How My Wife and I Lived on $2,000 Per Month for 3 Years During a Financial Hardship

Hello! Today, I have a guest post from Dave at The Dollar Blogger. Dave lost his job, and then 2 weeks later his wife was laid off. This is their story of how they got by, their sacrifices, strategies, and more.

I’ll be honest – I’m not one for excessive frugality. I wouldn’t consider myself frivolous, at least, not anymore, but my wife Mary and I were hit with a solid dose of reality when we lost all of our income over the course of two weeks in 2012. One wrong turn and a layoff two weeks later took Mary and me from making over $100,000 in a year to zero income.

In this post, I’m going to share with you this scary financial hardship that rocked our world, and how the two of us got through it successfully and back on our feet.

We also learned some life-changing lessons about money, which is excellent for anyone who suffers a sudden and total income loss.

In the end, we lived on $2,000 a month, for just over three years.

Related content:

From $100,000 to Zero in Two Weeks

In 2012, I was working as a software engineer making $75,000 a year, and Mary was making $12/hr as an intern at a local business, with a potential raise to $15/hr once hired.

This put us at roughly $100,000 a year, and boy, we were excited.

We had been scraping by for the past couple of years after moving to a new state where we hoped to start life anew.

We were so sure that life could only go up that we were meeting up for lunch daily, spending up to $100/week during the week on lunch alone. We would then spend an additional $100-$200 per weekend eating out, sometimes twice a day.

With a fully-owned townhouse, our only major expenses were HOA fees, taxes, utilities, food, and basic necessities.

But, my job was causing me undue amounts of stress, and I left it voluntarily, under the assumption that a web design business I started as a side hustle would take off. I also assumed my wife’s internship would turn into a full-time job. Both accounts didn’t happen.

Once we both lost our jobs, our income fell to zero. Mary had another year of grad school, and we didn’t want her to withdraw.

Before we could even think about creating a budget, we had to address one of the top reasons that can lead to divorce – financial problems.

The Initial Toll on Our Marriage

Now, I’m no counselor, but I have learned over the years that financial issues are one of the leading causes of divorce. In fact, according to Insider, over one-third of all people polled stated that financial problems led to their divorce.

Mary and I had and still have a strong marriage, but this financial hardship tested us. Here’s what we did before we even examined the budget.

  • Assess what to do: We sat down and talked about how we would live off zero income and how we could recover while keeping her in school. We went on a spending freeze for as many days of each month as we could. Mary and I discussed who could work where and for how much.
  • Disability Claim: I have Asperger’s Syndrome (an Autism Spectrum Disorder), however in my adult life, it hadn’t really gotten in my way as far as work. Some people with this disorder gradually get worse over time. I decided to get evaluated for such to see if I could claim a disability.
  • Could Family Help? Mary’s family offered to send us cash every month while we got back on our feet. While only so much was available, it did help us make a budget.

In the end, Mary got a temporary job at a local gas station/minimart, and I helped Mary’s father work on his business. Combined with getting a little extra money from Mary’s family, we ended up with $2,000 per month in income after living with no income for several months.

The key take-away that I got from this exercise was that in a financial hardship, it’s crucial to be on the same page with your spouse.

Had we resorted to fighting and finger-pointing, everything would only get worse.

The Tightest Budget We Ever Made

It’s always been my job in the relationship to draft updates to our household budget and finances. Mary certainly has her say and must agree to everything, but I do all the initial drafting.

I had $2,000 to closely allocate to all of our expenses, including around $8,000 in credit card debt that had wracked up before the loss and in the several months that we had zero income.

After mulling over the numbers for some time, our budget looked something like this:

Let’s break this budget down, shall we?

First of all, notice there is no line item for credit card debt.

When I wrote this budget, I was so desperate to fit everything in that I left out a key item. What ended up happening was, I used our Buffer / Margin of Error, combined with what was leftover each month from our Semi Variable Costs, to pay as much of the credit card debt as possible.

In hindsight, I would have lowered our Electric / Gas / Water bills through more strict usage. The financial hardship started in winter, and we could have cut back on electric heat by wearing several layers of clothing. With a near $250 electric bill in the winter, mostly from heat, I imagine we could have saved $50-$100 simply by wearing heavy sweaters or jackets while inside the house. This was an oversight and something one can consider if they are on an incredibly tight budget.

Mary and I have clean driving records, and at the time, she had no accidents, and I had one fender bender in the past eight years. If we had shopped around more, we could have lowered our auto insurance further, saving us more money while living on $2,000 per month. In a situation where money is incredibly tight, always contact all providers and negotiate your bills.

Negotiating Bills and Cutting Back

Here are some of the bills we negotiated from the above list:

Car insurance: We called our provider and stated our financial situation and asked if we would qualify for a lower rate after being a loyal customer for so many years. They worked with us, and we saved $25 per month. As I mentioned above, we likely could have saved more switching to another provider, which we did a few years later.

Homeowner’s Insurance: Our homeowner’s insurance wasn’t bundled with our car insurance. We moved our homeowner’s insurance to the same company that had our car insurance, which allowed us to pay only $15 per month for our policy. Also note that we lived in a townhouse, where policies are less because the HOA has a master policy that covers the outside of the home. Our original policy cost us $35 per month, so a savings of $20 a month total.

Internet/Landline: Most people don’t realize this, but you can generally talk your internet/cable/phone bill down significantly by politely telling your cable company that you are planning to take your business elsewhere if they won’t lower your rate. We used both the financial hardship and data found online that said we were paying well over the average national rate for internet to haggle with our provider. In the end, we agreed to a 24 month extended contract at the introductory rate, which was $40 per month less than what we were currently paying. I’m not one for contracts, but there were no other decent internet providers where we lived at the time, so I took it. That’s $480 per year saved for two years.

Additionally, we cut back on the following:

Utilities (Electric / Water / Gas): I mentioned above that our financial hardship started in the winter. We budgeted $300 per month for utilities, $250 of which we estimated for electricity due to electric heat. It gets incredibly cold up here in New Hampshire during the winter, and heating bills go through the roof. We were fortunate enough not to go over our limit by wearing heavier clothes. I’m sure we could have lowered our heating bill further had we worn jackets, long johns, and doubled-up our socks on the coldest of days.

Groceries: During the financial hardship, we had two cats. We include their food and litter in our grocery bill, and as you can imagine, feline family members can cost a bit to feed and keep healthy. We tackled groceries by shopping for generic brands and using coupons. We only bought what we needed to eat, versus snacks and other fun foods. This cut our estimated grocery costs from $400 to $300 per month, saving us $100 monthly.

We couldn’t save much on medical due to my disability and requiring health insurance plus doctor visits and treatment. This has always been a tough situation that is certainly not unique for those who suffer from any form of physical and/or mental illness that requires temporary or permanent treatment.

