DeShena used to be so stressed about paying bills that she would physically shake when she had to deal with it. But with some mindset shifts she was able to get caught up on her bills and pay off $54,000 in 2.5 years!
She is now a life coach to help others work on their mindset so they can overcome that stress and live the life they want!
I’m DeShena Woodard, founder of Extravagantly Broke, a blog that empowers women to crush debt and pursue their passions. I’m an everyday working mom who followed the traditional path of going to college, buy a nice house, buy a fancy car, have a kid. Then I found myself living paycheck to paycheck, miserable, and stressed about bills. It took a total mindset shift for me to change my thinking surrounding money and then change my spending behavior. I was then able to pay off $54,000 of debt in a little over 2.5 years and now I’m 100% debt-free.
Welcome to the money mindset podcast, where you will find the inspiration and motivation. You need to manage your money better. So you can stress less and live the life you want. This is Ashley Patrick with budgets made easy and the money mindset podcast today we're talking to DeShena Woodward. Who's the founder of extravagantly broke a blog that empowers women to crush them debt and pursue their passion. She's an everyday working mom who followed the traditional path of going to college, buying a nice house, buying a fancy car and having a kid. Then she found herself living paycheck to paycheck, miserable and stressed about bills. It took a total mindset shift for her to change her thinking surrounding money, and then changing her spending behavior. She was then able to pay off $54,000 of debt and a little over two and a half years. And now she is a 100% debt-free.
Now, if you are ready to get started on your debt payoff journey, changing your mindset around money, changing your spending behavior. You can get your paycheck, budget spreadsheet. It is set up for you to budget by paycheck, which then goes into a monthly view if you want the monthly view. And then into the yearly view. Plus it has a bonus Christmas budget sheet included as well. You can go to budgetsmadeeasy.com/spreadsheet, and it'll take you to grab your paycheck budget spreadsheet. That is totally customizable for whatever you want to do with your budget by paycheck. It also has a Google sheet as well as Excel. So you can use it on your phone, on the internet, however you want to do it. So go grab your spreadsheet at budgetsmadeeasy.com/spreadsheet. And now is our interview with does Sheena. Hey, welcome to the podcast to DeShena.
Hi Ashley, thanks for being here. I'm so excited to talk to you about your debt payoff journey. And, you know, I know that you're really big about, um, you know, you changing your mindset around money and everything like that. So before we just like dive right in, can you just kinda tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do now?
Okay. Sure. Well, my name is Deshena and I'm the founder of the website extravagantly broke, which is basically kind of like a money mindset blog, where I try to empower women to like crush debt and pursue their passions, pursue what they're passionate about, which is why I also became a certified life coach, because I began to understand that money problems don't just start and end with money and it can bleed into so many different areas of your life, you know, and even like your relationships or your job performance, even with, in my case, it was affecting my self confidence. So, uh, and there's usually some sort of underlying issue. And so I kinda like to take a holistic approach to debt freedom. And I just kinda talk about the methods that have helped me overcome living paycheck to paycheck, and to finally become a hundred percent debt free. And I want to help other people understand the motives behind them spending habits so that they can finally take control of their finances as well. So my basic message is pretty much that anyone can be debt free or can learn to live debt free, you know, once you make that mindset shift.
Absolutely. And you know, my, my podcast is the money mindset podcast, because it's so important to focus about your mindset because you know, doing a budget or even making your plan, isn't the whole picture. Yeah. You can write it down on paper, but if you don't make those longterm habits and the changes mentally, you're going to wreck the budget anyway. Like you're not, you're still not going to follow through and things like that. So, and that's not even just about money, that's like anything, like how many of us want to lose weight and we make a plan and then they'll like me and then I eat all the Oreos at 9pm at night!
So I'm so glad that we were going to talk about shifting your mindset and everything about money. Um, so tell me some of the things that you did to make those changes. You know, you've paid off a lot of money really fast, and so that is not an easy feat. So, um, what are some of the things you did to kind of change your mindset to get you in a place that you were even ready to pay off debt?
