In a Nutshell: Debt Free Forties has guides and personal anecdotes from its founder, Tana Williams, on how she and her husband eliminated tens of thousands of dollars in debt in less than two years. Resources on the site provide examples of how to make money through side hustles and the best ways to save earned money. Most importantly, the site shows how to create a road map to eliminate different kinds of crippling debt, including student loans, medical bills, and credit card debt.
Starting a family is one of the most pivotal moments in a person’s life. It’s a decision not to be taken lightly, and getting to that point requires a lot of preparation.
That’s why Tana Williams started her blog Debt Free Forties. The blog’s mission is to help anyone grow their family or prepare for significant life decisions.
Williams and her husband figured it all out on their own. The couple had a wake-up call while getting ready to welcome a baby into the world. In just 17 months, the couple eliminated more than $26,000 in debt. Now, they want to be the resource they could not find themselves when they started on the path of getting out of debt.
Williams uses Debt Free Forties to share how she did it and help the 77% of American households that are more than $100,000 in debt.
Now that she has taken control of her debt, Williams said she focuses on saving money and finding ways to use her resources to build a better future. And Williams wants to take readers on that journey as well.
“Instead of all these obstacles holding us back, I see all the things that we can do such as investing or paying off our mortgage early,” Williams said. “We were able to pay for the birth of another child, an entire kitchen renovation, and two cars in less than three years each.”
It wasn’t an easy journey for the family, but their sacrifices helped them create a guide for others to follow and helped them stay accountable in attaining future goals.
Crushing Financial Goals and Taking Control of Debt
The Debt Free Forties website opens up with several different tabs to lead readers on the appropriate steps for their money-saving journey.
The blog follows a multistep process, and readers are encouraged to start at the left-most tab labeled Budgeting.
This category helps readers get a jump-start into figuring out their finances by first identifying debt and committing to pay it off as soon as possible. Readers can then budget and cut out most purchases to weed out which ones are worth it.
“We figured out what we spent and tried to do 10% less,” Williams said. “The important thing we learned is budgets are not set in stone. It can fluctuate, and being flexible in where you spend is key. It took a lot of adjusting and realizing what worked and what didn’t work.”
Fortunately, Debt Free Forties has a guide on getting started on budgeting and identifying areas where readers can save money. Once readers do everything they can to save through budgeting, the next step is to find side hustles to make more money. These are jobs done outside of work hours to generate additional income.
Williams suggested using skills readers already have to boost payments and pay off debt faster.
“I did some website design and development on the side,” Williams said. “I did some courses for an online college. We did all kinds of different things, yard sales, whatever it took to pay off debt.”
Avoiding Falling Back into Bad Habits
In most instances, budgeting and saving are similar to going on a diet.
It’s not easy to get started, but quick progress comes once it starts. But this also opens up the possibility of becoming complacent and falling back into bad habits.
Debt Free Forties tries to nip those bad habits in the bud with articles written by Williams listing common mistakes when getting started. The articles discuss how Williams overcame the obstacles that allowed her to pay off $26,000 in debt quickly.
One key she mentions is to constantly create new goals and replace goals after completion.
“We did go through periods where we were less restrictive, especially in periods where we didn’t have a big goal, and we’d have to pull back,” Williams said. “We now create more goals for ourselves to keep track of, such as saving for children’s college and paying off our mortgage. That really helped us reset.”
Williams said one of the most crucial parts of the website’s mission is its no-spend challenges. The guide shows how to quickly eliminate debt or save up for big purchases in a short period. The website’s free printables then help families keep track of their progress.
“The spending and saving challenges are some of the most popular resources we offer, and we’re glad people have been able to put them to good use,” Williams said.
Staying the Course to Financial Freedom
The final step is to save the money earned and not spend irresponsibly. Williams said one of the keys to avoiding this misstep is for readers to figure out their personal time-to-cost ratio.
Spending money to create more time for side hustles can be seen as a personal investment instead of an expense. As an example, Williams described how she decided it was more beneficial for her family to use grocery pick-up delivery services.
“Instead of going in the store, picking up things I never intended to buy, and hauling two children and taking two hours, I do the grocery pick-up,” Williams said. “I also pair it with cash back apps to get money back. It saves a ton of time that I could be doing blog work or cleaning out the house to sell stuff.”
While the beginning may seem the hardest, Williams emphasizes that budgeting does not have to feel like torture all the time. She said families can give themselves a little wiggle room by buying small luxuries or spending on mini vacations.
Budgeting as a constant chore with no reward can create strain on families. Debt Free Forties emphasizes that it is OK to spend as long as readers stick with goals they can attain.
“It’s realizing that everybody has different priorities and finding a way to work together to make priorities important,” Williams said. “Because we’ve paid off the debt, we’ve been able to put money toward hobbies we love, such as home improvement.”