Today, I have an inspiring story from a blogger. Cassie paid off $10,000 in debt in 10 weeks and shows how you can make this a reality too. Enjoy!
In September of 2015, my wife and I officially tied the knot and, as perfect as it all was, when we returned to our home after our honeymoon we had to take a serious look at our finances. What we found shocked us.
We had known from the get-go that we both had student debt. We both attended a private, Christian college where we met and we both continued on to receive our master’s degrees. While we knew we had student debt, we had always assumed that we would simply pay the minimum until it was gone and that would be that.
What did we find when we did the math? It turns out that my wife and I owe a grand total of almost $200,000 in debt (OUCH!). Even worse? The minimum payments don’t even begin to cover the interest which means that no matter how many payments we make, we will never escape from this debt’s grasp.
One of my favorite Dr. Seuss quotes comes from the Lorax, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
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- How I Paid Off My $40,000 Student Loan Debt In Less Than One Year
Now, I know that this quote is referring to saving the world, but I think it’s applicable to paying off debt too. Debt can be all-consuming and debilitating, but unless you care about fixing it, it’s not going to get any better.
The thing with debt is that unless you truly work toward eliminating the problem, the problem is not going to go away. It’s certainly not an easy-fix sort of thing. Unless you truly care about getting the weight of debt off your shoulders, you’ll be trapped.
My wife and I do care about paying off our debt because we realize how much it is holding us back – we are unable to afford a house, put money into retirement, or start a family.
That’s why we made the decision to begin aggressively paying off our debt. Do you know what happened when we made that decision? We began crushing the debt that had been, only recently, crushing us.
In our first ten weeks of debt repayment, we paid off a whopping total of almost $10,000! How did we do it? Well, it’s simple: create a budget and a plan, develop a side income, and learn how to live frugally.
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Creating a Budget & a Plan
Developing a budget was the first step. My wife and I spent an entire month simply monitoring our spending without changing our habits. Why did we do this? Well, we wanted to see where our money was going.
What we realized is that our money was going everywhere. We were spending outrageous amounts of money for things that we didn’t even realize we were getting! Sure, some of it was important (food, certain bills, etc.), but there was so much that was unnecessary. The couple of dollars here and there for snacks and beverages (when we have these at home), the fast food or restaurants in place of dinner at home, or the subscriptions that we had forgotten we had that were still charging us monthly.
Once we realized that our money was everywhere, we knew we needed to put it into place. We created an excel document to organize our income, budgets, and debts (I love organizing things). We determined what we needed to keep to survive, what the minimum payments for our debt were, and other costs we absolutely have to have.
We wrote it all down and made important decisions as to how much we would spend on food, how much we were willing to pay for gas, etc. This was our budget. If we followed our budget, we knew we could put a significant amount of extra cash toward our debt (which is exactly what we want to do).
The hardest part about developing a budget, though, is not actually the planning, but the sticking to it. The problem we have is that when we try to follow our budget with our debit cards, we somehow always end up off. This time, we knew that we had to do our budgeting right. We pulled out some business envelopes, withdrew some cash, and began using the cash envelope system for our budget.
Almost like magic we were able to stick to our budget – better than ever before. The reality is that plastic money is easy to overspend, but when you have cold, hard cash in your hands, it’s hard to not notice it leaving. When it’s gone, it’s gone.
Developing a Side Income
The second step we took toward aggressively paying off our student debt was to develop a source of income on the side. For me, that meant blogging. I worked as hard as I could to develop a blog that focused on my goals, that inspired people, and that helped people to reach their dreams of becoming financially free.
My wife and I both work with a caterer as we are able in order to earn a little extra money. Each event lasts around six-seven hours and pays us each $100, but we can only score around one to three events per month. Jobs such as dog walking, house / babysitting, and even renting out space are great ways to make a few extra bucks within your community.
We also have started freelancing and taking up positions in the virtual assistant world. My wife has started working longer hours and taking “on-call” shifts. We sell items from our home that we no longer need and we utilize companies that offer legitimate ways to make money online. I test them out and share them on my blog for my readers to see and utilize.