Oh, well, let's see. It was like, it was so many things. It wasn't just one specific thing. Um, it, it, it was really an ongoing process. Um, but yeah, one of the key things that helped me was I started years ago trying to keep my expenses low. Um, and, but what really helped me was when I finally got a job that I had been pursuing for years, I finally got the position I had been pursuing for years and my kids were getting bigger. So I could take on more of a full time role because previously I had been more like, you know, just working a couple of days a week because I wanted to be available for my children. But as they started getting older, then I really kind of went after that job that I had been wanting for years. And once I did that, uh, what I noticed in all my research from a personal finance and even in my own experience is a lot of times when we, uh, earn money, we're already thinking about how to spend it as soon as we earn it, you know, what we're going to do with that money?
I do. I start thinking about, Oh, I can do by this.
So yeah, even in the interview, it's like, even while you're interviewing for the job, it, at least it's been nice. There's like, Oh my gosh, you know, I get this job, then I can get that car and I can get this, or we can buy that house and whatever. But this time when I, uh, when I got the job, my salary jumped at about 40, 45%. Uh, and, but my expenses didn't, I still kept my expenses low. I didn't start looking for ways to immediately get rid of my money instead. I wanted to hang onto it and save it and pay off, pay down my debt.
So yeah, it kind of made you start to want to pay down your debt. Like, was this just something that had been weighing on you or was it, um, just something that you just felt like you should do weighing on me for sure. Ashley for years. I mean, it was just, it was torture. I mean, I was at the point where it was affecting me, you know, physiologically. I mean, I was having symptoms when, uh, I was always concerned about bills. I was always behind. I was always feeling stressed. I was always, when it was bill paying time, I could get that. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest that turned into my stomach and I would see mild tremors in my hands. And I was like, this is not right. You know, I'm like something, you know, why am I like this?
You know, why is everybody else, you know, seem to be managing so well, but why, when it's time for me, I feel like I'm just so stressed, uh, with this, with paying bills and never catching up, you know, always behind. So, uh, yeah, it was affecting me, you know, physiologically. So I knew something wasn't right. And it weighed on me heavily. So I had to, I knew there had to be, I had to do something different because what I was doing was not working obviously.
And I, like, you mentioned that, um, you felt like other people were handling it better. Like, I feel like whenever I talk to, um, other people, like, they always think that everybody else is better with money than they are, but it's not true. Like, we all stress about money and, you know, 80% right. Of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. And it's even like a worldwide thing. Like I talked to people in other countries that struggle with finances as well. So it's not just an American thing either, but you know, we always think that other people are doing it better than us. And you know, they're not, they're not, we all with the same thing. So you're, you know, you're not alone. So I'm glad that you mentioned that. So did you have like an aha moment that you like knew something had to change or was it just kind of the piling of the stress and the physiological stuff?
Well, it, it, it was that come compiling of, of the stress, but they're definitely was an aha moment. There was a catalyst for sure. Um, okay. So I will tell you that my husband, you know, I guess it's part of, you know, the culture, the American culture, whatever, maybe I don't know every culture, but you know, you want to live up to a certain standard and you want to do better than you did growing up. Of course. Um, and you know, you're, you're taught in school, not necessarily about money, at least not when I was going through school, but you're out and not how to handle money, but you're taught that you should earn money. You should get a house and, you know, go to college, get a job, get a house, get a nice car, has some kids, kids in private school, you know, all that.
Stuff's, you know, kinda like the standard for being successful, but you're not really taught, you know, really how to manage money. But, you know, people are, you see people doing well and you want to do the same. So my husband decided that we should, it was time for us to get a luxury car. And I really didn't have my mind set on a luxury car. I, it was not even in my, on my radar at that point, because I knew that, you know, I was still kind of, even though I was a professional, I was only working part time because my daughter was as an infant at the time and I won it, but he wanted to, you know, I guess kind of make sure he was, we were keeping up with what everybody else was doing. So he had us down there at the Mercedes dealership looking for a car and I was like, okay, but Hey, let me tell you, I did not put up a fight.
