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Debt Free Story of Ben and Julia’s $20,000 Journey

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In our society, we often may think that having debt is absolutely normal. We may also think having mortgages or even student loans way into our elder years is normal because our parents may have lived that way. That is not the way to live. More and more people are waking up to the fact that having debt actually is a huge downfall. Usually, when people take on debt whether it is student loans, car loans, credit cards, even a mortgage, there is interest applied. This makes paying off loans take years or even decades to pay back. Especially by applying only minimum amounts may cause us to pay hundreds, thousands, or hundreds of thousands to banks in interest fees over time. This debt free story of Ben and Julia shows us that it’s time to get serious and take back control of money.

I had a great opportunity to interview Ben and Julia. They decided to get serious about paying off their student loans because they wanted financial freedom. Their debt free journey took them 2 years and 4 months to pay off $20,000 worth of student loan debt. Most amazingly, they paid off $15,000 of the $20,000 in only 4 months. The debt free story of Ben and Julia can show us what it takes to get serious about debt and take control over money.

Debt Free Story of Ben and Julia

Ben, 24 years old, Mortgage Servicing Industry

Julia, 22 years old, College graduate

Total Debt: $20,000

Total Time: 2 years and 4 months ($5,000 paid off in 2 years and $15,000 paid off in 4 months)

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

My wife and I started out in 2018 with a total debt of 20k. We payed off a little extra each month using the Dave Ramsey Snowball Method but we weren’t taking it seriously. This past January we still had 15k in debt and we were tired of it. We wanted freedom from student loans.

2 | What was your debt consisted of?

The initial 20k was 18k students loans and 2k medical debt from an ER trip.

3 | What was your income range throughout the debt free journey?

Our income went from 25k in 2018 to 40k in 2019 to a projected 50k for this year. I switched jobs half way through 2019 and my wife started working part time at a local school.

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

We followed the Dave Ramsey’s baby steps. We took advantage of the tools provided by Financial Peace University, mainly the Every Dollar app.

We had no credit cards and kept a tight budget. In addition to an aggressive snowball, we saved money on things like going out to eat less.

We sweated the small things like switching between Netflix and Disney + every few months instead of paying for both at the same time.

Another really important factor in keeping the budget was having a set “fun money” for each of us. It was a set about of guilt free money we could spend on whatever we wanted each month.

Having a budget feels very restrictive but having a set amount of fun money is more freeing than not having a budget in the first place.

5 | How did you pay off $15,000 in 4 months?

We payed a total of 15k in 4 months when we were taking it seriously. So with the initial 20k, it took us 2 years to pay down 5k and 4 months to pay rest (15k).

We took FPU (Financial Peace University) this January and had 15k and change left in student loan debt. I work full time and my wife was in her final semester of college. She also works part time at the school to help supplement our income.

Prior to Covid we paid off about 6k with some savings and our tax return and that left us with a little over 9k left. Then this pandemic hit full swing and we went into “pause and pile cash” mode. We got this idea because Dave typically advises people expecting kids or other major expenses to do just that. We thought both of our jobs would be at risk but we’ve been fortunate so far.

We did the math and realized we had enough to pay it off. We felt confident in our job stability now and thought it was time. Making a 9k payment was nerve wracking but it feels great now.

5| How did you stay motivated throughout your debt free journey?

Staying motivated was tough. My wife and I created a “debt chain” made out of construction paper. Each link represented $100 or out debt. I hung it up in our bedroom so we would see it everyday. We’d cut some off every time we made a payment and it felt great. We also made a debt thermometer. It kind of looked like a fundraiser prop but it was another way to visualize our journey to being debt free.

6 | Has your life changed dramatically before and after the process?

We’re saving more money and our emergency fund is set. Julia and I hope to have kids in the next few years and we are saving up for that as well. Since Covid started, we’ve had opportunities to help local charities and people we know with financial needs. I mention that because it’s an incredibly exciting and fulfilling experience.

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

I wish we started earlier. Life is so much better when you have a financial plan.

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

Life feels great. We don’t have to worry about financial emergencies. Some things like small car repairs can be absorbed into our budget. Larger emergencies can be covered by our emergency fund.

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

Don’t give up! Have a plan for every dollar and you won’t wonder where your paycheck went. Saving money now prevents disaster later. Be a blessing to others!

Thank you both for sharing your debt free journey with us. This debt free story of Ben and Julia shows us how important it is to create a financial plan and budget to reach our financial goals.

They got serious about the debt paying process in the last 4 months of their journey and paid off $15,000 of their final debt. They learned to save money where they could, budgeted properly, and still managed to set money aside for their “fun money”.

Their debt free story shows us that paying off debt doesn’t have to be a miserable process. You can still have fun in life but now you can properly plan for it and be responsible about it. They are young and now have their whole lives ahead of them DEBT FREE, how AMAZING!

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.

Read More:

Kaleb’s $110,000 Debt Free Story

Paul’s $50,000 Debt Free Journey

How to Get Out of Debt With These 5 Tips

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