Our Money Master this week is Toni Husbands of Debt Free Divas. Toni is a co-founder of Debt Free Divas and its primary contributor. We connected with Toni on Twitter to be a Money Master because we were fans of her blogging for a while. Toni has the unique capability of speaking with a personal voice for a broad audience. That’s a rare quality, but valuable to Toni’s followers.
One of our more recent favorite posts of Toni’s is How the Power of Community Helps You Dump Debt. We’ve been telling our followers for years to visualize and socialize their debt free commitment. In our book, 4: The Four Principles of a Debt Free Life, we tell our readers to share with at least one person their financial struggles. This provides both support and accountability.
The Debt Free Divas also have their Midday Money Show, which is a half-hour podcast full of great content for their followers. Learn more about the Debt Free Divas below.
1. What’s your story?
I was 31 years old before it clicked. Before then, debt was a normal part of life. I’d been married for a few years, owned residential property, traveled frequently, had great credit and thought of myself as generally successful. The entrepreneur bug bit and we downsized to one paycheck to start a business – a laundromat – with even more debt.
Without a day job, I had more time to travel and reflect on life’s choices. A chance encounter with Dave Ramsey – sort of – helped me understand that my family made a decent salary with really nothing but debt to show for it. When the light flicked on, we were over $40,000. That was 2005.
I say chance encounter because I was visiting my mother in Detroit for her work-related conference. Uncle Dave (as I know him) was a workshop presenter and gave out copies of The Total Money Makeover. I was somewhat convinced, my husband was not. Over the next few years, we added to that $40K total – big time. Some choices were just plain bad; like leasing cars. Some were bad moves – not paying taxes. Others were beyond our control – very expensive vandalism to our laundromat.
It took us seven years, but we finally did it. We started working as a team and paid back a whopping $107,000 in non-mortgage debt.
Our journey out of debt was hardly a straight shot from start to finish. We might experience a good stretch for six months and then hit a rough patch in life that really knocked the wind from our sails. Life doesn’t grant a pass on struggles while you’re eliminating debt. One thing stood out from all of our missteps, bad choices, or just plain unfair circumstances – we did not give up!
2. What’s your point of view, as a personal finance blogger?
I’m a huge advocate for developing a community of support and finding ways to enjoy life during the journey. Dumping debt can be a long, tedious exercise. Involvement with a community that supports and encourages your decision helps one stay focused. My community was my husband and a few friends that helped me start the Debt Free Divas. Additionally, finding budget friendly ways to enjoy life while dumping debt made the experience a lifestyle of choice; not a chore.
3. In one sentence, what’s one piece of sage advice from your personal finance background that you’d like to share with our readers?
Don’t give up.
Stay connected to positive, encouraging sources that teach good money management principles, provide constant motivation, and help you stay focused on your goal – debt freedom.
Check out the Debt Free Divas, follow them on your social media of choice and download their Midday Money Show. You’ll be glad you did.