(WHTM) — Credit card debt is easy to pile on, but it’s hard to pay off. However, one single mom found that following a new trend called a “credit card fast,” helped her to save money and eventually buy her own home.

For Lisa Samalonis, being responsible with her credit card was the key to rebuilding her life after divorce.

“It was very important for me to preserve some of that money so that I could put it down for a down payment and also to preserve through the divorce, to preserve my credit score so that I would be eligible for a mortgage,” explained Samalonis.

In order to help adjust to living as a single mother of two on one income, Samalonis decided to go on what she calls a “credit card fast.”

“Not using my credit card in the beginning was a key factor in that, because when you’re using cash or debit, you can see it as soon as you know you don’t have enough money, it’s right there. It’s having the awareness to know that you’re actually spending more than you have,” said Samalonis.

The single mom now owns her own home and is sharing her top three steps to becoming financially free.

Step one is to break down your finances. “I just had a notebook, and I wrote down a lot of my expenses, the ones that were most important at the top, like food and my mortgage or housing. And then down the list of things that were less important, by kind of breaking it down and really being honest or getting real with myself. That actually gave me control as I went forward,” said Samalonis.

Step two is to only use a credit card if you have to. If you end up using a credit card, use zero-based budgeting.

“When you use your credit card, you take money that you have in your account and you put it in a category or you allocate it to what you’ve just spent,” explained Samalonis.

And finally, it is important to plan ahead. Samalonis stated that planning ahead helped her family in situations when unexpected expenses would come up. “I tried to plan ahead so I would be able to save money each month towards that goal.”

Another additional tip is to have family and friends join in on your credit card fast. When you’re surrounded by others who care, the camaraderie can help keep you on track.