A Curve Ball Set Us Back Again – But We Didn’t Give Up

Mary had a semester left to go when we started to stabilize. We had gotten used to our $2,000 per month lifestyle, but we were still in a lot of debt, and we weren’t happy.

When she graduated with a Masters in Marketing a term later, she looked for work.

Unfortunately, we lived in an area where there weren’t many marketing jobs. This, on top with what we were already going through, was gut-wrenching.

Did we just make another mistake?

What do you do when your plans go south again and again?

You don’t give up.

Since my disability claim was for SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance), I was legally allowed to work at a very limited capacity. I picked up a few more hours per week for my father-in-law and gained an additional couple hundred dollars per month. Mary left the gas station that was 15 miles away and started working at a private grocery store that just opened 2 miles down the road. The pay and hours were better, and by being right near us, she saved on gasoline and other car maintenance.

We were now 24 months into our three years of living at $2,000 per month.

We got savvier with our money.

We contacted our credit card company and told them we were going to start paying down our balance more aggressively. We requested an APR decrease and cited that otherwise, we would have to consider getting a balance transfer card at a different bank.

The representative transferred us to their supervisor, and the supervisor lowered our APR by 3% after we shared our situation and discussed that we had never missed or had a late payment in the over six years that we had an account with them.

A quick math note: A 3% APR change on a $5,000 credit card balance, when you’re only paying the minimum payments, can save you over $400 in interest payments over the course of paying down the card. It can save you over $1,000 in interest payments if you also pay an additional $100 per month on top of the minimum payments.

When in doubt, always contact your creditors and work with them.

We also started using apps to save money on shopping. Ibotta, for example, is an app where you can save around 8% on many grocery and retail store purchases. We took advantage of this to put as much money back in our pocket as possible.

I also started doing Swagbucks, which earned me around $3/hour, 1-2 hours per day. This didn’t add up to much, but when money is tight, and you have a credit card to pay, every dollar counts.

The Letter That Changed Everything

This next part is something that won’t happen to most people. But to contrast it with typical results, this was the resolution to the financial hardship. Every situation has a resolution – some take longer, some results are better than others, and all vary widely.

In my case, the social security administration approved my claim and back-dated payments for 2 years.

We received a lump sum for 24 months of disability payments, which left us feeling more ecstatic than I can possibly convey here, as you may imagine.

We were now approaching the 36-month mark, and my SSDI payment amount raised our income a fair share. But we weren’t out of hot water yet. We had a financial lifestyle problem to address. How could we avoid this from ever happening again?

Mary and I sat down for another meeting.

Our Next Steps and What We Learned From This Financial Hardship

We paid off our debt with the lump sum and banked the rest. But, our living expenses compared to our income was still tight.

We needed to enact serious financial change.

Here’s what we did:

We flipped our house and downsized: Our house was valued at just over twice what we paid for it, and we didn’t need all of the space. We sold our house and used the cash to buy a comfy mobile home a few towns over, replenish our emergency fund, pay off all debt, and take a budget vacation to an old favorite place that we hadn’t visited in the three-year hardship. I had considered selling the house when the hardship originally happened, but I’m glad we waited because the value increased so much as the housing market boomed over those three years.

Over the years and going forward, we track our finances monthly: From the end of the hardship in 2016 to the present, we track our finances monthly with Personal Capital, an easy-to-use app where we plugin our bank, credit card, and investment accounts. It also lets you track any other assets and liabilities as well as individual transactions on each account.

We now live greatly within our means: We learned that anything can happen with the drop of a hat. Instead of living just below our means, we live as much below our means as possible. While we aren’t extremely frugal, we are nowhere near the spend-thrifts that we used to be. We check with each other any time one of us wants to spend money. We allocate “fun” money each month and don’t exceed it unless saving across multiple month’s fun money to buy a bigger purchase.

We learned that there is so much we don’t actually need: Everywhere you go, you are told “YOU NEED THIS” – the reality is, you don’t need much of anything. You want many things, but when it comes to needs, you need food, shelter, clothing, and transportation, among other small necessities. You don’t need a fancy car. You don’t need extravagant vacations. And, you certainly don’t need to eat out all the time.

Fast forward to 2020, our income has had its ups and downs, but we have not had an issue with it. By using apps such as Personal Capital, and keeping track of our money with a budget Excel spreadsheet, we seem prepared for anything that comes our way. If you’re not good with spreadsheets, I’ve also used YNAB – You Need A Budget – which is the perfect site for tracking your money.

Wrapping It Up

It doesn’t matter if you’ve never had a financial education or if you write about money every day – financial hardships will happen. When they happen, remain calm, stay focused, and find opportunities to work your way out of them. If you’re married, get on the same page, and be an amazing team, rather than panic and turn on one another.

We got through this hardship over the course of 3-4 years. We still live on just over $2,000 per month, minus the two months each year where we travel.

Tough times happen, but staying strong, coming up with a plan, and then executing on it is your surest way to recovery.

Author Bio:Dave Bochichio is the Owner and Writer for The Dollar Blogger. When he’s not writing about personal finance, Dave enjoys spending time with his wife and two cats, and eating exotic and international foods. Dave also writes fiction, with one book published and two more on the way.

What is your monthly budget? What have you done to cut expenses?

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7 Top Items Required for Delicious Homemade Coffee and Lattes

Getting coffee out can be extremely expensive. So here are 7 of our top items required for you to make delicious homemade coffee and lattes.If you’re like me, you love a good cup of coffee. And during these winter months, I love coffee even more. But, I really detest getting coffee while I am out because it is so expensive. Plus, the lattes I find out also tend to have an enormous amount of extra sugar and junk that I wouldn’t normally put in my coffee. So, I found some great ways to homemade coffee just as delicious, but for less than a quarter of the cost. If you don’t call that a win, I don’t know what is!

1. French Press

I used to be an old fashioned coffee maker kind of gal. But, then about 6 years ago I heard about the french press. I never got to see one in action until I was working at a hotel while finishing my Master’s degree. These were used for a lot of the room service coffee’s that were served. And since that day, my coffee life has never been the same.

Originally, I purchased a Bodum French Press. This one was great for me and I loved it. Until it broke about a year and a half ago. Since the Bodum is glass, if you drop it just the wrong way, it can break. And since I happen to be accident-prone, that eventually happened. But, since it was a lower cost French Press, it was a really good one for me to start with. Plus, it lasted a few years, which was worth the money. While the french press is the most expensive part of making homemade coffee, it is well worth it.

After that one broke, I decided to splurge and purchase the higher end Frieling Double-walled Stainless Steel French Press. This one has a lifetime warranty and it won’t break if you drop it. So far, so good and the coffee is out of this world!

French Press Directions

The reason a french press makes the coffee taste so much better is because you have complete control over how hot the water is before you pour it into the french press. You also have better control over steeping time, which can affect the strength and acidity.

