NerdWallet: How two teachers slayed a $53,000 debt monster in 3 years

by | Nov 29, 2022 | Stock Market

This article is reprinted by permission from NerdWallet. In this series, NerdWallet highlights people’s debt payoff journeys. This month, Jae Bratton recounts how she and her husband brought a laser focus to wiping out debt, motivated by hopes of starting a family.Jae Bratton Paid off: More than $53,000 in 3 years

My story of ditching more than $53,046 of debt on two teachers’ salaries is one of pain, perseverance and cooperation. But it’s also very much about love. My husband and I began paying off debt soon after our wedding in 2016, and we made the final payment three years later, right before our son was born. I was adamant that we wouldn’t start a family until we zeroed out the debt. Rumor has it that kids are expensive, so I wanted to free up space in our budget for the inevitable medical bills, child care and college fund. That rumor turned out to be a stone-cold fact. Our four main strategies provide a roadmap for others working toward financial independence.1. Create a battle plan Debt is an opponent, a monster to slay before you can move on to the next level. It requires a well-thought-out plan of attack. First, we sized up our opponent by identifying our debts and organizing them in a Google sheet. We had seven debts, including student loans, two car loans, a home improvement loan and the remaining balance on my engagement ring. As each debt was defeated, I would delete it from the spreadsheet, and oh, the satisfaction. We chose the debt snowball payoff method, where you focus all the extra payment money on the smallest debt while continuing to pay minimums on the others. I needed a few quick wins to keep me motivated before I tackled larger, more intimidating balances. We wiped out our smallest debt in the first three months, $926. No sweat if you prefer the avalanche method, which tackles the largest debt first. The simple act of choosing one, which suits your lifestyle and personality, is more important than the approach. Snowball and ava …

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