How did you acquire $109,000 in debt?
We were simply naive about money and budgets for a number of years. We continued to overspend, using credit cards to coverage shortages of cash. We used the philosophy of if we could manage the monthly minimal payment of the card we could afford it.
I wish I could tell you what the debt was, we were so unorganized I really don’t know what it was made up of. We vacationed on credit and without a vacation budget, we ate out on credit, and we even consolidated a few times rolling a new car payment in a larger loan at one point.
What did it feel like to have that much debt?
It was stressful. There were disagreements within the family and we were always looking for the next raise to fix our problems.
How long did it take you to pay it all off?
It took 50 months. We averaged a $2,180 per month toward our debt snowball payment.
What resources did you use to help you through this process?
I read as many personal finance books and blogs as I could, and I listened to podcasts as well. Dave Ramsey’s book “Total Money Makeover” was the first book I read and it was such an eye opener and motivator for our family.
Did you face any challenges along the way?
Yes. My wife was out of work for over a year due to a car accident, she is back to work and healthy today. We also had murphy come visit us a number of times, but during the 50 months we learn to adapt and continue to focus on debt repayment. We stayed motivated each and every day by keeping the end goal of being debt free in mind.
How did this affect your marriage?
Before we decided to begin our debt free journey it was a wedge, but after it has strengthened our marriage and family life in general. We have involved our 3 children in our budget discussions and are teaching them to learn from our past money mistakes. Our kids are even learning how to make their own money.
What were you doing for a living while you were paying off the debt?
I’ve been with the same company for close to 20 years. I work in the information technology field. My wife returned to work to help increase our income and works in the retail field.
How did it feel once you paid it all off?
Amazing! It’s an exciting time to be able to look at our budget and have a surplus of over $2k per month now. There is a lot of activity around building wealth now!
What practical tips do you have for people looking to pay off their debt?
There is really no secret to personal finance: its basic common sense. You need to have a plan for your money. If you spend less then you make you can be successful, but no matter how much debt you have you need to start to taking control of it today, don’t wait a single day more. You will look back once you are debt free and wish you stared sooner. I know I did.
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If you want to read more about Brian and his family’s journey from deep in debt to building wealth, you can find him blogging over at Debt Discipline.
Note: This is part of a series called “Debt Success Stories” which features people who were able to pay off a significant amount of debt. If you have a Debt Success Story I would love to hear about it. Please visit the contact page to let me know the details.