Our Debt Free Story


Alex, Turner and I woke up early this morning and made our final payment to our student loan. We have payed off $45,000 in 3 years. A refreshing feeling washed over us as we let Turner click "Submit", and we squeezed Turner with excitement for the future.  We discovered Dave Ramsey a little over 3 years ago, and decided that we were not going to be stuck in the trap of debt. We didn't stick to Dave's plan 100% (we still have a credit card....ahhhh!), but we used his principles.  We saved, thrifted, and made sacrifices to throw as much money as possible towards our student loans.

I used to be a spender...a big spender.  This process has taught me so much about self discipline, and I do love a good challenge.  It was hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but we learned it's a slow and steady race. We did try to reward ourselves every once in a while, made a few splurges and went on a few trips.

End of 2011- Read Dave Ramsey's book The Total Money Makeover and decided we wanted to change the way we were spending and living! I had just finished my MBA, and knew I didn't want the debt to linger. We moved to Austin for new jobs!

2012 - Began putting $1,000 a month towards student loans. Found out we were pregnant in February and cash flowed our son's doctor's bills/natural birth (much more expensive than going to a regular doctor....dumb decision on my part).

2013 - Bought our first home, which put a big stop to our saving.  When we decided to buy a house, we saved all our money to put towards closing costs.  During 2013, we did a REALLY bad job of saving as we spent most of our extra income on house projects. We still chipped away at the debt, but with low intensity. 

2014 - Did a better job of saving, found a cheaper school for Turner, cash flowed a vacation to San Francisco and NYC (trip has yet to come), and worked a lot of overtime.  In years past we had failed at doing a cash envelope system, but this fall we decided to try one more time! It finally stuck. Spending cash hurts! We found out real quick how much less we could live off of when we spent cash.  Most of our income was going to eating out...way too much!  We now budget $30-50 per week for eating out, and most nights cook at home (ugh...I hate cooking). We are intentional with each paycheck and have envelopes to save up for future events (Christmas, birthday gifts, vacation, car maintenance, hair cuts, etc.).

The past 3 years while Alex has worked at Apple, he has been contributing 20% of each paycheck towards his 401K, flex spending account for daycare, and his employee stock purchase plan.  The biggest contributor towards paying off our debt was our Apple stock.  We sold almost $10,000 worth of stock to put towards our debt. 

Our next step is to save 4 to 5 months of income, and then we're going to refinance our home to a 15 year fixed mortgage. We'll also be saving every month for our next car (both our vehicles are 94/95 models).  The next vehicle we buy won't be that nice, but who cares, we'll have payed cash for it! Our financial journey is definitely not over, and there will continue to be obstacles and sacrifices along the way, but we're ready.  We thank God every day for blessing us with a healthy family, great jobs, a home, and teaching us the principles of money. I pray we can help change other people's financial future and help them find freedom in being debt free. 


Ashley Hargrove said...

Congrats!! Being debt free is an absolutely AMAZING feeling!! Great jobs guys! :)

Lee Anne Benjamin said...

So awesome! Congrats girl! :)

Miss Louie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Erica Louie said...

WOW! this post really hits home for me. My husband and I have been trying to lock down our spending, and your story has really inspired me to get myself into shape. Thank you for sharing your journey and i am SO HAPPY FOR YOU!!! Can't wait to meet you tomorrow!!!

Tin Can Treader said...

Woohoo! I can't wait to be debt free.

Lauren Vandiver said...

Congratulations! What an inspiring success story, and such a perfect time to share it (the holidays are the most tempting when it comes to spending)!

Fair-well xx,
-Lauren Vandiver

Liz said...

Ah keep going! My husband and I became debt free about 2 years ago - took us about 3-4 years, with varying intensity similar to your story, but eventually we buckled down and did it. Life is so much better without all that debt looming over you! We just refinanced to a 15 year mortgage and that was awesome too. We also FINALLY bought ourselves new cars (our old ones were 300k and 200k mile oldies) - it's worth the wait!


Melissa @Shoestring said...

Way to go, lady!! So impressive! I also paid off my student loans this year, and we paid down $20K in credit card debt (from veterinary bills for our 14yo whippet before he passed, well worth it) and our Boston to Austin move. Buying a house & all those DIY projects definitely puts a dent in saving! We're also hoping to buy a second car in the new year and finish paying off Andrew's student loans...and maybe even start a family, eek. :) Here's to a fabulously debt-free 2015. Let's grab a drink to celebrate in the new year!


Jesse Coulter said...

Thanks Melissa! That's awesome! And yes, let's start planning he next #atxbloggermixer!

Tracy Frazier said...

Congratulations on being debt-free! I'm sure the process that took you were you are now was hard to achieve, but it was a challenge that you faced and learned from. And I'm proud of you for sticking with your decisions. You and Alex make a great team, Jesse. Surely, 2015 will be more rewarding, now that you're debt-free!

Tracy Frazier @ Sunnen Law

Naomi Cruz said...

Cheers to you for becoming debt-free! You said that you were a big spender back then, so it’s good to know that you have learned about self-discipline and trying to spend less for almost everything. You are truly inspiring for anyone who wants to accomplish the same feat as you. Thanks for telling your journey to becoming debt-free!

Naomi Cruz @ 4 Pillars

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Karoline Peak said...

It has to be an amazing feeling to be free of your student loan debt. I currently owe student loans and I know it can sometimes be overwhelming. Hopefully, one day I will also get them paid off. Congratulations on getting all of your debt paid off and I wish you the best of luck.

Karoline Peak @ Ruffi Law Offices, S.C.

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