Basically, we are doing whatever it takes to earn an extra income and then ensuring that the entirety of that income goes straight toward our debt repayment goals.
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Learning How to Live Frugally
Earning an extra income can only get you so far if your spending is too high. Therefore, we also spent a lot of time learning how to live frugally and sharing it on the blog. We are learning new ways each and every day to reduce our spending and live our lives to the fullest on a frugal budget.
Some of our favorites in the kitchen include baking our own bread (which saves us over $250), making our own pasta (which saves us over $100), growing our own vegetables (which saves us hundreds), and learning how to can (which saves us tons)! While each of these individually may not seem like a lot, when added together the savings can be incredible.
The frugal living tips don’t have to end in the kitchen, though. My wife and I are learning great ways to save thousands per month by cutting the cord on cable and other subscriptions, reducing our cell phone bill, and even finding new ways to entertain ourselves that don’t cost money.
As Dave Ramsey so eloquently puts it: “Live like no one else, so later on you can live like no one else.”
Living a frugal lifestyle means making cleaning supplies and hygiene products instead of buying them, making food from scratch instead of eating out, and playing board games instead of going to the clubs. It’s a lot of cutting now, but by living like we are broke, we are putting money toward debt so that later we can live the way we want to live.
How We Paid Off Almost $10,000 in Debt in 10 Weeks
Ever since we started paying off our debt aggressively, we have been competing against ourselves. When we paid off $3,000 in one month, we knew that we could do better the next month and so we did.
It took ten weeks before we had paid off almost $10,000, but the next ten weeks will be even better, we can assure you of that. How? Because we are working as hard as we can to budget, to be frugal, and to earn extra money – no matter what it takes.
The ultimate goal here is to pay off our debt as quickly as possible and that’s exactly what we are doing. We are not putting a date on our debt repayment because we don’t want to limit ourselves to that date. We want to work to surpass any dates that could have been put down and by sticking to our budget, earning side incomes, and living frugally, we can do it.
Author bio: Cassie Jahn is the author of a DIY blog devoted to living life to the fullest on a frugal budget. DIY Jahn began to help Cassie to stick to her plan to aggressively pay off her student loans, in hopes to inspire others to do the same.
How much debt do you have? Are you trying to eliminate it?
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Where were your parents when you both chose to take on $100,000 worth of debt for masters degrees? What are your degrees in that you both thought this was a smart idea?
I’m not impressed that you two paid $10,000 worth of debt off, I’m horrified you thought going into student debt hell was a smart idea. You two basically signed up for a life of servitude. You both are slaves to your student debt and it will likely follow you both to your graves.
This isn’t an inspirational story, it’s a story of stupidity.
You two may have masters but in life you have earned big fat F’s. You two will struggle with debt until you go to the grave. You’ll also probably encourage your kids (you won’t be able to afford birth control so expect many kids) to repeat your lives of student debt slavery).
This article is disgusting. For smart people you two are idiots. My only hope is you both partied your butts off so you have some memories… Yeah if you partied your butts off you would have zero memories.
Jason B says
Geesh. Tell them how you really feel. Everyone makes mistakes.
Congrats on paying off $10,000 in 10 weeks. That takes discipline.
Thank you, Jason! I really appreciate it. 🙂
Money Beagle says
I’m going to guess that it was probably some degree of sunk cost fallacy, in that once they started down the road, they figured they might as well finish which involved continuing on and accumulating the debt.
Unfortunately, the person that wrote the original comment fails to realize that while she views it as stupid, it’s a situation that many people have gotten into. I don’t think the person that wrote the post was asking for any sympathy and they recognized the seriousness of the situation. I’ll guess that if they had to do things differently, they might, but alas, hindsight is 20/20.
It’s too bad that the person that wrote this negative comment is focused on only one part of the story and not even a point that was really brought up.
Hopefully the author carries on. Now that one $10k chunk is out of the way, there’s only 19 more to go. Keep on going!
Thank you so much for your kind words. You’re absolutely right – hindsight is 20/20. Would I have changed things and taken out less debt if I could go back? Yep! Can I change that? Not even a little. So, now it’s to keep pushing forward and paying off that debt. Thank you for your encouraging and supportive comment! 19 more chunks to go 🙂
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner says
Jane, on my website, I like to stay positive. The writer of this blog post is making active changes to improve their financial situation. Obviously, the past cannot be changed, so them paying off their debt is a better choice.
