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How Her $1700 Mercedes Repair Drove Her To Debt-Freedom

"I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci

"Don’t worry about failure. Worry about the chances you miss when you don’t even try." – Sherman Finesilver


DeShena's story is the story of so many of us that had "a moment" and realized we had to get out of debt. For DeShena it was the realization that her luxury car was a needless money pit. It started her down a path where she was able to recognize and completely change her relationship with with money, to the point that she's now completely debt-free!

This is the whole reason I started this "Journey To Debt-Freedom" series. I wanted to curate a reservoir of personal stories that will help you "find your own story" and keep marching forward toward your personal finance goals and ultimately to debt-freedom and beyond. 

Along those lines, if you have a "debt-free" or "on-my-way-to debt-free" story, I'd love to share yours with our audience. It's always such a gift to our subscribers and fans to hear your particular story AND will help you, especially if you have a a blog/platform/YouTube channel you want to promote (although that's not at all necessary).

Next up in our "Journey To Debt-Freedom" series, meet DeShena Woodard!


Introduce yourself, DeShena.


I’m DeShena Woodard, founder of Extravagantly Broke, a blog that empowers professional women to crush debt, have more money, and pursue their passions.

I’m an everyday working mom who followed the traditional path to adulthood of going to college, buying a nice house, buying a fancy car, having a kid, and using credit to fund my lifestyle. Then, I found myself living paycheck to paycheck, miserable, and so stressed out that my hands would tremble every time I sat down to pay bills.

It finally took a financial crisis for me to change my thinking surrounding money. I was then able to change my spending behavior, and eventually paid off $52,000 of debt in a little over 2.5 years. Now I live 100% debt-free!


Give me a little bit of background about your financial situation and your decision to "tackle it". Tell me about how much debt you've paid off so far and in how much time. What is your debt made up of?

I grew up in a working-class neighborhood. We weren’t considered poor because we had all necessities but, we did always seem to be broke. I was never really taught much about money. The only examples I had were from watching my parents model that grownups are supposed to go to work every day so you can pay bills. Sometimes you have enough for all your bills and sometimes you don’t.

What I learned was that the way to solve the problem of never having enough money was to go to college and get a degree so you can earn more money. That is really quite ironic because my first brush with debt began in college when the credit card representatives would come on campus and offer you a bag of M&Ms to fill out an application. So that was the beginning of my downfall into debt.

Then, once I graduated from college and started earning a professional salary I had a different problem because since I was never taught about money I didn’t know what to do with the money. So, I did what everyone else did. My husband and I bought a nice house, bought a fancy car, and had a baby.

Then, years later I found myself in debt, miserable and so stressed out that I was having physiological symptoms. For example, knots in my stomach, heart-pounding, and I could feel and visible see my hands trembling every time I was trying to pay bills. So, on the outside my life looked good, but on the inside, my bills had gotten out of hand. I had no savings, no emergency fund, and no clue where my money was going every month or how to fix the problem. I wasn't initially on a debt-free journey, I was just fed up will bills and wanted to get some of them out of my life.

As I mentioned earlier, I paid off $52K in about 28 months. The debt was made up of over $15K in credit card debt and the rest were for car and personal loans.


Looking for a way to get started on your own debt-free journey? Check out my: 

 “Debt-Elimination Quick-Start Guide”. This free resource will have ALL the tools, forms and printables you’ll need while moving through this 30 day challenge.



What was "the moment" you decided, "enough is enough" and what actions did you take or resources did you use to get the process started?

About 3 years into paying a huge car note for a luxury car, it needed a major repair. The dealership wanted to charge upwards of $3,000. After looking around, the most affordable, reputable car mechanic we could find to work on our vehicle still costs us over $1,700. For me, that was the final straw.

I realized that it was ridiculous for me to be giving my money away on material stuff that only depreciates in value and costs me more and more money as it gets older. So, that was a light bulb moment for me.


Looking for a ways to live more frugally and address your debt? Check out my: 100 Frugal Ways To Save Money And Get Out Of Debt.


What was your "why"? What kept you going when you wanted to quit? How did you stay motivated?

I wanted to get to a place where I could keep my own money instead of paying it out on bills. It felt good to pay off my first debt, and as I began seeing the debt disappear, I became more and more excited. It was almost addicting.

I also kept imagining how much better my life would be if I had more financial security and less money stress.


Describe your "belief system" about money and (if/how) has it changed? Maybe even talk about how you were brought up to think about money and how that changed as you progressed through the process.

My belief system is that you can't solve money problems with more money and that if you want your financial situation to change, then you have to change your thinking surrounding money.


What have been the biggest/toughest sacrifices you've made in your personal finance/debt-elimination process?

I gave up apparel shopping for about a year when I was trying to get out of debt. We didn't take a "real" family vacation for about 12 years. I shopped at consignment stores and did layaways.


Describe how it feels to be debt-free. 

It feels awesome to be 100% debt-free.

