At the time, "my blog was taking off and I wanted to work for myself," says Bowling, who was employed as a content marketing strategist in Atlanta. "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?'"
Bowling, now 30, says her three-month journey out of the red all started with a simple first step: Getting clear on exactly how much she owed.
"I started by figuring out how much debt I had," she tells CNBC Make It. "Then I played with the numbers and figured out what I would need to pay each month in order to pay it off."
It sounds obvious, but often "it isn't easy to take a good, hard look at what you owe," she writes on FinancialBestLife.com. Ignoring your debt, or not owning up to what you owe, will only prolong the process.