2015 Debt Repayment Recap + What I’ve learned.

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve posted a Debt Repayment Recap.

I wish I could say it’s because I’ve been so engaged in a side hustle that I’ve had no time to blog or anything. But really it’s because I’ve been a little apathetic with my debt repayment and have subsequently been ashamed of bringing that to light. Like “they” say, though… slow progress is better than no progress, amiright?!

Here’s a look back on my debt repayment journey!

When I started my debt repayment journey in May,  I was $23,983 in debt:

May 2015

Car: $20,775
Dental Credit: $1,809
Credit Card: $1,399
Combined Debt of $23,983

Today, December 31, 2015 I am $19,779 in debt, meaning I have dropped my overall debt by 17.52% since I started paying off my debt.

December 2015

Car: $18,190 (-12.44%)
Dental Credit: $0 (-100%)
Credit Card #1: $1,566 (+11.93) (oops)
Credit Card #2: $23 (I don’t know how to calculate this.)

Combined debt of $19,779 (-17.52%)

2015 debt repayment recap // stephanieorefice.net

Here’s what I’ve learned this year  in attempting to plow through my debt:

  • Money management is less about money and more about mentality.
    It’s not about the amount of money you make. If you are constantly thinking, “I’ll start taking care of my money when I have more money,” there is absolutely no way that’s actually going to happen. How you treat your money when you’re broke is the exact same way you’re going to treat your money when you’re well-off.
  • Do not stop.
    From September – November, things really sucked. After plowing through my $2500 dental debt, I lost steam. I thought I could switch onto auto pilot and that I’d stay the course full steam ahead. Wrong. So wrong. I got a little loosey goosey. From May – August I dropped my debt by 11.7%, but from August – December I only dropped it by 6.52%. But here’s what matter: it kept going down.
  • You can prepare to stay out of debt while you’re getting out  of debt.
    Part of why my debt repayment slowed down a bit at the end of the year is because I finally started thinking about preparing for the future with my money. In July I drained my savings account to pay off a debt. From then on out, any expenses that popped up (like a new tire, an unexpected bill) had to be put on my credit card. I set up auto deposits to the savings account connected to my checking account. Thanks to Ernie, I opened an account at Betterment. Betterment is an investing service. I’ve been thinking about ways to invest my money but was at a complete loss as to how to do that. Betterment is great because you can set up an auto deposit, decide what percentage you want to divide into bonds and stocks… and then they invest it for you. I am IN LOVE with this service. Sign up with my referral link and you’ll get 6 months for free. Just so you know, I only got 1 month for free and I plan on paying from here on out (full disclosure: if you join with my link, I get a month free).
  • Financial health rolls over into other areas of your life.
    For awhile I thought that financial health was just about what I chose to spend my money on. However, in my life I can see that the healthier I become financially the more I desire to improve my physical, spiritual, and emotional health. I don’t want to spend money, so I figure out ways to spend my time that don’t involve shopping or spending money without thinking about it. It requires more intentionality and TIME.

Just paying my car payment every month next year will drop my debt by 24%. My goal is to drop my debt next year by… wait for it…. 39.37%. Here’s why. If, by next year at this time I have dropped my debt by 39.37% I will have cut my overall debt in half in 20 months. The magic number is $11,991.

I’m thinking of going back to the cash only envelope system to really help jumpstart that – and how perfect that New Years starts on a payday, right? I can start the New Year on a cash-only system.

What are your financial goals for 2016, and how did you do in 2015? Let’s keep on keeping on!



  1. December 30, 2015 / 12:24 pm

    Good golly girl you are on a roll! Dedication and restraint are one of the two most important things for removing debt. We’re paying off my car and our house, and those are two major debts that we’re working on everyday to get rid of. I think we’re on track very well to pay off the car a year early!

    liz @ sundays with sophie

    • December 31, 2015 / 12:11 am

      so much congrats on that! i love what you said – working every day. it’s not just about what you do on payday, you know? & thanks for the encouragement!

  2. December 30, 2015 / 1:47 pm

    I was doing really well and then I got a little loose with my spending. I’m still down from where I started but not by much. This year it’s all about overall well being: emotional, financial, health. 2016, here I come πŸ™‚

    • December 31, 2015 / 12:12 am

      preach! i’m all about overall health too! love it.

  3. Jasmine @makingrestorations
    December 30, 2015 / 2:39 pm

    With my husband earning a phD in finance, we have developed a strong opinion about robo-advising companies. It’s hard to keep pushing so congrata on paying some of your debt off and good luck with building an emergency fund in the future. We just had to unexpectedly buy a tire too so I can totally understand how much that sucks

    • December 31, 2015 / 12:12 am

      yeah the unexpected things are awful! i’m glad i’ve started to prepare for those so that i’m not caught off guard anymore, though it does hurt to take money out of those accounts even if that’s what they’re there for, haha.

      • Jasmine @makingrestorations
        December 31, 2015 / 12:32 pm

        so true, mostly bc then you have to build that account back up again when it was already checked off the list

  4. December 30, 2015 / 3:17 pm

    Lucky for me my credit limit is only $500. We pay less in rent now and I’ve gotten a raise or two since then, so I could probably up my limit which would be good for my credit score…but I’m scared of the debt I would get into. You can totally get down to 50% of your initial debt this year!

    • December 31, 2015 / 12:13 am

      have you looked into what finance bloggers would have to say about requesting a credit limit or anything? i COMPLETELY get that fear, haha.

  5. December 30, 2015 / 3:22 pm

    Are you planning on doing your finance friday linkup still? I’m planning my editorial calendar for the next year and I’d like to join in!

  6. December 30, 2015 / 7:43 pm

    For the whole of 2015 I planned to stay on top of my finances by sticking to a monthly budget…but it didn’t happen because I was lazy. So, trying again for 2016!

    • January 7, 2016 / 11:45 am

      have you made one? i totally failed at envelope system-ing it. i have SUCH A HARD TIME with budgets. i feel like what i budget is money i don’t need to spend anyway. i just want to figure out “what is the max i can pay on my debt” and then live off of the rest. bleh. this stuff is weird sometimes.

  7. January 3, 2016 / 8:29 pm

    This is amazing progress! I’m so impressed that you signed up for Betterment! The guys on the Listen Money Matters podcast talk about it a lot but I haven’t been brave enough to check it out. Good job!

    • January 7, 2016 / 11:46 am

      ernie is the one who convinced me! i think it helps that it came from the one constant source of financial wisdom in my life, you know? i’d definitely been meaning to ask him about investing and he just came out and told me what i should be doing in that area and i was like… oh that was easy! i can’t wait to really invest more, once my emergency savings is built up a bit more.

  8. Bailey
    January 4, 2016 / 4:28 pm

    My financial goal for 2016 is to pay cash for my wedding! I paid off my credit card at the end of 2015 so the only thing I have left is 6k on a student loan

    • January 7, 2016 / 11:46 am

      oh that’s a GREAT goal! and will feel amazing… so many people enter into marriage with a debt from a big party. proud of you for not wanting to be one of them! and you’re SO CLOSE to being done with that student loan!!!

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