How I Gave Up Shopping to Become Debt Free

Do you want to know how I gave up shopping to become debt-free? I have been debt-free, except for my mortgage, for nine years.

I still remember the date of the last payment. As a result, I have lived in financial freedom since February of 2011.  I will give you the steps I used to become debt-free so that you can experience that same freedom for yourself.

  1. Cut up the credit cards—all of them.
  2. Make a budget and stick with it.
  3. If you don’t have the cash for it, you can’t afford it.
  4. Do not spend more than you make.
  5. Save money.
  6. Sell anything you do not need. Think luxury items.
  7. Cook from scratch at home. It’s healthier anyway.
  8. Buy used instead of new.
  9. Learn to live with less.
  10. Have an emergency fund.
  11. Look for free entertainment.
  12. Don’t stop giving.

If you are ready to jump right in a great place to start is with the book The Total Money Makeover. This book was key to our success.


How I Gave Up Shopping to Become Debt Free



Cut the Credit, Make a Budget and Buy with CASH


Credit Cards

The number one thing you must do is stop using credit cards to pay for purchases. Cut them up and don’t look back.

Credit Cards were my downfall. I do not like talking about it, but I do it with the hope that my story will help someone else. My buying started with eBay.

Then I started selling on eBay to help offset the cost of what I was spending. Soon, I wasn’t making enough with re-sale and turned to credit cards for help.

All of the fancy clothes I bought my children put my family deeper and deeper into debt.

Next, I sold toys on eBay at Christmastime. Only, I didn’t pay off the cards with my profit.

I spent the profit and more.

It was a downward spiral that ended with me not making the payments on all of the credit cards. I got way in over my head.

Our family had recently moved into a new home that I did not want to lose. Because of that, I made drastic changes.


Set a Budget

Setting a budget and sticking with it is the beginning of how I gave up shopping to become debt-free. Every paycheck, we first spent our money on paper.

My husband and I told our money exactly where to go to keep from wondering where it went. The budget was king to keep us on track.

We always knew what we had, and for this reason, we never overdrew our account.

How I Gave up Shopping to Become Debt Free


Pay with CASH

Paying for purchases with cash makes you very aware of what you are spending. It also requires putting some things back to stay in line with the budget.

Credit cards make it easy to spend more than you have. But this is a method that is not sustainable and will keep you in debt forever. Decide how much you have to pay in each budget category, and then save the cash on hand to do so.

Mark envelopes with each budget category and fill them with the designated cash. For example, if you have $200 in the grocery budget, put $200 in an envelope marked Grocery Budget. Then make the $200 last until payday comes. It may take creativity to make it stretch. Just keep your end goal in mind.


Spend Less Than You Make, Save Money, Sell What You Don’t Need


Spend Less Than You Make

This really goes back to budgeting. You cannot spend more than you make.

This will require sacrifice.

You will have to make decisions on what to give up. If your car is too expensive, it could mean downgrading for something more budget-friendly. Cut the cable and go with a less expensive option. Take your lunch to work instead of eating out.


You can’t reach your debt-free goals without it. It’s how I gave up shopping to become debt-free. I sacrificed the trivial things I wanted now for the much more important things I wanted later. I sold my Coach purses and fancy jewelry to bring my family closer to financial peace.

Totally worth it.


Save Money

Remember how I said not to spend more than you make?

I have a relatable example. Emergencies are going to come.

Vehicles break down.

Children get sick or break a bone.

Car accidents happen.

The above examples are all things that require extra funds. These emergencies require money that is not in the budget as an anticipated expense. But what if I told you that you could expect it?

You may not know the specifics of what will happen, but you do know that life happens.

Murphy’s law always comes into play once you’ve committed to change. If it can go wrong, at some point, it will go wrong. Have an emergency fund in place to lessen the blow.

At this point, you have pledged not to use credit cards. An emergency fund is necessary to keep you from spending more than you make. Find a way to save money.

You can thank me later. Says the woman whose van broke down 1200 miles from home during Christmas. The $1000+ emergency fund saved the vacation and made sure we got back home safely.


Sell What You Don’t Need to Get Out of Debt.

Sell anything you don’t absolutely need. It will help with the emergency fund. You will have fewer things to manage and keep clean.

This will also mean significantly less stress in your life. Look for toys your children no longer play with, expensive purchases that you bought on credit and cannot afford to keep.

Look for jewelry that is not sentimental, as well as the furniture you no longer need. The goal is to get out of debt so that you can give your family financial freedom.


Cook From Scratch, Buy Used and Learn to Live With Less


Cook From Scratch

You can reduce the grocery budget with a few simple changes. Cooking from scratch at home is beneficial to your health as well as your wallet. Have a meal or two a week that is meatless.

Find ways to cook once and stretch it into several meals. You can read my related post on How to Get Five Meals From a Whole Chicken to give you some ideas on how it can work for you.


Buy Used

Buying used items is a great money saver. Many thrift stores have clothing as well as household items that are in excellent condition. You get what you need at a fraction of the original cost.

Facebook Market pages for your area usually have all kinds of items for sale. By the same token, Craigslist is another option for finding greatly reduced items. It may take a little time to find exactly what you have on your list.

Be patient with the process and smile as you put what you saved towards the emergency fund instead.


Learn to Live With Less

The truth we must face is that most Americans have much more than we need or can use. Learning to live with less comes with less stress in addition to peace of mind. Clear out the clutter to live a happier life with more time and less stuff.

How I Gave Up Shopping to Become Debt Free


Emergency Fund, Free Entertainment, and Keep Giving

The emergency fund is so important that I’ve already said it! But seriously. Get one. I can’t even count how many times it has saved my family during the last 9 years.

Entertainment is something simple to find for free. Do your research for plenty of options in your particular area. Plan a game night in your home with a potluck dinner. Then invite friends to join you.

Don’t stop giving! I cannot stress this enough. Don’t let your goal to become debt-free keep you from generosity. The entire time my husband and I were getting out of debt, we never stopped tithing to our church.

It was crucial to us, and I believe God blessed our faithfulness in this area. We had everything we needed during that time. God’s provisions were always right on time.

Since being free from credit card debt, we have purchased 4 cars with cash. We bought a foreclosure home that gained a lot of equity in the four years we lived in it.

God blessed that purchase beyond what we would have ever dreamed possible. We sold it and had an outstanding down payment on a new home closer to town.

We feel blessed beyond measure to be free from credit card debt while living below our means. Living with less and saving more will give you peace.

Trust God to bless you as you keep giving. Honor God with your tithe as you work to get out of debt. I promise that your faith will increase because of it.


Click the graphic below to get a copy of my FREE eBook on How to Make a Budget and What to Include. It’s my gift to you as you start your journey towards financial independence and winning with money.

Free eBook on How to Make a Budget and What to Include

Savvy tips for cooking, organizing and cleaning

Your savvy tip for today is to start a budget. Put all of your monthly expenses on paper with your income. Then budget it out to the last penny. Tell your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.