103. Habits of a debt-crushing family (with Bethany + Corey Adkins)

We all can think of some financial goals we want to meet (debt-repayment, emergency savings) and maybe we know what habits could get us there – but DOING it is the hard work. And I find it so helpful to hear what other people are doing and what it looks like in action in real life. 

Today I’m sharing the rest of my conversation with Bethany and Corey from the Millenial Mission Podcast about what their debt-free journey has been and in this part, they are sharing a lot about the habits they have formed and mindsets that have supported them in persisting and making an impact. 

Developing habits to pay off debt as a family

  • Three changes that have made a big impact on lowering the debt
  • Knowing what money is coming in and what is going out
  • The debt snowball (coined by Dave Ramsey)
  • The financial freedom a budget can bring you
  • Weekly budget check-ins and monthly budget reviews
  • Addressing the problem before it becomes a problem
  • Spouses supporting one another in budget accountability
  • What to do when you have a spouse who is not on the same page as you with the finances
  • How debt repayment has impacted their marriage and parenting
  • Not doing it perfectly 
  • Trusting God with finances, especially during the pandemic
  • Making sacrifices as a family
  • When you aren’t able to pay off debt and not giving up
  • Surrendering your life and money to God
  • Being intentional and faithful with finances and how that shows up in the other areas of your life
  • Encouragement to just get started and get a system in place to know what you are doing with your money

More resources

Listen to the first part one: Starting the Debt-Free Journey

How to Own Your Finances So They Don’t Own You

Download the free budget worksheet

Find Bethany and Corey on Instagram 




Full transcript

Hey friends, it’s Shawna, your nerdy girl and life coach from simple on purpose.ca. So welcome for those of you who are new to simple on purpose. This is a place that I just want to share tips and stories and encouragement for you to simplify your home, your heart and your life. And part of life is finances right, we would all like our finances to be simpler. And in the life on purpose workbook and the life on purpose roadmap, there’s a section on finances, where you can set the goals and habits you want to have there. And I think all of us probably can think of the goals we want when it comes to our finances. We want debt repayment, we want emergency savings, we want retirement savings, and so on. And maybe some of us even have an idea on what habits will get us there. We know logically, we need to make a budget we need to cut expenses. But doing it putting it into action is a whole other situation. And I don’t know about you, but when I am trying to create a new habit or make a change in my life, I find it so helpful to hear the experiences of other people. And that’s why I wanted to interview Bethany and Corey from the millennial mission podcast. This is the second part of my conversation with Bethany and Corey. In the first episode, the first part of this interview, they share their story about making a big lifestyle change, they moved to a place where it was cheaper to live. And they started to take actions to pay off their debt. And in this episode, they’re sharing more practical tips about budgeting about working together. Because that is really helpful information we want to see like what does it look like in action as a couple as a family. But as we all know, this isn’t just about numbers. This is about so much more. And Bethany and Corey they also share how it seeped into all of the rest of their life. How trusting God with their finances, turned into trusting God with their life and being intentional with their money, created an atmosphere where they really wanted to be intentional with their life. When we recorded this episode in December, they mentioned that they moved to Ohio, with over $140,000 in debt. And I asked her how it’s going now. And she said they’re around $84,000 left, which I find mind blowing. That’s why I call them debt crushers. And it’s so inspiring. I hope you enjoy this podcast. If you have enjoyed it, go check them out. At Bethany and Corey on Instagram, they have a freebie budget spreadsheet and they do have a how to own your finances, so they don’t own you. Book, you can go check all of that out and listen to them as well on the millennial mission podcast. So tell me, I said like three changes, what are three changes you guys have made? And you’ve talked about a few. But what do you think are three changes that have had a big impact for you guys?

I would say we the biggest one financially, I would say is our budget, Would you say that’s the biggest one, we have a budget that we follow very strictly. And we evaluate it at the end of every month and then adjust it and we implement it the next month.

