Debt Free Story: Change your hobby and kill your debt

Bankruptcy to financial freedomToday’s awesome debt free story comes to us from Brent Truitt, full time blogger and founder of Debt Files. I love his unique and remarkable story of going from bankruptcy to financial freedom in a short amount of time. Take it away, Brent!

Tell us about yourself:

My name is Brent Truitt and I’m now debt free.

I’m exceptionally good at failing.

I failed to “make it” in all three of my chosen fields (hockey, golf, and music).

The first three serious relationships I had with women failed due to my failure to choose a compatible partner.

I declared personal bankruptcy at age 33 after my failed marriage, and I’ve been fired three times.

Either the number three is out to get me, or I’m a consummate failure.

So I won’t be giving anyone advice (well…not much anyway) regarding their journey towards financial freedom and early retirement.

What I can do is share with you my own strategies for paying down debt and creating wealth.

What was your total debt?

Before bankruptcy I had $210,000 in total debt. This included a mortgage, vehicle, credit cards, and personal loans.

During the early part of my second marriage I was in debt for over $270,000 which consisted of a mortgage, a car loan, and credit cards.

What was the defining moment that made you decide to tackle your debt?

I never really tackled my debt. I accepted the fact that I might be in debt my entire life, but once I realized I might possibly get rid of all my debt I took steps to do so.

What was your plan for paying off the debt? Did you budget?

My plan was to stop all activities and/or hobbies that cost money, and ONLY pursue hobbies that made money.

My wife and I never budgeted – we just stopped spending money on “wants” and only spending money on “needs”.

Where did you find the extra money to put toward the debt?

With affiliate marketing and Adsense income I created more cash inflow than cash outflow. Eventually my “hobby” was making much more than what I was paid as an aircraft mechanic.

How long did it take you to pay off the debt?

I took us nearly 12 years to finally clear off all debt.

How did you stay motivated to continue on your path to debt freedom?

I was motivated by fear, anger, and love for my work. I focused solely on not purchasing “wants”, and I was inspired by Darren Rowse (, Steve Pavlina (, Wayne Dyer (, and Eckhart Tolle (

Did you make any mistakes or hit obstacles that slowed or stopped your progress?

My second wife Betty and I had many obstacles on our way to financial freedom. Twice we lost all of our Internet traffic and had to start over, and I made some dumb purchases (C-Class RV off the lot for example).

How is your life different now that you are debt free?

My life changed for the better the minute I was self-employed and working from home. Even when I wasn’t making enough to pay the bills and accumulating more debt – I felt like I had “made it” as soon as I was free from my job.

What advice or actionable tips can you give people who want to pay off their debt?

The best advice I can give is “hobby reversal”.

Assuming you still have employment and you want to get rid of all your bad debt, I suggest using a “reversal strategy”. What I mean by that is mentioned above – you STOP spending money on ANY “want items” and only spend money on “need” items. I found this to be easier than making a budget and sticking to it.

Then comes the most important step – STOP all extra activities that cost money, and ONLY start extra activities that make money.

The reversal method ensures you’re never spending more than you make, and your income is increasing.

The importance of passive income:

I suggest creating a passive income. The metaphor I use is the “Boulder Up The Hill” theory.

When you work for a living you start early in the morning and you work hard all day to push that huge boulder to the top of hill – and get paid.
Overnight that boulder rolls back down the hill and you have to start over again.

With a passive income (like Internet marketing) you push the boulder to the top of the hill (publishing a piece of content) and it stays up forever adding value – and creating income.

Then you keep pushing boulders (posts or pages of content) up the hill until they’re all working (linking) together to create a constant stream of passive income (if you just read this sentence and you’re not feeling a rush of excitement, you don’t yet understand the immense power of the Internet and the opportunities it provides).

Get on the Google machine and learn about affiliate marketing, social media promotion, and online profits.

Good luck out there – it’s a stone groove baby, and it still hasn’t gotten weird enough for me.

Brent Truitt is a full-time blogger and Internet marketer who lives in Canada and the United States.


Can’t thank you enough for sharing your extraordinary story, Brent!

Have you ever used “hobby reversal” to make money and pay off your debt?


12 thoughts on “Debt Free Story: Change your hobby and kill your debt

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your inspiring story, Brent! It’s not easy to admit that we made mistakes in our lives, especially in public. I’m glad you have found success with blogging and have created a great stream of passive income for yourself and your family. Best of luck with your future endeavors!

  2. Hi Amanda,

    So sorry it took me so long to see this!

    Been on the road this week so I never caught on to this post being published. Very nice layout – thank you very much for posting and sharing!

    It’s in my Buffer rotation for a loooong time now.

    Time to go a-tweeting this.

    Sincerely B

    1. No worries, Brent! I have a crazy week too. Thanks for sharing! πŸ™‚ I’m happy to be able to share your story!

  3. Hobby reversal is an awesome tool! Or in the case of some guys, “Toy Reversal”. I’m so-o-o fortunate that Mr. Groovy hates cars and electronics.

    That was a long and winding road (yes, a reference to the Beatles) Brent. I’m happy you’re on the right path now and it’s good to have you in the PF community. Never heard of Steve Pavlina but I’ll check him out.

    Thanks for the interview, Amanda! Keep it groovy, Brent!

  4. Many congrats Brent – you made it!!! Love hearing your story about pursuing your dream “job” even when you were in debt. Awesome story!

  5. Love the idea of pursuing hobbies that make money! Congrats on your success Brent!

    1. Thanks Owen,

      Thanks for stopping by Amanda’s cool pad!


  6. Well done, Brent. I love your transparency about your “failures”. You could have let those disappointments make you a bitter man, but something in you was bigger than them. “So I won’t be giving anyone advice … What I can do is share with you my own strategies for paying down debt and creating wealth.” Such a wise approach!

    1. Thanks Ruth. Kind words are yummy in the tummy. ?

      I think everybody’s path is unique and they need to find they’re special plan, but I lean more towards self- employment as a way out.


  7. This is great, thanks for sharing your story, Brent! Love the debt freedom ideas, shifting from wants to needs only spending, and the hobby ‘reversal’. You’ve given me some great stuff to think on today. πŸ™‚

  8. That’s a strategy we did, too! Switching hobbies to make money definitely helped us get out of debt so that we’re able to enjoy the old hobbies again without all the stress. Best of luck to you!

    1. Hi Claudia and MMM,

      Thanks for dropping by. It works well doing a reversal, but it’s hard some folks to find that “thing” they like doing for money.

      That’s when the creativity comes in to play I think.

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