When you are making french press, you should make sure to take the kettle off the stove right before it begins to boil. Once you pour the water into the french press, stir the coffee grounds and water together. Then put the lid on and let it steep for approximately 3-4 minutes, depending upon how strong and acidic you want it. Then push down the plunger to stop the steeping process and you are good to go.

2. Tea Kettle

If you don’t already have a tea kettle, you will need one for delicious homemade coffee. Tea kettles can range pretty widely in price. But, if you aren’t planning to use yours for anything other than your homemade coffee, then you should be able to pick one up for pretty cheap.

I have been able to find some tea kettles for under $20, but I usually pick one up for a bit closer to $30. Of course, you could easily spend a lot more money on a tea kettle that has a more aesthetic look for you. No matter what you choose to do, just make sure it will hold enough water for your french press.

The other option is an electric tea kettle. I happen to have one of these in my office, just in case I want to make coffee or tea while I am working. That way I don’t have to go up to the kitchen to boil water. Multitasking at it’s finest!

3. Mini Strainer

After having the french press for so many years, we realized that it could still use a bit more straining. Everything is great with the coffee until the last sip or two usually. And then things can get a bit gritty. Some of that could have to do with the grind of the beans, but not usually. So, we have found that getting a mini tea strainer does the trick nicely.

You can easily pick one of these up for well under $10. And it can be used for tea, coffee, and cocktails. So, this is a great tool to keep on hand, whether you are making homemade coffee or not.

4. Mini Whisk

When it comes to making good homemade coffee and lattes, a mini whisk is a must. Luckily, we happen to have a plethora of kitchen tools lying around, so we had one on hand. The one we found that works best is a 5″ mini whisk because it fits nicely in a standard coffee mug.

How I have used the mini whisk to benefit my coffee and latte experience is simple. Just add your sweetener, creamer, and/or flavor additions to the cup first while the water is getting warmed up. Use the whisk to whisk everything together prior to pouring in the coffee. This helps create a creamier and frothier coffee drink, more like the ones you would get out.

5. Good Coffee Beans

Since we all have slightly different flavor profile preferences, your beans are going to be indicative of that. I really like espresso beans for a more full-bodied flavor. However, I always suggest going with whole beans instead of ground.

There are a couple of reasons for this. First, is that coffee beans for a french press need to be an espresso grind. This means the beans are ground into larger bits than what is used in a traditional drip coffee maker.

When you buy already ground beans at the store, they are almost always only ground for drip coffee makers. By using this grind, you are going to get more sediment at the bottom of your cup. Plus, if you are using already ground beans, the oils start to oxidize faster. This means you are losing flavor in your coffee, as well as potentially getting a more acidic roast.

Therefore, I suggest either getting a small coffee grinder to grind the beans each day. Or, if you don’t have the time for that, like me, grind them at the store with the espresso grind. Then store the ground coffee in the refrigerator or freezer to slow and/or stop the oxidation process.

6. Creamer

One of the big perks about homemade coffee and lattes is that you can put whatever kind of creamer you want in there. Since there are so many choices these days, it can be more difficult when you go out to get coffee to get exactly what you want. But, at home, you can make it exactly the way you want for the perfect latte.

Some of the great options to choose from for creamer additions are:

  • Almond Milk
  • Cashew Milk
  • Coconut Creamer
  • Coconut Milk
  • Dairy Creamer
  • Golden Milk
  • Hemp Milk
  • Milk
  • Oat Milk
  • Rice Milk
  • Soy Milk

I, personally, use coconut creamer because the dairy creamer’s don’t usually sit well with me. I have found the coconut creamer to be the closest to the dairy creamer taste and texture, which is why I go with that one.

7. Flavor Additions

Lastly, flavor additions might be something you prefer with your homemade coffee. Sometimes I add in either hot chocolate or peppermint chocolate to my latte’s to create a mocha latte. The kids saw me do this a couple of times and now it’s all they want to have whenever we do movie night. I have created some monsters!

Even if you don’t want to add in the aforementioned, you could always add in some essential oils (as long as they are rated for ingestion). These can add flavor and have potential health benefits. The other option is to add in some vanilla, honey, chai or even bitters. No matter what you choose to add in, get creative with your latte.

If you want a delicious, budget-friendly homemade coffee, then you have got to get these tools! Click To Tweet

Homemade Coffee and Lattes Summary

Overall, there are so many things you can do to create a delicious, yet budget-friendly homemade coffee or latte. While, most of these things you should already have on hand if you are a coffee drinker, a few you may want to consider purchasing. If you have all of the following tools, you are bound to have one great cup of coffee or craft latte:

  1. French Press
  2. Tea Kettle
  3. Mini Strainer
  4. Mini Whisk
  5. Good Coffee Beans
  6. Creamer
  7. Flavor Additions

Once you are armed with the right tools, you are ready to get brewing and create your own homemade coffee at a fraction of the cost.

What are some of your favorite tools for creating delicious, budget-friendly homemade coffee and lattes?


5 A.I. Programs That Aims to Make Your Homebuying Journey Easier

When its comes time to sell the family home and move on, people have a ton of options. And the good news with technology is most of those options can be narrowed down by the help of an app. For example, there’s an app that helps buyers figure out almost instantaneously what it will cost to make any improvements to the house they are considering before even making an offer. And another helps determine if the place you are looking at is in a high-risk area for floods, tornadoes or other natural disasters.

Still, housing is very much a people-to-people experience, and agents remain at the center of the transaction, no matter how much they leverage technology, says Mike Delprete, a real estate technology strategist. “Technology is an enabler, not a disruptor,” he says. “Companies which try to replace agents with technology always fail. They just don’t get the traction.” So while using these apps can be great at helping you narrow down these ‘options’ you’ll face, having an agent on your real estate team will be the most helpful tool. Here’s a quick look at some of the programs, apps, and software you should consider as a potential homebuyer:

Know Your Remodeling Estimate Before Making an Offer

In today’s market, buyers have to move fast. Otherwise, they could very well be beat out by someone else who’s ready to pull the trigger right away. But it’s tough to bid on a house that you want to remodel, perhaps upgrade the kitchen or redo the main bath, without knowing what the renovation might cost. To make matters worse, it could take days or even weeks to find a quality contractor to look over the job, and days after that to receive a bid. But you don’t have that kind of time. You have to know now, if not down to the penny, at least a ballpark idea of what the work will cost.

Read: 5 Minor Remodeling Projects That Increase Home Value

remodeling program helps homebuyersremodeling program helps homebuyers

Enter Remodel It. The New York City-based start-up removes the time and guesswork out of the equation by using advanced computer vision technology to provide instant free remodeling estimates before you ever talk to a contractor. The program’s AI allows for such factors as quality, materials room size and more based on property photos.

“Renovation and material cost information is gathered from across the country, compiled, and connected to our AI models to estimate the cost of renovation projects and help you make the most informed home purchasing decision, so you can move quickly and confidently through the home buying and renovation process,” says founder Vin Vomero.