Okay, yeah, I would say before the budget is knowing what’s coming in and what’s going out each month. So actually looking at, you know, 234 months worth of what you’re spending, and then what’s coming in knowing that. And then then the budget. So then you can make your budget after you know what’s coming in what’s going out. And you create the budget to make sure that you aren’t spending more than what’s coming in. And then I’d say the third thing is just as steal from Dave Ramsey, but as the Debt Snowball is just looking at our debt, starting with the smallest debt and then paying that one off and just working our way up to the biggest debts. So we want to sum it up, I would say it was those three things. And we actually too, we did create a finance guy just because people were asking us this information. And it’s called How to own your finances so they don’t own you. It is on Beth’s website, Bethany Adkins calm at the store, if anybody’s interested in getting done. Yeah, that’s great. And I also downloaded your budget spreadsheet, you guys had to that was really helpful. Yeah. And that’s free. Yeah, that’s completely free. So and it has a video that goes along with it. It seems a little bit overwhelming at first, but it literally takes us about between five and 30 minutes every month, depending on how complex that month was. So it’s so helpful. That’s exactly what we use every month. I love that. And I love that you shared tracking because that’s something I have done over the years where I would track where our money was going. I wasn’t necessarily trying to budget but just to see and I was seeing like, all of our money is going towards eating out and then when we were at home when I started staying home with the kids, like all of our money is going to groceries and then I drilled down like well what groceries am I buying and and I could see like, Oh, I’m actually buying the most expensive possible things in the grocery store.

The time. So I think that’s such a great starting point for people to just where is your money going? Like, I don’t think many of us even know. And if you’re asking yourself like I don’t know where my money went or how my credit card got, so I tracking it so important, right? And then the budget, like, okay, budgets aren’t fun. Nobody wants to limit themselves. But you guys are telling us that you discipline you do the work. And the budget sets you free in a way? Yeah, I will absolutely second that, too. At first, it does seem like Oh, if I have a budget, I’m gonna feel so restricted. And I don’t like living that way. I like living free and like on the edge, but our budget has given us so much freedom and our finances, that you know what before when we didn’t have a budget, we’re like, okay, is this card gonna even go through when we get to the cash register, and we were constantly stressed out about it. Whereas now our budget has given us that freedom. And it has helped us visually visualize our finances each month where we’re like, yeah, we can go out to eat today, because we have the money for it. And we know where we stand in our finances. And it’s just so much more freeing to live that way. Yes. And so I think so maybe what some of us do have a budget. But what I hear you guys also say is awake. Like we keep ourselves on point with the budget. We check it we check in with ourselves, we have these meetings with each other. What exactly do you guys check or like talk about when you check in every week? So we do we try to have weekly check ins on Sundays. And then our big financial meeting is at the end of each month. And I basically take that budget sheet and I check off and make sure everything was pulled out of our bank account and nothing like nothing sketchy was taken out. And we just go through and exactly what you said is kind of what we do we look at, okay, where did we spend, we’re not perfect every month, sometimes we do go over? And that has that monthly meeting when we say okay, we went over this month, we ate out a lot. Yes, maybe it was because we were busy. We were on the go. But we got to do better this month. So let’s just make be more intentional about it. Be more aware about it, what can we do to not eat out as much? Okay, so let’s plan meals in advance. Let’s figure out some things that are we can get excited about eating at home, stuff like that. So it’s really just not ignoring what you’re doing wrong.

It’s addressing the problem before it becomes a problem. You know, if you have one month where you go over a little bit, it’s not really that big of an issue. But if you continue to let that happen for six months, that’s when you get into problems.

Yeah, that’s really powerful. So you’re moving it from like, Oh, we want to change our budget, we will or we want to have better finances to actually doing the actions that get you there, like intention doesn’t get you anywhere, right actions get you somewhere. And I can imagine those conversations between the two of you, they need to be pretty humble. They’re pretty vulnerable. You’re, you’re accountable to one another, like, how do you support each other as you work together on this?

