Hi everyone! Today I have an awesome debt free interview for you with Zack from yourmoneyyourfreedom.com. He and his wife, Jen, made an amazing sacrifice to pay off so much debt. They moved into a camper! Although I must say, it does look pretty cute! Learn more about them and their story below, and check out their site for more awesome content. Enjoy!
1. How did you get yourself into $50,000 of debt, how long did it take to pay off and when did you pay it off?
When my wife and I got married, we both brought around $20k worth of student loan debt into our marriage. In addition to that, she had a $10k car loan that she owed money on. All in all, it took us about 10 months to pay it all off once we really got serious about it. We ended up making our last payment on our debt sometime around March 2015.
2. You guys paid off this debt FAST! What strategies did you use to pay this off in 10 months?
This is where our story gets kind of crazy! In order to pay off our debt, we downsized from our already small apartment and moved into a camper that we bought for $3,400. This reduced our largest expense each month, which was our rent (about $850 including utilities). Once we moved into the camper, we also shopped around for cheaper phone plans, which ended up saving us about $20 a month.
We also pulled the plug on Netflix, Hulu, and other monthly subscriptions. Doing these things helped us take the minimalist approach to becoming debt free, which was really fun looking back on it.
3. What was the hardest part about paying off $50,000 of debt?
The hardest part about paying off our debt was understanding that it was a long-term play. By that, I mean that we knew we wanted to become debt free but it’s also hard to sacrifice the small things that you enjoy in order to reach a long-term goal. It sounds stupid but not having our movie nights where we just watch Netflix was a sacrifice.
I would also say that living in the camper was a tough experience. While we both look back and laugh about many funny stories, right around month 6 of living in the camper was really hard!
4. You and your wife are on this journey together! How important was it for you to be on the same page with your finances when paying off debt?
I can tell you that I could not have done this without her. We both took complimentary roles in becoming debt free which is what I think led to our ultimate success. I was the one who dreamed up the idea and figured out the math on how long it would take us to become debt free but she was the one the held me to the fire. There were times where I would want to spend too much or take a break and she was the one that helped keep the structure in place.
So, I like to think that we each took a different role but they were equally important. A big part of this was me learning how to let her do what she is good at. To this day she still does our budget on a weekly basis and I let her do that because she loves it!
5. You even lived in a camper to help pay off debt! What was that like and what did you learn from living there for a season?
The biggest takeaway for us was that short-term sacrifices are always worth long-term gains. It was hard living in the camper but we are so thankful that we did. It has fueled us starting our own blog and business where we get to talk about money with other millennials. Not only that, I am now completing my graduate school degree and we are able to pay for it out of pocket. None of these things would have been possible if we were still in debt!
6. What are your financial goals now that you’re debt free?
Our financial goals are to save for retirement and be wise with our money. I also have really enjoyed putting some “fun” money into interesting investments such as Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Investing has always been a goal of mine and now I can do it and not worry about if I should be paying off my debt first.
Overall, we just want to save as much as we can and pursue our dreams of being financially secure for the long run. In the future, this will mean purchasing a house but not quite yet! We still like to travel and keep a loose foot!
7. What made you decide to start a blog?
We wanted to start a blog to have a place to share ideas, tools, and inspiration for others who want to get out of debt and talk about money. It’s not that we love money, we just believe in what it can do in terms of letting you pursue your dreams. For us, starting the blog was a dream in itself and we hope to inspire others with our debt journey and provide a place where people can come to learn about all the exciting things happening in the personal finance space.
8. What would be your advice for others wanting to get out of debt?
If you have student loan debt, the first thing I always tell people is to look into refinancing with LendEdu. I wish we would have done that when we started our debt journey but we didn’t know that it existed! If you have credit card debt or even a mortgage, the key to getting out of debt can really be boiled down to one simple phrase: spend less than you make. The speed at which you want to become debt free will depend on the widening gap between what you make and what you spend.
We got creative and lived in a camper but you could do something completely different. You could work an additional job, move in with a roommate or just cut all unnecessary expenses. The key is to think of the bigger picture and just stick to whatever plan you make!