More Quotes for Flood Protection

Speaking of floods, if you are buying a house located in a flood plain, your lender will require that you purchase flood insurance. That’s probably an added expense you hadn’t expected. But with CartoFront, which is offered only through brokers, agents and multiple listing services, you can instantly obtain flood quotes from private and public insurers.

Read: A Guide to Flooding, Home Insurance, and Waterproofing

Long Distance Move? Know the Climate Before You Go

If you’re worried about the climate where you’re looking for a new primary residence or vacation property, plug in the address of the place you are considering and will produce an extensive report telling you, among other things, the risk for storms, higher temperatures, drought, flood and fire. It will also give you an overall risk score.

Read: Moving Across the Country: Branden Harvey’s Experience

moving technology that helps homebuyersmoving technology that helps homebuyers

Short-term Residences for When Your New Home Isn’t Move-in Ready

You’ve sold your current house but the new one isn’t ready. Where do you go? If an apartment or hotel isn’t appealing, and moving in with a relative just doesn’t work, call on Tweener Homes, a property technology company that connects people who need a temporary residence with furnished single-family homes, for a short as a month to as long as a year.

Tweener’s platform is intuitive, seamless and as convenient as booking a hotel room online. It offers a certified inventory of houses that have been personally inspected. Photos and videos on the site have been are taken by the company, ownership is verified and a full background check is completed on those wishing to rent, providing a stress-free option for both tenants and owners.

Offer Self-guided Home Tours with UTour

Because of the pandemic, self-guided tours – aka unattended access – have changed the way buyers are visiting houses for sale, especially in the new home market. That way, you can view a house alone, on your time, without worrying about who else will be in the place and whether they will be wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing.

Read: A Quick Guide to Virtual Tours for Buyers and Sellers

Several programs are available that allow agents to schedule and grant access from a remote location. But UTour stands out. It works with a variety of smart locks. It works with voice technology so visitors don’t have to download anything to their phones or tablets. And it uses various data integration techniques to connect with other software applications.

Once you schedule a tour on the builder’s website, UTour sends you a digital code that allows access to the house. When your visit is complete, the software triggers a chatbot program that connects with a remote sales agent who you can tell what you liked about the house, what you didn’t and your interest in proceeding to the next step.

Lew Sichelman

Syndicated newspaper columnist, Lew Sichelman has been covering the housing market and all it entails for more than 50 years. He is an award-winning journalist who worked at two major Washington, D.C. newspapers and is a past president of the National Association of Real Estate Editors.


What To Know Before You Buy Lakefront Property

Many people dream of owning waterfront property, and for those in landlocked states — that dream is a lakefront home. And, since COVID-19 has left people to their own devices when it comes to staying home, the interest in lakefront properties has increased dramatically. In markets all across the country, lake sales have soared in the midst of the pandemic with most of the sales being vacation and second homes as more employers and schools are allowing remote and virtual work.

With the threat of another lockdown or quarantine always looming, people want a place to enjoy with space, recreation, and relaxation while confined to home. However, before you sign on that dotted line to purchase a lakefront property of your own, there are several important factors to consider.

lakefront propertylakefront property

You May Pay More In Insurance

Lakefront buyers may be surprised to learn that home insurance rates tend to be higher the closer you are to water. However, there are other factors that also impact insurance rates. Amanda Cabe, Realtor and lake expert at Drake Realty Lake Area in the Lake Sinclair and Lake Oconee area says “Homeowner’s insurance will take into consideration that it is, more than likely, a second home. It will take into consideration any watercraft, it will also take into consideration where there is water hydrant, and if the fire department is a volunteer department or run by the county.”

Read: Why You Should Buy More Than the Minimum of Homeowner’s Insurance

Tip For Buyers:

Before you make an offer, call several home insurance companies to get a specific quote on the property you’re interested in. This can avoid any surprises down the road. It can also enlighten the buyer as to items that will be of significant to home insurance companies.

You May Not Have Full Control Over Your Property

Cabe explains that lake buyers are shocked to learn that “there are rules to what you can do with your lake home.  For example, these rules can dictate if a home can have a dock or not. They can dictate what type of dock. These rules can dictate something as simple as changing boards on a dock to taking down trees along the shoreline.” While not all lakes are part of Homeowner Associations, some are subject to the rules, design, and upkeep created by an HOA, municipality, or Corp of Engineers. Cabe continues by saying that “Not all property can be built on, not everyone can have a dock, not all trees can come down at the whim of the homeowner.” From building a dock to cutting trees, many of these projects require permits and approvals on lakefront homes.

Read: Before You Move: What to Know About Homeowner Associations

Tip for Buyers:

Call the local HOA, Corp of Engineers, county, or local governing body to learn more about what permits are required, as well as what is and is not allowed on the property. Cabe explains that their local body, “will even meet with the potential homeowner to discuss their questions and concerns.” It is important that this meeting either happen before you make an offer or that your offer is contingent upon your satisfaction of the discovery period.

Some Lakefront Homes Could Be Harder To Finance

While not all lakefront homes are vacation, a large percentage are second homes. If homeowners are not present all the time, they may be aware of deferred maintenance items, failing systems, or damage from elements. If a buyer is obtaining loans like an FHA or VA, there are minimum property standards that must be met. If a home sits in a flood plain, Cabe explains that “Homes that sit on the 350-degree contour line will usually need flood insurance, these are typically flat lots and the homes are typically closer to the water.” Depending on the previous flood history with that property, it could impact financing.

Tip For Buyers:

As with any real estate purchase, it’s critical to have an in-depth conversation with your lender about the potential hurdles the lake property might have. Choosing a local lender that is familiar with lake front property financing will be critical in helping to address any problems.

What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You

Each lake area has their own rules and procedures, and it’s critical that buyers are fully informed of the rules for the property. According to Cabe, the best way to do that is to “get a local Realtor! Most agents locally know the rules and guidelines…Local agents know details about the location of the home and the water it sits on.  For example, is it shallow or deep?  Are there tree fields under the water that are impossible to navigate with a watercraft?  Can you get good internet service in the location they are looking??  Local agents typically have a boat and can show the home by water.  Local agents know the land managers, they know the area and know the rules.”

Tip For Buyers:

Research your Realtor before choosing one! It’s okay to ask if they’re local to the area, how long they’ve been selling lake real estate, and what connections do they have in the lake community. allows you to find an agent and search for your lakefront home!

Jennifer is an accidental house flipper turned Realtor and real estate investor. She is the voice behind the blog, Bachelorette Pad Flip. Over five years, Jennifer paid off $70,000 in student loan debt through real estate investing. She’s passionate about the power of real estate. She’s also passionate about southern cooking, good architecture, and thrift store treasure hunting. She calls Northwest Arkansas home with her cat Smokey, but she has a deep love affair with South Florida.