I will say that, yes, definitely. It takes humility. And it takes us being able to keep each other in check, which I feel like we do pretty good at I’m the majority of the spending comes from me, just because I plan the meals, I grocery shop, I have the kids with me all the time. So I’m the one if we’re gonna go eat out during the week, it’s me because Corey is at work, he probably spends like, 5% of our budget where I spend like 95. Hey, yeah, but I will say I mean, it’s not like a restrictive thing. But I always am checking with Corey, if it’s something out of the ordinary, like, so we know what our normal month looks like, if there’s something extra that we want to do, like, we have a birthday present that we need to get for somebody. We talk about it. And so it does take humility, and some people are like, I don’t want to have to talk to my husband every time I spend something. But you know what, that’s what marriage is, you know, it’s about being on the same page. And it’s about being able to talk to each other when you don’t agree on stuff with finances. And sometimes it does get heated just last night, we were having a conversation about our future. And you know, we’re starting to maybe consider buying a house, I’m going to need a car in the next six months or so. And we aren’t necessarily on the same page about which is going to come first. And that’s okay. But you don’t it’s not one of us wins that discussion. And it’s over. We just agreed to disagree at that point. And we said, Listen, we’re on the same page, we have the same goals. We still want to get out of debt. We don’t agree right now, let’s just keep saving, keep praying about it. And we’ll figure it out when it gets to that point. So that’s kind of what we do when we hit little snags. It’s not always perfect. And it’s not always easy, but it’s so important and it strengthens your marriage. And that’s just like a little bit of marriage counseling right there for sure. Like, we are on the same team. We’re going in the same direction. We just have different ideas on what it looks like. Thank you for being honest about that. Because people might be listening to this and be like, oh,

sure if I had a husband who would just do whatever and be open to these conversations and was like a team, like there are going to be some women who don’t have that kind of conversation accessible in their relationship right now that finances are something that maybe their partner isn’t interested in paying attention to. or being accountable is something that’s hard for them. So thanks just for being honest that like, it’s not always perfect, it still takes work. Yeah. And I would say to that, Shawn, I think if you have a spouse that isn’t on the same page as you, if you go back to that step one, and you list out what’s coming in, and what’s going out and categorize it, and then you show them that you’re spending more than what is going out or that you’re just living paycheck to paycheck. And maybe you show them some of these categories, like maybe we’re spending too much money on streaming on our, you know, maybe we’ve got a Hulu and Netflix and Amazon Prime and all these things, or maybe we’re spending too much money on Amazon on things, then that might make them bring them to reality. And let them see that. Okay, maybe there is a problem here. And I do need to get on the same page. Oh, yeah, that’s so powerful, like coming into it with the facts instead of all the feelings. Right? super powerful. So like, as we wrap up, I’m really curious. And you guys have shared this in different ways, how this journey you’ve been on and, and also like, just recap for me what the debt journey has looked like, I know you guys share updates on your, on your own podcast, but where you started and where you’re at now? How has it impacted your marriage in your parenting?

Oh, man, it has completely impacted our lives. In every way, I would say.

I feel like situations like this, you can go one of two ways you can let it put a wedge between the two of you and cause a divide which finances I believe is the number one cause of divorce. So right, that’s very common. Or you can use it as an opportunity to refine you humble, you strengthen your relationship. And that’s kind of what we’ve chosen to do. Like I said, it’s not always easy. And we are so far from perfect. If you listen to our podcasts and our updates, we mess up all the time. But nobody’s perfect. We’re human. And that’s just the way life goes sometimes. So if you set a goal together, as long as you guys have the same goal in mind, just keep talking. And that is kind of what it’s done for our marriage. For our lives. It’s given us so much freedom, you know, this year, it I keep reflecting, you know, what have I learned the most this year, and I keep coming back to the same word over and over. And it’s just surrender. So you know, we surrendered our plans to be in California, and we came home. And we’ve had to surrender so many different things with the craziness of 2020. And especially with it the we were unsure of whether Corey would even be able to sell stuff through the pandemic, and it just constantly surrendering our wants to God’s will and just letting him take the lead. And I feel like it has strengthened our family in so many ways, and God has blessed us tenfold. I just I know that we’re we’re supposed to be because it’s never what we’re doing. It’s always what God is doing through us. And we’re seeing that over and over in our journey. And then for our kids, I’m really excited about the fact that we’ve included them. And we’ve chosen to intentionally include them in this journey. They’re eight and five. And so they’re young, they don’t fully understand everything. They know, they know that we’re in debt. And they know that we’re making sacrifices, and they’re making sacrifices right alongside of us. And we just, you know, we remind them, we remind them of the sacrifices. And we also remind them that one day there will be a reward. Like one of the things is us getting a house, you know, all the time we say, I know we’re an apartment right now I know we don’t have a huge yard. But one day, we’re going to have a house, we’re going to have a yard and you guys are going to be able to go out and play and it’s going to be so worth it. Because we’re not going to be in so much debt, we’re going to actually have the time where we can go out into the yard and play with you guys. So it’s teaching them delayed gratification early on. And I hope that they can take what they’re learning now and apply it to their own lives so that they’re not in this situation when they’re in their 20s and 30s. Yeah. And numbers wise, we started at over $250,000 in debt in that process. At first it was slow. And that was back when we we sold our house. So we took that off and we were down to about 100 a little over $100,000 in debt. And then we started racking up the credit cards and we got to what over 140 Yeah, we were over $140,000 when we move back to Ohio, which was about a year and a half ago. And really all of 2019 we weren’t able to pay off any debt because I was barely we’re barely there’s lots of stories but barely scratching by to even pay the bills every month.

