out of debt is very much a possibility for people in difficult financial situations. When you are in the middle of it, it feels so overwhelming! I know others may choose different paths, but I hope and pray that anyone currently facing financial difficulties could see there is light at the end of the tunnel and there is hope. Thank you for the stimulating thoughts and the reminder that we have not arrived, but are still learning.

  7. MommySnacks: Andrea on August 18, 2010 at 12:59 am

    First off, I am SO proud that Kathy and BJ are months ahead of schedule! Honestly, when I read her edits, I was stunned because I knew of the original plan. I’m so happy for them because we know the feeling. If you’ve been there, or are eliminating debt yourself, you know exactly what all of those emotions are like.

    Amanda, maybe you’re not understanding how the process to receive aide works. You have to have a certain family income. It has nothing to do with debt. Not that it matters, but they didn’t even receive it. I read Kathy’s point as they were willing to take an extreme step like that, and encouraging others to consider that same thing if it was necessary.

    And, Kathy’s final comment above says it so well. No one has arrived and we’re all still learning. But, we can encourage one another no matter where we are in the process.

  8. Shannon on August 18, 2010 at 10:46 am

    I see no problem getting help from the state/government as long as there is no abuse in the system. We all pay thousands of dollars in taxes year to be able to use a couple of $100 a month when in need. I mean really, if you are a tax paying citizen and need help, you are really just getting your money back that you paid in to the system. Just sayin’

    Congrats on becoming debt free! I applaud you.

  9. Stephanie on August 18, 2010 at 11:24 am

    Great job Kathy & BJ! You have an inspiring story! I am upset for you at the comment posted above! You did what you needed to do to take care of your family and you would not have been given benefits if you did not qualify for them. This is exactly what these benefits are meant for. I had a friend who wa a single mother working her way through school during the day and working at night, while receiving food stamps, housing, medical, etc. When she did not need the benefits anymore, she stopped accepting them. Anyway- great job and you defintiely give me inspiration!

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