Saving A Buck: Paying down debt

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When it comes to paying off debt, fun is a not a word many would use.

Unfortunately, it takes time to pay down those credit cards and loans but it's not impossible.

Tim LaValley said, "We thought we were in a hole we couldn't get out of."

Three years ago Tim and Krystal LaValley were struggling to stay afloat.

They were overwhelmed with business debt along with personal loans.

Tim said, "At the beginning we were $161,000 in debt."

Two surgeries and baby number five brought their debt to $184,000.

Getting out of debt took drastic change.

"The first thing we had to do was quit eating out," Tim said. "Our food budget went from about $1,200 a month to $550."

Tim took on a second job and the family sold their home and moved into a rent house.

CPA Joshua Jenson said, "You didn't get in to debt overnight so you are not going to get out of debt overnight."

Jenson said those looking to pay down debt should start by listing out each debt and the current payment so they can see what they're facing.

Next, tackle the debt with the highest interest first and, if possible, pay more than the minimum payment.

Jenson said, "If the statement is $54 send in $85 or $100. Send in what you can."

Thinking in months rather than years can help you achieve your goal.

Jenson said, "If you have $10,000 in debt and you think, 'Oh it's two years,' that's two more birthdays two more summer vacations."

Tim said, "If you would have told me it's going to take almost three years, that would have been detrimental."

Focusing on months allows you to see progress quickly.

Tim said, "We had a dry erase board in our bathroom where we had our debt written and every time we paid one off, we marked it off."

The LaValley's made their last payment in July.

Thirty-four months later they have paid off $184,000 in debt.

Another tip, while you pay off those credit cards, make sure you don't use them.

A great way to prevent that is to either cut the cards up or freeze them in a bowl of water.

As for the LaValley's, now that they're debt-free, they plan to reward their family with a Disney vacation.

They said their kids made sacrifices too and they want to do something special for them.

The LaValley's are now using the money they used to pay toward debt to build a savings.

They plan to pay cash for their vacation and hope to build a house in the next few years.

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