We are extremely excited to share yet another inspirational story for our Debt-Free Living Series!
This week we chatted with Marissa from Thebudgetingwife.com. She gave us all the juicy details on how she and her husband paid off $87,000 dollars of student loan debt in their early 20’s.
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
Hi! I’m Marissa Lyda. I live in Portland, Oregon (born and raised) with my husband, Jacob. We have been married for almost 4 years. I work my day job as an accounting manager but run my blog and YouTube channel–The BudgetingWife–where I share budgeting tips to help millennials win with money! I am 24 and my husband is 27.
How did you end up in debt and how much debt was it?
My husband and I ended up paying off $87,000 of debt and it was all student loans! We both went to a private university (where we met) and it definitely cost us a pretty penny!
When I was deciding on a college to attend at age 17, I didn’t think about the implications of taking on student loans. I always heard that student loans were just a way of life and “you’ll pay them off eventually.” So instead of attending a more affordable school, I decided to go to a private school just because I wanted to.
What was the turning point for you where you decided to start paying off your debt?
When I was in my first year of college, I began to realize how much I was really going to have to take out in student loans, and it began to scare me. I was taking out about $
Jacob and I also had the opportunity to take a personal finance class together for college credit! It was a great way for us to get on the same page about money while we were still dating in college. After taking that class, it solidified the fact that we wanted to pay off our student loans as soon as possible.
I began to work on minimizing my student debt after that first year. I worked full time all summer long to be able to make money to put toward my next semester. I also became a resident assistant in my senior year which came with a nice scholarship!
I even took a few online classes over the summer, which allowed me to graduate a year early. This really helped me to be able to take out less in student loans. Although when graduation came around, I personally had $40,000 of school debt.
What was your motivation to pay off all that debt?
As Jacob and I were engaged (and in college still) we began to dream of what we wanted our life to look like. We wanted to have a family, a house, be able to travel… And we realized that we wouldn’t be able to do all of these things if we had all these student loan payments standing in our way.
Our reason for making sacrifices and sticking to this debt-free journey. And this is what we had to look back on when the journey got hard.
While we were in college, we knew that we wanted to pay off debt ASAP. I
How long did it take you to get rid of your debt?
It took us 2.5 years to pay off $87,000 and we made between $66k-$72k along the way.
Did you run into any “bumps in the road” when you were trying to pay off your debt? If so, how did you overcome them?
We didn’t have any major bumps along the way. There were a few
Thankfully we had a budget to operate off of!
Did budgeting play a factor in you being able to pay off your debt?
When we got married, we began budgeting. It’s definitely transformed over the years but it’s something that we still do now that we are debt-free.
Budgeting allowed us
What’s the strangest thing you did to save money while you were trying to pay off your debt?
When we got married, we moved into an apartment together. But when our one-year lease was up, we learned that our rent was going up, $200 a month. My parents reached out to us and offered for us to stay with them for a year to work on paying off our debt.
So we did!
We still paid my parents for rent but just a smaller amount. And we paid for our own groceries. We ended up being with my parents for 14 months and were able to become debt-free!
If you could give 2 pieces of advice to someone trying to pay off debt fast, what would they be?
Dream about your why. Why do you want to get out of debt? It’s so important to know why you’re making sacrifices. It definitely gives you something to keep you motivated on what can be a long journey!
Start a budget. Budgeting is crucial for a debt-free life. It gives you a plan for your money month by month. Starting our debt-free journey is the reason why we started budgeting and now I am still budget obsessed.
What steps are you taking to ensure you stay out of debt?
We stay out of debt by keeping a monthly budget and maintaining a healthy emergency fund. We also plan out things we want to buy or accomplish rather than acting spontaneously.
Now that you’ve paid off your debt, what financial goals do you have next?
Since paying off our debt 1.5 years ago, we have moved into our own apartment again. We saved a $10,000 emergency fund, cash flowed new-to-us cars, and are most of the way done saving for a $20,000 down payment for a house that we hope to buy this fall!
We’ve also been able to contribute more to retirement. Right now we’re contributing about 9% of our salaries but want to increase that once we finish our down payment fund.
You guys are definitely an inspiration to us all!
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