Proof That Getting Out of Debt is VERY Possible

I’m not going to pretend I know anything about debt since I’ve been fortunate enough to avoid it for most of my life (outside of mortgages, ugh…), BUT, I’m 100% convinced that anyone who truly wants to get out of debt can do it. It may not be tomorrow, or the next year, but it’s VERY much possible to do if you prioritize and hustle your sweet little asses off.

And I know that because of these people:

1) Travis, from Enemy of Debt

Travis just learned what it feels like to finish paying off $100,000 of debt in 4 years. And not just any old debt, but CREDIT CARD DEBT! The worst of them all! Here was my favorite clip:

“I’ve told our story countless times, and each time there’s a voice in my head laughing, reminding me how absurd this sentence sounds: “We racked up $109,000 in credit card debt.”

Maybe it’s because with four months to go the end finally feels real…It’s taken a lot of work. A LOT of work to get to where we are with our communication and budget system. It’s been much like fighting your way against the wind in a driving snowstorm. You just tuck your head into your chest and keep moving forward. You know that over time you will get to your destination, but all you can do is look down at your feet and focus on putting one foot in front of the other.”

I’ve known Travis for a few years now, back when a large chunk of that debt was STILL THERE, and I’ve never met anyone so damn passionate about killing it once and for all, haha… And every week that passed he was there chipping away while we all were doing whatever it is we do in our time :) So congrats, Travis. You did it buddy!!!!

2) Stephanie, from The Empowered Dollar

Stephanie also recently killed off all $34,579 of her debt, and did it in exactly 3 years and 11 months – two months ahead of our set goal. It seems October was a good month for people :)

“3 years and 11 months later, and it’s here. The day I’ve been waiting for. The day this entire blog has building toward. The Christmas morning of personal finance. I am now officially 100% debt free… I’m so happy, I could cry. Or laugh. Or drink a bottle of champagne. Or do all three of those things :)”

She later posted on HOW she did this, and how YOU can do it too.

3) Jordann, from My Alternate Life

Jordann is the newest debt-free person I know. Just last week she sent in her last payment and completely wiped out all $38,000 of this financial devil. 24 months of making it the most important financial goal of her life. Or, as she later put it, “Heck, it’s been the number one most important goal of my whole existence.” I’m sure some of you can relate :)

What she said about the future-her really struck me the most:

“I don’t really feel that different, just free. Like there’s a load off my shoulders. No matter what, I don’t have debt. No matter what happens in the future, at least I have that…. From now on, all of my money is mine. Every single dollar I earn is either going towards things that make me happy, or towards savings (to make future-Jordann happy).”

Powerful stuff!!!

And lastly, #4) Maria, from The Money Principle

Maria is very special to me for a number of reasons – one being we’re good friends outside of blogging – but another because she’s like a teenager stuck in the body of a world-renowned professor :) That’s no exaggeration either – she literally teaches at one of the top business schools in the world.

I make that distinction because despite being (obviously) smart with all her degrees, and accomplishing a lot in her professional life already, Maria still found herself in a heap of debt. To the tune of £100,000. Or, in US dollars: $157,000 (!!!).

And that’s while having a DAMN good salary too – I was shocked. I asked her how, and she simply told me that she hadn’t a clue. In fact, she told me she didn’t even KNOW she was in debt until one day it hit her!

“Money never mattered to me. I was not interested; and while thinking that all is well, I made a lot of money so I didn’t pay attention. Everything was just kinda taken care of.”

Now the plus side of making a lot of money, and being smart, is that you then have an edge on nixing it all off faster than another might (it only took her 3 years to kill it), but still. It just goes to show that DEBT CAN HAPPEN TO ANYONE. Or rather, ANYONE CAN WELCOME DEBT INTO THEIR LIVES – because we all know debt can’t just “happen” to us. We usually bring it on ourselves (certain situations excluded).

