Debt Reduction, Veganism & Sobriety

The year of their marriage, Kayt and her husband made 3 huge lifestyle changes.

 I received a really interesting email a couple of weeks ago. “Hey there! I just stumbled onto your blog when I pessimistically googled ‘debt-free vegans’. We too are ‘plant-powered’, living on a budget and listing to Dave Ramsey’s plan to get out of debt and live like no one else!!! … Thank you for blogging about your journey towards debt freedom, and congratulations on your venture into the plant-based lifestyle! It’s been two years of veganism and almost two years of Baby Step 2…And sometimes my husband and I feel so alone because we are social outliers, avoiding meat, dairy, and debt. We are also two-years sober, so that’s another twist that can restrict standard social engagements and connection a little bit.”

Such an interesting story! And what an engaging voice! I asked Kayt if I could interview her, and she said “Yes.” 

What was it that made you want to get out of debt?

I learned about Dave Ramsey in my early 20’s, and when I got my first ‘professional’ position that didn’t include an apron or a tray, I worked the debt snowball on my credit cards and traffic tickets…But when I looked at my $70,000 in student loans…and realized those, too, were part of “baby step 2”; I basically gave up. I never used credit cards again, but I ignored those student loans for a couple years, and got myself into a car loan to top it off.

In 2015, my fiancé and I were trying to figure out how we were going to pay for our wedding after going down to one income. Thanks to a military relocation, I had forfeited my job and had a lot of trouble finding a new one. It was then we realized that our debt payments were siphoning away our income.

I introduced Dave Ramsey’s principles to my fiancé, and we started budgeting to save for the wedding over the next eight months. Of course, by the time we cash-flowed the wedding, we were both hooked on the Dave Ramsey podcast and decided to jump in and tackle the debt altogether so that we could begin to build wealth. Ironically enough, my husband started law school a couple months after our wedding, and it is a three-year program. Our debt-payoff between my income and his GI bill looked like a 36-month process. So we were off to the races to pay off the debt with the goal of being debt-free (except the mortgage) before he graduated.

I think what aligned for us was that we finally had a new perspective on money, and we wanted to use it as a tool instead of living at the mercy of payday. We couldn’t imagine not living paycheck to paycheck – even though when we met our incomes combined were well over six figures. Having a timeline and a plan of action made all the difference for us in deciding to get out of debt.

Why did you decide to switch to a plant-based diet?

I became vegetarian in 2010 after watching Food Inc., and realizing how little I knew about what I was eating, where it came from and how it was processed.  I originally told myself I would give it 30 days, I can do anything for 30 days…And it just stuck, I felt great and really loved that no animals had to die for me to live.

I’d been vegetarian for almost 3 years when I met Bryan. He was a sky-diving Army Ranger, hardcore Harley-rider who tolerated my vegetarian fare but definitely still required his own meat-ful meals. We lived in harmony in our different preferences, and I never tried to push any of my ideals on him.

At the end of 2014, I started running for the first time since before college. I wanted to lose a little weight and look good for the wedding, even though it was a year and a half away. I started listening to podcasts in 2015 like No Meat Athlete, and started thinking maybe I could make the full switch and give up dairy…Around that time Bryan read Born to Run and Finding Ultra and decided he really wanted to run his first marathon. So in late 2015 we both started training, he was focused on his marathon and I was after my first half marathon. I went vegan “for 30 days” as a New Year’s resolution on January 1, 2016, but felt so great that I just kept at it. Bryan joined me in the plant-based lifestyle in February and we encouraged each other and held each other accountable. We feel great, we recover so incredibly quickly, and we have been able to achieve fitness goal after fitness goal!

What made you decide to stop drinking alcohol?

Our move from Austin, Texas (where we met) to Columbus, Georgia (where the military moved my fiancé at the time) was a really tough change for me. Especially because we moved to a small town that wasn’t particularly interested in hiring military spouses (hard to blame them, nobody likes high turnover). So I was pretty miserable, and what had been a mutual hobby and not that big of a deal, started to bring out the worst in me and Bryan.

We hit a catalyst mid-2015, which I don’t really want to dive into in this forum, and we took a few months apart to really focus on what we wanted for ourselves and what we wanted for each other.  We realized that alcohol had become a huge detriment for us, warping the way we treated each other. We came back together and realized that we wanted to be our best selves, and that meant alcohol didn’t have a place in our lives. I do think that this greatly impacted our fervor to pursue our fitness goals, and even though going plant-based didn’t happen until six or seven months later, all three tie into the overall goal of wanting to be our best selves and to treat our bodies well.

 How did Kayt and her husband manage to make 3 huge changes in the same year? What do they do to counteract the “social outlier” phenomenon? To find out, come back next week! In the mean time, please leave a comment for Kayt.


Are you able to take on more than one significant lifestyle change at a time? Do you find that a change in one area of life helps you to change in others too? Your comments are welcome.


*Image courtesy of pxhere

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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Great to read your story Kayt. I’m a fan of Dave too, his baby steps helped my family pay off our consumer debt. Looking forward to the rest of your story. Three major lifestyle change is one year is no easy feat. Each one could be challenging on its own. Continued success!

  • An inspiring story Kayt! Overcoming all three “addictions” at the same time isn’t easy. I look forward to the next instalment of your journey.

    For myself, I gave up drinking over 39 years ago when I found out that my future husband was a recovering alcoholic. Personally, I don’t miss booze at all and find it is very freeing to truly live my life in an unaltered state.

    Eight years ago we tackled our $97,000.00 debt payoff and changed our eating habits at the same time also – it seemed easier that way since the self-discipline was there to handle each problem simultaneously.

    Thanks for sharing and keep up the good work 🙂

    • Nancy, your story really hit home! It’s interesting how people respond when they find out you don’t drink booze…It also helps you realize who you really actually enjoy being around! And you’re right, spending without conviction, alcoholism, and the standard-America-diet ARE all forms of addiction!!! Congratulations on paying off just shy of six figures!!! And I do think the diet for health and the ‘diet’ for the budget do really parallel each other- it’s all about making good choices for your future! Discipline is everything!

  • Congratulations Kayt! Looking at these changes as something positive to aspire to rather than deprivation ~ NICE! I look forward to the next installment in your story. 🙂

    • Thanks Kay! It really is interesting how everything can change when your perspective changes…People frequently ask me if I feel deprived, especially when they find out I’m vegan…Usually when I start telling them the latest amazing recipe I found, and the exciting types of foods I’ve discovered, they realize maybe I’m having way more fun with food than they thought was possible! And, sometimes with the debt snowball it’s easy to wish for things that just aren’t in the budget, but this super strict budget is only for a little while! The end goal has to stay in perspective! Thanks for your encouragement!

  • Kayt, thank you for sharing your story here. I appreciate it all the more because you’ve chosen to be transparent about the messiness and low points involved. You’ve been triumphant on so many levels – and not just in terms of physical and financial fitness. It’s clear that spiritual and emotional growth have played out in your story so far, making it very rich. I look forward to next week’s finale:)

    • This has been my absolute pleasure! When Bryan and I coordinated our first Financial Peace University class, we agreed that transparency was key. There is just simply too much taboo around discussing money openly, and that is part of why many of us just kind of wing it financially, without any real guidance (and get ourselves into trouble!). That’s part of why we love Dave Ramsey’s program, it just simplifies everything and gives clear guidance to keeping your lifestyle balanced.
      And, life IS so messy. Nobody is perfect, and nobody’s path is perfectly straight from the beginning of a journey to the destination. The more real we can all start to be with each other, perhaps the gentler we can all be on ourselves. Thank you for the opportunity to share my story!

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