The Best Debt Payoff Stories – These Six People Paid Off Over $400,000 in Debt!

Today, I want to share some amazing stories about families that have learned how to become debt free. These are some amazing debt payoff stories that will motivate you to become debt free! According to the Motley Fool, the average American family has $7,630 in credit card debt, $11,244 in student loans, $8,163 in car…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: October 16, 2020

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Today, I want to share some amazing stories about families that have learned how to become debt free. These are some amazing debt payoff stories that will motivate you to become debt free!

Do you want to learn how to become debt free? Here are 6 great stories about how families reached debt free living and learned how to get out of debt fast.According to the Motley Fool, the average American family has $7,630 in credit card debt, $11,244 in student loans, $8,163 in car loans, and $70,322 on a mortgage.

However, if you think these amounts seem low, these figures also include those who don’t have any debt. For example, when you only factor in those with a credit card balance, the average amount shoots up to over $15,000.

By reading other people’s debt payoff stories and learning how to become debt free, I believe that you can find motivation to pay off your own debt, learn new ways to become debt free, and realize that paying off your debt is possible.

Learning how to become debt free can lead to many positives, such as:

  • You may finally feel less financial stress.
  • You can stop living paycheck to paycheck.
  • You may be able to use that money towards something more important, like saving for retirement.
  • Reaching debt freedom may allow you to pursue other goals in life, such as traveling more or looking for a better job.

If you want to learn how to become debt free, I recommend downloading this free debt payoff plan worksheet.

While some of the debt payoff strategies may seem crazy or impossible to you, remember that everyone has to start somewhere. Even if you can only pay off a fraction of what the people below are able to do or if it takes you twice as long, that’s still better than not trying at all.

Here are some great debt payoff stories that I’d like to share.

How to become debt free:


This couple paid off $62,000 in debt

James and his wife paid off $62,000 in debt in just seven months! Their debt payoff story involves turning a profit on their wedding, combining their finances, and paying off $62,000 of debt in seven months. Their lives changed drastically once they learned how to become debt free.

Here’s a quick summary of how they got into debt:

“I was 22 years old, only four months into my Army career, and had racked up over ~$115,000 in debt. All I had to show for it was a fancy diploma, a 3-year-old Mazda, and $1,100+/month in debt payments.”

Read more at How My Wife and I Paid Off $62,000 in Debt in 7 Months.


How this couple paid off $10,000 in 10 weeks

Cassie paid off $10,000 in debt in 10 weeks and shows you how to make this a reality too.

Here’s a quick summary of her debt freedom story:

“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.”

Read more at How We Paid Off Almost $10,000 in 10 Weeks.


Getting back to the basics: We were happier when we spent less money

This is one family’s journey to eliminate $66,000 in debt by discovering that changing their attitude and spending habits would help them become debt free.

“Just over one year ago, my husband and I started on a journey. We had over $66,000 in debt from a second mortgage, a car loan, furniture purchase and student loans, not including our first mortgage. Planning to pay off our debt was only part of the solution, however. Changing our mindset and our spending habits was actually the first step in our journey. As our income increased over the years, we had increased our expenditures proportionately.”

Read more at Getting Back to the Basics: We were happier when we spent less money.


How I paid off over $100,000 in debt with the help of eBay and garage sales

This is a great story about how side hustling can completely change your life.

Here’s a quick summary:

“To date, we have completely paid off $96,500 in student loans, our $15,000 wedding, $5,000 in credit card debt, a $6,500 car, and over half of our mortgage- $76,600 and counting! No, we didn’t receive an inheritance or win the lottery. Our secret? An extremely frugal lifestyle supplemented by re-selling second hand items on eBay. The second hand items come from the weekly garage sales, estate sales, and auctions that we attend.”

Read more at How I Paid Off Over $100,000 in Debt With the Help of eBay and Garage Sales.


How this couple paid off $204,971.31 in debt

Claudia and Garrett sold their 1,500 square foot house, downsized to a 500 square foot home, sold 80% of their belongings, side hustled like crazy, and were then able to pay off $204,971.31 in debt.

You can read their story at How This Couple Paid off $204,971.31 in Debt.


How I paid off $40,000 in student loans in 7 months

Okay, this story is my own, but I’m still very proud of it 🙂 Here’s how I paid off my student loan debt.

When I graduated with my Finance MBA, I had around $40,000 in student loan debt, which included debt from my undergraduate degrees as well. I was able to pay it all off in just seven months because I was able to find ways to make extra money!

Read more at How I Paid Off $40,000 In Student Loans in 7 Months.

Do you want to learn how to become debt free? How far away are you from debt freedom?

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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. Mustard Seed Money

    I love reading stories like this. It’s always interesting to hear how people boot strapped themselves out of debt. My wife and I are completely out of debt as well after making the final mortgage payment 5 years ago when I was just 31 years old. It was the best feeling making that last payment and knowing that we wouldn’t have to do this ever again 🙂

  2. I’m a sucker for a great debt payoff story too. Since I know what it takes to pay off a combined $60K in student loans and credit card debt myself, I appreciate it even more.