I w you know, once we got down there, I was all on board, but let me tell you that was the, that was really not a smart move, but anyway, we got the car, uh, we figured jointly, we could pay this off, you know, with the standard 60 payments for five years. So we did it at, but what was the catalyst for me, even though we were, you know, I was always in debt, always behind, uh, with my bills, trying to keep up with this car payment. But the catalyst for me came when, while I in the middle of making this $850 a month car payment. Yes. Because this was like the S class luxury Mercedes. He doesn't do anything small. So it's like, so while you're go home, go big or go home. Right? So while in the midst of making this $850 car payment, about two and a half years, I think into it, the water pump broke and he took it to the dealership and they were going to charge something upwards of $2,500 a month.
I mean, not a month for a repair. And then my husband said, Oh no. And he asked around and he got a referral. So we ended up going to this, um, uh, car repair shop that specialized in German car repairs. And it did bring the cost down, but it was still $1,700 on top of pain, $850 a month. Imagine having to come up with an additional $1,700 for a car repair. Once that happened, I was two through, I was like, no, this is, this is stupid. This is just beyond ridiculous. What are we doing? Why are we blowing our money like that? You know? And since then I've learned that one of Dave Ramsey's philosophies is that okay, if you want to stay broke our middle class, keep making car payments. And that is so true because I was both broke class, going nowhere with the way that we were up thinking about money. So that was a big catalyst for me after that, it's like, something's got this, this has to change. That's it
You know, I was one of those that had the nice brand new luxury vehicle too. I'm still driving that thing like 10 years later. Cause my husband didn't want to sell it. We did. I mean, we paid it off obviously, but, um, yeah, I'm still driving that thing and drive it into the ground. Right, right. So tell me what were some of the mindset shifts. Okay. So you had your aha moment and, you know, um, sounds like you got a really good phrase. So what were some of the things that you did to pay off your debt? Well, first of all, how much debt did you pay off and how quickly did you do it?
I forgot to ask you that. Oh, no problem with I, once I got that job, I would say that was like, um, right at the end of 2016. And then, you know, it took me a couple of months to actually catch up on all the things I wish I was behind on. And then, so I say my jet pack journey started in roughly January of 2017 and I was able to pay everything off by August of 2019. So a little over two and a half years, roughly about two years and eight months to pay off a $52,000 worth of debt.
Wow. That's amazing. So tell us some of the things that you did, um, to pay off the debt fast besides, I mean, obviously you got a raise, but you know, you still had to be intentional about the money, you know, just, just having extra money. He's not all of the solutions. So what were some of the things that you did, um, to pay off the debt so quickly?
Well, uh, one of the things that I did was definitely, um, doing like the zero based budgeting, uh, where I would, I was very, you know, strict on tracking my, my expense, every expense and assigning every dollar, a job, you know? Um, I would even my say even for savings, cause I had decided that I was going to start saving too, cause I didn't even have an emergency fund nothing. And so I decided that I, if I started tracking what I was doing, that I could budget my emergency fund or yeah, the money towards my emergency fund off the top. Because if you wait till the end, most of the time you don't have anything left. So I had to start taking a little bit off the top and, and then I decided to the next thing I would say, aye, it was pretty much the debt snowball, where I looked at one bill that I could pay off.
First one, small bill, what's the smallest thing that I can pay off. And once I found that and I actually was able to pay that off, you know, it kind of gave me a boost and kind of made me look at, okay, now what can I pay off next? You know, it's kind of, it kind of becomes like a game. It's like, okay, now I took care of that. Now what else can I pay off and how much more money can I find to put into my savings account? So just being very, um, intentional with my, my budget and tracking my money really helped me, uh, to pay, pay off that debt. And it just snowballed, I just kept on throwing more and more and more money at the debt because like I said, my income did increase, but I didn't purchase things. I didn't start buying things. So, um, yeah, so it was, those are pretty much the two main things that I would say the snowball and the, and the zero based budgeting and being intentional.
