How We Paid Off $135,000 Debt In 3 Years?

Jekoniah Olocho
May 27, 2023
How We Paid Off $135,000 Debt in 3 Years
How We Paid Off $135,000 Debt in 3 Years

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Many people are in dire debt, and their lives are controlled by their debt credit cards, mortgages, and student loans. 

Some have even normalized debts, with the common phrase “everyone is in debt.” 

However, some have taken control of their debts and are living a stress-free life, willing to share their story on how you can get out of debt faster.

Consider the incredible story of Cory and Erica.

They decided not to allow debts to control their lives and finances, paying off over $135,000 in 36 months, and here is their story – this story highlights how you can take control of your finances and begin paying off debts.

Wrong Decisions That Plunged Them In Debt

When Cory and Erica married, they thought they had an excellent financial situation. They bought a new car, TV, furniture, and household stuff since they believed they could afford the monthly payments.

Erica admits they spent carelessly throughout the month, leaving them with little to no money at month-end. “We were also not saving for retirement or doing any savings,” she says.

One year after they married, Erica says she began being frustrated by the colossal amount of money they spent on debt.

Cory admits that, unlike Erica, a natural saver and good with money, he spent all the money he received without saving a dime. He lived in the moment without thinking about the accrued debt, future, or retirement.

Cory says, “I also received an email from my mom about a student loan, meaning I owed my parents and the bank money for a student loan accruing interest rates.”

He also realized that it would take him 30 years to clear the debt with the minimum repayment he was doing.

The couple revealed that they were putting $1000 toward student loans monthly, which they calculated would amount to paying the loan for 30 years.

A month after their conversation on student loans, they invited friends over for Thanksgiving, and a discussion ensued about managing finances.

A friend suggested “The Total Money Makeover” book by Dave Ramsey’s highlighting a practical financial plan to help families pay off their debt in shorter periods.

Erica read the book and convinced Cory they could pay off their debt in 31/2 years. They also listened to financial gurus on podcasts and YouTube videos on practical steps that could set them free from the debt chain.

Deciding On How To Get Out Of Debt In 3 Years

They jumped into action immediately after completing the book, starting their journey to be debt-free in January 2015. By November 2017, the couple had paid off $135,000 and were debt-free.

Cory worked full-time for a tech company when they began their debt-free journey. He would work 20 hours a week throughout the year for an annual salary of $45,000.

Cory took on the recommendation from The Total Money Makeover, took on extra on a second job as a freelancer for 4 hours after work, and made around $450 a month.

Additionally, he tutored neighboring kids at home on the weekends for two hours, earning $200 a month.

Erica was also working full-time as an accountant in a refinery company bringing home a $37,000 annual salary.

She also took an extra job as a freelance writer after working for 3 hours, earning approximately $300 a month. This combined income and other behavioral changes help this couple successfully tackle their debt.

Implementing Dave Ramsey’s Snowball And Lifestyle Change

The couple learned from financial videos and the book they read that personal finances are about 80% behavior and 20% head knowledge and math.

They admit that it was challenging to make the necessary changes, but it is worth it. The following baby steps worked for them:-

1. Creating A Budget

Erica and Cory took control of their finances using Quicken’s free budget calculator to see where their money was going and create a plan to pay down debt, grow their savings, and meet their long-term financial goals.

Every day ” we sat down and examined our budget, how far off we didn’t stick to it, what was remaining, and how we could improve the next day.” They limited their shopping while selling stuff they did not use.

Additionally, they tracked their spending, thus eliminating TV and Cable subscriptions, and they are happy sticking to these habits even after they are debt-free.

2. Use The Snowball Method

The snowball method advocates lining up your debts from the smallest to the biggest and begins attacking the smallest with a vengeance.

Once you are done with the smallest debt, take the money you used to pay the first debt plus any other money you can squeeze out of your budget and throw it into the number two lowest debt. The process will snowball until you can pay off the most significant debt.

Erica and Cory agree that though this method may not make sense mathematically, it works, as it gives you the satisfaction of seeing debts zeroed out.

It also helps them know the result of changed behavior and the rewards of cutting down spending while increasing savings.

3. Live Below Your Means – How To Get Out Of Debt In 3 Years

After examining their spending for some months before beginning the debt-free journey, they realized some spending they would cut off the budget, such as eating out, unnecessary subscriptions, and shopping less.

Cory admits that this strategy was not easy to implement, but after a while, their lives adjusted, and the things they spent money on in an auto-pilot dropped.

4. Control The Content You Consume

You are the average of five people you associate with regularly. Cory and Erica immersed themselves in watching YouTube videos with several financial experts that normalized living below one’s means.

This gave them the motivation to be aware of ways to improve their personal finances. It also meant they avoided content that encouraged excessive spending and fashion influencers.

5. Increase Your Income

Though getting out of debt feels like managing your spending and cutting your cost, making more money is also a considerable part of the process.

The couple picks up a turn of side hustles such as freelancing and tutoring to increase their income. You could also do ubering, lifting, door-dashing, cleaning, etc.

What Are Their Future Plans?

Now that this family is out of debt, they are not taking a break. They are looking for several investment opportunities. Their focus is on real estate investment as they grow their monthly income.

Their discipline cultivated from debt-free journeys has also helped them improve their savings for future stock investments.

Looking back, they say, the journey took self-sacrifice and endurance. They advise that it takes accepting short-term comfort to acquire long-term financial peace.


Paying off a large amount of debt may seem daunting, but with the right mindset and strategies, it is possible to become debt-free.

By following the steps outlined in this blog, such as creating a budget, increasing your income, and prioritizing your debt payments, you can take control of your financial situation and work towards achieving your goals.

It may require sacrifice and discipline, but becoming debt-free is worth it. Remember, it’s never too late to start acting toward financial freedom.

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The time it takes to pay off 100k debt depends on various factors like your income, expenses, interest rates, and monthly payments. Generally, if you make consistent payments towards the debt while minimizing costs and increasing income, you can expect to pay it off in 5-10 years.

To pay off a $20,000 debt in 6 months, you must create a budget, cut unnecessary expenses, and increase your income. Consider selling items you don’t need, working overtime or freelance jobs, and reducing your spending on non-essential things like entertainment and dining out.

To get out of $15,000 debt, start by creating a budget and prioritizing debt payments. Consider consolidation options like a personal loan or balance transfer credit card to reduce interest rates and simplify payments. Additionally, look for ways to increase your income and cut expenses to accelerate debt payoff.

To pay off $10,000 in debt in a year, you need to make a budget and set realistic monthly payments. Consider increasing your income, such as a side hustle or asking for a raise, and reducing expenses like eating out or unnecessary subscriptions. Stick to your budget and avoid accumulating new debt to achieve your goal.


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