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Business_news A 24-year-old college student who paid off $10,000 of credit card debt in 6 months shares the exact budget sheets she used to do it — and they show every dollar of her monthly income

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Tiffany Ferguson.

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  • Tiffany Ferguson, a 24-year-old college student and YouTuber, paid off $10,000 of credit card debt in six months. 
  • With an income of about $75,000 in 2019 — which works out to about $50,000 after taxes and business expenses —Ferguson said she used four strategies to get rid of her five-figure debt fast.
  • From about 18 to 20, she carried a balance of up to $1,000 each month, but it ballooned after six months of study abroad and some unexpected dental surgeries.
  • She said she used EveryDollar, Google Sheets, and QuickBooks to cut down her debt, and shared her budget template, budget spreadsheet, and a screenshot of her EveryDollar app with business Insider. 
  • Visit business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Tiffany Ferguson paid off $10,000 of credit card debt in six months. And she wants to help others do the same thing. 

The 24-year-old is a YouTuber and university student, and she raked up the debt over the course of about three years from age 18 to 20.

Almost always carrying a balance up to $1,000, the debt was incurred mainly from when she needed to make ends meet between paychecks through college. That balance plus six months of study abroad in France and some unexpected dental surgeries quickly added up to $10,000. 

“Overall, I was a young adult, college student, just trying to survive, without financial support from anyone else,” Ferguson told business Insider.

“I certainly had some irresponsible spending habits, but I think my biggest problem was not being able to work enough or earn enough money to keep up with bills, let alone to start to pay off debt. I’m sure many people would say I shouldn’t have studied abroad, or paid to straighten my teeth.”

Ferguson had never earned more than about $25,000 a year before 2019, when YouTube became her full-time job.

By the end of 2019, her total income for the year was about $75,000, which fell to $71,o00 after business expenses, and about $50,000 after taxes. From there, she made the decision to pay off her $10,000 credit card debt in full (she also managed to devote about $8,800 total to her student loans). 

With average spending of about $3,000 per month, her income was down to about $36,000 for the year — which meant that altogether, nearly $20,000 of her $50,000 after-tax income went to debt payments, and about $30,000 went to other bills and expenses. 

Ferguson said one of her biggest challenges in 2019, the first year that she earned more than she was used to, was dedicating extra money to her debt.

Business_news A debt payoff journey, chronicled on YouTube

“Early in the year,” she said, “I decided to publicly announce my debt payoff journey on YouTube, partially to keep myself accountable. Once I was ready and committed, my actual strategies included tracking all of my spending, making spreadsheets, and throwing extra payments to my debt whenever possible.”

“I use the EveryDollar app to track and categorize my expenses,” Tiffany said. “Once I categorize expenses in EveryDollar, I input the totals into my annual budget sheet from Google Sheets.” She said she customized the apps to have matching categories so she can transfer the same expenses between them.

She input her monthly income, taxes saved or paid, savings, and more. “The annual budget sheet makes it easier to get a whole overview of my input versus output for the year.”

By budgeting every month, she was able to see how much interest she was being charged for her credit card balance. It was over $100 for seven of the first eight months, but as she cut it down, it was $50 or less from September to December.

Tiffany also said she uses QuickBooks self-employed to track her business expenses, income, and tax payments.

Tiffany’sYouTube videodetailing her steps has over 280,000 views to date, and she shared her exact budgets with business Insider.

Read on to see the budget sheets Tiffany used to pay off her credit card debt.

Business_news Ferguson’s Google Sheets annual budget template.



Tiffany Ferguson


To get a sense of her average monthly budget, Tiffany said she created a mock version with her annual averages across 2019, though her actual spending changed often.

“For gifts and donations,  for example, most months actually averaged around $50, but because Christmas is a huge expense, it averaged to $225 per month total. For travel, I had many months with $0 spending, then when I booked a trip, obviously it was a sudden big expense, so it averages to $225 a month.” 

Business_news Ferguson’s 2019 budget spreadsheet.



Tiffany Ferguson


“This helps show how much my spending varied, and the randomness of my extra debt payments,” she said. “Some months I could only afford an extra $100, and some months I was able to pay an extra $3,000 or $4,000 in payments.”

Business_news A snapshot of Ferguson’s EveryDollar app.



Tiffany Ferguson/EveryDollar


The EveryDollar app helped Ferguson categorize her expenses.

“For anyone new to budgeting, first you have to go through all your recent spending,” she said. “I recommend using EveryDollar or similar apps like Mint to go through the last three months of spending to see where your money has been going.”

Once you see what you typically spend, she said, “you can compare that to your income and see if you’re spending over your means, or overspending in specific areas. What wiggle room do you have? What adjustments need to be made? Can you find an extra $50 or $100 (or more) to go toward debt or savings?” 

Business_news Tiffany says you have to have a strict budget while still allowing yourself to enjoy things.



Tiffany Ferguson


Tiffany said she admires budgeting methods stricter than her own, but if a budget feels too strict, it’s hard for her to feel motivated to continue long-term.

“It’s important to me to include things I enjoy in my budget, like restaurants, coffee, and traveling. Sure, I could cut those categories down to save more money, but I’d have a lot less joy in my life.” She acknowledged this is a privilege, but said you still have options if you have a lower income.

“If cutting expenses to bare minimums works for you, that’s great! If you’d rather get a side job or find a way to make some extra money instead, that’s an option, too.”

Ultimately, according to Tiffany, it’s important to know “what your priorities are, what’s worth spending on, and what’s not.”


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