How a local mom paid off 77K in debt and became a nationally-known finance blogger

She was a single mother who felt crushed by debt. Now, Kumiko Love is making national headlines as “The Budget Mom” who paid off more than $77,000 in just eight months.

On the wall above the desk in her Spokane Valley apartment, you’ll see Love’s success story. She hung up pages with her goals written on them and colored the letters in for each amount she paid off.

But, before all of that was struggle and sacrifice.

Love and her sister were raised on a farm in Chewelah by their mom. Love said growing up in the Inland Northwest shaped her story.

“The memories I have here are a huge part of my journey,” Love said. “I think that those memories and the relationship I have with my mom is so much the relationship I want to have for my son.”

Love had big plans for her life, then she got a divorce. At the time, she had paid off all her debt, then came new and unexpected expenses.

Suddenly, she needed to find a place to live for her and her son, manage daily expenses, and pay off student loan debt from her time at Eastern Washington University.

“I was a single mom struggling to pay off my debt and figure out how to manage my finances,” Love said.

It wasn’t easy, but Love knew paying off what she owed would be worth it for her and her son.

“Seeing his face every day, it was like giving up is not an option for me,” Love said.

Love had a background in finance as an Accredited Financial Counselor, but she still needed some help. She started by searching the internet for every kind of budget option possible. None of them seemed to work for her. She figured that if she was having a hard time facing her finances, others were, too.

So, while juggling two full-time jobs, Love created “The Budget Mom” blog. She used her background in finance to share tips and real-life examples of money management.

One of her most popular posts is about the budget method she created. It incorporates three different methods to track her finances.

The Calendar Method

Identify the bills you pay every month, like rent loan payments, etc. Then designate a date to pay each expense.

The Paycheck Method

Keep track of every dollar by writing them down. Love said you can categorize your spending and see exactly what you’re spending. She uses a paycheck bill tracker that creates a zero-based budget. That means you don’t spend more than you make each month.

The Cash Envelope System

This step of her budget is designed for monthly expenses beyond your regular bills. Love will set aside a certain amount of money each month for things like clothing, food, and entertainment.

Love’s messages have really resonated with readers. Now, she has more than 1.5 million people visiting her blog. This has become her full time job.

You can hear more about Love’s story and her finance tips at an event in Spokane Valley October 23. Get tickets here.