What was your total debt when you started your repayment journey?
Deacon Hayes: We had $52,000 of debt, and we paid it off in 18 months.
How did you end up in debt?
We used debt as a way to fund our lifestyle. If we wanted to go to school, we borrowed money to make it happen. When I needed a new car, I financed it at a car dealer. When we went on our honeymoon to Cabo [San Lucas, Mexico], we put it on a credit card. We viewed debt as a way to get what we wanted in life.
What triggered your decision to start getting out of debt?
We began to feel like we were living paycheck to paycheck because more money was going out than was coming in each month. We decided to combine our finances, and that is when we saw that we had $52,000 in debt, outside of mortgage debt. This included about $18,000 in a car loan; $27,000 in student loans; and roughly $7,000 in credit card debt.
What steps did you take to reduce your debt? What resources or services did you use?
We did everything we could to reduce our expenses and increase our income. The first thing we did was go through each line of our budget and [try] to make that number smaller. We canceled our cable, and I canceled my gym membership. Then I called our different service providers for internet, cell phones, etc., and asked if they had a better deal. I was amazed at how much we were able to save just by calling and asking.
We also used the debt snowball method to tackle our debts. This is where we listed our debts smallest to largest and then paid minimum payments on everything except the smallest debt. Then any extra money we had, we used that to pay down the first debt. Once that was paid off, we would roll the money that we were paying on that to the next smallest debt. This was huge, because we were able to see progress really quickly using this method.