Guest Post: How to Enjoy Life While Dumping Debt

This is a Guest Post by Toni Husbands of The Debt Free Divas. She pushed me over the edge recently to live what I preach by asking if I’d do a Facebook Live video, which for various reasons, I had been too scared to try though I’ve been intrigued by the video platform for awhile now. I said yes even though my inner voices were saying, “But what if you look and sound stupid?!?!?” Guess what? I survived. And enjoyed it. And will probably do it again. Thanks Toni for reminding me of my own life philosophy! Don’t let fear paralyze you; let it invigorate you. Hugging fear will result in much more goodness than running from fear. Video here. Oprah need not be worried I’m coming for her but perhaps she’ll at least set a place for me at her table now. Also, I got a comment on the video that made me feel warm ‘n fuzzy and believe in myself this AM which is always a great way to start the day — THANKS, JORDAN!

Toni is a perfect Guest Poster on ye olde blog as she’s discovered that one of her superpowers — helping people with personal finance — supports others in climbing out of holes of angst and shame, and she courageously shares her personal journey in an effort to lift up others. Life of Yes℠ to a tee.

Look at me not dying and actually enjoying myself!


In 2005, I was introduced to Dave Ramsey through his book, “The Total Money Makeover” while visiting my mother in Detroit. She was attending a work related conference. Uncle Dave (he reminds me of everyone’s cranky uncle) was speaking and gave away his book to all workshop attendees.


My mother and I are both avid readers. Only, I read very slowly and I asked if I could take the book home with a promise to mail it later (we live in different states).

She said NO!

I consumed the entire book in a weekend which was timely. My husband and I had been struggling to get a handle on our finances. We’d given a half-hearted attempt at budget building. Nothing seemed to stick. I’d dusted off my library card and immersed myself in the writings one personal finance guru after another. We weren’t making progress.

Uncle Dave and the debt snowball made sense.  It made so much sense that we were ultimately able to retire $107,000 in consumer debt (not including our mortgage) seven years later.

When I say that last sentence, it almost seems trivial. Something we did with little effort. Seven years … $107,000 … next.

Not exactly.

Those seven years were long and tedious; filled with distractions, temptations, poor decisions, restarts and sputters. It took over a year before my spouse and I could even agree that Dave Ramsey wasn’t a fanatical nut job with a trendy book-of-the-month to push. Our journey was full of twisted and windy roads.

I also don’t mean to imply that once we started, everything fell into place. When I added up everything in 2005, we had just over $40,000 in debt.

Do the math.

Yes, even after I’d read the book, drank the Kool-Aid, and made the decision to pursue debt freedom – we still added more debt to our bottom line.

Some areas were just dumb decisions – like leasing a Jeep. Some debt resulted from mistakes with our business – a $20,000 tax bill for example. Either way, we’d make progress and then take two steps back.

Through it all, we refused to give up. I believe we grew smarter after digging out of each money mistake. Toward the end, our momentum grew. We learned to work with and not against one another. Ultimately, we reached our goal.

How did we stay focused during those 7 years? We were intentional about finding ways to enjoy life along the way.

With the belt tightening, cut backs, and sacrifice – all work and no play is no fun at all. Our path out of debt became a lifestyle of choice and not a chore. We didn’t rebel financially against our intentions because the process was labor of love and not an exercise in misery. You can enjoy life while dumping debt!

1. Thrifty Travel.

I did not cut out travel completely, we just found cheaper ways to see the world. I would visit family or friends to cut down on lodging. We explored places within driving distance or became tourists in our own city. I’m still amazed at how many new things I encounter in a city that I’ve lived in for almost 20 years.

2. Spend more time with friends.

I’m a huge advocate of game nights and pot lucks. They are simple to plan, inexpensive to fund, and great for the soul. My favorite game to play with a large group is Mafia or Cashflow by Robert Kiyosaki with a smaller crowd. You need a few hours to play either one, but they are both a blast.

3. Volunteer.

When you stop spending loads of cash (that you don’t have) and cleaning up your finances, you might find extra time to burn. Volunteering is a great way to productively use that time without adding to the bottom line.

4. Hangout with community organizations.

Churches, universities, libraries, or community centers are a great source for cultural stimulation that won’t break the bank. I’ve been to professional quality productions at local churches. I don’t limit myself to just one type either. The larger organizations generally have great websites with updated schedules and packed itineraries. You can take in a production, attend a seminar – on better money management techniques, or just hang out and make new friends.

5. Keep an eye out for free events.

We absolutely live in a fabulous city to dump debt while maximizing a budget-friendly social life. The summer is full of family-friendly festivals, outdoor concerts, or free days at the museum. I like to peruse the free section of Event Bright or scroll through Chicago-focused Facebook pages. You learn about a ton of free or low-cost offerings all over the city.

Speaking of free and fun, I’m hosting a free Savings Scavenger Hunt and you’re welcome to join the fun. This game could even put $500 in your pocket (that’s the top prize).

Play from your phone. There is still plenty of time to compete for the cash and prizes. We’ll also give you tips to save more of your hard-earned money to help you dump debt even faster.

Dumping debt is a challenging, energy-consuming process. Finding ways to enjoy life through the process will increase the chances that you’ll stay committed and achieve success.


Toni Husbands is a financial coach with the Debt Free Divas on a mission to help 1 million families dump consumer debt. My family dumped over $100K in debt and you can too. Download our free book, “Give Yourself a Raise in 21 Days”, for money saving tips!