Pay Off Debt Or Save Money – Is One Better For You?

Should you pay off debt or save money?

I wish this was a super easy article where I could just give you a clear answer about whether you should pay off debt or save money, but that’s just not how personal finance works.

pay off debt or save money

pay off debt or save money

Every situation is different, and today, I’d like to go over different circumstances so you can figure out the best answer for your personal situation.

Whether you have a mortgage, student loans, a car loan, credit card debt, medical loans, or something else, you may be wondering if you should only focus on paying off your debt and how saving money fits in as well.

And, you may be stuck.

A big question when paying off debt is if that should be your sole focus. Should you still be trying to save money while paying off your debt?

Or, should all of the extra money you have be going towards your debt?

You may be wondering things such as:

  • Should I pay off debt or emergency fund first, as in set some money aside for emergencies?
  • Should I pay off debt or save up for a downpayment?
  • Should I pay off debt or save during a recession?
  • Can I pay off debt AND save money at the same time?

And so on and so on.

Paying off your debt is a great thing to think about.

However, where does saving money come in when it comes to your overall financial plan? 

This becomes the really tough decision – should you pay off debt or save money? Is It better to pay off debt or save? Should you do both at the same time? 

I am asked these questions all the time because people realize that both are very important personal finance decisions. But, everyone is going to have to make the best choice for themselves.

If you’ve read How I Paid Off $40,000 In Student Loans in 7 Months, then you know that I paid off my student loans quite quickly. In order to do this, I had to decide whether to focus on my student loans and pay off debt, or invest in my long term savings plan.

It was an incredibly tough decision to make, but I made paying off my debt my sole focus.

Deciding to pay off my debt while putting $0 towards my savings did not sit well with about 50% of my readers.

But, that’s personal finance – it’s personal!

Just because I made this choice doesn’t mean that it’s the only choice. In fact, I think that saving some would have been an equally good decision (maybe even better).

If you are asking yourself whether to pay off debt or save money, I can’t give you a definitive answer because everyone’s situation is so different. 

However, I am going to go over some common questions about this topic to help you make the smartest decision for your situation.

Content related to paying off debt or saving money:

Should you pay off debt or save money?


Are you paying the minimum payment on your debt?

In pretty much every situation, you should always pay at least the minimum balance on your debt.

So many people do not really understand what a minimum payment is, so before I talk any more about deciding to pay off debt or save money, I want to talk about this.

Here’s a basic breakdown of what minimum payments are:

  • Minimum payments are basically the smallest amount your lender will let you pay each month.
  • Making only the minimum payment leads to paying more in the long run because of interest charges.
  • While minimum payments may keep you in good standing, they can affect your overall credit score.

You should always try to pay more than the minimum payment, even as you decide to pay off debt or save money. If you do not, you will have to pay interest charges, which may inflate your credit card debt significantly each month.

Related: How Do Credit Cards Work? I Answer The Most Important Questions


Should you pay off debt or save money during a recession?

In today’s current environment, this is an important and popular topic to talk about.

While I think that you should make sure you are paying the minimum payments on your debt each month, you also want to think about the future. If you are putting a lot of money towards your debt each month but have the possibility of losing your job, then you may want to build up your emergency savings as much as you can.

If you have a stable and secure job that you don’t think would be impacted by a recession (it’s very hard to be certain about this), then you may decide to continue to pay off your debt as quickly as possible.

I have heard many people say that 2020 has taught them the importance of having a larger emergency fund. Their experiences are helping them decide whether or not to pay off debt or save money, and many are choosing to save.


Do you have an emergency fund? Should you have an emergency fund if you are in debt?

So many people wonder if they should have an emergency fund or pay off debt.

I am a big fan of emergency funds, and I think most people should have one even if they are paying off debt.

In fact, I had an emergency fund while I was paying off my debt.

Now, I know that some of you may want to fight me over this, but I had an emergency fund because you never know when something unexpected will happen. It’s just that simple.

I recommend having an emergency fund of at least $1,000 while you’re paying off debt – it doesn’t need to be the full six months (or whatever number) of expenses. $1,000 is still a small cushion to help you in case of an emergency.

After that amount, you need to determine what you are comfortable with.

Having an emergency fund protects you from taking on more debt, and it will help you continue making your debt payments if something happens.

What if you had a medical emergency, immediate home or car repair, and more?

Having $1,000 in your emergency fund versus $0 can make all the difference if something comes up. You will be less likely to add to your debt if you have money set aside specifically for emergency expenses.

Without an emergency fund, you may add to your debt, and it will possibly be at a higher interest rate because you may have to use a credit card. This can turn into a disastrous situation. 

You have been working so hard to get out of debt, and an emergency fund can help you stay on track.

Also, even if you can only manage $100 to $500 right now, that is better than nothing. It may not cover the entire cost of your emergency, but it will help you a little bit. 

Note: On top of an emergency fund, I also recommend having an emergency binder. I recommend checking out the In Case of Emergency Binder to help you with creating your own emergency binder. This is a 100+ page fillable PDF workbook. There are 14 sections that go over key personal documents, household information, medical information, insurance policies, and more.


Should you use your credit card as an emergency fund?

You may be thinking “Well, I can just pay off my debt and not save for an emergency fund, and if something comes up, I’ll just use my credit card.”

Before you do this, I want you to fully think about it.

There’s a growing number of people who are looking to their credit card as their emergency fund. Some are doing it by choice, and others are forced to use their credit card when an emergency comes up because they do not have enough money saved.

This is something that scares me. While credit cards may work for some, I believe that a more traditional emergency savings fund is a better solution for the average person.

If your situation is quite risky, then using a credit card for your emergency fund may be a bad idea. This is because there is a greater chance of racking up credit card debt and being unable to pay it off whenever an emergency arises.

You are taking on a lot of risk if you are relying entirely on a credit card emergency fund.

You never know if something may come up, how big the expense may be, and whether or not you will have a large enough credit limit to fund the expense.

Plus, the interest rate on your credit card may hover somewhere near 20% or more, which makes for an expensive bill if you are unable to pay your credit card balance before interest accrues.

There are situations where using a credit card for your emergency savings fund may not be a completely bad idea. If you know that you can pay off a large expense within one month, then using your credit card as an emergency fund may not be a bad idea, but you still need to be careful before adding any debt.

See, the problem with this thinking is what happens if you lose your job? Many people have emergency funds so that they can support themselves if they were to lose their job. What would happen if you relied on credit cards but lost your main source of income?

This could lead to a lot of credit card debt.

My problem with using credit cards as your sole source for an emergency fund is that, in some situations, it may lead to more debt. Sure, some people can use their credit cards to their advantage, but the average person most likely needs a real emergency fund that they can count on.

My point here is to be honest with yourself so that you can prevent yourself from adding any debt and being in an even worse situation.


