It took me a little over two years of selling on TPT to be able to say we have paid off debt (a significant amount) and now only owe money on the basics.
When I first started on Teachers Pay Teachers, my plan was to replace my teaching income. I didn’t even think about the other benefits it would provide, including having extra money when medical expenses come up, a few family trips, and being able to pay off debt.
Pay off Debt by Starting Small
At first, I wasn’t making enough to even cover the time I spent designing and listing products on the site. The money I made each month was enough to cover a few sets of clipart so I could keep designing. Then I was able to cover a few of my business expenses like Adobe Creative Cloud and my blog.
I knew that I was doing really well when I mentioned to my husband that I wanted an iPad to use for drawing graphics and he took me to Best Buy. I paid for the iPad without using credit or having to dip into savings.
A Few Hundred Dollars Adds Up
I had read somewhere that you should start with the credit card that has the smallest balance and get it paid off first. This is the first step that I took when I was starting to pay off debt.
My smallest balance was on a Maurice’s credit card that we used for school shopping. It never failed that I would pay off the balance and then we would charge on it again.
This time, I paid it off and then cut it up.
The trick to starting with your smallest balance and payment is then to take that money and put it towards the next smallest balance in addition to the monthly payment that you already make on that debt.
So I took the $100 a month that I was spending on the Maurice’s credit card and I added it to the payment for the Old Navy card (also an ongoing balance that we used for school clothes).
Move on to the Bigger Balances
Now I had two cards paid off.
We have a garage full of dirt bikes. We are a family of 4 and at the time there were 5 bikes out there. Three of them still had loans on them.
And if you are tracking my pattern, you know where this is going. The next balance was on a bike loan. This time I took the $100 from each clothing credit card and put it towards a loan along with the bike’s monthly payment.
And then an incredible thing happened.
My sales for the month shot up.
They were more than half of my teaching salary.
Instead of using the money for fun things, I put it all towards the bike payment and paid it off. I also was able to put a little towards the next bike loan.
In less than two months, I paid off the rest of our bike loans.
A Great Trick to Pay off Debt
Another thing that I read about paying off debt is to pay off the debt that has the highest interest rate. Unfortunately, I was carrying a pretty large debt on a Discover card. I didn’t attack it first, because I was working on all the little payments.
Now that those were paid off, I had freed up almost $500 a month that I could put towards the Discover card payments. I added to this amount with my monthly TPT earnings and I was able to pay off $10,000 and close that card.
The next card had a balance of $9,000 and it was the next thing I started to attack. In this case, I didn’t start with the lower balance because it was on a card that had 0% interest for 24 months. I wasn’t accruing interest so I knew I could wait and pay it off next.
How I Paid off $30,000 of Debt with TPT
By using my monthly Teachers Pay Teachers payments and strategically paying off cards (and not using them anymore) I was able to pay off over $30,000 of debt in less than 2 years.
I was already adjusting our budget to start working on these different credit cards and loans. I would have pinched pennies and scrimped and saved to pay off all the debt we had accrued.
Selling on Teachers Pay Teachers made it so we could still meet our monthly budget while putting a larger chunk of change toward our debt each month.
It wasn’t easy and I have worked very hard to increase my sales on Teachers Pay Teachers to be able to help our family get out of debt and still have the money to play and do fun things occasionally.
There’s Still More to Go
Working to pay off debt can be overwhelming. We still have things like car payments, student loan payments, and our house payment.
Those are debts that I plan to tackle in a similar way. My next goal is to have a cushion of savings so we can pay for unexpected expenses when they arise without having to use credit. Then I will start working on the bigger debts and see what I can accomplish.
Selling on Teachers Pay Teachers is not a get rich scheme and it takes a LOAD of work. I’ve told my husband that it’s like having a 2nd job, but I get to set my own hours and the pay is way better than minimum wage. The benefits are way better too!