Three months ago, Mark and I made the decision to start our debt-free journey in earnest. At the time, we had about $15,000 in credit card debt, about $100,000 in student loan debt between the two of us and $150,000 left on the mortgage. We traded in both of our Nissans (one of which was still being financed) for a fully paid off 2017 Toyota Prius, which reduced our car insurance costs, reduced our gas costs and got rid of our car payments. I will share more on our car purchase in an upcoming post. We stopped using the credit cards and planned to have them all paid off by the end of 2018. It turns out, we were ahead of schedule and were able to pay off the credit card debt one month early! We could have finished paying even sooner, but we had to put down over $600 for my USMLE Step 1 exam registration. It does make me happy to know that we were able to cash-flow that expense and did not need to charge it to a credit card. I am looking forward to the peace of mind knowing that we will eventually have enough savings to cover everything in cash, and we will be able to save so much more once our debt payments are gone. We have already been able to reduce our living expenses to less than 30% of take-home pay, freeing up a lot of money to throw at our debts. While we are super eager to get the rest of the debt paid, we will be putting debt payments on a hiatus for the rest of 2018 so that we can cover any final payments for wedding vendors and other wedding related costs, and resume debt payments in January 2019.
Having the credit cards paid off is a great victory for us, but it is just one battle and the war is not yet over. We still plan to knock out our student loans within the next two years, and even though Mark is still in his Master’s program, we plan on cash-flowing his tuition so as not to add any more principal to his loans as we pay them off. I think it is totally possible to meet our goal to have everything paid for within the next four years, and hopefully we will exceed our own expectations. In addition, to help get those loans paid off faster, we are actively looking for ways to make a little extra money on the side. We still have items that we can sell for a profit, and we are receiving our Big Fat Check from Ebates this month that amounts to over $200. Ebates is an app that saves you money on things you were going to buy anyway. You can get the google chrome plug-in that lets you know what percent cash back you are eligible for when you are on the website of a participating store. You just click to activate, make your purchase, and the cash back gets added to an Ebates account from which a Big Fat Check is written and sent to you or your Paypal account gets credited. It’s basically free money! Use my referral link https://www.ebates.com/r/SPRING3364?eeid=28187 to get a $10 bonus on your first purchase of $25 or more!
We are also counting on wedding registry gifts to help us furnish our home, since we will be getting married in December. Aside from what we will be receiving from our wedding registry, we do not plan to furnish our home out of pocket until the very last debt is paid off. And if you saw our bare living room, you might ask, “why are you depriving yourselves”? We have a couch that functions and a $15 dining room set from Goodwill that works for us for now, and we are learning to be content with what we have. This does not mean that we aren’t open to saving for some of these projects on the side. However, the priority is to pay off the debt and secondarily pay for furniture, home improvements, etc with cash. We are especially thankful that in this season of our lives, before we have kids, that we are able to focus completely on being financially stable. Out of that thankfulness will have to come contentment with the present, looking forward to all the things we will be able to do once our finances are straight. Cheers to living on less!