How One Family Paid off $33,000 Worth of Debt

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We all battle with debt…and more than likely, we all have some form of it.  Each of us decide what we want to have debt on, and then adjust our lifestyle to conform accordingly.  Debt, like anything else, can be manageable and overcome.  My guest blogger today, Holly from Mrs. Savvy Saver, managed to pay off $33,000 worth of debt!  I was able to have a Q & A session with her to ask some questions about her journey to the blogging world and her ability to pay off such a massive amount of debt.   (Also, don’t forget to follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for other great tips and ways to save even more money!)

Welcome Holly!  Please tell us, what brought you to the blogging world?

Well, maybe “who” would be a better way for me to answer this question. My two littles I would have to say are my reason for joining the crazy, wonderful world of blogging. For a very long time I have enjoyed photographing amazing weddings and portraits with my photography business but that requires so much time outside the home and some really late nights. As much as I loved doing photography it was taking me away from my family more than I wanted so I turned to blogging.

How do you hope that your blog and your style of writing will help others in their lives?

My goal is to help women develop financial success. This success may be defined as learning how to efficiently use a budget, overcome negative spending habits, saving money to create a security net, or build wealth but what that looks like is different for each lady.

Tell our readers how you and your husband managed to pay off $33,000 worth of debt!  How long did this take?  What were the positives and negatives of this?

My Prince Charming and I were married in 2004 and one month later moved to beautiful, sunny Florida. It was like living in paradise all the time! I loved it. The sun was always shining, we lived 9 miles from the beach and we were newly weds. He was working part-time and going to school full-time. I was working full-time and life was crazy. We loved it there.

We knew debt was going to be hanging over our heads from the school loans he had taken out so we committed to paying off each school bill as it came due, during the time he was in school. It was a big bite out of our paychecks but it was worth the hard work.

When he walked for his diploma we had $17,000 of debt left to pay. We were also moving to NY for him to take a small church where he would be pastoring. The salary was going to be very small and we knew he was going to take another job.

Here is where we did the crazy thing! We wanted to start our family and knew that I was going to stay home so we decided that I would NOT go back to work! Even though I could have easily found a job in my field. All the while we knew we would make less that $20,000 that year. Crazy right! I know!

The Lord truly blessed us during those crazy first steps of me coming home. We still were able to enjoy time together, we did fun cheap dates but we did not spend on things we didn’t need. I should also say we had no credit card debt. Nothing went on the credit card.

We paid off the school loans and school bills by:

  1. Committing to a budget. Every penny was accounted for each month.
  2. Used vehicles.
  3. No vacations.
  4. Consolidating our loans.
  5. House sitting for a family for 1 year.
  6. Comparison Shopping. Here is a way we saved big on insurance.

The very positive side of paying off our debt was the freedom to make choices that were best for our family.

As for a negative effect, maybe not being able to “keep up the Joneses” but that has not been hard for me. I do have expensive taste but I’ve also been able to incorporate frugal ways to have nice things and do DIY projects around the house in order to life comfortable.

Earn up to $7500 for one sale!

What is one item/app etc. that you feel helps to save you and your family the most money?

I would have to say that having a budget is honestly what has saved us and the reason is being able to KNOW how much money we have to spend or need to save helps us in the moment of decision. Otherwise every purchase is a stab in the dark.

For years I used an excel spreadsheet which worked but it was bulky and very time-consuming. But now I use the app YNAB by and I recommend it to everyone! It is modern and amazing! It takes a short time to learn it but they give you 34 days to try it for free. Plus they have many helpful videos on Youtube to get you fully comfortable with the program. If you do nothing else with the information I’ve shared but you get this program, I will be happy! It gives you the power to know your financial picture!

If there was one frugal living tip that you could pass on, what would it be?

My tip would be to evaluate your large expenses and see where you can cut back. Not just the small items like a coke here or there. Usually our large spending areas are related to our passions, hobbies or bills. Determining if these purchase are the result of good habits or negative habits can impact us so much more than if we just focus on small changes that don’t really change the trajectory of our financial path.

How often do you reassess and alter your budget and spending habits?

This right answer here is the KEY to using a budget effectively. I recommend having a date with your budget every 3 months. This gives you a time you focus on the trends in your spending and saving habits. Then you can adjust according to facts.

Related Posts:

How to Live Off One Income

Frugal Living – 10 Simple Ways to Live Frugal

What is one fun fact about you?

When I was 19 I took a bus tour by myself up and down Utah and Arizona to see the Grand Canyon and other amazing sites. Growing up on a farm in New York all my life kept me close to home but I had always dreamed of seeing the Grand Canyon so I took the opportunity when I had it and I will never regret it. My first glimpse of the Canyon was as the sun was setting and it was a clear night. Our guide said he had only seem a cloudless night as that a few times in his career. I was truly in awe of God’s handiwork as I stood looking at the vast expanse of the Canyon.


Thank you again Holly for such a great informative post!  Your goals and determination are such a great example for others to follow in order to understand and prioritize paying down debt.

To all you readers out there, what ways do you have to spend down your debt?  How often do you re-evaluate your goals to align them with your spending habits?

21 thoughts on “How One Family Paid off $33,000 Worth of Debt

  1. Rosie Digout says:

    Lots of great tips! A few years ago, I lost my job. I was a single parent and having no income coming in for a few months was hard. I learned very quickly the want vs need. At times, I was struggling to figure out how I was going to buy milk and was juggling which bill to pay that month. But, ask my girls and they can tell you that they never felt we were poor. My buying decisions changed and we started doing family things that didn’t cost money. Thanks for sharing their success story!

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