Four different people from all around the world who racked up debt, and then swiftly kicked it all to the curb. $329,579 in total – all being paid off within a number of years. Pretty incredible stuff. And you’ll notice a pattern if you read any of their stories further. Words like “hustle” and “not easy” and “prioritizing” are scattered throughout. All stuff we know, but is pointless unless you ACT. And these people are the kings and queens of that.

seinfeld dance

So, again. I’m no expert myself in debt, but everything here is proof that getting rid of debt is not only possible, but PROBABLE. Everyone mentioned here are normal people like you and me, so I have no doubt some of you will be debt free soon as well :)

Keep working hard and you’ll be a story someone tells one day too!

Photo by the lovely – and now debt-free – Stephanie from The Empowered Dollar

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  1. Travis @Debtchronicles November 12, 2013 at 7:15 AM

    Thanks for the support over the last couple of years J, it’s much appreciated. I’m honored to be mentioned with Jordann, Stephanie, and Maria here. LOVED that you totaled up the debt from all 4 of us…..that is a HUGE chunk of dough! I hope this post gives just a little extra motivation to readers struggling with debt to just KEEP GOING!

    1. J. Money November 12, 2013 at 9:36 PM

      Man, I can’t say enough about you guys… you’re just so freakin’ inspirational! (And sexy, but that’s for another day ;))

      1. Stephanie November 15, 2013 at 2:40 AM

        I keep re-reading that total… $329,579. Wow. That’s awesome :) Thanks again for featuring me!

  2. Jordann November 12, 2013 at 7:39 AM

    Wow thanks for mentioning my post! Debt is definitely a terrible thing to have, but it doesn’t have to be a way of life, the lovely people you mentioned in this post have proven it, and I’m happy to be counted with them!

    1. J. Money November 12, 2013 at 9:36 PM

      Yay! Congrats again!!

  3. kelly @stayingonbudget November 12, 2013 at 7:40 AM

    It’s great to read stories like this! Yes, I think it is but the key words are what you mentioned like hustle…it doesn’t just happen!

  4. Laurie @thefrugalfarmer November 12, 2013 at 7:58 AM

    J, I SO needed this today. We are at the beginning of our journey, and it’s an overwhelming day again. Thanks much for the encouragement. :-) Great stories here!

    1. J. Money November 12, 2013 at 9:45 PM

      Good! We need a little extra push every now and then :) Glad you found this useful (it was certainly fun to put together).

  5. The Warrior November 12, 2013 at 8:02 AM

    Love you sharing the success stories.

    The best thing to me about these individuals is knowing that after such a long struggle they have the opportunity to BUILD now.

    For so long they struggled, now there’s this huge flip from the dark side to light and they can take all of these debt payments and build their future with it. Since the debt payments were so large for so long, the equivalent amount applied to investments, savings, a home, etc. will tally up in their favor just as quickly.

    Congrats folks! Well done!

    The Warrior

    1. J. Money November 12, 2013 at 9:47 PM

      YES! Agreed!! Imagine how much they can save and invest now – it’ll be crazy!! And they’re already so used to putting that money somewhere so it’ll be super easy!

  6. Mike Collins November 12, 2013 at 8:19 AM

    I enjoy reading success stories like these! It’s great motivation to see someone who is even more deeply in debt that you are find a way to dig themselves out.

  7. Holly@ClubThrifty November 12, 2013 at 8:32 AM

    Those are all great stories! Awesome!
    It definitely can be done! We paid off oodles of debt years ago and it was hard work but totally worth it.

  8. John S @ Frugal Rules November 12, 2013 at 8:33 AM

    Awesome success stories J! Having gone through it myself in the past, I can definitely agree that SOOO much of it comes down to hustle. You have to want it deep down in your soul and then attack it like crazy. It may take a ton of work, but it is possible. Congrats to all!

    1. J. Money November 12, 2013 at 9:48 PM

      Damn straight. The concept of getting rid of your debt really isn’t that complicated at all (you just start paying it off!) but you have to REALLY want it, and prioritize it, to make it happen as you mentioned. Just like losing weight, building muscle, going to college, eating healthier, etc etc.

  9. Catherine November 12, 2013 at 8:46 AM

    Agreed, amazing stories. I hope one day people talk about us and how we’re working on paying off our 75+k worth of debt. My birthday was last week, a present to myself was dropping an extra $500 worth of payments on our debt. Great post J.

