When we want we can.
This might just be the perfect one-liner to describe Brandyn Rodriguez and her journey to paying off $137,000 in debt.
“Getting into debt wasn’t hard. You name it, I had it, student loans, car payments, medical bills, credit cards, everything,” Rodriguez, 38, said. to “Good Morning America”.
“Growing up, I wasn’t taught not to go into debt or to use a credit card responsibly or anything like that. I had no financial literacy whatsoever,” the mom said. two children from Cibolo, Texas.
When she became a single mother, Rodriguez said she decided to take matters into her own hands and tackle her debt. She heard about Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University through her church and signed up for a course.
“When I started the journey, it was just an eye opener: I don’t have to live with debt, that I can pay these things back. But it didn’t last long,” Rodriguez explained.
“I paid some things back…and then life happened. …I bought a house during that time. So I just put it aside.”
Even though the first go-around wasn’t very successful, Rodriguez didn’t give up. After getting married in 2014, she and her husband DJ made a serious decision to pay off their debt in 2016 after welcoming their second daughter.
“Why not repay and keep this money or invest it for our future, for our daughters?”
So the Rodriguezes teamed up and this time around started following the snowball method of debt and a zero-based budget.
What is the Debt Snowball Method?
With the debt snowball method, you start by listing all your debts from smallest to largest. You direct most of your attention to the smallest debt first, paying off as much as you can. At the same time, you submit minimum payments on the rest of the debts. You repeat the process and keep building the “snowball” until you finish paying off the biggest debt last.
Rodriguez consistently focused on every debt, tracking every goal, but at the same time she remained realistic throughout her journey.
“We had over 25 debts that were listed at the time. … When we started the journey we had $90,000 in debt and again life happens so we racked up more debt. In the end, we completed $137,000 over 59 months,” Rodriguez said.
To pay more, Rodriguez got a job as a restaurant server, in addition to his day job at United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County. This, in turn, motivated her husband to find a second job at a Home Depot store, in addition to his full-time job in the energy industry.
“I was like, I want to put in as much money as possible. I want this debt settled. I wanted it gone,” Rodriguez recalled thinking at the time.
For nearly a year, Brandyn and DJ Rodriguez scrambled endlessly to pay off their debts.
“I would work Monday through Friday, full time. Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, I would work at my part-time job,” Rodriguez said. “So I would leave work at 4:45 p.m.…get to the restaurant around 5:15-5:30 p.m., work my shift until about 9:30-10 a.m., get home and do everything.”
“It was a lot of teamwork, a lot of teamwork to do it,” she explained, adding that she thanks her family, friends and eldest daughter, Sydnee, now 16. years, for his help.
Rodriguez said that after 11 months and 2 weeks, she quit her restaurant job and in total worked three part-time jobs — at the restaurant, then making deliveries on apps like Favor and DoorDash. She said her husband also worked part-time at Home Depot, a YMCA, and also did app deliveries.
Fulfill the debt-free dream
Thirteen years after graduating from college, Rodriguez has achieved his goal of paying off all of his student debt. It was also his biggest debt to date. “Finally, in September 2020, I was able to press submit my last student loan,” Rodriguez said. “So I graduated from college in 2007 and paid off my loans in 2020.”
“When I hit submit on that final payment, I had ‘Bye Bye Bye’ from ‘N Sync,’ and my family was checking me in and I danced,” Rodriguez recalled.
What she learned along the way
Throughout his journey, Rodriguez has never lost sight of his why.
She used visual reminders like a poster in her bathroom, another in her office, a printout of her debt tracking spreadsheet and pictures of her children and one of her and her husband, to keep the direction.
“Every time I opened this wallet to give a customer their receipt or write an order like, hey, that’s what you’re here for. Not the sexiest, funniest job you want to do right now but you’re here for that reason,” Rodriguez recalled.
She wants others to know that the mountain of debt can be climbed and there is no need to impose a timetable. Rodriguez called the trip a marathon, not a sprint.
“It can be done and I would say letting go of the negative mindset around money was the most important thing for me. … Once you let go of that mindset and make a plan of action, you can take care of it.”
Today, Rodriguez is sharing her debt-free stories on her PositivelyB website and Instagram, hoping to inspire others.
“Thanks to social media, you really don’t know how much you connect with people, but then you get DMs and someone is like, ‘Hey, I just want you to know I just paid off my loan. student.’ …and it feels like I’m making a difference or at least helping someone.”
For others starting to get into debt, Rodriguez recommends three key strategies: