How running is like getting out of debt fast

how running is like getting out of debt Image: Tuncay via flickr

I’ve started running again. 

Okay, well, to be fair, I ran this morning. And I decided I would continue. You know, like, make it a habit.

The weather is cooling down, which makes those early morning runs exhilarating (rather than like running through a swamp, which is how it pretty much is from April-September here in Texas). It’s also starting to get a wee bit too chilly for swimming (probably only a week or two more left in the swimming season here anyway), so I decided I needed to change things up in the cardio department (an important thing to do every so often, which is one of the main premises of my ebook, Fit, Strong, Lean: The Fitness Plan).

I ran the same route I usually walk.

When I walk, I push two of my kids (the baby & the 3 year old) in the jogging stroller. It takes me a little over an hour. This morning I ran it in a little over 20 minutes. Basically, I cut the route’s duration by 66%–simply by ditching the stroller, which helped increase my endurance (when I push that thing & run I can only last for about 2 minutes), & increasing my speed.

It got me thinking about our get out of debt process.

The first two years went rather slowly. Sure, we paid off a $20K loan & made marginal progress on all the other debts. But, in hindsight I realize there were quite a few things that could have sped up our progress.

To use the jogging analogy, I was choosing to push that jogging stroller, thereby forcing us to walk rather than run towards our debt-free goal.

The things that were slowing us down:

  • Housing.
    We’ve lived in a 3,000 ft2 house. Ridiculous. We shouldn’t have done that. Sure, it was covered by our BAH (military off-base housing stipend), but had we settled for a much smaller home, we could have pocketed the difference & been ahead at least $10K by now. I’m happy to report we’ll be moving to a place half the size & a third less the expense than our current home. I never thought I would say this, but I’m thrilled to be moving to a smaller home.
  • Traveling.
    Last summer we traveled to Washington for a family reunion. We don’t regret it, but that, combined with my first trimester of pregnancy (where I’m so sick I can’t cook &  pretty much can only eat foods NOT prepared in my home) set us back about $4K.
  • Kid’s lessons.
    Last year we spent something like $1K (+ more when you factor in gas) for Amalia to do dance (remember the discussion we had about it?).We also spent a few hundred for our boys to do soccer (the gas for all the travel was the most expensive part). This year, we’re not doing any paid activities–I’m teaching the kids piano (going great so far, even though I myself have pretty laughable & limited piano playing skills), & the boys are doing scouts (free, except for the scouting uniforms).
  • Food.
    Though I’ve gone back & forth, back & forth about what & how much to spend on food, I’ve realized over the past few months, that for us, while we’re still in debt, we just can’t afford the luxury of the kind of foods we would “like” (note, it’s NOT need). Beans, rice, oatmeal, pasta, peanut butter, my homemade breads/muffins/tortillas & (mostly) non-organic fruits & veggies are more than enough to sustain our family. We’ll survive going without agave, store bought veggie burgers, my sparkling water, protein powder, & PB2 powder & other fun, but often pricey packaged foods. (How we managed to stay under $500/month on groceries, here.) Joseph & I have made it into a little game to discuss how much the meal that he or I made cost. (Yes, Joseph does at least half the cooking around here these days–it’s super sexy.) It’s a nightly ritual of high-fiving each other & raving about how awesome our dinner tastes, & even more awesome, that it cost us less than $4 to make.
  • Subscriptions.
    I used to have a subscription to New Yorker, Highlights for Children, & Audible (affiliate link)–three things I think are actually worth subscribing to, for the record. I’ve also subscribed to GiamTV in the past. BUT, whilst in debt, it’s just easier, dare I say wiser, to JUST SAY NO to all subscriptions. Because, even a $10/month subscription adds up to $120/year. If you have a few of those, that’s several hundred dollars a year. When you just say no, you find a way to get similar stuff, for free (library, YouTube, borrow from a friend, internet). We still keep Hulu (Joseph’s one luxury item) & have an Amazon Prime membership (affiliate link) (though not sure we’ll continue Amazon once our yearly subscription runs out next year because we currently don’t order enough to justify the membership).

Getting out of debt fast

About the time we paid off our first big debt (the $20K note on our rental property), Joseph got a raise. I started doing a preschool once a week out of my home (+ continue to get income streams through this here blog, many thanks to my pal Bonnie Andrews (affiliate link)).

Pretty much, we increased our offense (increased our income through several different sources) & got even more savvy about our defense (lowered expenses, recommitted to serious budgeting). Combine the two, & we are now set to pay more than twice the amount towards debt this next year as we did the last two years combined.


The budgeting system we’re currently using & love? YNAB
Try a FREE 34-day full trial of YNAB (affiliate link)
& for bring joy readers–get 10% off your purchase if you decide to buy it!

A few days ago I tried running with jogging stroller.

I HAATE running with a jogging stroller. Maybe these contraptions were made for a stronger species than I, because it’s clear I can’t last more than a minute or two before my legs start to get the wiggly, jello feeling.

But, when I went running this morning, without the blasted stroller, I WAS SO FAST. I ran for a full 20+ minutes (the longest stretch since pre-Tyndale days) at a moderate, faster-than-your-grandma pace.

What had changed between the other day & today?

Did I suddenly gain superhero speed & endurance? Or did getting rid of pushing a really heavy thing with wheels make all the difference?

I’d say it was the later.

And like my running, with lightening speed, we’re picking up the pace as we shed stuff (♥ you craigslist!), tighten our budget, increase our income & get ever closer to our final debt-less destination.

Now where’s the (non-dairy) ice cream to celebrate?


Other bring joy posts you might want to read:


  1. Alanna
    on October 16, 2014 at 1:21 pm said:

    Woohoo! Good for you guys!
    I love this analogy. It’s applicable to so many aspects of life. I’m thinking of emotional baggage and how guilt/regret inhibits personal development.

    • Janae Wise
      on October 16, 2014 at 1:57 pm said:

      “I love this analogy. It’s applicable to so many aspects of life.”
      It’s amazing how strenuous physical exercise can teach you about so many other areas of your life, isn’t it?

      “I’m thinking of emotional baggage and how guilt/regret inhibits personal development.”
      Absolutely! I’d add to that negative energy, relationships, etc.