How fast do you want to get rid of your debt?

How quickly you want to pay off your debt will play a big role in your decision to pay off debt or save money. People who want to quickly get rid of their debt will most likely want it to be their sole focus.

Here’s what I did when I decided to pay off my $40,000 student loan debt in 7 months:

  1. I saved up a few months of expenses in an emergency fund. Since my student loans were at a 0% interest rate while I was in school, I saved money in an emergency fund just in case I needed it.
  2. Once my student loans came due, I decided to knock them out as quickly as I could.
  3. I then started putting 100% of what I could towards debt. Towards the end, I used a portion of my emergency fund to pay off my student loan debt.

Like I keep saying, my decision isn’t perfect for everyone. This is simply what I did.

I chose this option because I wanted my student loans to be completely gone as quickly as possible.

That huge monthly payment felt like such a big weight hanging over my head, and I wanted to stop worrying about it.

If you hate debt as much as I hated my student loans, then this may be the option for you as well.

Some people, like myself, get stressed out by debt, or certain types of debt, which can impact other areas of their lives. 

If having debt is leading to extra stress, which can lead to health issues, impact your relationships, work, etc., then focusing as much energy as possible on debt repayment might be the best option for you.

Eliminating means you are then free to focus on other areas of your financial situation, such as saving money for your future. 

Solely deciding to pay off debt or save money is almost like choosing to single-task versus multitask. You put all of your energy into one thing so you can focus on doing it efficiently and well, and once you are finished with that, you can put all of your energy into your next goal.


What’s the interest rate on your debt?

Now, there’s a chance that you may not really mind debt. Debt doesn’t have to be the end of the world, and many people are able to use debt to their advantage.

That might sound crazy, but it can be done!

If you have a low interest rate, then this may be something that you are thinking about – saving more money instead of throwing everything towards your debt.

I still remember my finance and economics professor in college talking to me about his student loans. He wasn’t worried about paying them off quickly because the interest rates were 2% or less. Instead, he put as much money towards investing because he figured he could beat his interest rate by investing in the stock market and in other areas of his life.

However, if your interest rate is high, then you may want to quickly pay off your debt.

For example, credit cards often have interest rates around 20%. There are also high interest rate student loans (like private student loans), high interest rate car loans, crazy expensive leases (such as on furniture), and more. 

These are the types of debt that you will really want to focus on because as that interest adds up, you ended up paying exponentially more in the long run.

The higher the interest rate, the more you should think about quickly paying off those debts. Interest on those debts is just going to keep piling up until it just seems so unmanageable, and this can make your long term savings and investing goals seem impossible to reach.

My personal thought on whether to pay off debt or save money in this situation is that if your interest rate is around 6-8% or higher, then you may want to think about paying off that debt a little quicker so that the interest charges don’t build up too much.


Do you get a company match on your retirement savings?

If your company provides a 401(k) match, then this is a benefit that you will most likely want to accept as you decide to pay off debt or save money and invest for retirement. 

If your company matches your 401(k) contribution, they are giving you money, for free. Even if you add a little in, you can still take advantage of their contribution.

If you don’t take it, then you are leaving a valuable benefit on the table, one that you have earned by working. It’s not like you would just let the company keep a paycheck of yours, and you can treat a company match similarly!

Should I pay off debt or save for a house deposit?

Because mortgage interest rates are so low right now, I’ve been hearing a lot of people talk about wanting to take advantage of those low rates and buy a house. For many, this means they will have to decide if they want to pay off debt or save money for a down payment.

The amount of money you have for a downpayment means you can take out a smaller loan and get a better interest rate, but having too much debt means you might not get the loan in the first place. And, because debt can negatively affect your credit score, you may end up with a higher mortgage rate.

You may want to play around with a mortgage interest rate calculator (there are lots of free ones online) and see how what you pay over the course of your mortgage will change with different interest rates and down payment amounts. 

Then, you will have to think about the kind of debt you have. Remember, high interest rate debt can cost you much more in the long run if you are only paying the minimum amount due each month.

Determining if you should pay off debt or save for house isn’t something you should take lightly, and there are lots of factors to consider, especially if you already have a lot of debt.


Should you pay off a mortgage quickly or not?

Recently, I had a great guest post here on Making Sense of Cents about a reader who was wondering if they should pay off their mortgage quickly or not. They were wondering if they should use savings to pay off debt.

You can read the full article here: Should we pay off our mortgage quickly or not?

I wanted to share their thought process in this article, though, as it is so relatable and applicable.

Here’s a quick summary of their pros and cons.

Pros to paying off a mortgage quickly:

  • They’d free up cash flow that would otherwise be used to make a mortgage payment each month.
  • They’d be debt free. For life. From all debts. Forever.
  • It feels good. They’d achieve peace if they paid off the mortgage ahead of time, especially before retirement.
  • They’d have the mortgage paid off before their kids headed off to college.
  • The interest they’d save! They would save thousands upon thousands of dollars in interest if they worked diligently to pay it off.

Cons to paying off a mortgage quickly:

  • Lots of cash would be tied up in the house – a non-liquid asset.
  • Their interest rate is low – and the annualized return for the S&P 500 is roughly 10% over the last 90 years. They’d be missing out on higher returns if all of their efforts were put into paying off their house.
  • They’d no longer be eligible for a mortgage interest tax deduction.

 As you can tell, there is a lot to think about!

Do you have a pros and cons list?

The last question leads to the next thing that I think is important when deciding to pay off debt or save money – make a pros and cons list for why you may want to solely focus on paying off debt and what it means for YOU.

Remember, everyone’s pros and cons list will be personal, so I recommend sitting down, grabbing a pen and paper, and actually writing it out.

This will make it feel much more real, and you’ll be able to get your thoughts out and on paper.


How to pay off debt and save money at the same time.

Deciding only to pay off debt or save money doesn’t have to be the only option – you can do both at the same time.

It may take more work, but it can be well worth it to pay off debt and save money at the same time.

Here are some ways to both pay off debt and save money at the same time:

  • Make a budget.
  • Use your tax refund. If you receive a tax refund, you may want to split this between your debt as well as save some of it.
  • Set aside a certain amount out of each paycheck. You can set aside a certain amount of each paycheck to put towards your debt, and a separate amount for your savings.
  • Find ways to make extra money – Here are over 100 different ways to make extra money
  • Start a savings challenge – The $20 Savings Challenge is a great way to easily save $1,040 this year without noticing! All you have to do is save $20 each week for a year, and then you’ll easily have $1,040. If you start this now and do it just until the holidays, you will have a nice chunk of change as well! You can get the free printable here.
  • Use a micro-savings app like Qapital – You can set triggers for saving, like when you post a status update to Facebook, when the space station flies over your house, etc. You can also set automatic deposits, do round-ups, and more.
  • Cut your expenses and split the difference between paying off debt and savings.
  • Pay yourself first.

