Our Debt Story: We paid off $50,000 in debt in two years

Hi! I’m Kendra D and I blog over at Love Ever After and Dream for a Living. I was abashed and excited when Erika asked me to do a guest blog talking about how my husband and I paid off 49k dollars worth of debt in just over two years of marriage. Two years and two months, to be precise.

The first thing you should know is that my husband Brian and I come from very different back grounds. His parents own their condo outright, don’t carry debt, and max out their retirement funds every year. He was raised to believe that credit card debt was practically immoral. As such, I have a higher credit limit than he does. I, on the other hand, come from a more normal American family. Debt is part of our financial dance. Pay off this, pay off that, charge this, wait for that paycheck, oops that raise didn’t come, oh well charge that too.

The score card to what we both brought debt-wise to our marriage:

Me: 4k credit card debt, 20k student loan debt across three loans.

Him: 25k “student loan” debt*

*I’m using quotation marks here because his loan was a promotional banking loan that USAA offered while he was a cadet at USAFA. He got a large chunk of money to spend as he chose, a  .5% interest rate, and 5 years of automatically deducted repayments.

This is in no way a how-to guide. We didn’t go with the method of throwing all of our disposable income at debt each month, while eating ramen noodles and hotdogs and shivering in our living room because we wouldn’t turn the heat on. One, we lived in Europe and I wanted to see as much of it as possible so we took at least one weekend trip a month. Two, we lived in Germany and the food there is rather fabulous so eating out happened a lot. Three, we shivered in our living room because radiant heat only does so much, especially when you run out of oil in the middle of a snow storm.

We did, however, like to pay off debt in big chunks at a time. There’s a more satisfying zero at the end and we were saved the angst of paying it down below a certain number only to have the amount creep back up over it due to interest. Within a week of getting married, we paid off my credit card debt. Brian started saving up for this when he asked me to move in with him, because, you know credit card debt is immoral. That was my first taste of financial freedom, to not have a payment looming over my head every month.

After we moved to Germany, we upped payments to my student loans. But there was no urgency. We both considered the debt we had to be “good” debt and weren’t really in a rush to pay it off. We would pull up calculators and smile when we saw that at our current rate of repayment we’d be debt free just after our 5 year anniversary.

Enter reality stage right when our time in Germany came to an abrupt halt as we were being reassigned to Turkey. Once we got over the shock of moving to another new country less than 18 months after we moved to Germany, we decided that it was time to get serious about things. We couldn’t take my car with us, so we sold it and used the money to pay off two of my student loans over a two month period. As soon as we finished relocating and got our reimbursement check for the move we paid off the third.

Once I was gainfully employed, we started throwing my entire paycheck at Brian’s loan. By this time we had the debt-free bug and realized that we could conceivably be debt free by the end of the year if we continued using my paycheck to pay it all off. Except, I was miserable at my job and decided to quit only three months after starting. I chose to go back to work for myself. We still planned to use the money I earned to help pay it down, but now we were looking for other options as well. We knew we had the money in savings to knock it all out; we just needed the push to do so.

That push came in the form of a reimbursement check we received for a trip we took to the US. Thanks to our consecutive overseas tour the military paid for us to go home to see family. Thanks to some mess ups in the finance department we had to pay first and wait for reimbursement. Once we got used to the lesser amount in our savings account we decided to take the final step to being debt free. The payment just went through on 6 November. And here we are, two years and two months after promising for richer or poorer, we have realized an amazing goal. We paid off 49 thousand in debt and can now build for our future, beholden to no one.



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14 thoughts on “Our Debt Story: We paid off $50,000 in debt in two years

  1. Rachel
    December 18, 2012 at 8:42 am

    This was a great post! I was also raised that credit cards are the enemy and now I’m marrying a man with the same USAA loan for 25k. While it’s a decent interest rate and we are in a good position to make payments, I hate that 25k looming over our heads and I’m ready to get rid of that mess!!

  2. November 15, 2012 at 5:14 am

    That’s great! Not only would I LOVE to accomplish what you have financially I’d die to live in Germany 🙂

    • November 15, 2012 at 8:40 am

      We’re currently in the process of trying to see if we can’t move back once we’re done here. I was devastated when our time there got cut short. And thanks!

  3. November 14, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    That is so cool and inspiring! Haha, I like how you still came into the marriage with less debt than him. (I do personally this that students loans are good debt though. Some people don’t though.)

    • November 15, 2012 at 8:41 am

      Thanks! We definitely both considered the student loan debt to be good debt. But, we’re also happy to not have it any more.

  4. November 14, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    Congrats on paying that off. Must be a great feeling to start fresh to build your future!

    • November 15, 2012 at 8:41 am

      Thanks so much. It’s really a great feeling to know that we can plan for our future without having to account for paying anyone else any of our money.

  5. November 14, 2012 at 11:04 am

    Congrats! Catching that bug helped us to steamroll our student loans and throw anything we could at them. It’s an awesome feeling to have your money work for you instead of tossing paycheck after paycheck to debt.

    • November 14, 2012 at 12:05 pm

      We’re excited to see what it feels like as the paychecks roll in and we get to keep it all. We have some pretty ambitious savings goals for the next couple of years. 🙂

  6. November 14, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Very inspiring! I agree, paying off debt in big chunks can really make you feel empowered. I just paid off my student loans and, like you, didn’t really feel any urgency or pressure to pay them off early – I think that’s why it was “easier” to do exactly that!

    • November 14, 2012 at 12:03 pm

      I think you may be right. I think if I’d have felt obligated to pay them off quickly that I’d have held on to the money tighter or found other uses for it. As it was, since we didn’t care, when the money came around it just made the most sense at the time. Congrats on paying off your loans!

    • November 14, 2012 at 10:03 am

      Thanks so much! It’s a great feeling to realize that we have no debt and basically no bills. Now to keep ourselves from just frivolously spending all the extra money.

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