Are you broke? {our debt story}



Yes. I am broke.

We live like we are broke. If it weren’t for this mentality– my husband and I would continue to to be $10,000’s of dollars in debt. We still have a long way to go (and to give you an idea– we currently have $55,546 in student loan debt) but if it weren’t for telling myself every day– We are broke–it would probably be more.

I don’t talk much about debt because I feel as a person I can’t really preach about it. {and I am even more embarrassed about it} Even though we are working our debt down to $0 its been a long, dragged out process. As students, we weren’t smart. We made bad choices and as adults we are living with them (and will be for several years)

Do you live like you are broke? Maybe you make plenty of money but do you live within your means? I think that is important when it comes to saving money and possibly living debt free.

Maybe you can afford a $2500 rent payment– but do you REALLY need it? Won’t a $2000 rent suffice (or less)? I know, personally I would rather put that extra $500 towards my debt.

Even though we live below our means– we still live a happy, fulfilling life. Just by creating a budget and sticking to it we have saved $1000’s of dollars every month, which has been put towards our emergency fund and paying off student loan debt.

Our story:

Two years ago, my husband and I were $80,000 in debt with our school loans .. We were told that it would take us 16 years, $366 payments every month before our loans would be paid in full. uh. 16 years? My heart dropped at this thought. Being the stubborn woman that I am, I am determined to not be dedicated to 16 years of loan payments– we are going to pay this down faster than that!

Long story short. In two years and we have paid more than $25,000 into our debt and are still on a path to pay this down within the next 4 years.

You can do it! 

How? Living within your means, using coupons whenever possible and paying with cash and ultimately be willing to change. There will be no change unless you are ready for it.

Need help with your budget? Try Mint.com and Personal Capital ( View cash flow, spending patterns, portfolio balance and asset allocation)

Disclosure: I am by no means a finance professional. I’m just a mom tired of living in debt. This is what has worked for me.

photo credit: lemonjenny 

  • EyeHeartCoupons says:

    Thanks for sharing, I been on that path for a year now, Its AMAZING how with discipline you can be able to pay off debt. Still surprises me that we were able to take 4 vacations (small ones) and still be able to save and do payoffs!

  • Lisa says:

    🙂 You’re awesome Josie!!

  • Jennifer says:

    My husband and I just started doing this. We took a financial class at church that was based on the Dave Ramsey idea and it is amazing how making a budget and sticking to it actually works! We live off of cash and are working on a plan to pay off student loans quickly. My husband was just recently blessed to take on a second job that will pay very well, so for a short amount of time, we will make almost double. Even though I would love to get the maid, go shopping and eat out everyday, I won’t. We know we can live off our budget and all extra money will go to debt. Having extra money in our pockets in the future is more important that having frivolous stuff now that won’t last. Thank you for sharing Josie. We are all in your boat and talking about it will help everyone else realize they don’t have to live in debt forever.

  • Jen says:

    Thank you for sharing! I have a 10 year old car that works just fine and we try not to keep up with the Joneses. I tell my husband all the time, “Is it a want or a need?” (I got it from Suze Orman) and that’s helped us to pause and reevaluate.

  • Daisy says:

    The only debt we carry is the mortgage and our mortgage payment is super affordable but I still choose to live like we’re broke (he’s good about that some times but not others!) My goal is to pay cash for a much bigger house while I’m still in my 40s which will then allow me to save much more money for a comfortable, EARLY retirement full of traveling. 🙂

  • ro in sd says:

    Thanks for sharing. My husband and I always live like we are broke. We drive one newer car and have 2 older ones. Our sons car qualifies as a beater but he’s only with us one month a year. We live below our means. We have a niece caring for my MIL.. to thank /pay her we are paying her college costs.. We aren’t doing without anything. As a grad present to our grad student son we paid off his undergrad debt and gave him a paid off car. All this became possible by being a careful spender.

  • Lan says:

    Everyone’s story is so inspiring. 🙂 I would love to help my kids out wih their college when the time comes..and that’s why we’re living like we are poor. My husband is really good at buying big ticketed items for a fraction of the cost..a $500 food processor for $50 (for making homemade meals) and I’ve resorted to couponing..which allowed us to be debt free and stay debt free(we still have the mortgage) while one of us stays home to care for our twin 1 year olds. It’s hard to do with one income..but we’ve managed it and stayed debt free. We’re hoping to get the mortgage paid off early when we can start throwing more money at it…then save for an early retirement. It’s going to be worth all the restaurant trips we skipped out on! It’s been literally 9 months since we ate out (which was new years eve). Good luck to everyone on this debt free journey. Thanks for the recommendations for Personal Capital. I’ve been wanting to use it, but I was afraid of putting all my information out there for the world to see.

