In this (still) new series of interviews, my plan is to introduce you to bloggers whose stories and/or advice I have enjoyed or found most helpful. Money Funk is a real life success story in process. Christine and her family are currently working to free themselves of $85,000 of debt. Through habit changes and frugal living, they are doing it and writing it all down as they go with pointers for you and me. We're all learning together, and Money Funk is one of those places where it just feels real.
I recently spoke with Christine via email about her blog and life.
Me: Please tell my readers a little about your personal life.
Christine: I was already a single mom of two children from a previous relationship. Who found love and married in 2007 to my now current husband. I came into the marriage with some credit card and student loan debt of about $40,000. My husband and I decided to pay off our past credit card debts with a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC), so that we can start our life fresh and new.
Well, we may have wiped out the credit card debt with shiny $0 balances, but we didn't wipe out the behavior. We re-racked up that debt and fell even further. Not a way to start a marriage by putting yourself deeper into debt. *sigh*
Me: Unfortunately it happens to many of us. We were completely out from under debt once before too. But we weren't inspired to change. And so we're back there again. What inspired you personally to get out of debt?
Christine: One day, I read an article in Redbook Magazine on Mary Hunt's 10-10-80 Formula (Save 10 percent, give 10 percent and live on the rest). Well, that article sat and pounded itself into my head. I got up the next morning to literally declare, "I am going to fight to own my money. My family is going to fight to own their money. We are going to live a better life this day forward!"
The words "own my money" were such strong bold words. Money wasn't going to drive my life, I was going to drive my life!
Me: Wow...I like that idea (owning your own money). Foreign to most of us. What was the most extreme measure that you have taken in paying off debt?
Christine: I think the most extreme measure has not been in paying my debt, but in NOT ACCRUING MORE DEBT, by having a Cash Only Christmas last year. Paying off debt has been automated by a snowball schedule. So as long as we are on track then our family is doing good. But, not accruing more debt can be difficult to keep up all the time; especially during the holidays.
Brad, from Enemy of Debt, was holding a Debt-Free Christmas Challenge. It was then I became very adamant that our family NOT accrue any new debt this last Christmas; very adamant. It was for real this time. See, might not sound like much, but our family did not prepare in saving for the holiday. So, Christmas money was strictly coming out of our weekly cash allotment. Which was not much. And when you have two children with gold and glitter in their eyes for Christmas, it can be a depressing outlook knowing you can't buy them all they want (a parent's guilt).
My husband and I made a list on how much money was going to be spent per person. And we stuck to it. You have to be real picky about the gifts. So, I chose to do most of my shopping online. Where I could compare prices, find coupons through RetailmeNot.com for discounts and free shipping, and get the best prices. I actually really enjoyed doing most of my Christmas shopping online; outside the hustle and bustle of the stores.
Me: I guess we're shooting for a cash only Christmas this year since we've sworn off credit cards. I hope we're as success as you were!
Christine: Having a debt free Christmas was by no means easy. Even my daughter grumbled after she was done opening her presents that 'she didn't get a lot'. Ah, crush my heart. But we all survived the stress having a cash Christmas brought on. My word of advice for a Cash only Christmas: start socking away $25 - $30 a week. Makes a huge difference during the holidays!
Me: Start planning early...great advice! What keeps you motivated on your journey to becoming totally debt free?
Christine: Blogging, both reading and writing, definitely keeps me motivated on my journey to becoming totally debt free. I love listening to bloggers writing about how their lives have expanded on a spiritually fulfilling level for them. I want that in my own life, too! Just think... if I don't have debt, then I can make more of a choice about where my time is spent. I wouldn't need to work, work, work all the time. I could use more of that time to spend with my family.
Me: Which debt are you most excited about being free of (either now or in the future)?
Christine: All of it! If I had to pick one, then it would be my auto loan. My husband and I have decided to be aggressive with that debt loan this year. Especially, because my stupid financial choices have me paying $29,000 for a car loan that is only $12,000. Ouch!
Me: I think very few people realize how much it truly costs to finance a new car. How has blogging influenced your drive to become debt free?
Christine: Blogging holds me accountable for my journey. There is so much enthusiasm and support to make it a successful journey. I think its wise to use that support for its full potential.
Me: I like the accountability of blogging too. How do your readers and commenters inspire you to live and/or blog?
Christine: I don't always have all the answers. Readers and Commenters have given their inspiring resolutions to financial questions I've had. I love all the thoughts that are shared; especially because I like to get the big picture on a situation.
And when I get comments about how I am helping someone on their financial journey... I feel so thankful and inspired. How could I not want to continue inspiring?
Me: What is your favorite financial story shared with you via blogging (from a reader or another blogger)?
Christine: Oh, this is an easy one. Flexo, from Consumerism Commentary, wrote a piece at the start of the new year called, Start the Decade off Right: Do Something you Love. For some reason it was just so inspiring to me because I have so many passions and inspirations that I want to live them all (most people find me crazy for that reason - always coming up with new ideas). I think this post, subconsciously confirmed its okay to try it all. And that one of those things I try will be my golden shiny star.
Me: I just read that piece and wow...you are right. Awesome post! So to wrap it all up, who do you go to for good reading: Who are your favorite bloggers to read?
Christine: A Gaishan Life, Investor Junkie, Monevator, Experiments in Passive Income, Man Vs Debt (who you just saw around here just last week!), Financial Samurai, Small Moments of Great Rewards , and Musings of a Midlife Mom:
Christine would love to have you join her over at Money Funk. You can always just click over to read, but you'll find yourself there time and time again, so you might as well just subscribe as I do, via RSS feed or email. You can also follow her on Twitter--if you are into that kind of thing. Or you can fan her on Facebook. Or you could wrap yourself in a blanket of social media and do all of the above! Either way...she'd love to see you around and see what you have to say!
By the way...she also has a HUGE rockin' blogroll of (mostly) personal finance blogs. It's going to take a WHILE to check all of those out! I think I'm up for the challenge though! You know how much I like finding new blogs to read!
Thanks again, Christine!