Radical Simplicity and a Beautiful, Messy Life

6 Reasons We Are In Debt (And What We Are Doing About It.)

Paying down debt quickly

I've mentioned before that we are in debt.

A lot of debt.

Think of a number that most people would consider a lot of debt.  And then double it.  Double it again.  Maybe even double it one more time.  That's how much debt we are in.

But this year we decided to change that.  We decided to completely restructure the way we live and shop in order to pay down our debt over the next 10 years or less.

The bank offered us opportunities to consolidate our debts into a 30 year mortgage.  But some simple math showed us that route would cost us tens of thousands of extra dollars in interest.  And keep us bound to the banks for an extra 20 years.  So we are doing this the hard way.

Because Nothing changes if nothing changes.

This is a cautionary tale, friends.  Don't make the same mistakes we did.  And if you already have, it is never too late for a second chance.

Here are the 6 biggest financial mistakes we made.

1. We didn't have an emergency fund.

Things will happen.  Vehicles will break down, jobs will be lost, bills will go up, appliances will need replacing.  We didn't plan for the unplannable, and when problems arose, our credit cards were our first line of defense.

2. We didn't trust God to provide.

Instead of committing to live inside our income and trust God to provide when things were tight, we just charged things to our credit.   Basically we weren't giving God a chance to show up.  Since choosing to live within our means and pay down debt at breakneck speed we've seen God provide in a hundred little ways.

3. We let our debt snowball out of control.  

Maybe you've heard of the snowball method for paying down debt, but I believe that there is a snowball effect when we are getting into debt.  Each month, since we felt overwhelmed by the debt we could not pay, we put it off. We charged more to our cards because the situation seemed so bleak already.  And then all of a sudden the snowball is too big to lift or push.  We's accumulated so much debt that we felt stuck.

4. We got confused about wants and needs.

If you want it bad enough, you can convince yourself that almost anything is a need.  That family vacation you can't afford? It'll build memories for the kids.  Ordering take-out?  Everyone needs a break sometimes.  That new phone or laptop or whatever?  I need it for work.   But in reality our needs are pretty basic: shelter, food, utilities, a few clothes.  We justified a lot of things as needs that really were wants and could have waited.

5. We overlooked the benefit of small savings.

We often opted for a more expensive item because it was "only 3 dollars more." or got coffee on the go because it is "only a few bucks" but these small expenses add up quickly.

6. We stopped opening our mail.

During the last year or two we stopped even paying attention to the problem in front of us.  It was too overwhelming. We hardly even talked about money. But we can't change what we don't face.  So now we open every piece of mail that comes through the door.  And because we have a plan in place and are spending less than we are making, those bills and bank statements aren't so frightening anymore.

So what are we doing about it?

  • We saved up a 1000$ emergency fund so that if and when something inevitably happens we won't need to rely on credit to solve it. 
  • We committed to live (significantly) below our means and trust God to make this possible.
  • We tightened our fiscal belts in every way possible in order to be able to pay down debt at breakneck speed. Seeing progress month after month will help keep us motivated.  See my list of 101 ways to save money and pay down debt.  
  • We found ways to increase our household income (such as my return to blogging. Thanks for being here!)
  • My husband and I are learning to communicate better about finances. 

Friends, If you recognize yourself in these six things, it is not too late to get your financial butt in gear.  But nothing changes if nothing changes.  Don't wait, start today.  Make a budget, build an emergency fund, and start paying down debt with fierce determination. Because you deserve a life not suffocated by the restraints of debt. 

Friend, you can do this.  I believe in you. 

p.s. Like this post?  Sign up for my weekly newsletter, follow me on twitter or connect with me on facebook.  And thanks for reading, I'm honoured!


  1. It's a hard but honourable goal you've set yourselves. Keep going, you can make it!

  2. I'm very sorry you're in debt. I'm very glad God used it to get you blogging again. I so enjoy your posts.

    1. Thanks for your kind words. I'm loving being back at the blog again.

  3. I'm glad you're back! I too am working to pay off debt (my car), so I can get a house. I've gotten a little creative, in addition to my full time job, I have two flexible part time jobs. I also, sell things I'm not using on Facebook Marketplace and Poshmark. God has been gracious in these lean times.

  4. I think we have all been through this at some point. If I knew at 25 what I know now about savings, RRSP's, and all that other financial stuff, I would be alot more secure now and not concerned about retirement. Nobody sat me down and told me the long term benefits of savings and living within your means. It's hard to pass up the holidays, and all the extras, but it is doable. Will definately be passing this column on to my daughter - they need to learn early the value of saving and needs vs wants.

  5. Thank you Kelly! I am glad you are back and I will cheer you on while you chisel that debt down! I am passing this column onto my daughter too. She is just starting a family and I wish someone would have done this for me.

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