And the list goes on and on!

Again, deciding to pay off debt or save money isn’t your only option!


Don’t be too hard on yourself.

While I realize that choosing to pay off debt or save money can be an incredibly hard decision to make, you should remember that both are good things to focus on.

Both deciding to pay off debt or save money will bring you closer to achieving your financial goals, and the fact that you are doing one or the other means you are making a positive decision for your future.

This is really important when deciding which to focus on – both choices are good. 

If you are just absolutely stuck and still asking, “Should I save or pay off debt?” then you may want to put half towards your debt and half towards your investments, so that you can move on with life and spend more time improving your finances in other areas.

Also, remember that you can always change your decision and do something different later! If you find that something isn’t working, you can make changes.

Lastly, remember that personal finance is personal. What may have been a great decision for one person doesn’t mean it will always be the best choice for you. You will want to weigh your options and see what is best for your specific situation.

What would be your choice? Should you pay off debt or save money? A healthy balance of the two?

Related Posts



18 Debt Free Stories That Will Inspire You

I love a good debt free story! If you are interested in learning how to pay off debt, the 18 stories I’m about to share will teach, motivate, and inspire you.

debt free story

debt free storyWhen I was paying off my $40,000 student loan debt in 7 months, I spent a lot of time online reading how other people paid off their debt.

Because I wanted to pay off my debt as quickly as possible, I knew I needed some extra motivation.

Finding a good debt free story would give me the boost of energy I needed to keep working on my side hustles, finding new ways to save, and put all of my extra money towards debt. 

I also learned so many great tips and tricks to help me pay off my debt that I wouldn’t have learned about otherwise. Not all of the tips I read about worked for me, but some did.

By reading other people’s debt payoff stories and learning how to become debt free, I believe that you can find motivation to pay off your own debt.

You can learn new approaches to paying off debt. And, you will realize that paying off your debt is possible.

You may find one or two stories of becoming debt free in this article that really click with you – maybe the person was in a similar situation as you, had more debt than you, etc. Finding a debt free story that inspires you can be truly motivating.

One of the things I also like reading about in these stories is how paying off debt changed the person’s life for the better. 

And, learning how to become debt free can lead to many positives, such as:

  • You may finally feel less financial stress.
  • You can stop living paycheck to paycheck.
  • You may be able to use that money towards something more important, like saving for retirement.
  • Reaching debt freedom may allow you to pursue other goals in life, such as traveling more or looking for a better job.

In today’s article, I am sharing 18 interviews and guest posts I did with people who share their debt free story. You’ll learn how much debt they had, how long it took to pay off, and what they did to make it possible.

While some of their debt payoff strategies may seem crazy or impossible to you, they show that paying off debt is possible.

But, don’t get discouraged if it takes you longer than what you read about in these stories. It isn’t about comparing yourself to others, and everyone has to start somewhere. Even if you can only pay off a fraction of what the people below are able to do or if it takes you twice as long, you are still doing something to improve your life.


Below are 18 great debt free stories to motivate you.


1. How Amanda paid off $133,763 in debt in 43 months

Amanda paid off $133,763 in debt in 43 months.

In this debt free story, you’ll learn:

  • How Amanda got into debt.
  • Why she decided to get out of debt fast.
  • The expenses she cut so that she could pay off her debt quickly.
  • What she thinks about the cash envelope method.
  • The sacrifices she made to reach her goal.
  • What she did to stay motivated.

Read more at How Amanda Paid Off $133,763 In Debt in 43 Months.


2. How we paid off $266,329.01 in 33 months

Lauren Mochizuki is an ER nurse, wife, and mother. She and her husband paid off $266,329.01 in 33 months.

Here’s the basic gist of who Lauren was before she got serious about paying off her debt:

“Female, age 25, nurse, recently married, living her life with no regard to finances. Frequently dines out, goes to concerts, travels to foreign countries, never volunteers to work any extra shifts, lives beyond her means. Purchased a brand new Subaru Forester, husband also purchased a brand new car, lives in an 1,100 square foot condo. Total debt owed: $266,329.01.”

Read more at How We Paid off $266,329.01 in 33 Months.


3. How I’ve paid off $29,000 in debt by living in a van

Sarah paid off $29,000 in debt by living in a van full-time. I love this debt free story because I am just like Sarah – love traveling but hate moving! She was able to combine those things and pay off debt.

“Why am I living in a van? As a traveling healthcare professional, I typically work contracts at healthcare facilities for 13 weeks at a time. The decision to downsize was initially derived from my inherent laziness. You see, I love traveling but loathe moving. The thought of having to do less work each time I moved was highly motivating. My first three years (before Vanny), I would pay for short-term furnished housing which was very expensive. Most of the time I found the housing myself and it cost anywhere from $1600-2900 a month. I could think of so many better ways to spend my money so I quickly began brainstorming alternate options. The revolution of tiny house/home living that I had been reading about had me very intrigued.”

Read more at How I’ve Paid Off $29,000 In Debt By Living In a Van.


4. How our family of 5 went from house poor to debt free in 3 years

Do you feel like you are house poor? Here’s a great post from Renee on how her and her family went from being house poor to debt free in just 3 years.

Here’s a quick snapshot of her debt free story:

“Three years ago my marriage was on the rocks, I felt aimless in my career, our family life was messy, and we were officially smack dab in the middle of being crazy house poor. We got to a point where we knew it was either cut our losses and walk away from our marriage, or take a hit and sell the house that was breaking us.”

Read more at How Our Family of 5 Went from House Poor to Debt Free in 3 Years.


5. How I repaid $65,000 in student loans and invested at the same time

Do you want to pay off debt but also invest at the same time? Here’s a great debt payoff story that shows exactly how this is possible. I get a lot of questions about whether or not you should pay off debt or save/invest, and this story proves you can do both.

Read more at How I Repaid $65,000 In Student Loans and Invested at the Same Time.


6. How we visited 8 new countries in 2 years – while also paying off $58,000 in student debt

This couple paid off $58,000 in student loan debt, all while traveling! This is an incredible debt free story that you will want to read if you love traveling too. 

“My husband and I got to explore eight new countries together and still pay off $58,000 in student loans. It was hard work at times but it also inspired an even greater love for traveling and gave us the financial freedom to pursue freelance careers. Now I move to a new city almost every month and that dream of full-time travel that I had as a child has become a reality.”

Read more at How We Visited 8 New Countries in 2 Years – While Also Paying Off 58k in Student Debt.


7. How we paid off $100,000 of debt on a single income

This is the story of how Sarah paid off $100,000 of debt on a single income. Sarah was a  stay-at-home mom, and she got very serious about budgeting to become debt free.

Here’s a quick snapshot of this debt free story:

“We outlined a strategy to budget by paycheck using a zero-based budget, and I created a budget binder to help us track our finances. This strategy helped us pay off $100,000 in 4 years on a single income while growing our family (and we’re NOT rich!).”

