Happy Birthday to Me. I’m Consumer Debt-Free!

03 Aug
by Jenny, posted in Consumerism/Minimalism, Ditching Debt, Making More, Money Honey, Spending Less   |  70 Comments

Jonathan Livingston Seagull Returns At the beginning of this year Kirk and I set out to accomplish a lofty goal: to pay off $25,629.00 in consumer debt by November of this year. At the time, I hoped we could follow through and stay the course. It was a big goal.

In late January I decided to launch Ex-Consumer to document our journey. So many unexpected things happened from that point forward.

I didn’t expect to find this online community that has lifted me up, encouraged me to forge ahead and allowed me to share my story.

I didn’t expect to discover an entire community of like-minded individuals from which I could share and learn.

I didn’t expect to stumble upon a lifestyle known as minimalism, voluntary simplicity, simple living, or whatever other alias you prefer.

It’s because of YOU that I was able to stay the course and smash this consumer debt in eight months.

It’s because of YOU I realized that this lifestyle isn’t crazy or a pipe-dream.

It’s because of YOU that I will be celebrating one of the most memorable birthdays of my 34 years in this life.

As of August 1st, 2011 Kirk and I are officially consumer debt-free. Wow.

Where Did the Extra Money Come From?

You may remember last month when I wistfully hoped to get the rest of the nearly $4,000 consumer debt paid off by my birthday (officially tomorrow). We had $1,800 already allocated to debt-repayment for the month of July. Then we made another $1,100 from our garage sale AND I received an extra pay check in July due to a biweekly payroll cycle.

The stars literally aligned to allow us to pay off this debt a little early.

The Difference a Year Can Make

This time a year ago, I was still trying to get Kirk on board with my new vision of our simple life without debt. In fact, it was this time last year that Kirk accused me of wanting to go live in a tent and steal food from people’s gardens.

This was his way of telling me he thought my ideas were extreme. Thankfully, he eventually came around.

When I look back over the past year, I see how we attacked this debt from two directions. We cut our expenses. And we created more money.

Together, these two simple actions allowed us to chip away at the debt until it was eliminated completely. The following list serves as a reminder of some of the actions that made a difference in our efforts.

If you want to read about more ways we saved more and spent less, a trip through my full archives will reveal even more than the above list.

So, what’s next?

From here, we have an emergency fund to rebuild. Our current e-fund is only a little over $5,000. We plan to build up the fund over the next seven months to equal $20,000.

So, prepare to see the handy graph in my monthly updates switch directions as I begin charting an upward slope (YES!).

A Special Thank You

I absolutely couldn’t have done this without you. As a token of my gratitude, I will soon be announcing a contest/challenge that will run the entire month of September. It will be my way of saying thank you to the wonderful readers here that have supported what I’m doing at Ex-Consumer.

I appreciate each and every one of you more than you’ll ever know.

What goals are you working on lately? How are they coming along?

Did you like this post? If so, please consider leaving a comment, and signing up to receive updates by email or RSS feed from Ex-Consumer. It’s completely free and I never spam! You can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

Related posts:

  1. You’re Consumer Debt-Free. What Now?
  2. Consumer Debt Remaining
  3. Debt Elimination Progress Update
  4. Debt Elimination Update – June 1st
  5. Cheap Minimalist Birthday Party for Kids
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70 Responses to Happy Birthday to Me. I’m Consumer Debt-Free!

  1. Meg

    Happy Birthday, Jenny! This is brilliant, and a testimony to the exponential nature of stopping the shopping. It’s gotta feel so good :)

    • Thank you so much Meg. And you’re right, just as you talk about on your blog and in “The Minimalist Woman’s Guide to Having it All,” stopping the shopping is a HUGE component to getting out of debt. :)

  2. That’s fantastic, Jenny! I’m very, very jealous (we’re a couple of years away from retiring ours).

    Oh, and happy birthday!

    • Thanks Mike! Just keep plugging away at those debts and they’ll be gone in time. We stopped using credit cards and paid off our balances last April, but we decided to get rid of all the consumer debt this year. So really, it’s taken us longer than seven months to dig out of everything. I think what took the longest was getting our mindset refocused!

  3. Congratulations Jenny! Thanks for sharing your journey with us. Paying off $25,629 in about 7 months is quite the accomplishment. The good news is that this isn’t the end; it is just the beginning as now you can do anything you want to financially. I’m excited to see where exconsumer.com goes from here!

