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Debt Free Story Kaleb’s $110,000 Debt Journey

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Being in debt can be overwhelming. Especially when all your hard earned money flies right out your hands as soon as you get paid. It’s bad enough that you may be swamped in bills, interest rates tacks on even more money to your bills. Sometimes there just seems to be no end in sight. That’s why it’s time to get serious about your money and take control. Start your own debt free journey like Kaleb has with $110,000 of debt.

I’ve had a wonderful opportunity to interview Kaleb Schumann from The Future Millionaire Teacher. He had roughly $110,000 worth of debt which will take him right under 4 years (47 months) to pay off next month (June)! Kaleb is an inspiring High School Band Director from Fort Worth, TX. Wanting to lead by example he started a YouTube channel to track his debt free journey for many high school and college aged students. It’s definitely kept him motivated throughout the debt free journey especially when his students ask him about financial advice and money matters. Find out more details about how Kaleb got himself out of $110,000 debt next.

Photo from Kaleb Schumann from The Future Millionaire Teacher. He is a High School Band Director from Fort Worth, TX. He has paid off $110,000 in just under 4 years (47 months).

When did you first decide to start your debt free journey?

I started my journey in September 2016, after graduate school. I had read the Total Money Makeover a few months before, after some classmates recommended it. I didn’t have a salary at the time, and couldn’t wait until I graduated and started making money so I could start.

What was your debt consisted of?

Basically, rounding +/- a few thousand:

$110,00 total

$60,000 – Student Loans ($20k undergrad, $40k graduate)

$15,000 – Interest on Student Loans

$10,000 – Used Car

$10,000 – Medical Bills (settled for $4k)

$5,000 – French Horn

$5,000 – Credit Card

$5,000 – Loan from “The Bank of Mom and Dad”

What was your income range throughout the debt free journey?

$60,000 – $72,5000

Are there any specific things you did to help pay down debt?

I worked a summer activity called Drum Corps International. It’s basically a summer marching band for kids. I was on the admin team for a group. They travel the country over the summer. I was able to see the country for free, had all my meals paid for, and made a few thousand bucks on top of all that. It minimized my expenses to almost zero over the summer in addition to providing extra money. Those summers *really* accelerated things. 

Do you recommend any particular debt repayment plan?

Surprisingly, my sole source of information that shaped my opinion was Dave Ramsey. I’m the type of person that goes all-in and becomes an absolutist. There are multiple ways to tackle debt, but it helped me to stay singularly focused with Dave’s plan, philosophy, podcasts, videos, etc.

Do you like the Snowball or Avalanche method?

I was a big debt snowball person.. Except when it came to the loan from the Bank of Mom and Dad. The Chief Loan Officer (aka Dad) agreed to provide the loan interest free and let me put the $5k loan in “forbearance” until my other interest bearing loans were paid.

What about budgeting, are there any particular tools or programs that helped you out? 

I used the EveryDollar App, and I tried to compartmentalize all the items in my head as much as I could.. For example, there was a huge difference between my internet bill and my Spotify bill.. Both were drafted monthly, but the Spotify bill always went under “Optional Subscriptions”, giving myself permission to cut it if necessary. 

Related: How To Budget Your Money For Beginners

How did you stay motivated throughout your debt free journey?

Paying off debt became my singular goal. Every decision I made, I made it through the lens of paying off my debt. From big decisions like not going on vacations with my friends, to little decisions like not being afraid to bring left-overs with my co-workers when they went out to lunch.

Has your life changed dramatically before and after the process?

I now consider myself a minimalist. Last summer, I moved from Houston to Fort Worth. I sold everything I could: mattress, dining room table, dressers, TV’s, game consoles… With the extra cash, I was able to buy “matching adult furniture” and still have extra to put on my loans. I was able to monetize every material possession that I didn’t need.

I feel like I have much more control over my finances. I’m no longer overwhelmed thinking about all the bills, or if I can buy that new shirt I want. Since I have complete control, I can make informed decisions about picking up extra work or not, eating at a restaurant or not, etc.

Was there anything you wish you did differently during the debt free journey?

One of my side hustles was teaching English lessons online. It was the easiest money I’ve ever made. From the comfort of my couch, I have Skype conversations with English learners from across the world. I wish I would have started that way sooner. The money I made from teaching lessons was able to pay for my own Spanish lessons and still have a few extra bucks each month to throw at debt.

How does it feel to be debt free or close to?

I’ve been free from consumer/interest bearing debt for a few months. I only owe my parents a few thousand dollars that I’ll be able to finish off in June. It’s a moment I’ve been dreaming of for over four years. I can’t wait to take a vacation and do more than just go to the beach. I can’t wait to donate to my favorite podcasts and give to NPR. I can’t wait to sponsor students to their summer camps or church fundraisers. I can’t wait to buy my friend’s lunch to say thanks. I can’t wait to buy the next round of drinks at convention. I can’t wait to invest. I can’t wait to enjoy my money.

Would you like to offer any words of encouragement to other readers?

This is a mental game. It boils down to two parts.

First – Build the habit of tracking purchases, sticking to the budget, saying no… Figure out how to build those keystone habits that will affect every financial decision that you make.

Second – Focus on one area of your budget at a time: Income/Expense/Surplus. Some months I would focus on increasing my income by selling things, teaching extra lessons, etc. Other months I would figure out how to cut my utility bill, or save on groceries. And some months I would re-prioritize the leftover money… Although, mostly the surplus money just went to the smallest debt remaining. I found that I was most effective when I was only focusing on one area at a time. It was too overwhelming to try and make more, work extra hours, sell this, limit that, cut here, cancel that all at the same time. 

Thank you Kaleb for sharing your debt payoff journey. Kaleb had $110,000 worth of debt straight out of Graduate School. That must’ve been very overwhelming to confront and take control of that enormous amount of debt. Kaleb became inspired after reading Total Money Makeover and also staying focused on Dave Ramsey’s teachings. He literally crushed all $110,000 worth of debt in right under 4 years by next month, what an amazing story.

Let Kaleb’s story inspire you to realize that paying off debt can be done. No matter how difficult or impossible it may seem. It’s all about taking small steps and in Kaleb’s case-just focus on one thing at a time. Being debt free is the ultimate goal. It provides financial freedom, taking control of your money, and just being able to enjoy your own money.

If you would like to reach out to Kaleb, visit his YouTube channel The Future Millionaire Teacher.

Ready to start your own debt free journey? Today’s the day to make that change in your life. Start with this free gift – Debt Thermometer and join us in the free 5-Day Debt Free Bootcamp to begin knocking out debt ASAP.

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  1. Oh my goodness! Thank you so much!! I’m super glad we could work together. BRB, sharing this on my facebook!

    1. Thank you Kaleb for sharing your debt free story. It shows that your side hustles and proper budgeting has led you to your $110,000 debt free goal, how AMAZING!

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