I paid off $137,000 debt in less than five years with the snowball method and a zero-based budget

DALLAS mum-of-two Brandyn Rodriguez had racked up a mountain of debt after decades of credit card use.

But she says that with some serious side hustle and a new positive attitude towards money, she was able to get rid of $137,000 in debt in less than five years.


Thirteen years after graduating, Brandyn Rodriguez is free from college debt

The $137,000 came from using the cards as emergency funds, processing herself and accrued interest, Brandyn, 38, recently told Good Morning America.

“Getting into debt wasn’t hard. You name it, I had it, student loans, car payments, medical bills, credit cards, everything,” Brandyn explained.

When she became a single mother, she knew it was time to take matters into her own hands.

Soon after, she attended a Dave Ramsey class offered at her local church.

This marked the start of Brandyn’s journey out of debt.

To achieve its objectives, it had to stay the course with two main strategies.

What is the Debt Snowball Method?

With the first strategy, the snowball method, Brandyn listed all of her debts, from smallest to largest.

She directed most of her attention to the smallest debt first, paying off as much as she could.

At the same time, it made the minimum payments on the largest debts.

Brandyn had more than 25 debts after making her initial list.

In order to pay things back faster, she took a second job as a restaurant server in addition to her day job at United Way, she told Good Morning America.

By this point, she had also met her husband, who took a second job at Home Depot in addition to a full-time position in the energy industry.

Brandyn repeated the process and continued to build the “snowball” until she finally paid off her last debt in 2020.

“I was like, I want to put in as much money as possible. I want this debt settled. I wanted it gone,” Brandyn recalled.

What is a zero-based budget?

This was the second strategy used by Brandyn to achieve her goals. Like the snowball method, it also comes from money guru Dave Ramsey.

Zero-based budgeting is when your income minus your expenses equals zero.

If you earn $3,000 a month, everything you give, save, or spend should total $3,000. Every dollar that comes in has a purpose, a job, an objective.

To make a zero-based budget, all you need to do is list your income, expenses, and subtract the expenses from the income.

If you don’t hit zero on the first pass, you’re in the majority, Ramsey says.

That was definitely Brandyn’s experience.

“Unfortunately, we kept adding more debt after we made our first list,” Brandyn admits in a instagram Publish.

“If we were to add debt, we would pause the plan and work towards paying off the additional debt.

“It worked for us and we were able to stay focused on our snowball,” she added.

What advice does she have for others?

Brandyn wants others to know that the mountain of debt can be climbed and you don’t need to pressure yourself on the timing.

She calls the trip a marathon, not a sprint.

She added: “It can be done and I would say letting go of the negative mindset around money was the most important thing for me.”

“Once you let go of that mindset and make a plan of action, you can deal with it,” she explained.

Five ways to improve your financial mindset

In another post, Brandyn shares five ways to improve your approach to credit card debt:

  1. Instead of Thinking You’ll Always Be in Debt, Make an Action Plan
  2. ⁠If you don’t know how to invest, use books, podcasts and courses to slowly find your way
  3. Instead of internalizing “I’m not good with money”, start tracking your expenses to understand your habits.
  4. ⁠ Always remember that you are able to repay your debt
  5. ⁠Try not to compare yourself to others

Additionally, The Sun explains how to correct errors on your credit report and how you can check your credit score.

Additionally, The Sun covers the story of another Texas-based scammer.

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