#30K to $0: How We Became Debt-Free in One Year – Small Notebook
We re debt-free, but we didn t begin our marriage this way.
Since this is our story, I asked Doug to write it with me. I ll share how we did it, but I don t intend for this to be a do these easy steps and you ll get these results too type of article. I just hope that someone will be encouraged by this story.
Rachel: We were about to get married, and the day came for us to open the books. I knew Doug had some debt, but I wasn t sure how much it was. We needed to discuss our finances openly together. It turned out to be a really hard day.
Doug: Right before we got married, we had a financial meeting. I found out I had a lot of debt, and that Rachel had lived without debt. It made me feel really bad. I felt like I was bringing a burden into our relationship. I knew as our relationship went on, the debt would become even more of a burden. That day I knew we needed a plan to get out of debt.
Rachel: When he added up the debt, it was more than $30,000: $14,000 owed on his car, $16,000 in student loans, and possibly $2,000 in credit card debt. It was greater than all of my savings, and I knew that when we got married, the debt would become mine. I was ok with that. I felt encouraged that it was mainly from student loans, and that he wasn t adding to it by overspending.
I wanted to be unified in the way we handled our finances, and be debt-free.
Doug: We had such different ways of handling finances. I had paid no attention to mine, but Rachel was in control of hers. When we compared our two financial situations and I saw them side by side, there wasn t a middle ground. It became clear to me that I wanted to change how I had been doing it. I wanted to be unified in the way we handled our finances, and be debt-free.
Rachel: One challenge was I had made a career change to an entry-level job in a new field. I was only earning half of what I had earned at my previous job. Somehow, that didn t slow us down. Every extra bit of money that we earned was sent to pay off the debt. We watched the balance go down month after month.
Doug: It was hard at first to take what seemed like Rachel s money and pay off my debt, but I just kept thinking about how even our money is married. Money is a huge part of a marriage relationship. Every couple has to get together on it or else it could be a big problem. So we did.
Doug: The day I graduated from high school I received student loans, so I had been in debt my entire adult life. I was 33 years old, so it had been 15 years. I didn t even consider it, because it was always there. By the time I was 34, the debt was gone. We hammered it it was awesome. I was proud of myself. I felt manly. I felt free. Fortunate to have Rachel. Now I know that having money under control leads to having a lot of other things in life under control too.
Rachel: I m honestly surprised by how quickly the debt was paid off. I m so thankful, just really thankful. I know that tackling it early in our relationship helped, because we didn t have as many responsibilities at the time. It became a foundation for our finances how we make decisions and work together on it. Doug worked really hard, he still does all the time. And that s the story.