Today, the 24th of July, is my birthday.

I’ve had a tradition of posting fun articles that start with 24, on past birthdays. See: 24 Things More Likely to Happen Than Winning the Lottery and 24 Stupidest Things the U.S. Government Spends Money On.

Since this is a big birthday for me (I’m turning 30), I figured I would provide a little more value. So this isn’t just for fun, though it will be fun to write.

I’m going to share 24 different things my wife and I did to become debt free by the time I turned 24. We really did do it when I was 24 – the more 24s the better, right?

We were in all kinds of debt before I turned 21, and debt-free at age 24.

I also wanted to share this information because becoming debt-free has change our life.

As I write this, I’m sitting at the kitchen table, looking out at the green, rolling countryside. We’re vacationing in a small German village for my birthday. We’ve been to multiple countries and some amazing locations – all possible because we’re debt-free. Also possible because airlines like EasyJet have crazy cheap flights.

Side note: It blows my mind that they’re able to mow the hills here, even when some are almost completely vertical. Kudos to the Germans and their impressive engineering that apparently carries over to farming.

It’s nice to be able to take vacations without having to go into debt, and without the worry of it being a huge financial burden when you get home. It just feels different to pay for vacations when they happen, without financing any part of it. Or, as Dave Ramsey says, “It’s a great feeling to know you’re not ruining your life with credit card debt, while you’re on vacation.”

Without further ado, here are 24 things we did to pay off $24k in consumer debt…

Living Differently

We still live differently, and that’s how we are able to travel as much as we want, because we don’t waste our money while we’re not on vacation.

  1. We sold an expensive mistake – namely, a Chevy Blazer.
  2. We moved into a 600 sq ft mobile home.
  3. We turned our 2400 sq ft home into rental property.
  4. We cut cable TV, and haven’t looked back since.

Spending Less

  1. We reduced eating out to once a week, and when we did, we drank water.
  2. We made it a game to see how little we could spend on dates, and at restaurants.
  3. We did experiments to see how long we could go without spending money.
  4. We learned how to make healthy, inexpensive meals at home.
  5. We strategically and efficiently shopped around for everything we bought.
  6. We removed unnecessary coverage from our insurance plans.
  7. We used our emergency fund, not a credit card, for emergencies.
  8. We used coupons when it made sense, and bought what was on sale.
  9. We only bought “sale” items when we already planned to buy that item.
  10. We bartered for goods and services, instead of only using money.

Earning More

  1. My wife and I worked full-time, at night, as managers at Domino’s Pizza.
  2. I put in extra hours as a delivery driver at said Domino’s Pizza.
  3. I worked full-time, during the days, at a local auto body shop.
  4. I worked construction on the weekends.
  5. We delivered phone books (remember those?) during the summers.
  6. We delivered multiple paper routes in the early morning hours.
  7. I found side jobs to include door hanging, mowing lawns, auto detail, and others.
  8. My wife worked as a Regional Supervisor for a marketing company.
  9. I worked part-time for my wife at said marketing company.
  10. My wife worked a direct marketing job, and sold the stuff we didn’t need online.

Now, my wife is a stay-at-home mom.

She doesn’t have to work at all. I work one job, and I write on the side.

We are able to live free now, because of sacrifices we made in the beginning.

We have four children, with one on the way, and we can support our family on my income alone, because of what we did to get out of debt in the early years.

What Should You Do?

If you’re still in the early years, get to work right now. Pay off your debt, because of the burden it is or will become down the road.

If you’re already well into the family years, and you still have a lot of debt, you will have to make many sacrifice to become debt-free, just make sure your family isn’t one of them.

If you’re debt-free, have a party! Let’s celebrate together – it is my birthday after all!