Absolutely. Yes, those are very important things. Um, and you know, and changing your mindset to, it sounds like, you know, you started thinking about, um, how you handled your money differently. So from, you know, whenever you were behind on bills and, you know, buy a new cars and credit cards, all that stuff, how did your mindset shift from then to where you are today? Like what was, you know, the major things in how you think about money?
You know, it just kind of evolved because as after I realized, you know, with that, with that car payment, uh, it's like, you know, this is, this is, this is ridiculous. Why am I doing this? You know, do I really care about driving? You know, this kind of car and do I really want to work hard for my money, just so that I can pay it to finance the company. It's like, I just got to the point where I wanted to see my money, you know, it's like, it just, it would disappear faster than I even made it. And it's like, well, what am I going to see my money? Exactly. You know, it was just that thinking that what can I do to help me keep more of my money instead of always giving, giving it away as soon as I get it. So I would, you know, start making cutbacks on things that, that weren't, it didn't really matter so much, you know?
Uh, I didn't care about I'm like, do I really need an Apple phone? I don't care about Apple phone. You know, as long as I have a phone that can, um, a smartphone that can take calls and good me GPS to get to where I need to go to the main, the main reasons that I need needed by phone. So, you know, I cut, I cut those expensive phones and I dropped down to like a phone where I pay, uh, what do we pay a hundred dollars a month for four lines? Oh yeah. Like with Metro PCs, you know, I'm not, they don't, uh, I don't have any affiliations with them or anything other than I just pay the bill, but it really worked out for me a hundred dollars a month for four lines. I'm like, you can't beat that with a stick and the, no, I'm not.
And the phone does everything I needed to do. I don't know. Maybe for people who, who need more fancier things, then, you know, maybe you want something else, but it works for me. I just had to look at the things that, that really mattered most to me and going out and get it. Another luxury car was never on my to do list. Not unless I can pay cash for one, I'll tell you that. But, um, so when I did need a new car, uh, and believe me, it took years, we drove that other car for you. We still had, but, uh, and it's, uh, it's 20 years old now. So, uh, we drove, we keep it because like you said, we'll run it into the ground after all, you could have, you know, say it a small country for a year. We paid on that car.
So it's like, you know, we still have it, but I don't even drive it. My husband drives it. Occasionally I went and got me when I needed a new car. I went and got me something economical, fuel efficient that was comfortable. I went and got me a nice little, a Nissan SUV, and now it's a hundred percent paid for, I paid it off early because it was affordable and it takes me everywhere. I need to go. And I love it. So just doing things like that, you know, I could, you know, I could keep, you know, some people believe they can, they always have to have a car payment and that's not true. You don't, you can pay off a car, get you a nice little car, pay it off and drive it. You know, it'll take you everywhere. You need to go the grocery store church to pick up the kids back home, to work wherever. So I'm happy with that. I started focusing on living comfortable and keeping my money in my own hands then, uh, you know, giving it away and trying to live extravagantly.
Absolutely. Um, so what would you tell somebody that was in your shoes? You know, they're, they're behind on their bills and, you know, has a huge car payment and they just don't think that they can pay off their debt. They don't see a way out. What is your advice for people like that?
There is a way, um, I will tell you that, um, I did this interview with a financial coach and she's been a financial coach for 20 plus years. She's talked to people from low income to high income and what she told me, the number one, I think mistakes that people are making that is affecting negatively impacting their budget is that they're not tracking. And so tracking and, and, and with the people that I've recently started coaching I've. I found that to be absolutely true. They don't know what's coming in and what's going out. So of course you don't know where your money is. So the advice that I would say is you definitely have to start tracking. And once you start tracking, you can see where the spending leaks are. And then when you see those leaks, you can start seeing, okay, look, I'm wow. I spent $1,200 this month on groceries. How is that possible for a family of four? It's like, okay, what can we do to start making some cut backs on that and, and, you know, pay more attention and be more intentional with this expense. So yeah, if you can, if you track, then you can find those spending leaks, and then you can see where you can start making cuts. And I promise you they're in there.