And then this year, we were able to get completely consumer debt free. And we are under $100,000. in debt, where, what? 94? Oh, I’m sorry, 87. And that’s all student loans. Amazing. That’s so amazing. And when I hear you guys tell me that that first year was like, we weren’t really making the progress that we made all these life changes to do. So many people listening will have these things pop into their head, like, I’ve tried to set a budget, it didn’t work. I’ve tried to do this, and it didn’t work. And I hear you guys saying, like, we tried for a whole year, and we weren’t there. And still, we try. And sometimes it doesn’t work, but we keep going, What? What is in you, that helps you to be like, just because I failed doesn’t mean I give up just yet. I keep going forward. I think it’s a combination of a few things. The one is like Corey said, we were like, there is no plan B, this is what we’re doing. And we’re gonna actually do it this time, because we tried so many times in the past, and we gave up. And then we ended up right where we were accepted and worse. It’s kind of like when you go on a diet, you lose 10 pounds, and then you give up and then you gain 25 minutes, like okay, I’m like, right?

back. Yeah.

But also, it was just, I really truly feel like we moved back and we both had this piece that really couldn’t be understood. We were going through so many trials, we couldn’t afford groceries on Corey first when we first came back because Corey wasn’t making a ton of sales. But for some reason, we still had this piece that we knew we were doing what we were supposed to do. And there were months where I’m like, okay, should I go back to nursing? Should I get a job, and Corey kept reminding me He’s like, Listen, just wait, we’re doing what we’re supposed to do. Just hold off, hold off, hold off. And it was all it was seriously, almost a year before we were like, We like there was a point where we had to borrow money from our son’s savings account because we couldn’t afford to pay the bills. But finally, we started seeing this light at the end of the tunnel. I was like, okay, we can make ends meet this month. Okay, we have a little bit extra. And it was really just trusting that we were following God’s plan and trusting each other. And being able to say, you know, we don’t need all these extra things, we’re okay, we’re healthy. We have we have our family, we can find things to do that are free. And that is the key, you know, finding happiness and being okay with where you are there. And now, I can honestly say that, regardless of what Corey makes this month or next month, I know that we are going to be okay. And I know that we’re going to be

happy and joyful no matter what. And who’s going to say one other thing. I was going to say. I don’t know if the court wants to talk. So yeah, yeah. In my thought process and journey with that was similar to Beth’s except for me, I got two points where I was really sort of just questioning god. I’m like, God, you told us to come home and don’t we’re doing exactly what you wanted us to do. I am working very hard. I’m doing everything that I feel like I can. What are you doing? What is going on, we don’t even have enough money to pay the bills this month. And I just remember that it was get hit with Bible verses and just feeling like God was telling me just keep Put your head down, keep working, I will take care of you. And I remember, you know, there’s a Bible verse, I have no idea what reference it is. But where Jesus is talking about how, you know, God will even take care of the birds of the air, how much more will he take care of you. And then those months where we I tried everything, we even tried thrifting to make some extra money, and we didn’t have enough to pay the bills. And then God would come through with a miracle of some extra money coming in with I got called out to do another job or our tax return from California coming back that we weren’t expecting. And it was $31 more than what we needed that month to pay the bills. And I just I started to just feel that peace of just God saying, keep work hard, do what you’re doing, I will be faithful. And then this year is a complete testimony to that. Yeah, I know we’re going longer than you want to China. But I do just want to say well bring it on. This is good.

I just wanted to tell your listeners, you know if you’re on this journey, or whatever it is, whether it’s finances, or a relationship struggle, or whatever it is this year has been crazy.