Jane, I appreciate your thought out comment. However, I don’t appreciate you making such poor assumptions about my life.
I know it may be hard to see, but my wife and I chose to take on these debts before we realized the affect they would have on our lives. The majority of them (other than about $4,000) come from student loans. We took these on under the assumption that college and masters programs would prove beneficial to our lifestyles – we would be able to get better careers and “live the American dream.” Unfortunately, as many have found out, the “American dream” is not as easy to achieve as our parents told us.
According to studies, over 70% of the population between the ages of 18-40 have astronomical amounts of debt. So, yes, I will concede: having this amount of debt SUCKS. It’s not our optimal choice. It’s not what we hoped our lives would be like at this point. And it’s certainly not something that we thought would happen (go figure, 18 year olds are allowed to make life-alternating decisions and do so poorly).
However, my wife and I are putting our all into paying down these debts. I’ve seen many stories of people who simply “give in” to debt. They accept that they will be in debt for their whole lives (such as you suggested we would). OR they beg for others to pay off their debt – search for forgiveness somewhere, start up kickstarter funds to pay on debt (I’ve seen this, no joke), or simply ask their parents to pay for it.
Perhaps I’m wrong here, but in my eyes – taking the responsibility to own up to our mistakes and begin paying on our debts is much better than forgetting they exist or hoping that someone else will pay them. Instead of complaining that we are stuck, we are doing what we can to move forward.
Finally, I want to note: my wife and I plan to be out of debt by January 1, 2019. It’s a big goal, but I know we’ll make it. We’ll both be under 30 and we don’t plan to rack up the debt again any time soon.
Perhaps I’m wrong here, but in my eyes – taking the responsibility to own up to our mistakes and begin paying on our debts is much better than forgetting they exist or hoping that someone else will pay them. Instead of complaining that we are stuck, we are doing what we can to move forward.
You are definitely not in the wrong for trying to clean up your mess! It takes a lot of hard work and considering how much you paid off in 10 weeks, I absolutely believe you can do this! You’ll be debt free in just a few short years. Keep it up!
Thank you, Linda! It definitely IS hard. We hope to be done by 2019 though! 🙂 Thanks for your comment
Good for you for taking ownership of your debt and working hard to pay it off! I’m sure we ALL have things that we wish we had done differently….even the negative commenter. 🙂 However, the past can’t be changed. Best of luck in meeting your future goals. The lessons that you will learn along the way will be valuable for the rest of your lives.
Keep on swimming!
Thank you, Monica! It’s so true. I’ve already learned SO much, but I’m sure that the next $180k of debt payoff will teach me far more than I am even capable of realizing at this moment. THank you for your comment 🙂
I’m glad you mentioned in your comment about owing up to your responsibility and working to pay it down. Yes, so many others want forgiveness of loans, complain that they can’t discharge student loans with a bankruptcy or start online campaigns.
I do wish however there were more opportunities to refinance some of these loans to lower rates. That would benefit so many more.
No shame, no blame. You can’t look backwards and change the past. You are positively looking forward and in your journey you might inspire others to attack their debt. You will make it especially with both of you on board and encouraging each other.
You’re so right, JK. If there were options for us to more easily save on these loans – opportunities to refinance or pay lower rates. Even lower interest to begin with, it would make these situations easier to manage. They can be overwhelming and all-encompassing and unfortunately, many never get out of debt.
Regardless, we plan to! Especially with support from others – so thank you! 🙂
Heya!!! So we aren’t in super debt but I’m a saver and I see you make you really own pasta which we do but can’t save it long or know how to … do how do you save fresh made pasta? Food saver bag??
FYI from all the amazing apps out there we have saved 816 to buy everyone’s Christmas presents in our family!! 😊
I really appreciate you standing on our side, Crystal. Debt is a struggle, but we’re doing our best to pay it off. Thank you for your kind and encouraging comment!
Wow! Congrats on paying off 41k! 🙂 That’s amazing. I need all the luck I can get. I’ll keep plugging along though!