Read more at How We Paid Off $100,000 of Debt on a Single Income.


8. How I paid off $30,000 of student loans in 2 years by paying the minimum balance

Alyssa Hunt paid off $30,000 in student loans in 2 years, all while simply just paying the minimum balance. I know that might seem like the complete opposite of how she would pay off her debt so quickly, but you’ll learn how it worked in Alyssa’s debt free story.

Here’s a quick snapshot:

“I owe my success to two major decisions:

  1. The decision not to consolidate my loans.
  2. The decision to pay only the monthly minimum.

The reason I chose not to consolidate my loans into 1 giant loan was because I chose to focus on paying off one loan at a time.”

Read more at How I Paid Off $30,000 of Student Loans in 2 Years by Paying the Minimum Balance.


9. How (and why) we paid off $34,000 of debt in our first six months of marriage

This is a great debt free story from Zach Buchenau. He is a reader of Making Sense of Cents and shares how he and his wife paid off $34,000 in debt in the first six months of their marriage.

Read more at How (And Why) We Paid Off $34,000 Of Debt In Our First Six Months Of Marriage.


10. How this family moved to the “hood” and paid off $120,000 in debt

Aja McClanahan made big sacrifices to pay off $120,000 in debt!

In this interview, you’ll learn:

  • How she got out of debt.
  • How she kept up with her debt paying discipline.
  • The sacrifices she made to get out of debt.
  • Her tips for paying off debt when you feel like you have no money.
  • How she increased her income so that she could pay off debt.
  • What she would do differently, and more!

In her article, Hood Rich – How Living in the Hood Saved Our Finances, she says “We live in ‘Da ‘Hood.’ Corner stores, kids out late at night, gunshots, alley mechanics and all the glory of what the ‘hood life entails. Yes, this is where our home is located. A home on the next block is selling for $2,500.”

Read more at How This Family Moved To The “Hood” and Paid Off $120,000 in Debt.


11. How we paid off $100,000 in debt in 40 months: Marriage and the military

Nolan Martin is a military officer who successfully paid off $100,000 in debt in just 40 months.

“We were incredibly anxious to get our lives started together. Fresh out of college and new to the military life, I convinced my wife, Erin, to marry me. Like most new couples, we both entered the relationship with plenty of debt on both sides. I was fortunate enough to receive a ‘career starter’ loan of $35,000. Erin represented the ‘normal’ in America with over $40,000 in student loans. Then of course came the things you have to buy in a new marriage: the car, the house, and the puppies. On February 1st, 2012, we had accumulated over $100,000 in debt.”

Read more at How We Paid Off $100,000 in Debt in 40 Months: Marriage and the Military.


12. This couple paid off $62,000 in debt in just 7 months

James and his wife paid off $62,000 in debt in just seven months! Their debt free story involves turning a profit on their wedding, combining their finances, and paying off $62,000 of debt in seven months. Their lives changed drastically once they learned how to become debt free.

Here’s a quick summary of how they got into debt:

“I was 22 years old, only four months into my Army career, and had racked up over ~$115,000 in debt. All I had to show for it was a fancy diploma, a 3-year-old Mazda, and $1,100+/month in debt payments.”

Read more at How My Wife and I Paid Off $62,000 in Debt in 7 Months.


13. How this couple paid off $10,000 in 10 weeks

Cassie paid off $10,000 in debt in 10 weeks and shows you how to make this a reality too.

Here’s a quick summary of her debt freedom story:

“While we knew we had student debt, we had always assumed that we would simply pay the minimum until it was gone and that would be that. What did we find when we did the math? It turns out that my wife and I owe a grand total of almost $200,000 in debt (OUCH!). Even worse? The minimum payments don’t even begin to cover the interest which means that no matter how many payments we make, we will never escape from this debt’s grasp.”

Read more at How We Paid Off Almost $10,000 in 10 Weeks.


14. How I paid off over $100,000 in debt with the help of eBay and garage sales

This is a great debt free story about how side hustling can completely change your life.

Here’s a quick summary:

“To date, we have completely paid off $96,500 in student loans, our $15,000 wedding, $5,000 in credit card debt, a $6,500 car, and over half of our mortgage – $76,600 and counting! No, we didn’t receive an inheritance or win the lottery. Our secret? An extremely frugal lifestyle supplemented by re-selling second hand items on eBay. The second hand items come from the weekly garage sales, estate sales, and auctions that we attend.”

Read more at How I Paid Off Over $100,000 in Debt With the Help of eBay and Garage Sales.


15. How this couple paid off $204,971.31 in debt

Claudia and Garrett paid off a crazy amount of debt and are now living debt free!

They sold their 1,500 square foot house, downsized to a 500 square foot home, sold 80% of their belongings, side hustled like crazy, and were able to pay off $204,971.31 in debt.

Yes, they paid off over $200,000 in debt!

Please head to How This Couple Paid off $204,971.31 in Debt to read the whole debt free story.


16. How we paid off $195,000 in debt in 18 months

Sami and Dallas started their debt free journey in January of 2016, and by July 28, 2017, they were debt free! They paid off $195,000 of debt and have a great story to share.

In this interview, you’ll learn:

  • How they got into debt.
  • Why they decided to pay it all off.
  • How they managed to pay it off in just 18 months.
  • Why they decided to pay off their debt instead of primarily investing.
  • Their tips for others to pay off debt.
  • How their debt payoff story is different from others.
  • The financial goal they are working on now.

And more!

Read more at  How We Paid Off $195,000 in Debt in 18 Months!


17. How I paid off my $400,000 mortgage in 7.5 years and before I was 32

Rob has an incredible debt free story. He was able to pay off his $400,000 mortgage in just 7.5 years, all before he was 32 years old.

“I was one of those weird kids that couldn’t wait to graduate from college. I’ve always had a long-term focus and viewed college as a stepping stone. One day during my freshman year, I remember walking to class with a friend saying that I couldn’t wait to graduate and start making some money. My friend turned to me with an incredulous look and confessed he planned to live it up while he could. Needless to say, I probably didn’t enjoy college as much as others did.”

Read more at How I Paid Off My $400,000 Mortgage In 7.5 Years, Before I Was 32.


18. How I paid off $40,000 in student loans in 7 months

Okay, this story is my own, but I’m still very proud of it 🙂 Here’s how I paid off my student loan debt.

When I graduated with my Finance MBA, I had around $40,000 in student loan debt, which included debt from my undergraduate degrees as well. I was able to pay it all off in just seven months because I was able to find ways to make extra money!

Read more at How I Paid Off $40,000 In Student Loans in 7 Months.

I hope you enjoyed each debt free story. Many of these drowning in debt stories can help introduce you to new ideas to save money.

Do you want to learn how to become debt free? How far away are you from debt freedom? 

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