4 Drastic Steps We Took to Pay Off $22,000 in Debt

How one Couple Cleared $22,000 Debt

Guest post from Laura

My husband and I finally woke up, smelled the coffee, and hustled out of debt. We could not believe how much money we were wasting every month because of interest. It was time to change.

Picture that couple that everyone knows is great with their money. They have this impenetrable compass that always steers them to financial safety.

Well, that wasn’t us.

When we got married, we ate Hot N’ Ready pizzas and went to the movies. Regularly. We dropped everything the minute someone mentioned eating out. In fact, the minute they said, “I’m hungry” we locked eyes on them and waited, with bated breath.

Newlyweds. Sheesh.

I’m painting a bleak picture because you need to see that we didn’t have all the answers when we got out of debt. We’re still not pros, but we learned some stuff that changed the game for us.

You can too.

Image of $100 bills, a plant and text reads 4 Drastic Steps We Took to Pay Off $22,000 in Debt

From $22,000 Debt to Debt Free

In 2011, we got married with $22,000 in debt. It makes me sick to look back and see how much we wasted and the fact we started out married life that way. Once we got married, we got serious about our finances.

We wanted to have money for emergencies, be debt free and eventually, financially free.

How We Cleared Debt

These 3 steps made the biggest difference for us and enabled us to clear our debt. It might seem drastic but it was for a short period and helped us get ahead. It’s up to you how you clear your debt.

Reduced All Our Expenses

Every bill we have was analyzed and compared to see if we could get a better rate. Where a cheaper rate wasn’t available, we contemplated if we truly needed the service. As soon as we saved money on any bill such as insurance or electricity, we transferred the savings to our debt.

Side Gigs

I got started with freelance writing, we sold things and basically looked for any opportunity to make money. Doing this, we put all extra money straight onto our debt. Check out how to make $1,000 with freelance writing for tips.

Waited to Buy Things

As much as we wanted to buy a house and $22,000 would have been a great down payment, we knew we needed to clear this first and within 2 years. By focusing on clearing the debt, we had more money when it came time to buy a house. Plus, if we could clear the debt in 2 years we knew we could save that and possibly more in 2 years to buy a house.

Learned to Say No

As mentioned, we loved eating out. Going from being a couple who always said yes to always saying no was a huge change for us and our group of friends. We managed to get a few switch to doing dinner parties at home, picnics and similar. Those who didn’t understand why we were trying to clear our debt were tricker.

However, we knew the life we wanted and were on the same page as each other for our financial future. Our relationship and future was more important to us than impressing a few friends.

This is the best part.

We paid our last debt in November of 2012.  It was two months before our daughter was born.

There is nothing I would change, not one thing, to give up how it felt to bring our baby into a debt-free home.  

I wish that feeling for you.

And guess what? Today we have more flexiblity. We own our home, have fun but have remained debt free except our mortgage.

When you are intentional with your money long enough, awesomeness follows.

Stay the course.

You’ve worked too hard to hand over your paycheck to someone else.

ACTION STEP:  List 5 things that you could TEMPORARILY stop or reduce to pay off debt.  For example, cable, magazine subscriptions, manicures, online shopping, etc.

Join the conversation:  What’s one way you’ve sliced away at your debt?

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10 thoughts on “4 Drastic Steps We Took to Pay Off $22,000 in Debt

    • Areself – Yep Financial Peace University was a game changer for us. I even teach it now because I believe in the message so strongly. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

  1. Great post, thanks for sharing! I just added your page to my feedly blog reader and am looking forward to following along!

  2. This is a great post! I really like that you included an action step at the end. 🙂

    To pay off our debt as quick as possible, we have put a lot of things on hold, but what has made the biggest dent is when we’ve brought in extra income. We are a single income family so when my husband has an opportunity to work overtime, he jumps on it. We have made great progress by selling things. We have sold a car, a workout gym, a laptop, a Kindle, iPhones, furniture, and anything else that we don’t need, use, or love. We’re focused on paying off our debt as quickly as possible!

    • Those are great tips, Monica. Your income is such a powerful tool – I never knew that when I was single and working full time. Doh. But you guys get it and I can see that you’re benefiting from it. Kudos.

  3. This is a great article, you need to get a hold of your finances so they do not hold you.

    My wife and I spend a couple of years getting out of debt, the Dave Ramsey way (i.e. make a budget, cut costs, make every penny SCREAM) and I can tell you after 10 years of debt freedom it is great.

    • Brian, I like how worded that – “make every penny SCREAM”. Ten years of being debt free is phenomenal! Seems like a lot of people are nowhere close or just now getting out. How much did you pay off?

  4. We paid off about 40K total (student loans, car, unsecured loan). Unlike most we were not buried in credit card debt. Both my wife and I rarely use credit cards, both then and now.

    What really kicked our butts in gear was wanting to buy a bigger house and going from dual to single income family. We used Dave’s method but use the budget template from Crown Financial. (http://www.crown.org/Portals/0/docs/downloads/PGI01%28FamilyofFour%29.pdf) The budget percentages seemed impossible but really were a HUGE wake up call for how much we should be spending on cars, entertainment, etc.

    • I took Crown in high school – lots of great stuff there. So glad it worked out for you both. I love hearing about people who are financially pretty solid, then they take FPU or Crown. Their behavior is already disciplined, so they just thrive!