Emilie Burke (@burkedoes) says
Lots of really smart Americans are buried in much more debt. Whatever the case, there’s no need to be derogatory about it.
Thank you, Emilie, for always supporting us!
Nick True says
I think you’re being a bit harsh here. We all make mistakes in our life. Is this a huge mistake? Absolutely. But you only get one life and so what should they do?
They should do exactly what they are doing. Realize they screwed up figure out how to make the best of this situation.
I’m sure you’ve made mistakes in your life just like I have in mine. We’re human. We all mess up. This is a story of hope. This is a story that says “don’t be upset if you messed up. I did too, but you can move forward and make the best of it”.
This a story that says “yup, I was messed up, but i’m not gonna let that ruin the rest of my life”.
No, they won’t encourage their kids to do the same. I’m sure they realize how bad this is and what a huge setback it is and I highly doubt they plan to raise their kids that way.
Life is about embracing your mistakes and then course correcting.
I’m sure you’re not perfect and likely messed up in many areas too. Just like me. Just like the authors.
We’re all human here. This is an incredible story. It would only be a stupid story if they were encouraging people to follow that route.
But they aren’t. Instead they’re fessing up and exposing everything they are and how they messed up. And then they give hope by turning it around.
I think you are sadly mistaken about this article. Surely, it would be a very sad life if there was no coming back from mistakes we made in our late teens and early twenties.
Wow, Nick. Thank you so much for this – I really appreciate your response and support (not support of our mistakes, but of us working to correct them).
Like you said, we would never encourage others to do the same thing we did when it comes to school financing, but if they already HAVE made mistakes in that area? We’ll do everything we can to encourage them to get out and support them as they do. It is hard, but we only have one life and we need to make it the best we can.
Thank you again for your comment. I truly appreciate it.
Nick True says
Anytime, keep up the hard work!
a woman says
Jane, thanks for the comment. Even from haters I can learn: to not be like you.
Cassie, good job with your 10.000 payment down. Keep the road, I am proud of you, I am sure you will pay faster in the future because from last dept closed you have less and less dept and more freedom to go. It is not easy to accept and to change yourself in such a hard way. You are my example and I admire you!
An your words shall return unto you void. Cassi keep pushing to pay off that debt!
That should be And**
Jane is obviously an uneducated fool who doesn’t understand the value of a college education in today’s world. I also has student loans when I graduated 10 years ago. But guess what? I make well over 6 figures now and I’ve long since paid it all off. And you know where my mom parents were when I was putting myself into student loan debt? Encouraging me because they understand how important it is to be educated, so that I didn’t end up like they did with low paying, dead end jobs. Cassie I think you guys are awesome and inspirations to young people everywhere. Get your education while you’re young, pay it off and use your education to be contributing members of society. God bless!
A different Jane says
“Where were their parents?” Um they were adults making their own decisions. You obviously don’t have kids that you have ever tried to advise and realize that they can do what they want, or you still have your mommy doing for you. I paid my own way through school, my parents had no say in my decisions. I’m proud of what I have achieved on my own. I value my education because I paid for it, no one else. I’m currently working on a doctorate, mother of 6, no personal school loans, working two jobs. My kids are putting themselves through school too. They appreciate the cost and work hard to achieve their goals. You are a putz.
There’s thousands of people who have substantial student loans. Instead of criticizing, maybe you should just create your own blog to tell people how you became so great that you feel you have the right to slam someone who is trying to do the right thing and helping others on the process.
Lynn B. says
Wow Jane who are you to judge? Only our creator can do that! What this couple did was absolutely amazing. Kuddos to ya’ll! Can you make $10,000.00 in 10 weeks?
They may live with a lifetime of debt but thats better than living a sad life of being cruel to others.
Great job and congrats on the 10,000. ITS FANTASTIC
Jane. You are rude. Some people get into debt for any number of reasons. It does not make them stupid to invest in their futures. What sort of education do you have? And they are obviously doing the right things now to get out of debt. I know I personally am looking forward to reading more from them about how they did and are doing on there debt reductuon. Also, the number of children a person has is no one elses business and children are a blessing, they are never a detriment!