The one thing I can say is just don’t give up. Do not give up the finance thing and the debt thing. It takes time to get that snowball rolling the first six months to a year you might not tackle that. But you’re just getting your bearings and you’re just getting your finances in order and that’s okay. But don’t sell yourself short and stop before you start seeing the fruits of your labor because you just have to persevere. Persevere keep pushing forward.

If it’s

relationships or health, it’s the same thing. Just keep going. Don’t give up trusting God. And don’t forget that you it’s not your doing, it’s God. So you just have to surrender all of you your whole life, your will, to his way.

And he will honor that if if you truly do that, I promise you, he will honor that you might not see it, right in the moment, you might not see it tomorrow or even in a week. But I promise you will. And it’ll be better than you ever expected. Oh, that’s wildly encouraging. It really is. And I just want to also bring this back around to what you guys mentioned earlier about having a goal like explaining to your kids, we’re doing this so that we can do all these other things. We’re making the sacrifices so that this is the life we’re building into. And having that that vision, almost that hope to lead you and letting yourself make decisions that bring you in line with that, that our sacrifices are worth something. This isn’t just an exercise in discipline and an exercise in deprivation. This is moving us closer to the to the big picture, right? Yes, absolutely. And I love the testimony of it that we want God to meet our needs. He tells us he will. But he’s actually putting you guys in situations where he’s like, see, I met your need. See, I did that for you. Yeah, that that’s got to just bring you so much closer to him and look for him in other areas of your life. Yeah, I will say what you said is so accurate. Sometimes he’s just gonna strip us of everything that we think is our doing. He’ll take all of that away from us, simply to show us that it’s not our doing, but it’s his. And we need that so much. Because truly, it’s not us, it’s him. And so if that’s happening to you, it’s just simply God’s showing you that he’s got you. He’s got your whole life in his hands. And he he’s in control. I can so relate to that. That was a situation I had, but in motherhood, where I felt like I had to be really in a place where I was so desperate, and so needy that only God could. He’s like, I’ve been waiting for you to need me.

And now we’re here now and that what?

Thank you so much, guys, for all of this. It’s been so encouraging. And I love that you guys are so open about it that you’re bringing this intentionality into like it’s it starts with finances, maybe on paper, but it’s showing up in all these other areas of your life. Yeah, yeah, thank you for having us on to and just one of the things I feel like I’m supposed to say is that

if getting control of your finances, creating a budget, figuring out what’s coming in what’s going out seems overwhelming or like you don’t necessarily need to do it.

Unlike Beth, I came from a background where finances was not talked about, and I was one of the least organized people in the entire world. Of course you’ve got together, right? Yeah, seriously. And I can’t tell you how easy it is once you start and you get the system going and how good it feels. And anybody can do it. And you really don’t have any excuses to not know what’s coming in and what’s going out. Because if not, you’re just living a reaction life instead of a proactive life. And so just take the first step, look at what’s coming in and what’s going out, create your budget, we even have the free budget sheet that you can get it so you don’t have to come up with one on your own. But it really is freeing it. No matter if you’re organized, or unorganized. Like numbers don’t like numbers. It is freeing to get control of your finances. Yeah. Right on. Well, thanks, guys. I there’s so much more I want to ask you. I could keep this conversation going.

But I’ll let people find you guys at your podcast, the millennial mission podcast. Is there anywhere else that people can find you guys. I would just say as far as social media goes at Bethany and Corey is the best place was where we hang out the most. And I just want to say thank you so much for having us. Shawna, I loved our conversation a couple weeks ago that we had on our podcast. You also have some amazing wisdom. I loved that conversation and so did our listeners. So I’m so glad that we could do do a little swap. Yeah, that’s so sweet to hear. Thanks, guys. Yeah, did what she said.

Alright, I’m gonna wrap it up there. Thanks so much, Bethany and Corey for coming on and sharing your story like this is your actual life and you are just putting it out there for us for us to hear for us to learn from and that is so kind and so brave and I really appreciate it. I’m going to link again to Bethany and Corey in the show notes. And if you can’t find the show notes friend in your podcast player, head on over to simple on purpose.ca. Click listen. All of the episodes are there with all of the show notes and all of the links go crazy brands.

And if you are so inclined, I would love to hear what you’ve thought about it, post it on Instagram, share it there so I can share that as well with Bethany and Corey. All right. Have a great one.


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