30 Harsh Realities of Getting Out of Debt

Getting out of debt sucks- if you’re doing it right, that is.

Depending on how much debt you have, it should be a painful process.

This is a picture of my living room in our first home. At the time, we had two dogs and the carpet became so unbearable we ripped it out. But since we were also getting out of debt, we didn’t have the extra money to replace it. Or to even get a rug.

We lived like this for a whole year.

It was hard. Literally.

Cutting back, going without, and selling everything that isn’t nailed down takes some getting used to but being debt-free is worth every cold, dingy minute of it.

30 Things I’ve Had to Give Up or Go Without

The following is a list of other scenarios I have had to face while getting out of debt.

I tried to order them from the most petty to the most distressing:

  1. Canceling cable TV
  2. Rarely going out to eat
  3. Having the same dresser my entire life
  4. Not being able to decorate my home
  5. Getting a hair cut only twice a year
  6. Not being able to watch college football (the hubs told me to add this)
  7. Not being able to afford professional family photos
  8. Driving cars that are worth less than $2000
  9. Not  being able to experience simple pleasures (ex. grilling out because you don’t own a grill)
  10. Not being able to afford gas to go to the beach
  11. Having very old pillows and not being able to afford new ones
  12. Not being able to buy food in bulk
  13. Not going on vacations
  14. Not having the capital to start  a business
  15. Not being able to prep for disasters or emergencies
  16. Having a very strict food budget
  17. Having just enough food for 2 week’s worth of meals
  18. Not being able to give to charities or those in need
  19. Not being able to afford a bed big enough for both me and the hubs*
  20. Going to the doctor only when it’s absolutely necessary
  21. Not be able to buy gifts for family or friends
  22. Not being able to start self-sufficiency projects (ex. backyard chickens, vegetable gardens etc.)
  23. Feeling foolish about my debt
  24. Feeling guilty about my debt
  25. Being stressed about money
  26. Fighting about money
  27. Having to decide between quality or quantity when it comes to food
  28. Watching my husband work hard without enjoying the fruits of his labor
  29. Disappointing my dad*
  30. Being outside of God’s will

*Back story on #19 is this: Our bed, a futon, is too small for the both me and the husband to sleep comfortably. He sleeps on the couch and I sleep on the futon with the little one. It’s been like this the past 3 and half years.

*Back story on #29: When I was born my dad took part in the Florida PrePaid College Program so save for my college education. He paid a fixed price that guaranteed me a four year degree at any state university in Florida.  I haven’t received my Bachelor’s yet and I still managed to rack up $36,000 in student loans. Since my classes and tuition were already paid for, I used the loans for books, rent, food, and car payments.

He’s never said anything about it but I imagine he’s a little disappointed.

As crappy as it sounds, I’m not sure I would trade these last four years for anything. I’ve learned so much especially around issues like communication, long-term thinking, and delayed gratification.

My Message to You

Have you ever seen those nature shows of animals hunting other animals? Imagine that picture in your head and think of your debt. Your debt is a hungry lion. You are the gazelle running for your life. I believe that debt can slowly eat you alive unless you pay it off with “gazelle intensity.” Do it.

Believe in yourself and quit avoiding the situation.  The lion may be strong but you are quick and agile. Yeah, the process of getting out of debt sucks but your future depends on it. If I can do it, you can do it too. You can never go wrong being debt-free.

This post was featured at Nerd Wallet’s Carnival of Personal Finance- check it out here!


  1. I can add to the list: pedicures, train to my friends house, wine/beer, new shoes & clothes (or even used ones), house phone, socializing with friends, makeup, hair products (and I desparately need product!), replacing things that break, gas for volunteer work, meat. I really miss the pedicures.

  2. I live pretty much like that as it is and I can’t even afford to buy a home of my own which blocks me from so many virtually free things I love doing.
    Not being able to afford to buy anything new and having to make, salvage or repair everything is actually pretty fun and fills the time others might spend on holiday, trips or eating out. My ideal week off work now consists of repairing or revamping any tired looking possessions, foraging and making things to sell to raise a few pennies!

    1. I’m sorry Aimee. Actually owning a small plot of land opens many doors for self-sufficiency. Yes, I think re-doing furniture and frugality is fun now. I can’t wait to refinish my dining room table and some other pieces of furniture. Do you live in Europe?

      1. Oh yes it’s essential! I am in Europe, England, and it’s so expensive here – in the south where I am land is $15-30k an acre, ten times that if it’s close to a city with the vague possibility of getting permission to build a fancy house. I read about people in the US living the dream and driving 100 miles to a job but that’s not so viable here as petrol (gas) is about $10 a gallon!
        My dream is so far away. I have years left in my city job until I’ve saved enough money (I lose around a third in compulsory tax and pension contributions) to get a mortgage and have enough experience in my career to move up North where there are less academic/analyst type jobs but you can buy a small run down house with an acre for under $250k. Until then I just live vicariously through blogs and do small scale projects – a dining table sounds like fun to do!

        Sorry, I just wanted to give people a snap-shot of how difficult it can be to become near self-sufficient from scratch in the UK. There are some TV shows about it and homemade, crafts etc but they are generally people who didn’t have to work to earn their start up money.

        1. Oh dear. I had a feeling things were that difficult in the UK. The average person is getting squeezed so tight they could burst. America is heading that way too. $15-30 an acre is QUITE a lot. In north FL, 1 acre is about $10k.

          Depending on how you feel about your dream, my advice would be to attempt something pretty radical- communal living. Again, this is a life change but if you could find like-minded people, I think you could accomplish a lot more than you could alone.

          As time progresses, having a “clan” is going to be very beneficial. I’ve also seen blogs about apartment preppers. I will try and find them for you.

          1. If you have to blaze your own trail, do it. I’m certain there are people around you that feel the exact same way you do. I’d start with family and friends first and then branch out. I’ve seen ads of people looking for homesteading housemates and such. Check around your area and see what you find. For instance…http://www.permies.com/t/17220/community/Urban-homestead-Eugene-Oregon-seeking

  3. We just became debt free again this month (bought a camper last year) and it is awesome! We don’t live extravegantly but not having debt payments now allows us to save for future needs (like a bigger vehicle when another baby comes on it’s way) without having to stress. So nice!
    Hard work, long hours, lots of sacrifices. But totally worth it!

    1. I’d like to add: no new clothes or shoes. I have been doing a lot of mending on my hubby’s work clothes and my own clothes are totally not the current style. But they get me by 🙂

      1. Congrats on being debt-free and the new baby Tessa! Yeah, I am a little out of style myself. haha. And I have this old apron that I am dying to mend even though I don’t know the first thing about sewing. I don’t have a sewing machine but I did buy some needle and thread. 🙂

    1. Even if there are some months where you can only pay a little, just keep going. It is a process and a slow one at that. Congrats are even attempting it. A lot of people just ignore it.

  4. Great post! I can state from experience that it is a fantastic
    feeling to at last be debt free! I am not especially bright, but I married a
    woman who is and it has been her understanding of “the borrower is servant to
    the lender” truth that has been
    our driving force to get completely out of debt. It is worth anything you may have to temporally have to do without.

  5. My spouse and I stumbled over here from a different site and thought I may as well check things out. I like what I see so now i’m following you. Look forward to looking into your web page for a second time.

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