Money

A woman who paid off $8,000 in 90 days shares her No. 1 money-saving strategy

In early 2015, financial blogger and author Lauren Bowling, 30, found herself deep in credit card debt. After a big home remodel, she owed $8,432.

It wasn't the first time she had been in the red. Bowling had already climbed out of $10,000 worth of credit card debt that she racked up in college.

It took her 14 months to pay off the first $10,000 she owed, but the second time around, she committed to fast-tracking the process and paying it off in three months.

"My blog was taking off and I wanted to work for myself," says Bowling, who was working as a content marketing strategist at the time. "I realized I couldn't make that leap with all this debt, so I thought, 'How can I knock this out as fast as possible?'"

Lauren Bowling paid off more than $8,000 in credit card debt in 90 days
Courtesy of Shelby Rae Photographs
Lauren Bowling paid off more than $8,000 in credit card debt in 90 days

The Atlanta-based millennial crunched the numbers and determined she would have to set aside $1,200 towards her debt every 15 days, plus a little extra at the end. Bowling stuck to her plan and made her final payment 90 days later, at the end of March 2015.

While Bowling will tell you that the only real way to pay off debt quickly is to focus on earning and bring in extra dollars with a side hustle, if you're serious about debt payoff, you'll also want to cut back where you can.

She did just that by going on a "spending diet," which she first read about on Anna Newell Jones' blog, "And Then We Saved."

"The basic gist of it is that you only allow yourself a super small amount on 'non-needs' spending," Bowling writes on FinancialBestLife.com. She allotted herself $25 of "fun money" per week to spend on things like coffee or drinks with friends. "For comparison, and to demonstrate what a drastic cut this was for me, I'm used to having around $350 in my budget template each week to play with after [fixed costs]."

The diet not only kept her on track with making her payments, but it changed her relationship with money, she writes: "When you only have $25 to spend a week on going out, you start being very selective about how you spend your time and money. … It really clarified to me what I could and could not live without.

"Most of the things I considered needs were really just wants that if I took a moment to focus on something else, the desire quickly passed."

Cutting her weekly spending from $350 to $25 was extreme, she admits: "I don't think for me, my needs, my lifestyle, I'd be able to keep up the $25 dollars a week spending unless I absolutely had to."

That being said, "I think anything is sustainable for 30 to 90 days. I wanted an aggressive approach and knew I needed to take one, so that is what I did."

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