Our $90,000 Turnaround

In 2011, I graduated from my master’s program in teaching with $60,000 in debt. My boyfriend (now husband), Ryan, told me that we were going to pay it off in 5 years. He was already debt free, and I thought it sounded like a neat idea, but really I thought he was crazy.

$60,000 in 5 years? That’s cute.

I found a teaching job in Idaho and off we went. In January of 2012, we began paying about $1,000 a month on the loan which would have gotten us to our 5 year goal.

By 2014, we had cash flowed our move back to Wisconsin, our wedding, and a house cleaning/redecoration but hadn’t made a lot of progress on our debt. In February, we took Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University and something clicked.  We went crazy.

Between 2012 and 2014, we paid off $9681.22.

In the next 1.5 years, we paid off $48,810.90.

We paid $27,479.39 in the last six months.

Once the debt was paid off, we focused on growing our emergency fund to about $12,000, enough for three to six months of expenses. We also got pregnant with our first child, bought an $8,000 car (thank goodness because mine didn’t have heat!), and built up our secondary savings to about $10,000.

In 3 1/2 years, we went from being $60,000 in debt to having about $30,000 in liquid assets and cash. A $90,000 turnaround.

Since then, we had our first child and then our second. Ryan was able to be a stay-at-home dad for the first three years before we switched, so I could be a stay-at-home mom. We bought another car with cash. We contribute to retirement and are close to having our first 100k invested (I’ve heard that’s the hardest milestone to reach).

We’re not perfect. We still have financial goals that we’re working to meet. Living on one income is tough. But because we’re debt free, my husband gets to have a job he loves, and I get to stay home with our kids. We don’t have to worry about people knocking down our door demanding payment. We’re prepared in case of an emergency. We have a peace of mind that I didn’t know could be associated with finances. And while we don’t make a whole lot, we’re financially secure and preparing for our future.

The Simple Girl’s Guide is dedicated to making personal finance simple. This stuff doesn’t have to be hard or scary or complicated, but it does take work and planning and dedication.