A $700 “no” – our defining moment while getting out of debt

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Ben was planning to attend a trip to New York City for a conference. It turned out we had enough Southwest points for me to tag along with a free flight. His company would be paying for the hotel anyway (for the duration of the conference), and we could pay for one extra night and have an extra couple days together. We decided to drive the girls to Chicago, and drop them off with my parents on a Monday. Ben would fly to NYC Tuesday, and I would fly out Wednesday. We’d have Thursday evening and Friday together and come back Saturday afternoon.

We budgeted out and estimate of the cost of the trip to us (gas + one night hotel + food) and figured it’d be around $700. 3 nights and days in NY together kid free for $700? Yes Please!!

new york

We had accidentally over budgeted our travel category for the year and we had the $700 in that category already. So, it felt like a bonus trip to celebrate our 5 year anniversary this summer.

A week or so after we booked the flights, I heard a caller on the Dave Ramsey show that really stuck with me. They were in the middle of paying off their debts when their car broke down. They would need to replace it. She wondered if they should just take out a loan for a nice car and add it to their snowball rather than pay cash for a beater that they’d have to replace in a few years anyway. Dave Ramsey said something I couldn’t get out of my mind. He said something to the effect of, “Every single person who has committed to paying off debt runs into a test. A moment where you have to plant your feet in the sand and declare “I’ve had it. I am not going into debt again no matter what. This is your moment. Don’t do it. Use your $1,000 emergency fund and the cash you get from the junk yard for your current car. Scrape together a little extra and buy a $3000 car and then go back to tackling your debt. This is your moment. If you do this without debt, you will never forget it and you will never go into debt again.”

Over the course of the next couple days, I kept getting this gut instinct that we should cancel my New York trip and put the $700 towards loans.

$700 makes almost no dent in our loan.
In a sense, it felt like next-to-nothing.
Oh, that’s because it was next to nothing. At the time, it was less than 1% of our total student loan debt.

But that’s how you get out of debt, 1 percent at a time.

I brought it up with Ben, and he instantly agreed.
That was that.
We cancelled our trip to NY. And instead of spending $700 and 3 nights together in NY, Ben went on his work trip, I stayed home with the girls, and we knocked out another .08 percent of our loans.

Were we disappointed? Sure.
Did we want 3 nights in New York together to celebrate our 5th anniversary? Yep.
Do we think 5th anniversaries are worth celebrating? Yes.

But, we decided getting out of debt was more important. We can go to New York together in 2 years.

That was our moment, our momentum-shifting-moment.
Our line in the sand.
Our decision to do everything in our means to get out of debt as fast as possible, even if it means saying no to fun things.
Even if those things are a great bargain.
And even if those things are for our 5 year anniversary.
We can wait and go on a 7 year anniversary trip.

We learned something from this moment… 

we really want to be debt free, and therefore, whatever it is… it can wait.

Instead we’ll just stay home and take awkward money-date-selfies and pretend that’s as fun as taking selfies in New York.


So, what are you saying no to while you get out of debt?

Everyone has to have a defining moment of saying "no" while they get out of debt. What's yours?

2 thoughts on “A $700 “no” – our defining moment while getting out of debt”

  1. The comments on my site are turned off now, but I'd love to hear from you on Instagram! Follow me there & tag me in a comment or DM me. Xo I'm @MrsReneeCook on Instagram!
  2. wow! good for you, Lauren. That is such a hard thing to say “no” too, especially when it’s so against the norm. You won’t regret it long term!!

  3. I saved this post a while ago to my Pinterest board, but it just came back to me today when I decided that my post-grad Europe trip for May 2017 is just too big and extravagant to manage, because it’ll put me further in debt when I’ll already have student loans to pay off. It’s tough to make those calls but those vacations will feel much better when we can truly afford them without debt hanging over us.

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