This Debt Free Living and Frugal Living Super Page contains a growing list of success stories from our readers on how they avoid debt and live life peacefully!
If you’re looking for encouragement to keep going, you’re going to love reading these frugal living success stories from real people. Some struggle with debt, others are finding joy in living within their means. Keep reading and get stoked about the possibilities!
Frugality Helps You Sleep
I want to let you know how much your book and website have helped my family during this past year. I have had ongoing health issues (surgery, pneumonia, hearing loss and ongoing tendon issues in both feet).
As a result of my health have missed a total of five months of work. As of today, I am still on work disability, but I only have one month of family leave left. My job could be in jeopardy, but because we only owe a little bit on our house, I am able to sleep at night.
Yes, money is tight, but it is do-able. We took your advice in your newsletter to do some caulking, and get out more blankets. This way we could keep our heat between 62 and 65 degrees. With all your other tips, I do believe we will be okay even if I do lose my job. Donna – Dowagiac, MI
Patience Pays . . . Dividends
The biggest money saver I’ve discovered is patience!
If you do your research and know what you want and then wait for it to be on sale you’ll save a huge amount of money. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve saved 50% or more just because I watched and waited.
Patience really helps me save money! Dianne Guastella – Midlothian, VA
Fears Flee From Frugality
We are another frugal living success story!
My hubby was downsized out of his job after working there for nearly twelve years. This could really sink a family financially, but we have no fear because we’re debt-free except for the mortgage. In addition to that, we have saved up an emergency fund of between six and nine months of living expenses – depending on how much we spend. We should be fine for anywhere from nine to twelve months (and that includes our son’s tuition payments) with a little focused budgeting and some extra money saving strategies. Our son has two years of college remaining. Please remind those out there who are just starting out on their financial journey that frugality really pays off! The peace and lack of fear that we’re experiencing are something we never want to lose. Bonnie C. – Lakeville, MA
Gratefully Debt Free
Having all of your money saving resources means that we can refer to them regularly. We are so grateful for your help in bringing us to the place of becoming debt free so many years ago.
We always tell people that outside of our salvation, marriage, and children, being debt-free is the best thing that ever happened to us. As a result, we are always encouraging those we live with here in Guatemala and back in the states to embrace the frugal life. And to also work to be completely debt free! We can’t tell you how good it feels to be able to live this way. Art & Lisa – San Lucas, Guatemala
A subscriber story about beating down debt
I would like to give you an update on my progress. I just finished paying off my credit card bill and am now working on paying down my mortgage. The trick I used was to make bi-weekly payments on my credit card bill. Then when I received my income tax refund check, I finally eliminated that bill! Do you have any tips about paying off the mortgage early?
I just finished paying off my credit card bill and am now working on paying down my mortgage. The trick I used was to make bi-weekly payments on my credit card bill. Then when I received my income tax refund check, I finally eliminated that bill! Do you have any tips about paying off the mortgage early?
Do you have any tips about paying off the mortgage early?
My family gave me a $200 gift card for Christmas to buy a TV. I saved it for several months, then just the other day I went to Walmart to buy a TV for the living room. The price was $468.00 for a 51″ TV, so I used the gift card and my Walmart employee discount. My final price was $258.00, and I had that money saved up in cash!
I’ll let you know how I’m doing on my mortgage. I’m hoping I can pay it off in about one year from now.
Thanks for sharing your update with us. You are really staying focused on eliminating debt. The last time you wrote was about 7 months ago and you owed $2500 on your credit card.
Paying off a mortgage is much the same as paying off a credit card. Control your spending with a budget so that you have extra money each month to pay toward the loan principal (the money you borrowed).
As your income increases, take some of the increase and build your savings; another portion to pay on the house; and a little bit of the extra that you earn and enjoy it. Do something fun just for you. It doesn’t have to be extravagant. But spending a little of your excess as a reward will help you stick with the hard work longer.
We wrote about this in our first book, America’s Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money – in the Savings Chapter section about windfalls. Having a plan BEFORE extra money comes in will help you eliminate debt faster.
By the way, we love your story about the TV – you saved a lot of money by being smart and patient.
Be Smart with Plastic
A question about using credit cards from a website visitor:
I’ve been told to only use a credit card because they are safer and you are less financially exposed to loss than with a debit card. What do you guys say?
MoneySmart Family Answer:
Debit Card Facts
We’ve used our debit card to make airline reservations, rent cars and we’ve even earned enough bonus points (some banks offer this incentive) with them to buy several round-trip airline tickets.
Debit cards are more readily accepted and safer now than ever before—especially with the new chip cards. The major brand debit cards—VISA and MasterCard—when processed as “Credit,” without using a PIN (personal identification number), are protected against fraud the same as a credit card.