Their* debt reduction **
Dee @ Color Me Frugal says
I think your story is inspirational! Pay no attention to the haters. Paying off $10k in 10 weeks is a serious accomplishment that you should definitely celebrate! If you keep up this level of intensity you’ll have that debt gone before you know it 🙂
Thank you, Dee! I really appreciate your comment. We will be celebrating the accomplishment and continuing to push our debt out of our lives. 🙂
Christine @ The (mostly) Simple Life says
Great job! It’s awesome that you are taking on this debt and kicking its butt! I’m sure it will take a while, but so many people would have felt like it’s a hopeless situation and not even try. You can do it! The fact that you’re making huge lifestyle changes to achieve this is really impressive. $10,000 paid off is already 5% of your total debt, right? And it sounds like the next $10,000 will happen even quicker with all of your hard work.
It’s certainly hard to keep up the motivation to get rid of the debt, but it’s life changing as well. The more debt we pay off, the more money we will get to have in our pockets. We want to live a debt free life and we know we will get there. Like you said, it’ll happen even quicker the further we go! Thanks for commenting, Christine! 🙂
Penny @ She Picks Up Pennies says
Wow! My husband and I don’t earn that much money in 10 weeks (even with both of us side hustling), so there’s no way we could do this. BUT I think the message is that you can definitely do whatever you put your mind to. We may not have the same incomes, but we definitely have trimmed a lot of the fat out of our budget and are paying down our mortgage much more aggressively now. Thanks for the motivation!
I read a post today when I was looking for motivation and it talked about a bucket of sand. If you put a grain of sand into a bucket every day, you’ll eventually fill the bucket, right? No matter how slow the process is – even if it feels like molasses – you’re still going to eventually reach your goals and pay down that debt! You can do this! Thank you for commenting & supporting, Penny 🙂
Mrs. CTC says
Paying off $10,000.- in 10 weeks is a tremendous accomplishment, congratulations on that! It is hard enough to look at $200,000.- in debt, don’t let the negativity bring you down any further.
Paying off such an amount takes a lot of courage and good thinking, and you’re doing just that. Keep it up!
I really appreciate your comment, Mrs. CTC. You’re absolutely right that it’s hard to look at that amount of debt – it can sometimes feel like mountains standing before us, but we have to make the decision to climb if we are going to get anywhere. This accomplishment is one to celebrate! Thank you for supporting and encouraging us 🙂
Tyler @ Oddball Wealth says
Great job! Paying of $10,000 in debt is a huge accomplishment for anyone. Student debt is a huge issue in our country that many people neglect, it’s nice to see people taking such initiative to eliminate their student loan debt.
Thank you, Tyler! It IS something that people don’t realize very often. People tend to turn a blind eye to the negative effects of student debts, but they are real and they are an issue. It’s time to turn the tables and get rid of the debt! Thank you for your encouraging words 🙂
I love stories like this. Its so inspiring. I think I need to go over my budget a lot more. I use to be so good, putting money into my savings every month and paying off all my bills every month, but ever since we had our daughter and I cut back on work I haven’t put money into savings, more I’ve been taking money out and with the added expenses of a child it hasn’t helped either. Thanks for inspiring us once again
Thank you for your comment, Michelle! I’m so glad to hear that this story helped to inspire you. It’s definitely different getting used to taking care of a child for the first time, but it’s still important to check out your budget. If you ever need any help, just let me know! 🙂 Thank you for reading!
Thank you, Janet! We are certainly trying – it’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it. You’re right, though, rewarding yourself once in a while is important as well. Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words 🙂
Building a business blog from scratch as a husband/wife team is the best way to keep at it with content development and monetization because you know your partner in business who is your spouse will not give up on you. And a good thing to know is that building a business as a married couple is a beautiful labor of love and can be an in-house cash machine for years to come.
That’s the goal! It’s so great to have my wife on board with my goals and it has made all the difference in the world. Thanks for the comment, DNN!
You are on the right track and your story is very inspiring. I paid off my student debt long time ago and took aggressive measures to pay it off.
