Ashley from Budgets Made Easy

Learn about how Ashley from Budgets Made Easy paid off $45,000 of consumer debt while being a mom to three kids.

Charlotte, NC
Savings Rate
Progress to FI
Net Worth

What is your backstory and how did you first get interested in FIRE?

Our financial independence story began in 2015. To make a long story short, my husband was laid off from his job at the beginning of  2014. When he was laid off, we had a 401k loan that we used to remodel our house a couple months before. Well, when you have a 401k loan and quit or lose your job, you have so many days to pay it back. We were unable to pay it back that quickly and without a job, couldn’t get a loan to cover it either.

So, we ended up owing the IRS a lot of money in 2015 on our taxes. I put what we owed on a 0% credit card and went on my way. Well once the bill for the card starting rolling in, I realized I needed a plan to pay this off before the interest accrued. 

I found Dave Ramsey and got to work on paying off $45,000 in 17 months. (you can read more of my story here). 

I never liked debt and wanted to stay-at-home with my kids. I was working as a detective in a small city outside of Charlotte, NC. I knew I would not be able to with the debt. So, we worked hard and paid it off. Then we had our third child, and I was able to stay at home. 

I do not want to be reliant on a job to provide for my family. I want to be able to make money online, work for myself, and have enough saved to not have to worry about another lay off. 

Why is FIRE important to you?

I want to be able to provide for my family without the stress of having a regular job. We live 18 hrs from the majority of our family and I want to have the freedom to visit as much as we want. I like being able to sleep in and not worry about a demanding schedule. I don’t have to worry about getting called out in the middle of the night because someone shot someone else. 

I already have enough invested in retirement accounts to let it grow and be comfortable when I am older. My goal is to keep investing to add to it but also to be able to make enough money online for my husband to retire. 

What other types of income do you have outside your main job? (housing investments, side hustle, etc.)

I run my blog, Budgets Made Easy, where I teach people to budget, save money, and pay off debt so they can live their dreams. I also teach with VIPKID for some extra money. I have a couple streams of income with my blog but my ultimate goal is to make enough money to retire my husband. 

My husband also has some side work that he does to bring in enough money here and there for savings and special projects. 

What tools, processes or services has helped you save or make more money to achieve FIRE faster?

I have a financial advisor that has the same financial beliefs that I do. He helps us invest our money wisely to achieve our goals. I save money in different banks so that I won’t spend it as easily. 

A budget is the ultimate tool to achieve any financial goal. I have a budget, I list my goals, and I come up with ways to achieve them.

Where do you see yourself in 5, 10, 20 years?

In 5 years, I want my husband to be retired with me. I want to be able to make enough money from my blog to cover all our expenses and be able to travel. 

In 10 years, my kids will be headed to college and I will hopefully be able to help pay for that. 

In 20 years, hopefully all my kids will be done with school and I can travel around the country with my husband. 

If you were just getting started in FIRE, what would be the first steps you took to building your path towards financial independence?

  1. Make a budget

  2. Pay off debt

  3. Save money

Need some more content about FIRE?

We put together a list of the best podcasts about financial independence that should keep you entertained for DAYS.

In this collection

Choose FI Podcast

Fire Drill Podcast

The Minimalists Podcast

View all 5 items in this collection

If you were just getting started in FIRE, what would be the first 3 steps you took to building your path towards financial independence?

Really both, there is no point in increasing income if you don’t lower your spending. What will happen is you will just spend more money. If you don’t have a plan, your money will disappear and it won’t be working toward  your goals.

What are some resources or pieces of content you find yourself recommending to others?

Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover, for sure. I know not everyone likes him, but what he teaches works. It’s common sense financial advice.

I have a free budget guide that will help you start your budget. I also offer an ebook on 200 easy ways to save money and a Budget Workbook.

Are there any communities (in person or online) that you chat with about financial independence?

I am a part of numerous groups but my favorite is a Dave Ramsey SAHM’s group on Facebook. I hate groups that everyone is rude and not encouraging.