Not many people or readers know this because I never shared this in my groups or on social media… but in Feb. 2017 my husband was laid off of work. It came as a complete shock. His company had gone through lay offs in December of 2016 and we thought since we made it through that we were safe. Little did we know that months later they would plan another lay off where they let go about 30 more employees.
This post might get long as I want to tell my complete story. Fair warning, LOL! This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. This means I may receive a small commission if you purchase anything through these links. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.
We were just in a place where the lay offs were over and we were taking a deep breath and planning to move forward. That is when my husband called me at 7am in Feb. and told me they let him and another large round of employees go. I’ll never forget that day. 13 years + of service to that company and now it was all gone. It was over and we had no means of income to support our family. I was in high panic mode. We were already in debt over our heads and now we didn’t even have an income anymore.
I have this website, but it was never looked at as an income. My main goal here is to encourage parents who choose to homeschool their children because I myself never had that support when I first started out. Most of those that gave me support did so because I studied for 4 years to become an elementary teacher (and guys, you don’t need an education degree to homeschool okay…).
I have lesson plans here for sale, sure. Ads on site, yes. But the reality is that running a website is expensive. All of those income measures that are in place here covers the basic bills of the website and sometimes I even have to dig into my pocket to pay the website expenses to keep it going because THIS is my passion. This is where I am supposed to be.
So now not only is my livelihood at stake but also my website. I could seriously just lose it all. We had to make changes and we had to make them quickly.
So in full on panic mode, we decided that the money that we had in the bank would go to both debt pay off and also to get us through until he found a job. Little did my husband know the extent of our debt, because I was the one who was paying those bills. I never really told him the exact amount before hand because I figured I had it under control and as long as he was working I could juggle the payments…. ugh! WRONG way to think. Long story short, we had enough money to get us by until he found a job and not really enough for debt. I won’t disclose any amounts here because I’m still embarrassed and ashamed of how badly we let the debt accumulate over the years. Let’s just say it was very high 5 digit number. I can’t even believe I’m sharing this publicly, but hoping this might help others who are in the same situation.
So long story short, it took my husband almost 4 months of daily job hunting to find a job. He is highly qualified for his type of work and I always figured it would be easy for him to find work. Nope! Guys, when no one is hiring… no one is hiring! It doesn’t matter your work experience. Moving became an option which was highly stressful because it would cost so much to move and then selling a house… Those 4 months were rough!
Thankfully as of June 2017 he now has a job and while it pays 75% less than his old job we are making it work. We also were extremely humbled by the experience and had a new zest to not only pay off debt, but to build a better emergency fund. Thankfully we had gone through Dave Ramseys Financial Peace University a few years ago and while we didn’t get the whole debt situation under control we DID get the savings part right. Because of that bills were paid while he was out of work, but we were at the end of the rope and thankfully he found a job just in the nick of time before our money ran out. Guys! Go build an emergency fund for 3-5 months worth of bills. PLEASE do it and don’t ever touch that money unless there is job loss or extreme emergency.
So how did we do it? Besides having a little money to coast by on for household bills, how did we do it? How did we pay off 90% of our debt when my husband was out of work? Let’s just say that the entire situation put a fire under me to pay off debt as quickly as possible! This is what we did:
* VA WORK: My husband and I worked together as Virtual Assistants or VA’s to make fast cash online. I had done VA work on the side before to be able to pay for my website expenses, but my husband knows NOTHING about blogging at all. I trained him up and we were soon working together as a team generating about $20/hour or more each. Unfortunately, between parenting, homeschooling, and job hunting we only had a couple of hours here and there to dedicate to this. It did, however, help us pay off a ton of debt rather quickly. I have a training course now in place to train others how to do this. I wouldn’t post it here if I didn’t believe in it. This is the main way we made money at home during those stressful months. VA Training Course here. A VA is simply someone who helps out website owners with tasks.
* Decluttering and Selling: We joined every Facebook Garage sell group in our area and got busy selling stuff. I always hear people saying they sell stuff on eBay to make money, but I don’t have time for eBay and I never thought that I had anything worth selling anyway. We ended up finding a lot of stuff that we didn’t need, didn’t use, or was of value that we could do without and we sold it all. Even if we sold it for just $5 we listed it and sold it. It all adds up! We had a stock pile of things for a new baby in case we ever decided to have baby #2. We sold all of that stuff plus all of my son’s baby stuff (he is 7 years old so it was time!). We sold old bikes that were never used, baby clothes, clothes from our closets that we knew we’d never wear again, kid toys, electronics, toaster ovens, dish sets that were gifted to us but never used, books, pictures from our old house that we never got around to putting up, coffee maker (we switched to cheap instant coffee that we could get coupons for), furniture that we could live without, and more! I was shocked to see all the things we accumulated over the years and more shocked to see people would pay money for it.
With the VA work going strong and regular meet ups selling stuff in local FB groups our debt was decreasing at an alarming rate. We were paying off debt while we didn’t have a steady income! Go figure! If only we had this fire in us before the job loss we would be in a better place. Maybe we would have had an even larger emergency fund? Maybe we would have a savings account built up for our son’s education? Looking back, we were so careless.
Spending Less: We reverted back to our newly wed stage of extreme couponing. We bought things on sale that could be stacked with coupons. Unfortunately for us, there wasn’t much that we used that we could find coupons for. We are vegan and on top of that, we avoid processed foods as much as possible as well as items that have chemicals due to my asthma and my son’s eczema. This goes all the way down to the toothpaste and deodorant we use. So that free Crest toothpaste wasn’t an option. So we had to cut costs still, but how? Well, we lived on soups and chili. All vegan, all cheap! I would say it costs about $6 to create a good soup or chili with enough to freeze for another 4 meals. So that is what we did! We ate fruit, fresh salads, and soups and chili’s for dinner. We went to town less to save on gas. We raised our thermostat so the AC wouldn’t run as often. We let Sling and Netflix go for a while (we don’t have cable we use a Roku). We switched our 5 cats to a cheaper cat food. Anywhere we could cut costs we did!
These 3 simple things are what dug us out of a scary situation. I still do VA work on the side because we still have debt, but 90% of it is paid off. I’m hoping by the end of the year we can finally say we will be debt free. We are ever so slowly building up our emergency fund again, but the fact is even with my husband’s new job we are short on what we need to get by. So what I make online is going to fill in that gap, whatever is left goes to debt and building up our emergency fund. It is important for me to homeschool and be at home with my son so keeping spending low and working online at home is a no brainer for us.
My hope for you is that if you are in debt right now to start making changes now. Do it now before the rug is pulled out from under your feet. I’m not saying that this will happen to you, but I am saying take hold of it now before an emergency arises! Be honest with your spouse and work TOGETHER to pay it off.
* Build up an emergency fund to cover 3-5 months worth of household expenses.
* Find extra work to pay off as much debt as you can.
* Spend less and make sacrifices now so that you can live better later.
* Sell the things that you no longer need or have an immediate use for.