Confession: I started writing this post on June 22, 2018. THAT’S how motivated I was to finish this thing.
This is it. This is our debt free scream! We are officially consumer debt free!!!
Here’s a little recap, written as if we were live with Dave Ramsey:
Our names: Taylor + Jona
And where do you live? Troy, NY
Total amount of debt paid off: $89,075.45!
And how long did it take to pay off? 15 months and 13 days!!!
What was your range of income? We started at $90k and ended up at $127,000ish
Woah! That’s an average of $5,567 a month, did you sell something? We did not – but we did drain our savings down to $1,000 (we had about $15k in savings, so with that amount deducted, that’s still about $4,630 a month paid toward debt) and Jona did get a new job one month into the process.
What do you do for a living? Taylor does graphic and web design for a local property management company and Jona is a manager of administration and finance for a local non-profit. Taylor took on an extra freelance job as a side hustle and Jona worked Saturdays at a local jewelry shop, volunteered for market research, Young Living – IWOW = I WORK ON WEEKENDS!
What kind of debt did this include? $6k was Jona’s old credit card, $10k was Taylor’s car and the remaining amount were Taylor’s student loans. We were pretty normal!
So what happened 16 months ago to get you started on this journey? Jona – Well, prior to getting married in February 2017 I knew Taylor had a massive amount of student loan debt and fully accepted that he’d be paying them off for at least another 15-20 years. But once we were married, we combined bank accounts and while it did take a couple of months to see and get use to each other’s spending habits, I knew we could do more. I had used the Dave-ish program to pay off my student loans prior to my 30th birthday (ish because I was still racking up credit card debt), so I wanted to see how fast we could pay off Taylor’s loans. I checked out and read The Total Money Makeover from the library and was instantly hooked! We were ALL in! I remember in August 2017 putting everything into spreadsheets and guessing we’d be debt free within 5 years; April 2022 was our initial goal. We made our first household budget for September and never looked back.
Taylor, did you think Jona had lost her mind? Nope. I was on board to get rid of those loans.
What do you think is the key to getting out of debt? Jona – sticking to the budget! Creating a budget was the easy part (I’m the nerd with the excel spreadsheets), but sticking to it was the hard part. We said no a lot over the last 16 months but we did sneak some fun into the budget to keep us both sane. We’re looking forward to “loosening the reins” a little as we progress through the remaining baby steps but we’re officially convinced that budgets work, so we’ll continue to make one each month for the rest of our lives.
Taylor – I feel the same way, that’s all it really is, sticking to your plan.
Did you have any naysayers or more cheerleaders? Jona – We definitely had a little bit of both. I was very open on social media each month about how much was paid and how it was done, which seemed to inspire many but I also received plenty of push back about our methods. I had to remind myself that their opposing opinions had zero impact on our success. But the good far outweighed the bad: I gained a couple of amazing supporters throughout this process. I taught FPU twice over the last 16 months and have made new friends who understand how hard this journey can be. And I’ve reconnected with others via social media who have started this journey after seeing our success and I have to tell you, receiving their random text messages with their wins is one of the best feelings ever.
Taylor – Cheerleaders.
Who was your biggest cheerleader? Taylor – my parents. Jona – I mean, I know my family supported us but I don’t think they fully understood the sacrifices we made, why I just wouldn’t spend money on myself. Yes, I knew we were working hard and “deserved” a dinner out, but I think that’s what gets a lot of people into this mess; we oftentimes think we deserve a reward when really, you’re just doing what should be done in the first place. My biggest supporter was someone I reconnected with thanks to social media, shout out to Rhi! She started this journey with her husband about 9 months before us, unbeknownst to me, and fully understands the process. I cannot wait to hear their debt free scream next month – they are so so close!
Next chapter in our story: Jona – to become millionaires and that’ll be easy now that we only have our monthly mortgage payment! We know this will take a couple of years (okay, my goal is to be a millionaire by the time I’m 40!) and will continue to progress through the baby steps as follows:
Baby Step 1: save $1,000 cash Baby Step 2: pay off all consumer debt
- Baby Step 3: save for a fully funded emergency fund, cash (my goal is $25,000 because doesn’t that sound bangin’?!)
- Baby Step 4: invest 15% of our annual income for retirement – this happens for the remainder of our working careers!
- Baby Step 5: save for college (no kids, skip!)
- Baby Step 6: pay off our mortgage!
- Baby Step 7: live and give like no one else! *We’ll be giving 5-10% of our annual income once we officially reach BS4
Added as if we weren’t on the show: you should have ZERO shame about wanting to become successful with your money. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being prepared for emergencies – because they WILL happen, saving for your future – because you will grow old and need assistance, living how you wish – because you are spending so much of your lifetime working and earning money, might as well learn how to maximize it’s benefits and living the life you’ve always dreamed of living. Yes, money does NOT bring happiness, this I know, but it does bring freedom.
WE’RE DEBT FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!! (You can actually hear our live #debtfreescream on my IG account – edited to say: we did our debt free scream live on IG but didn’t think to save it, boo. If you’re tech savvy and know how to access this video, please please please let me know.)