Debit card usage rivals credit card use. In 2010 more than 1.3 trillion dollars were spent in the U.S. with Visa and MasterCard debit card transactions. By comparison, the Federal Reserve reports that in 2011, the combined total of all credit cards transactions totaled 1.9 trillion dollars.
In a 2016 statistics show that 40 percent of consumers chose to use credit cards versus 35 percent choosing debit cards.
In the past couple of years, the consumer preference toward using credit cards increased by 5 percent while debit card usage dropped 6 percent.
Debit cards were the chosen method of payment for smaller transactions like groceries and gas. But larger purchases at home electronics stores, department stores, and restaurants were made with credit cards more often.
Overdraft protection is no longer automatically applied to your checking account (this is a good thing). You’ll now have to opt in if you want it. Overdraft protection varies from bank to bank. Some require you to have a linked account where funds can be automatically transferred from, others treat it like a line of credit. Without overdraft protection, if you do try to spend more money than you have in the bank, your card will be denied (this is not a bad thing). Otherwise, if you spend more you’ll pay a fee for that privilege.
This can be a negative if you don’t carry a larger balance in your checking account. When renting a car or a hotel room, most companies put a hold on a certain amount of funds if you’re paying with a debit card—somewhere between $100 and $200 is what we’ve experienced. At the end of the transaction, the money is put back into your account and you’re charged the agreed upon price for your transaction.
Some people say that debit cards are less protected than credit cards. We disagree. Our experience has been that it’s easier to get a refund or contest a charge on our debit card than our daughter Becky has had when she contested a charge on her credit card. There was also a time when our bank called us because someone had charged a 43 cent transaction in California on our debit card. Their fraud group was alerted and we canceled the card. We were told that someone, probably at a restaurant, stole our card number and ran a test transaction. If the transaction worked, they would try to sell our card information. We immediately canceled the card and were refunded the 43 cents.
The bottom line is that debit cards are as safe as credit cards, but the temptation to overspend or to go in debt is much less.
Debt Weary — But the End is Near!
Encouragement Question: Hi, I don’t have a specific budgeting question, but I’m feeling the need to hear words of encouragement—and you guys are the BEST at that!
My husband and I have sacrificed a lot in order to become debt free (it has taken us a little longer than expected, but on December 22 we’ll make the final payment!!!!
While I’m so very happy about what we’ve accomplished, I sometimes feel a little down about the process of culling things I don’t really need. I feel silly about that reaction, and need to get a better perspective.
Wow, what an awesome accomplishment! Hang in there, the end is in sight!
We remember the days when all our friends were buying bigger houses and fancier cars than we had. They also had designer clothes and took exotic vacations, and all the while we were making sacrifices so we had a stable financial foundation. It was hard to watch, but it was so worth it!
You will reap rewards as you are faithful, keep plodding the path. You are sowing seeds that will bless you and others around you for a long time!
Debt Free Gratitude from the UK!
A single mom recounts her journey from a debt-riddled existence to debt-free living! She’ll never go back! Receiving letters like the one below really make our day.We are so proud of you Marie—keep going!
I wanted to say thank you to you both as you have quite literally changed my life. I know that seems to be an awfully big statement but if you bear with me I will tell you why.
I am completely Debt Free as of yesterday (apart from the mortgage which will now be overpaid till it’s gone).
I have paid off nearly £30,000 in the last few years, as a single mum of two, working full-time and not having any knowledge of budgeting or saving until I found your website and had a lightbulb moment.
There was always too much month at the end of my money and it didn’t matter how much i earned it was never enough, so i bought your books, sat down and got myself an education.
I also sat my two girls down and gave them the same education (wish my parents had done this years ago) anyway, fast forward and I use the envelope system for everything, have savings in the bank for the first time in my life (i am nearly 40) and
I have savings in the bank for the first time in my life (i am nearly 40) and
have paid all my debt off, what a relief! i feel so light and free, my money
I feel so light and free, my money is for me and my girls, not some faceless company. My girls sit with me every month and we do the budget, i find this is such a godsend as they can see
where the money goes. They know that just because
They know that just because I earn X amount it does not mean I can afford whatever they want that month. There are outgoings to consider as well, and it saves so many arguments and stresses.
We shop together, getting bargains and trying to beat each other with savings, its great fun. Plus, I know i am teaching them real lessons for when they are older.
Anyway, I wanted to say thank you, as even though I am ‘across the pond’ and
alot of the advice is not relevant for me there is still alot of information
i can and do use.
And I wanted to say thank you, as I feel you have quite literally saved the roof over my head and showed me the way and i will be eternally grateful.
Wish you all the best, Marie
If you have a debt free/ frugal living tip that has worked for you, please leave it in the comments below.