    1. J. Money November 12, 2013 at 9:49 PM

      Nice! And happy birthday :)

  10. Well Heeled Blog November 12, 2013 at 8:47 AM

    So inspiring! What a story… and what a joynow that they can use the debt repayment money for all the other great opportunities life will offer.

  11. Rachel211 November 12, 2013 at 8:54 AM

    I always find it amazing when having the ol’ nationalize healthcare debate why getting into debt always seems to just be a side note. Like, “Oh and I suppose you could end up with medical bills if your insurance wasn’t great.” People just toss that aside like it isn’t thousands, and thousands, and THOUSANDS of dollars that happen to people every day. Even if you have the most fantastic insurance in the country, chances are if you go a round with cancer – you are still gonna be flat busted at the end no matter how well you plan. But yet we always seem to do the monday morning quarterback routine and think “oh they should have had more in savings, tsk tsk” (which is ridiculous because the chance of the person saying that having $75k or more in the bank for medical treatment is about a zillion to 1)
    I would be curious to see just how much of the average debt of Americans comes directly from medical costs.

    1. Rachel211 November 12, 2013 at 8:58 AM

      Sorry to rant – its just that I had a good friend who had boatloads of savings from a high paying job who ended up bankrupt and living with his parents after having cancer in his spine.

      And last year my wonderful sister in law fought cancer for about 9 months, racking up huge amounts of debt, and then unfortunately passing away last spring. Leaving her husband not only with their three under-ten daughters to raise by himself, but a pile of her medical debt to pay off too. :(

      And both of these people had “good” insurance. Ugh.

      1. Ben @ The Wealth Gospel November 12, 2013 at 10:01 AM

        I have friends who declared bankruptcy because of medical debt, and we’ve had quite a few medical bills ourselves because of some back injuries my wife has had. Not all debt is bad and I’m sure a LOT of U.S. consumer debt has medical bills behind them.

      2. J. Money November 12, 2013 at 9:51 PM

        Oh no!! I’m so sorry – that’s horrible :( On all accounts – but specifically losing a loved one like that. Such scary stuff. And a good reminder that there’s more important things to live than money too!

  12. Kim@Eyesonthedollar November 12, 2013 at 9:31 AM

    Bad debt certainly happens to good people and like Maria said, sometimes you don’t even know why or have any sort of excuse. I think debt is expected and welcomed in society and in my case, I think I used it to make up for other things I didn’t want to deal with. It’s great to hear such amazing stories and exciting to see what lies ahead for all four of these guys.

    1. J. Money November 12, 2013 at 9:52 PM

      Ouch. It’s a good thing that $193k is “good” debt, eh? (as if any debt is really “good!” haha… but you get what I’m saying :))

  13. Ben @ The Wealth Gospel November 12, 2013 at 10:05 AM

    We’re slowly but surely chipping away at our $21k. Hopefully we can kick it to the curb in the next 24 months!

  14. Budget and the Beach November 12, 2013 at 10:12 AM

    wow, great job to the people in your story! I think other people in debt need to read success stories like this so they know it’s possible themselves…that there is indeed a finish line.

  15. Broke Millennial November 12, 2013 at 10:26 AM

    Inspiring post for the morning. All my friends get sick of my constant PF talk, but I do feel like linking this to everyone with nasty student loan (or consumer) debt. It just really goes to show that Millennials don’t have to slugging it out in jobs we hate until we’re 73, just because of racked up student loan debt.

    1. Mel @ brokeGIRLrich November 12, 2013 at 6:32 PM

      Yeah! I totally agree with you! I’m so excited that on Friday I’m mailing in my last student loan payment and will be totally debt free! It gives me very little patience for people who totally disregard their own debt and a whole lot of empathy for anyone just starting out tackling theirs, because I totally remember that hopeless feeling when you’re sending in the first few payments and the balance barely seems like it’s moving down at all.

      And I can’t wait to have the freedom to not have to stay at jobs I hate just because I have to make a certain amount to get huge bills paid.

      1. J. Money November 12, 2013 at 9:52 PM

        WAY TO GO!!! Friday will be one big sexy day!! :)

  16. writing2reality November 12, 2013 at 10:32 AM

    Stupendous! Now onward and upward on your respective financial journeys! Time to dive head first into the world of investing!