    Plus, the persistence it takes to achieve something like that is similar to running a race. Having run a marathon and 5 half marathons, I know that getting to the finish with anything takes a certain type of mindset and focus (especially matters involving money like paying off debt, paying off your house, or reaching FIRE). Great post!

  3. Wow, $10,000 in 10 weeks – that’s insane! I love stories like this, they show that debt repayment doesn’t have to be some huge black shadow following you around all your life if you really put your mind to it.

    Paying off my student loan is still high on my list of priorities – I’d love to be able to achieve the same kind of success as you and these other stories some day! 🙂

    1. Yes, I love debt free stories 🙂

  4. Great stories! Nice to see that debt free is possible. We are currently working on our mortgage but getting rid of our other debts really takes that financial burden away!

  5. Shivam Verma

    Great stories. hard work can help you with many things, debt payment is one of those. I myself am under debt of my student loan. I am working day and night to repay my debts. Hope the struggle will end soon. Thanks for the motivation and sharing the post.

  6. Mao

    These stories are simply inspiring! It’s unbelievable how much we can accomplish once we set our minds to something.

    Absolutely love these stories!

  7. Cassie’s story about the minimum payments not even covering the interest is terrifying! I can hardly believe it’s even legal to allow interest to exceed the monthly minimum. Those that don’t understand interest rates or early payoff plans are sentenced to a life of deeper and deeper debt. Brutal!

  8. Finances with Purpose

    Very encouraging! Paying off debt is the best financial thing possible–buying back your freedom. I’m so glad to have paid off my own debt – $200k in student loans (my story is on my blog if you ever have time to stop by!).

  9. I thought I was being clever killing 20K in 8 months but you did twice that!

    This article is the reason why people shouldn’t ever have excuses when they’re whole mind and person!!!

  10. Great roundup! These stories are so encouraging! We had to take on a small car loan and I’m trying to pay if off ASAP. I can’t stand feeling stressed about money.

  11. I enjoyed reading this stories, very encouraging! I’m so close to paying off mines. I’ll pay it off in 2 weeks. I owed 48k back in 2014, as of yesterday I only owe 7k! I’m very excited, I can breathe and sleep better. Knowing that in 2 weeks I’ll be debt free is a huge relief! I currently blog about my stories at Thanks for sharing people’s stories and your story too!

  12. Save Splurge Deny Debt – Cameron

    These are all great stories, thanks for sharing!

    We are currently in the middle of a debt payoff plan. Happy to be knocking out over $1500 a month and increasing that as much as possible. We are working on a garage sale and selling all sorts of junk to help make this go faster.

    Always great to see these stories. I usually immediately go to my Excel budget and look for ways to cut back on spending!

  13. I love to read these kind of stories, I find them really inspirational and usually I find alwasy some good tip to steal:D

  14. Eliza

    Thanks for sharing these stories Michelle. It’s amazing what people can do when they decide to. I’m always really impressed by people who can hustle. It’s not my strong suit and I would really benefit from mastering the art.

  15. Those stories are motivating. They let us know that anyone can eliminate debt with hard work.

  16. Thank God I never been 400k in debt before but I learned from my debt mistakes. It’s always a blessing to hear about people who start their own business and find a way to catapult themselves out of debt. Back in 2006, I made the mistake of taking out 2 credit cards and taking a trip by myself to Santa Barbara, California to the CJ affiliate marketing meetup. I had never been to Santa Barbara before and absolutely loved it. And once I got there, I didn’t want to leave. The food and everything on the west coast is amazing. It left me in a financial bind after a few years because at the time, I was just learning about affiliate marketing.

    And I certainly did live paycheck to paycheck in my earlier years. I worked temp jobs and only earned my can of beans working a regular job. Needless to say, I was happy because I had no kids and unmarried. I didn’t know anything about how to start my own business, so I passed time by working as many high paying jobs as possible. Today, I’m not only concerned about debt and keeping my debt ratio low or at “0,” but also inspiring others to start online businesses as a means of working slowly but surely on a side hustle to financial freedom.

    Thanks for proving another thought-provoking blog Michelle. 🙂

  17. FIbythecommonguy

    I enjoy reading stories like these, great inspirations. Good reminder to keep focused on your goals.

  18. Crystal @ The Frugal Sisters

    I loved reading the success stories of others during our journey to a debt-free life. It provides great motivation, and you definitely need that along the way as it can be tough at times. Stories like these helped our family become debt free and inspired us to share and try to motivate others as well. I still love reading these stories and the success that others have!

  19. Catherine @ My Work Money Life

    Girl, I’m totally LOVING all of these successes stories! I’m so glad you post stuff like this! I’m trying to use these to inspire me to start knocking out my own debt. $100k to be exact *GULP*.

    I’ve been thinking in order to hold myself accountable making a monthly blog post about my debt and where I am with it in my own blog. Kind of like monthly blog income reports (which btw, totally obsessed with monthly blog income reports). I don’t know, just a thought.