    • KC says:

      I have been a stay at home mom for 16+ years and I am also a homeschooling mom to 2 teen boys and 1 preteen boy… & soon to be foster and adoptive mom. My husband recently retired from the marine corps…. everyone is amazed that I don’t work and that we “have it all”… but what they don’t see is all the coupons and smart shopping has helped us afford all that we do have. We have no debt, except our mortgage. But, don’t feel like you are “resorting” to coupons… its nothing that you should feel that about… instead maybe just think about coupons are like foreign currency… money on different paper… think of it all in a positive light! You have the ability to stay home and that in itself is a blessing most a lot of women whish they had. 🙂

  • Pam Tuey says:

    I do not believe that most students understand what they are getting themselves into with student loans. Most 18, 19 , 20 year olds do not have enough financial knowledge let alone life experience to be signing loans for huge amounts of money. Many students end up with 100,000 ‘s of dollars of debts, and with degrees that will not provide a job that pays enough to justify the debt. We need to educate our children so they can understand real life and make appropriate decisions for their futures. The school are not doing it. End of rant 🙂

  • EES says:


    My family lives well below its means. It has allowed me to stay at home with my son the last 6 months before he started Kindergarten without having to worry about money. I buy most of what we need at the thrift shops. My son only has a few “new” clothes or toys (thankfully I have a boy, if I had a girl, I might not be able to do that!). I follow your weekly ads and advice about good prices. I stock up on things we use when they are on sale. Once I get a job, I’ll double the mortgage payments I’ve been making. My goal is to have enough money to pay off the house in about 5 years–we’ll see if that is an attainable goal or not when I get a job (hopefully I DO get a job!)

  • I C says:

    This is inspiring and thank you for putting it out there, I’m also embarrassed about my debt and don’t like to talk about it. As young adults no one told us not to get credit cards or high student loans and I accumulated quite a debt, using the Dave Ramsey snowball method I was able to pay off my student loan and it felt so good. Little by little we are trying to pay off our credit cards and stopped using them. I try to save money using coupons and by husband is good at finding bargains on big items. Our goal is to one day be able to purchase a house.

  • Lauren says:

    My husband and I teach Financial Peace University at our church. I highly recommend investing your time and money in taking the class! I have seen some amazing stories of people turning their financial lives around! It is amazing how much your whole attitude and emotions about money change when you have a plan.

  • Wendy says:

    Josie, your story is so inspiring and encouraging. Thank you for taking the time to share it openly with all of us. My husband and I took the Dave Ramsey class (another reader posted about it too) and we loved it, and live by it. Our cars are old but run great! We hold off on some things so we can afford other things… Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you for sharing. 🙂 I appreciate all your hard work, keep strong on your debt! You’ll get there!

  • Lina says:

    Creditkarma.com is pretty awesome for monitoring credit progress

  • hazzy says:

    I feel your pain. Last November we decided to rent out our house and move into a little 2 bedroom apartment. It was a big adjustment when you came from a 6 bedroom, 4 car garage, etc etc etc. We plan on moving back to our house in another 2 1/2 years. We just needed to get out of debt. We save tons of money now becasue even our utilities went down. At least the people renting our house are my mothers friends so our kids were able to stay in the same school. I look forward and count down the days to be our of debt and back in our house.

  • Michelle R says:

    Thank you to everyone for sharing your stories…we’re in a similar situation as far as the student loan/cc debt. We’re sitting down now trying to see how fast we can pay stuff off so that we can afford to have me stay home with our 2 little kids. After we pay off the babysitter and gas to get to/from work, it just doesn’t seem worth it to be away from my babies!!

  • newbie says:

    It took my husband and I 5 years to buy a house. 5 years! It became overwhelming to bid and lose. Then once you do get your foot in the door, all the paperwork gets overwhelming. Just know the Lord works in mysterious ways. All the searching and lost bids, the feeling of desperation, and dealing with a growing family took its toll. I was 8 months preggers with our second child, not working because of the pregnancy, when a house we bid on accepted! I had no idea how we did it, but we scrambled the money together and made it. Moved in the house, cleaned and painted (with my huge belly), and a few days after we moved in had the baby. BAM! All at once! You’re not the only one to feel the madness of buying a house, but know because of what you have taught us and what you believe is a way of life. Couponing, maintaining a budget, is a way of life. And because of it, we have what we have. There are times I’m broke after paying bills and the mortgage. BUT, why fridge is ALWAYS stocked! And that’s a blessing!

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