That’s awesome, Michael. Congrats on being debt free! I hope to join you in the next couple years. 🙂
Awesome story! Debt plagues so many of us and it is so helpful to know there are others out there who are working hard and making changes – thank you for sharing your story and inspiring us all to conquer debt!
Thank you, Karina! I’m so glad that this post inspired you and helps you to work toward making changes for the better. It’s hard to do, but it’s so worth it. 🙂 Thank you again and good luck with your own debt!!
This is an amazing story! Well done you on clearing 10.000! Don’t listen to people saying it was a stupid choice – you thought the education was necessary to progress in life and it was your good right to choose this for yourself. The amounts of debt that go hand in hand with this decision is not your fault it is a fault of the American system. In Europe it is possible to get degrees with a fraction of that debt – I cannot imagine what it’s like to carry that burden! I’m impressed at how you are facing it and getting out from underneath it so fast!!
Thank you, Sarah. We definitely didn’t think it was a “bad” idea when we first did it – and I don’t regret school in the slightest. Schooling has gotten me so far in life and has given me a job I love and thankfully, one that I can pay the debt off with (though it will definitely take some time). It’s with encouragement, though, that we continue forward. It’d be nice to have a system like in Europe, but for now, we’ll just keep going and living life to the fullest! Thank you so much for your kind comment.
@jane. So, where were your parents when you became a judgmental cow?
Thanks, Jayson! We are sure trying to get out as quickly as we possibly can. It’s hard, but you’re right – competition helps. Maybe we can beat our first 10 weeks score 😉
Thanks, Lauren! You SHOULD be excited about $1,000 in a month! That’s a great investment in your future and anything is better than nothing. No matter what, if you start putting sand into a bucket it’ll eventually fill up. My way of saying – even little things have great power – and $1,000 is no little thing! 🙂
Thank you, Vanessa, I really appreciate your comment. It’s hard to do, especially as newly weds, but so very important. It’s nice to hear about people who were there and are not now. Thank you for sharing! Headed to check out your blog now 🙂
Amy @ DebtGal says
Congratulations on paying off $10K in one month! That’s truly an impressive feat!
My husband and I have student loans, one car loan, and a home equity loan we took out to consolidate and pay off our substantial credit card debt. It’s a lot of work, but we’re making slow and steady progress.
This is an amazing story! I was fortunate enough to graduate without any student loan debt, but I know so many people who are struggling regularly with theirs. It’s taken us a lot of time and effort but our goal is to remain debt free. So far the only debt we have is a car loan and even that is small.
Good luck on your journey! I know you’ll get there!
Some careers require a degree, an din many cases the only way to pay for college is through student loans. So I don’t necessarily agree that taking out that much in student loans is automatically a mistake. With that being said, we all need to make our own choices, and make them carefully. I know people who had far more college debt, and built great careers, and paid off their loans.
So, I applaud you for looking at your finances and making the choice to make paying them off a priority. Life is a series of choices, and none of us go through life without making some that turn out to be bad, In which case we can either hide our heads in the sand, or do something about it. Obviously you chose the latter and are making the most of your experience. Thanks for sharing what must be a hard situation to make public!
Cassie–this is such an encouraging story! I am attempting to get rid of my school loans, and my daughter is starting college in a year…so yes, paying minimum payments seriously doesn’t work! I hope to have these paid off before she graduates!
Thank you so much for sharing!
It’s kinda hard to really follow, because I’d be curious as to what you all make a year to be able to pay off almost 10,000 in 10 weeks. I myself am working on debt, and yes I agree making a budget is the easy part, actually sticking to it is another! I’m hoping to be debt free by 2017 but I don’t have a nearly as much debt as you all, so kudos for making it as far as you all have done, but I’m a detailed type of person and don’t like to assume anything, but I’m working on less than a $30,000 a year budget.
I need help paying off debt. I think we have around 50,000.00. Please help
Great debt free journey story! $10,000 seems like a lot but every day people do it!
We started at $73,000 last January (2016) and down to $28,000. We will be debt free no later than August of this year 🙂
That’s called dedication! Love hearing stories like this!
I recently got rid of my landline and am realizing a small savings. Also, I agree 100% re: how easy it is to spend money on food/drink items that you already have at home.