Our Debt Free Journey and Steps to Getting Started

Debt. The elephant in the room. Something no one, I mean no one, is interested in talking about. But it's an epidemic and it's affecting me and my generation. It's time we start talking. 

So, how did I get into all this debt? Well, Drew and I attended school for 6 years. We each received our doctorates in physical therapy along with two undergraduate degrees. These did not come without a large price tag... After graduation, we made the decision to pursue our student loans aggressively. Everyones situation is different and there’s many ways we could have gone about it but for us, the burden of student loans looming overtop of us for 20+ years wasn’t something we were okay with. This is our situation and we’re choosing to own it. 

We learned a lot from the Dave Ramsey podcasts and his baby steps program. I think it’s a fantastic resource however, due to the significant amount of student loan debt that we have, we chose to veer from the traditional “baby steps” a bit. We started off by sitting down and organizing our debts from highest interest rate to lowest. We decided to attack the loans in order of interest rates as this will ultimately save us money in the long run and thus slow down the ever accumulating interest. This is often referred to as the “avalanche method” and as you eliminate each high interest rate loan you free up a significant amount of cash to then throw into your next highest interest rate loan and then the cycle repeats. So at the end of each month, after all our bills have been paid we use the remainder of our income to pay extra towards our student loans. The excess is put towards our highest interest loan until it is completely eliminated and then we move down to the next loan. 

A Graph Tracking Debt Paid to Date Placed Next to a Cup of Coffee and Reading Glasses

This little chart here is a great visual motivator for me, I actually get excited each month to add to it and see how far we’ve come. Since April we have paid off almost $60,000 in student loan debt and are currently on track to reach our goal of $100,000 by April of next year. This is one of our short term goals and although 100K will not get us where we need to be, it is important to celebrate the smaller scale victories as they are a huge step towards our end goal of financial freedom. 

Travel therapy has allowed us to maximize our paycheck, while living in the RV has allowed us to reduce our monthly expenses. We also save for retirement, we go out to dinner, we go to breweries, we explore the cities around us during our travels and we have fun! But we do so responsibly and within our budget. I do not share any of this to boast but rather to show others that it is possible to live an enjoyable life while still tackling debt, saving for retirement and getting ahead financially. If you’re looking to get out of debt but aren’t sure where to start my biggest tips would be: 

1. Gather all your debts and interest rates in one place
2. Decide how you want to approach your debts, size of the loan vs interest rates
3. Look at your monthly spending, find areas you can cut back on or eliminate
4. Make a budget (we use the app Mint)
5. Create short and long term goals you can actually stick to
6. Create a visual aid to help keep you inspired and motivated and also show you how far you’ve come


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