    PS Happy Birthday!

    • Hey Jon, thanks! It will certainly be more fun to save our money rather than use it to pay off debts in the coming months. I’m so excited to chart an upward sloping graph soon!

  4. That is awesome Jenny! Congratulations!

  5. Congratulations, Jenny – you’re an inspiration to anyone (including myself) that is struggling to pay off debt and regain their financial legs. I’ve enjoyed following your journey, and look forward to seeing what you’ve got in store next.

    • Thank you Travis. You’ve inspired (and continue to inspire) me this year as well. I love hearing about your ability to stick to your budget and still have a life. Sometimes we give up a lot of life to stick to our goals and reading how you do both is so helpful.

      I can’t wait to see the video of you rolling around in singles! ;)

  6. Jill Laudermilch

    First I would like to say, WAY TO GO JENNY! I am so proud of you! What you have accomplished is so amazing! Words can not express how I am beaming for my little sister! I have to also tell you that I laughed out loud, and cried when I read your comment about Kirk saying that you guys were going to live in tents and steal food out of peoples gardens! So Kirk, but yet, look what you helped him to see and accomplish! You have a gift my special sister, I am so proud to say you are my baby sister and on many levels you are my confidant! Thanks for being amazing! I hope you have the BEST BIRTHDAY ever! Not only do you have a special life to celebrate, but you have a special AMAZING accomplishment to celebrate!

    Happy Birthday and congradulations! I love you and am very proud of you!

  7. I can’t think of a better birthday present! Happy Birthday and a HUGE congratulations!! That is awesome! I can only imagine how much lighter you must feel now. I’m so excited for you!

  8. That is absolutely awesome! We are working towards ours as well, although I am having difficulty with the hubby and budgeting. We will get there eventually!
    I am working on a goal of launching a new ebook and site for busy women!
    Can’t wait to see what is in store for you with your newfound freedom!

    • Hey Bernice! I’m so excited to hear about the new projects you have in the works! Please keep me posted on your progress so I can check them out. :)

      And you are so close with your debts and mortgage payoff. It will happen in time!

  9. Wow! I didn’t realize you paid off THAT MUCH debt. Congratulations. And in just a year. This really inspired me to try to knock out my $8,500 by my next birthday. Well, my next next birthday since my next birthday is on Friday and that might be cutting it close…

    • Hi Chase. Yep, it was a pretty big chunk of money.

      Oh come on, you can’t get that paid off by Friday? If you’re considering knocking out the debt completely by next year, I would highly recommend it. It just adds so much more flexibility and freedom to your life.

      P.S. Happy early Birthday! My birthday is officially tomorrow — I love finding other Leos. ;)

  10. OMG Jenny that is amazing!! Your headline in my inbox lured me in ;) and I just had to come by and say congrats AND happy birthday!!! How inspiring to be able to pay off so much debt in so very little time! I can’t wait to hear about your contest :)

  11. Congratulations Jenny – this news has put a huge smile on my face – I am so pleased for you. Thank you for being an inspiration and for helping me on my journey towards a debt free life.


    • Thank you Steve! You continue to inspire me with your story as well. I can’t wait to continue following along with you on your journey to debt-freedom! :)

  12. This news absolutely made my day! I’m so inspired by your determination and focus. Well done!

  13. Congratulations Jenny and Kirk this is just fantastic news. Well done on eliminating it earlier than planned. Looking forward to watching your graph go up, instead of down! Yay!

    Oh and Happy Birthday :)

  14. Wow! Congratulations! One of my personal goals is to pay off my credit card debt before graduating with my masters. I want to attack my school loans without credit card debt holding me down. Thanks for the inspiration, and best of luck as you move forward.

    • Hi Adam! Paying off your credit card debt before graduating with your masters sounds like a fantastic idea. One of the debts we paid off this year was a student loan. I can tell you from experience that the student loan payoff went a lot quicker without having to allocate any of our money to credit card repayment.

      Good luck!

