How We Paid Off $70,000 in Debt in 5 Years

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You read that headline right. My husband and I paid off $70,000 in debt in five years, and this is our story.

Five years ago, my husband and I were in our first year of marriage and recent college graduates. He was joining the military, and we couldn’t be happier about this new life change. What we didn’t realize, however, was the financial downfall that was on the horizon.

We made a series of decisions that we thought would benefit our future. The biggest was that we traded in two perfectly decent cars to get one overpriced SUV.

The military moved us to a new town where we didn’t know anybody. We knew we would only be there a couple of months, so I got a job providing daycare. It wasn’t much money, but it allowed us to keep our heads above water.

Soon after our first anniversary, we moved to a new base. I had every intention of getting a job, but that’s when the medical problems started for me. They were unexpected, just like the changes in our finances.

At this point, we were financially struggling. We were paying $670 a month in student loans, on top of the overpriced vehicle and credit cards. We started selling items on Craigslist and eBay. We sold items that we wouldn’t normally have sold, but it was a necessity. On top of that, we had to get a second vehicle because of the nature of my husband’s job.

We were at the proverbial rock bottom. We had to do something.

The turning point for us came when I was able to secure a job. I stopped making excuses about my medical issues and just went for it. I didn’t have a choice. I couldn’t let my husband down when he was working so hard.

After I got my job, we sat down and made a monthly budget. This is the best thing you can do to get started on paying off debt. We started by paying off the loan on our second vehicle, using everything extra we had each month. We lived a meager life, but each payment we made was so rewarding!

We also made sure to include our sanity in our budget. We had “fun” money that we used for going out to eat or going to the movies – and travel money set aside for trips. We looked for grocery apps like Ibotta and Checkout 51. With the rewards we earned from the apps, we would do something for ourselves as a benefit of dedication.

We clipped coupons, sold items we didn’t need, looked for items on sale, but most importantly we stuck to our budget.

Every time we had extra money in our checking account, it went to our debt. We started out with over $70,000 in debt. It was embarrassing. I hated to tell my friends that I couldn’t come out for Girl’s Night or I couldn’t get a mani-pedi. On the flip side, though, I loved seeing our debt go down. We had a small celebration every time we paid off another bill.

Today, after a long five-year journey, we are completely debt free. We are able to live the life we want without worrying about finding the money to pay for it. Our life may seem extreme, but it works. We kept our spirits high and our wallets virtually empty.

Our golden rule is: if we can’t afford it, we don’t need it. We save up to buy what we want. We are finally debt free and loving life!

You can do this, too. It all starts with a budget. Our free Money Management Planner offers worksheets and tips to help you create a strong financial plan that'll lead you out of debt. Download your copy now.  

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About Author

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Samantha Ryan

Samantha is a Project Coordinator in the Hanscom FCU Marketing Department. She enjoys reading a variety of genres and traveling with her husband, Matt. Together, they seek out fun and adventure – while sticking to their budget.

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