How a debt challenge helped people pay off debt

I’m a huge fan of paying off debt. It’s the entire reason I started Debt Roundup in the first place. After battling with debt for many years, I made a concious decision to drop debt and change my financial future. It took four years to get it done and I was over $75,000 lighter in the pocket, but my outlook was spectacular. I was ready to face the world without a debt burden and see what I could do. I’m happy with what I’ve accomplished and I’m even happier when I see others do it.

That’s why I asked a fellow blogger and debt destroyer, Candice Marie, to provide a guest post today. She created a challenge that got 10 people to pay off $39,000 in 11 weeks. That’s just awesome, so I wanted her to share her story and the reasoning behind the challenge. Please welcome Candice!

How a debt challenge helped 10 people pay off $39,000 of debt in 11 weeks? How is this even possible, is probably what you’re thinking. Well, let me explain.

I’m Candice Marie and I blog over at a few months ago I had the idea of putting together a debt challenge. We all dream of being debt free, but lets face it paying off debt alone can be pretty boring.  I wanted to create a fun way to pay off debt. People like being competitive, so I thought If I could create a competitive factor that people would be more likely to pay off their debt faster.

I thought what if we turned paying off debt into a game, and whoever paid off the most debt would win. I wasn’t sure if anyone would sign up, but I decided to write a post about the contest anyway.

Slay your debt challengeThe debt challenge required each player to pay $5 a week for 11 weeks ($55). At the end of the 11 weeks whoever put down the most money towards their debt of choice wins the money. Each week every person would send me a screenshot of the money they put towards their debt. I would compile the updates into a chart and share it with the group at the end of each week.

The contestants were able to submit multiple debt payments. If the goal of the challenge was to pay off the most debt, I didn’t want to limit people who wanted to pay off more than one debt at a time.

The winner could use this money to pay off a large chunk of debt, throw it in their savings, or do whatever they pleased with the money.

There was a $1.00 fee each week so technically each player paid $66.00 total. I wanted this challenge to be more of a debt support group where a group of people could come together talk about their struggles and their victories in a safe place, without feeling embarrassed.

Everyone had a different reason for why they wanted to join the challenge. A few of the Contestant responses are listed below

I have a lingering consumer debt account that I’ve been trying to pay off for some time now. I believe this competition will provide me the necessary pressure to eliminate the debt sooner rather than later, thus freeing up capital to invest rather than spend.

I’ve made many attempts in the past to pay down various credit card debts. Normally I get pretty close, but life always inevitably interferes and I go right back into debt on my cards. I’m hoping through this challenge I can get back on the right path of paying off my debt with the help of a support group who are all looking to do the same.

Need support paying off debt. I’ve been trying to do it on my own and falling short.

I like competitions and I am already very committed to get rid of my student loans sooner rather than later. I am also curious if this approach (this challenge) actually helps to motivate people to get rid of their debt.

Sometimes our friends place more emphasis on things that aren’t healthy for you. If our friends can pressure us into taking another drink, or buying that pair of shoes because “we deserve it,” why can’t our friends pressure us into paying off our debt? That’s really what this debt challenge was about. Helping support each other pay off our debt, like a debt support group.

Why My Debt Wasn’t Moving Quickly Before The Challenge?

Since it was my first time holding a debt challenge I wanted to keep the group small.  I also decided to participate in the challenge; although I couldn’t win I ended up paying off $4,111 of my own student loan debt.

In week one of the debt challenge I had $4,111 left to pay on one of my student loans. By week 9 I had $1,000 left to pay. I realized that before the challenge my debt wasn’t moving because I wasn’t really focused on paying it off. Sure I told myself that one of my goals was to pay it off, but I wasn’t really dedicated to it.

I had about seven other money goals that I was trying to accomplish at once. My focus was split, so I was making very minimal progress.

The competition factor also played a huge role into me stepping up my debt payment game. The first few weeks I was only paying a few hundred dollars, then I noticed people in the group were paying $1000 + and I felt as though I was slacking and had to pay off more.

Why Your Debt May Not Be Moving?

If your debt isn’t moving, it could be because you’re not really focused on moving it. Sure, you may be telling yourself that you want to get rid of your debt, but are your actions really aligning with your words? Am I really dedicated to paying off my debt? Ask yourself this question.

If your debt isn’t moving it could be because you’re only paying the minimum amount. When you only pay the minimum amount it’s hard to see any progress. Try to put as much money as you can towards your debt. If you have to, create a side hustle to bring in more money to pay it off faster.

You could also have too many money goals that you’re trying to accomplish at once. So you’re trying to put a few drops of water over 7 different buckets instead of pouring a whole gallon of water over 1-2 buckets at a time. It may be easier if you only focus on 1-2 goals at a time and really knock those goals out of the park.

When Life Happens

Some weeks of the challenge were better than others. As you know life happens and we may not always be able to put as much money towards our debt as we planned, but that doesn’t mean we have to lose sight of our goal. Baby steps are still steps in the right direction.

Becoming Debt Free

One person in the group even became debt free.

“OMG!  I am so happy to have that monkey off my back. Thank you SO MUCH for the extra motivation!  It’s kinda like cleaning my apartment.  I get more done in the 30 minutes before my guests arrive than if I had all day to clean.

Now it’s time to work on my 3-6 month emergency fund!. In other news, our office received bonuses this week.  For the first time I didn’t have to plead, negotiate, bribe myself.  You know, “Ok, Bianca, you can have $100 to play with but the rest has to go to VISA.”  It feels great!

Emergency fund, here we come!  And a tropical (but budget-friendly) vacay.  Because I freaking deserve it!  And can actually afford it for a change.

Get Rid Of Your Debt This Year!

Goodbye DebtIn the beginning I was nervous about starting this debt challenge. I didn’t know who would join me. I didn’t even know someone would end up debt free. So happy I could help motivate people to pay off their debt. If it takes a village to raise a child, maybe it also takes a village to pay off debt.

Since completing my 11-week debt challenge, I learned a few things that helped me pay off one of my student loan debts. If one of your goals this year was to pay off your debt, I created this free get rid of your debt workbook. This workbook is going to help you see exactly where you stand with your debt and help you get rid of it.  Cheers to crushing out debt this year!

This Free Tool Helped Me Pay Off $75,000

Sometimes all you need is free! I opened a free Personal Capital account back when I was in debt and it helped me get control of my financial lifestyle. Since paying off $75,000, I’ve been able to save over $180,000 and I couldn’t have done it without Personal Capital.

Check Out Personal Capital

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  1. Sometimes all we need is a little push into the right direction. I have to admit that, back when I was in debt, I didn’t have any challenges like this or such great motivation. Fortunately for me it wasn’t that difficult to pay it off (at least after a while), since my online business started going well, so I could afford the monthly payments and not worry about having my lifestyle affected too much.

  2. Great work with the challenge! I totaly get what you said about having multiple money goals that might get in the way of paying off debt. Last year, I resolved not to go into 2016 with my highest interest student loan debt and really had to focus to achieve that goal.

  3. Great advice, it’s also important to note that when you call your creditors, you definitely don’t want to tell them you’re struggling. They will mark your account as a potentially “bad” account and there’s a possibility that they might lower your credit limit. Although, if you’re trying to get out of debt it shouldn’t be a biggie, but it can definitely impact your credit score