  15. Well done Jenny on the early pay off – I knew you’d do it! I’ll be back tomorrow to wish you a Happy 34th Birthday!

  16. CONGRATULATIONS Jenny!! That is so awesome and it certainly seems like the stars did align to help you accomplish your goal. Your story is so inspirational to the rest of us – thank you for sharing it. I can’t wait to see the graph of your e-fund :)

  17. I’m a bit late to the party, but congratulations! My goal is to get my income stabilized, then we’ll go from there.


    • Hello Gip! You’re not late at all. In fact, you’re right on time. ;)

      We’ve been lucky this year in that we’ve had stable incomes to work with. There have been many times in the past where this wasn’t the case, so I can completely understand where you’re coming from.

      Work on getting your income stabilized and then watch the debt melt away like ice cream in the Texas heat!

  18. Happy Birthday, and Congratulations on retiring the debt!!!

    Nice list of links to your money-saving-related posts; I’ll have to go take a look at some I may have missed the first time around… thanks for sharing them again Jenny.

  19. Congratulations and Happy Birthday! I think you should celebrate with a big shopping spree!!! (just Kidding)

  20. WOW!!!!! That’s just amazing, Jenny!!! I’m so happy for you and so proud of you!!!!! You did it. Doesn’t it feel great? Also – happy, happy birthday! I’m sure it will be a sweet birthday for you, in so many ways. Freedom is great. Enjoy your new debt-free life! :-D

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  23. That is an amazing accomplishment!

    Well done,

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  25. :D :D :D
    I wonder if the debit/credit pound-o-flesh system will be remembered as the “ambient slavery of the 20th and 21st century.” It seems so innocuous when to the HS grad that’s looking to establish a life and a credit line.

    This is a major threshold on the hero’s journey: now you have a testimony and so much to share. This is far more counter-cultural than getting your nose pierced.


    • Wouldn’t that be outstanding Mark? I truly hope that consumer debt is looked back upon by all as a case of temporary insanity during a learning period. I believe the world is shifting and people are questioning the role of debt in their lives.

      Thanks so much for your support. And yes, I would choose this over an extra hole and needle in my nose any day. ;)

  26. Wow! You crushed it. That is amazing. Congratulations to you and to Kirk.

  27. You rock girl! And so does Kirk. What an amazing experience to share! :) Do you know how motivating you are going to be for so many people out there still struggling? It’s awesome! Patrick’s gun-shy of posting numbers, but we were finally able to go consumer debt free back in April/May. It was a long many-year journey for us to get there but we did! I can’t imagine having done it in a year like you did.

    Woot! Woot!

    • That’s so exciting Tanja! Congratulations to you and Patrick on kicking your consumer debt!

      You know, it’s almost silly how excited I get when I hear from someone that was able to break the shackles of debt in their lives. :) :)

  28. Woah! Congratulations! And now, it might be time for a post on “25, 629 things I enjoy more than my Ex Consumer Debt”. ;)

    Seriously. That’s amazing!

    • Hey Jeanie! Wow – 25,629 things would be quite a list. Ha, ha. :)

      Maybe I’ll drop the last three digits and go with 25 things I enjoy more than my Ex-Consumer debt. :)

      Thanks for popping in!

  29. Happy Birthday and Congratulations, Jenny! I’m sorry I’m late for the party. But I’m here and very excited at your great accomplishment. What an incredible gift! You worked hard to get to this point.
    You’ve inspired so many, and as one of those people, I’m so incredibly happy for you!

    • Thank you so much Nenette! I’m looking forward to the end of this month when I’ll get to make a deposit to savings rather than another debt payment! ;)

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  31. I overlooked this post! I apologize for not seeing it until now! However, I am absolutely in awe that you were able to pay off your entire consumer debt so well! It just goes to prove that you can do anything you set your mind to, and it apparently isn’t really that hard to pay off debt when you buckle down and get serious about it. You are an inspiration. Congratulations. :)

    • Thank you Laura! And you’re so right — it doesn’t matter what the goal is — if you set your focus on what you want to achieve, you can pretty much consider it done. ;)

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  33. Congratulations! You must be feeling incredible right now, like anything is possible! It’s a great feeling :) I have been consumer debt free for 4 years now and I would never want to go back. Yes I do still have a mortgage and a student loan but thanks to zero consumer debt I am on track to pay off the second in five years and the first in fifteen (well before retirement age). I’m also working with my mum who is in a lot of debt (and has been all her life) to take a new path. I’m her new financial planner and together we plan to get her debt free in two years. I have to say it’s one feeling to be debt free yourself but it’s another entirely to be able to help others achieve this empowering lifestyle too.

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