Today I have a debt-free interview with Nicole Jones. She’s a mama to a little girl who changes hobbies all the time but currently loves painting. A little over a year ago, she started an Airbnb business so that she could stay home from work and spend more time with her daughter. She loves helping other people who are interested in joining the Airbnb gang! You can catch tips, website updates and all Airbnb sentiments on her Instagram at @airbnbungalowmama. Enjoy!
How did you get yourself into debt and how long did it take you to become debt free?
Unfortunate part of the story… with a happy ending!
I actually acquired most of my debt starting my Airbnb business. I should preface this whole thing by saying that this does not have to be the case for everyone wanting to do Airbnb! Prior to this, I was completely consumer debt free for at least a few years.
So, I had been a landlord for about 8 years. Most months I was lucky if I broke even. Through traveling I was turned on to Airbnb and decided that it might be a good way to maximize profits on my rentals. The only problem was I felt I needed to update my properties to make them more Airbnb worthy and of course listing my space required all the cool furnishings. After all was said and done, I had spent a pretty penny to get it all started. However, blind faith that I would recoup it all and a blossoming passion for bnb hosting made my decision to do it easy.
I am still paying off the debt. I have paid off more than half in the last 8 months… a total of $13,435.85.
One thing to note is that I did this to replace my income as well, and eventually quit my job completely, so Airbnb hosting has replaced my income AND left enough to slowly pay off the initial investment. If I didn’t have my own overhead, my full debt would have been able to be paid off within 8 months.
With the payoff structure I’m currently in, I will have all debt paid off by next February.
What made you decide to start paying off debt?
Once I started spending money on this project, using that ever elusive plastic… I began to get way more comfortable charging the random things and I totally spiraled into a spending frenzy. Earlier this year I finally had enough. I got overwhelmed keeping track of all the balances and cards.
I had just finished with the first 2 Airbnb’s (which would be my most expensive to set up) and I began to realize that the scariest part is I really didn’t know how much debt I had.
From there I sat down, had a real come to Jesus meeting and decided enough was enough.
I listed everything out for me to see one day and from that day forward decided to operate intentionally… with my head out of the sand.
What kind of strategies did you use to pay off your debt?
With Airbnb you are paid on a daily basis, as you have reservations check in. So, one thing that works well for me is checking in with my bills and monthly budget every few days and keeping everything outlined on a 30-day calendar. Every Friday if there was ANY money left over in my account, no matter how small it was, I sent it to a card.
I decided to pay off cards with the highest interest rate first (which is contrary to Dave Ramsey’s advice). That’s what worked best for me. I had many zero interest cards that, for my situation, wouldn’t make sense to pay off first.
I also applied for additional zero interest cards that I could transfer my higher interest rate balances to. There was a period in time when no one would approve me. So I just made payments upon payments (sometimes every few days) until my score could creep up high enough to qualify. I never applied for more than one card in a few months, as this may lower your score.
Mostly, I was just way more conscious and intentional with my spending and budgeting decisions. I sold a lot of items and stopped buying anything until I could figure things out.
You hosted some Airbnb to pay off debt! What was that experience like?
Airbnb is awesome. I’m such a huge fan of their company, culture, branding and marketing… and even some of the tyranny and controversy they have created. As for being a host, I love that as well. My guests have been some of the nicest, understanding, and most interesting people.
How often would you host and how large of an impact did that make on your debt-free journey?
I have 3 units and so I host every day. It’s very rare that I have an empty night at any of them. It made a huge impact because although it did cause me to accumulate some debt (just like any investment into a business would) it has more than shown to be worth it. That being said, If I had to do it again I definitely wouldn’t be spending as much as I did. The biggest lesson I learned is that people don’t need all of the bells and whistles that I might think they do.
What are your financial goals now that you’re working on being debt free, and will you continue doing Airbnb to get there?
My goals now are to never get into debt again and to buy another investment property in the near future. It’s such a headache to dig yourself out of the mess that debt causes. I have been extremely blessed to be able to get out of that mess a little quicker but every month that I send my credit card payments out I think about how much more I would rather be using that money to save up for another investment property.
What advice would you give to others who are looking to get out of debt?
My advice would first be to do anything you can to motivate yourself to stop spending money. My personal favorite sources to go to for inspiration are “The Minimalists” and “Dave Ramsey” …basically anyone who promotes spending less and the shedding of materialism.
Second would be to find any way you can to make extra side money. I would specifically look at the shared economy, because anyone can make good money with them… Uber, Lift, Airbnb are big ones but there are so many more smaller companies bursting into the scene where you can do things like rent your car out for a few hours or rent out random items in your house you aren’t using. It’s banana’s what’s out there.
Let me know in the comments below!
What side hustle have you done to help pay off debt?