Kicking Two Bad Habits All In the Name of Being Debt Free

Woo-hoo! I’m excited to finally announce the first Debt Scholarship winner. The first winner is compliments of Bob Lotich from Big shout out to Bob for being an awesome sponsor. :)

Debt Scholar: Aideen

The Debt Stats:

  • Total Debt Paid Off: $6,232.00
  • Debt Paid off During Movement: $5,500
  • Amount Left Till Debt Free: $1,900

bigstock-debt-free-zone-or-tax-reductio-40168978The biggest change I’ve made that has directly impacted my personal debt movement and has positively impacted my life is that I quit drinking.

If you’ve read my first survey, I believe I spoke about a personal goal of trying to quit drinking, though on Day 1 of the Debt Movement, I was not yet sober.

Like many people, I’ve been trying to quit for years. I’ve spent many of the last 15 years (I’m currently 30) of my life with a drink in hand.

While other people didn’t notice that I had a problem, I certainly did because when I wanted to just have one drink I couldn’t. My drinking was starting to impact my life, my job, school work and my emotional well-being. I tried everything to quit and nothing was working. I seriously contemplated leaving my job to go to rehab, in fact the only reason I didn’t go through with that plan is because of the insurance implications.

By the grace of God, I went to an AA meeting and have been sober ever since, albeit two months. I quit drinking in the midst of my debt movement journey.

There is no way that I would have been able to pay off $6232 of debt to date without deciding to stop drinking.

The Small Wins

In the last two months, I’ve encountered small miracles, stumbled upon new found money and have readjusted the budget to make larger debt payments per month. I’m only 20% of the way to debt freedom, but I’ve made incredible strides in a short period of time and really feel like I built up some solid momentum.

In terms of advice, the second biggest factor during my debt journey (next to quitting drinking) has been to maintain my $1,000 emergency fund without touching it.

I know this particular piece of advice sounds obvious, in practice I found it very difficult. I started my debt free journey in 2012 with the hope of paying $10,000 off by the end of the year. I was never able to keep my emergency fund fully funded; “emergencies” always seemed to creep up.

When I look back at what I spent the money on there were no emergencies in 2012 – no health issues, car issues, apartment issues, nothing that would justify pilfering my emergency fund. By the end of the year, I had only paid off $5,000 and couldn’t tell you where the rest of the money went.

I felt defeated.

False Security

I realized that it wasn’t the $1,000 that became a barrier; it was that I did not feel secure.

Every time I dipped into my emergency fund I was cutting away pieces of my invisible security blanket until there was really nothing to show for it. 2013 has been a completely different year for me.

Since January 1, I have had the emergency fund fully funded, I have not touched it. I’ve readjusted the budget as needed to make way for unexpected purchases, at times I’ve even had to pay less towards debt then I would have liked to, but it’s more important to keep the emergency fund fully loaded in case I have a real emergency.

Low and behold, Murphy came a knocking’ in February! I had to have an unexpected procedure performed which ended up costing me a total of $800 out of pocket after insurance.

Fortunately, I have a plan!

Having a Plan

I’m paying it down using my Flex Spending Account and once that is maxed out, I will have saved up the remaining $300 owed and STILL not touch my emergency fund which is amazing for me. I used to feel antsy having the $1000 sitting in the bank not working for me in any productive way, but ironically, in 2013, having the money sitting in the bank has directly led to increased debt payments that I didn’t think were possible.

In many ways, the Debt Movement got me motivated to finally put the pieces together to attack my biggest life challenge (drinking) while simultaneously attacking my debt.

The $10 million dollar pay off was a monstrous goal that I was excited (and still am excited) about getting behind. I’m really thankful to have stumbled across this movement and am proud to have been a small part in getting to $10 million.

As I said in my last survey, I do hope you keep the goal rolling till the end of the year, no need to stop at three months. I’m excited about the future and to check back in with the Debt Movement team once I’ve made my last student loan payment.


Congrats to Aideen for being selected! Truly inspiring for others seeking to be debt free.

  • Joshua Brown

    Congrats, Aideen for being selected as a scholarship winner, but more importantly on changing your life by dumping the alcohol while dumping debt!

  • Joan Otto

    Aideen, I’m INCREDIBLY proud of what you have accomplished and thrilled to hear you are receiving one of the scholarships to help you on your way. Thank you more than I can say for sharing your story with us.

  • Stephanie

    Congratulations on winning! And double congrats on your sobriety!

  • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer

    So very happy for you, Aideen! Congrats on reaching two very important goals, and on having the courage to share your story so you could inspire others.

  • Steve MoneyPlanSOS Stewart

    That is unbelievable Aideen! Your story is an inspiration.

  • HappySimpleLiving

    Congratulations, Aideen, and thank you for sharing your story so transparently. You inspire us all! :-)

  • Prudence Debtfree

    I love the fact that your debt-reduction has led you to victory over drinking – and that your sobriety has powered your debt-reduction! Congratulations on the scholarship win. May God bless you as you continue on your two journeys.

  • Ruben Omega

    Wonderful and inspiring story, thanks for sharing it so openly and congratulations!!!

  • Deacon

    Congrats Aideen!