As the pandemic has been increasing the financial stress for so many people, fortunately, I have never even flinched about money. I never had to worry about contacting a landlord to ask for an extension, or contact a mortgage lender to ask for assistance.

I also, never had to worry about contacting creditors to make payment arrangements, because thankfully, I have no creditors! So yeah, pretty freaking awesome!


This “$1000 In 30 Days Challenge and Resource Pack” is designed to help you find, cut and/or earn $1000 inside of 30 days so that you can: pay off debt with it, save it or invest it.

Here's the free downloadable/printable PDF.


What are some pieces of advice you would give to someone who's ready to get serious about tackling their finances?

First of all, stop using credit. Credit gives you the false sense of being able to afford things that you really can't.

Secondly, you may not have been taught the importance of being intentional and tracking your expenses however, it is crucial to know where your money is going so that you can start to plug those spending leaks.

Lastly, start small. Just find one non-essential expense like eating out and cut back by at least 25%. Just remember that you don't have to live in debt to have the things you want.

You just have to be intentional about your spending and plan for the things you want.

Money problems don't resolve overnight. Typically it takes about three months to begin to get a handle on your expenses and to begin to see progress. So, stay consistent and don't give up! Ask yourself, what would life be like if you could wake up tomorrow debt-free? Then, realize that if you keep taking action and making progress, eventually you will wake up one day, debt-free!


Where can we find you (website, social media, etc.)?

Website: ExtravagantlyBroke.com https://ExtravagantlyBroke.com/blog

Facebook Extravagantly Broke https://www.facebook.com/extravagantlybroke/

Instagram: @DeShenaWoodard https://www.instagram.com/deshenawoodard/

LinkedIn: @DeShenaWoodard https://www.linkedin.com/in/deshena-woodard-aa3a09107/

Twitter: ExtraExtraBroke https://twitter.com/ExtraExtraBroke


Call To Action

Now that you've heard DeShena's story, maybe you're ready to take a closer look at a "framework" to start your own "journey to debt freedom". And, if you’ve hung out on this platform for any length of time, you’ll know I’m all about helping you to take action. And here are two very easy next steps to keep you moving in the right direction:

  1. Download our free PDF guide that goes along with this series: “Debt-Elimination Quick-Start Guide”. This has a very comprehensive and dedicated video on establishing your “why”.
  2. Head over to YouTube and start with the “Day 0” video. You can totally binge-watch the whole series if you want. That “first pass” will give you an idea of where you are and what it’s going to take for you to get to the next level with your own personal situation. And again, starting with your “why” is the absolute most important step.

I want for you to capitalize on any and all emotional momentum you’ve gotten from this piece of content by committing two just getting started by completing those two actions I mentioned above. If you’ve done that, congratulations, you’ve started! Now just follow the breadcrumbs and please let me know what’s helpful and what you might need more detail around.


What To Do After That

After you complete the "quick start", maybe you'll be ready to take a closer look at a "framework" to continue your own "journey to debt freedom". So, I want to offer you another completely free resource that will help you map out your money with even more confidence.

Ready to get total control over your money? Introducing My FREE 8 Steps To Erase Debt Guide

These are the steps I personally followed to obliterate $43,000+ of debt in 2.5 years

Maybe your number is bigger, maybe it’s smaller. Either way the principles are the same and I want you to have them.

  1. Stop All Retirement Investing (Until Step 4)
  2. Build A Budget
  3. Starter Emergency Fund of $1000
  4. Eliminate Debts Smallest To Largest (a.k.a The Debt Snowball)
  5. Full Emergency Fund of 3-6+ Months’ Expenses
  6. Invest A Minimum of 15% Income Into Retirement Accounts (and increase savings rate to 50%+ if possible)
  7. College Funding (if applicable)
  8. Pay Off The Home Mortgage
  9. Build Wealth, Serve, Be Ridiculously Generous And Go FI (Financial Independence)!

I’ve created a simple, easy to follow “8 Steps To Erase Debt” guide that you can use as your foundation as you navigate the absolute annihilation of your debt forever. 


Here are some additional options to help you accomplish your personal finance goals:

  1. Check out our YouTube Channel for "how to" video guides.
  2. Join our Zero Debt Tribe Community on Facebook, a group of friendly, like-minded personal finance enthusiasts, budgeting nerds, debt-eliminators and “FI-ers” who are there to help each other succeed? Click here to request to join for support and encouragement!
  3. Our library of Free Products & Printables.


What do you need help with the most right now?

And finally, I want to encourage you and challenge you to get started in this process. You can do this by downloading this blogpost as your guide. The downloadable pdf contains all the printable forms and instructions you need to get this process started.

So, I’d LOVE to hear from you. The biggest compliment you can give me as your coach is to share your progress and your takeaways in the comments below.

I wish you nothing but great success in your personal finance endeavors and please let me know how I can help you accomplish your goals.

To your freedom,


Your Virtual Money Coach

[email protected]

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click & make a purchase, I receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) that helps keep Zero Debt Coach up and running. Read my full disclosure policy.


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