Oh, absolutely. I, 100% agree with that. And that's so funny that you say $1,200 a month on food for a family. Poor. Cause that was me. That's how much, when I first started tracking, that was like my aha moment. I was like, you've got to be kidding me. Like, and one was a toddler. Mom was a newborn. So [inaudible], but you know, when you know where it's going, that's, you know, where you can, it's easier to see where you can make the changes. Cause you know, in our mind we don't think that we've spent that much. Like, and that's why swiping a card. You spend so much more money compared to like cash because you know, you just don't feel it the same way. And you just mentally in your head, you thank you spent less. I mean, I still do that. If I don't stay on top of my tracking, I I'll think, well, I spent this much and then I go and do it. I'm like, Oh no. Oh no. Mental accounting is not much. So do you have, um, any last words of wisdom? Any final pieces of advice?
Yeah. Uh, yeah. Well, I would say, um, there was a three things that I I think are really important that people can do immediately to start seeing improvements in their budget. And the first thing is, like I said, with the tracking so that you can see the spending leaks. I mean, you gotta make a list, you got to write it down, you can't do the mental account because you'll, you'll be wrong every time we've all tried it and it doesn't work no matter what you think it doesn't work. So, and then the second thing is to stop spending, um, you know, there's this quote that I like to use or that once I heard it, I was like, absolutely, I love this quote. It's like, when you find yourself in a hole, drop the shovel and stop bigging, you just have to stop spending, you know, you just must, it's like start tracking your expenses and then identify those spending leaks and don't create any new debt.
So, and then the third thing I would say is about just being intentional, uh, you know, seeing what matters most and then working backwards to find, uh, what action you can take this week. What's the one thing you can change this week or this month to get you to whatever that goal is that you want, you want to be debt free, then how much debt are you in work backwards? How long can you take you to reasonably pay this off? And so what can you start doing this week or this month to get you one step closer to that? So I would say those would be the three main things that anybody could start doing right away to start seeing improvements.
Absolutely. I completely agree with that. Um, and what is your favorite nonfiction book? I always like to ask people so I can get some more ideas for my book lists, but, you know, just helps us improve our, not just our financial lives, but just our lives in general as well.
[inaudible] uh, well, I would have to say, uh, recently it's this book called don't keep your day job by Cathy Heller. Uh, even if you look at the title on the book, uh, the caption, it says, you know how to turn your passion into your career. And I think that would help a lot of people. Well, because when you're, you're doing something, uh, that I don't enjoy, uh, it makes it even that much harder to improve your financial situation or to want to work, or you do it grudgingly. So, um, you know, if you can find that right to what you enjoy and learn how to turn that into your, your, uh, career, then, you know, it would go a long way towards the money will come. The money will come. I really, I really have been in, she also has a podcast and I really enjoy I've been enjoying her package. Yes. And she gives actionable tips on how you can do things like reach out to people or create your own opportunities and turn them into cash. So that's a book that I'm, I'm, I've just started and I'm anxious to really dive into that one.
I love podcasts too. Do you happen to remember the name of her podcasts?
It's the podcasts by the same name? Don't keep your day job. Awesome. I'll have to find that.
So where can people learn more about you and follow you?
Well, my website is extravagantly broke.com and I'm at extravagantly broke on all platforms except Twitter, I couldn't get the handle. I want it. So on Twitter, it's extra, extra broken. And also I do on my, on my side, I offer, uh, as a life coach, I, my specialty is, uh, debt freedom because I want people to know that anyone can be debt free. So you just have to, sometimes you just need the right push in the right direction or just, you need some accountability. Um, and so I offer a free 30 minute discovery or clarity calls if anyone is interested in chatting to see if I can help them, but, uh, yep. Extravagantly broke.com. That's where I am. Well, that was so much fun talking to you with you today. And I will link to everything in the show notes as well. So you can go get your free call with Machina, and I appreciate you taking the time to talk with us today.
Oh, no problem, Ashley, thank you so much for having me.
Thank you. Thank you so much to DeShida for being with us today and don't forget to go grab your paycheck. Budget spreadsheet. Budgetsmadeeasy.com/spreadsheet, and I will talk to you guys soon.