  17. Christine @ ThePursuitofGreen November 12, 2013 at 11:02 AM

    Woohoo! Great stories! Congrats to all the people who kicked their debt to the curb!

    I’m like you that I’m lucky to not have a lot of debt. Working on paying off the car though!

  18. maria@moneyprinciple November 12, 2013 at 11:51 AM

    J., it’s a good story :). And I don’t know how long it took you to write but I always say that my debt free article took me three years and a week to write. It feels great, though. Now we are on our way to financial independence – in five years time, I’ll be able to go live in South America for some time, or to Asia or wherever we decide to go. I’ll walk the Santiago de Compostela route, ride my motorbike and chase marathons. Oh, and write this novel we’ve been talking about ;).

    More seriously, we, the four people in J’s story are not exceptional in any way; except one – each of us woke up one morning a thought that enough is enough. Then we acted! This is all.

    1. J. Money November 12, 2013 at 9:53 PM

      Best line of the day, hands down. (how are you so smart?? :))

      1. maria@moneyprinciple November 13, 2013 at 1:04 PM

        A special gift? :)

        1. J. Money November 15, 2013 at 11:32 AM

          A box of sexy chocolates? :)

  19. Brian@ Debt Discipline November 12, 2013 at 12:03 PM

    We’re on the $109K repayment journey ourselves. We are lest then a year away from being debt free. It feels so good to be so close.

  20. FrugalTeacher November 12, 2013 at 12:17 PM

    Thanks for this post – awesome! I’m just about to surpass my 2013 goal (a month early), and though I have $55k to go, posts like this are very inspirational!

  21. Cat Alford (@BudgetBlonde) November 12, 2013 at 12:37 PM

    So excited and motivated and proud of everyone mentioned here!!! I hope to one day join your ranks!

  22. Brian @ Stocks and Cents November 12, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    See, these are stories I love. Between my student loans, car loan and the fiancé’s student loans, we have something like $160K in debt. Totally overwhelming at times. BUT it feels good to see that there are people out there that were in the same position and were able to just knock debt on its ass. I love it. Love!

  23. Brooklyn Money November 12, 2013 at 2:05 PM

    These stories are really impressive. Especially compared to another PF blog I won’t name where a blogger I also won’t name has $100K in debt and is pretty blase about paying it off.

    1. J. Money November 12, 2013 at 9:54 PM

      hahahahhaah… silly PF blogger you won’t name ;)

  24. Girl Meets Debt November 12, 2013 at 2:15 PM

    I’m still in the VERY LONG process of paying off debt so reading these successful stories helps to keep me motivated. Thanks for sharing!

  25. Amanda November 12, 2013 at 2:42 PM

    This stories are inspiring. I am at the very beginning of my getting debt free..between student loans and medical bills the bottom line comes to 89,000. Friday I made my first payment so I am beginning the road to debt free. I got in debt because I simply didn’t care and now I do and I want it gone. I do get down because it took years to rack it up and there is no quick solution. What is in my favor is I have worked on the collection agency side so I know that they can work with me even if its 3 months at a time.

    1. J. Money November 12, 2013 at 9:56 PM

      WAY TO GO!!! The 1st payment is the 1st step to freedom – woohoo! That must have been hard as hell to do too :)

      1. Amanda November 13, 2013 at 2:59 PM

        It was because it being only a short time till christmas I felt it should have gone to presents. After I got home from work and entering my receipts I bit the bullet and called another agency and will be able to work things with them and that will be paid off in march which is already circled on my calendar. To be honest, I wanted to sit and cry because its such an overwhelming mess and people in my real life wouldn’t understand or support me. I have also sold both my game systems that I had and my boyfriend is upgrading two laptops that we don’t use anymore to sell.

        1. J. Money November 15, 2013 at 11:32 AM

          Awww, well you’re on the right path now my friend. And that’s what we’re all here for – to support and motivate each other :) So keep reading pf blogs! One day you’ll be one of these success stories too!

  26. EJ November 12, 2013 at 3:58 PM

    How inspiring ! I think I might be motivated to take another look at my debt. Sometimes it’s just overwhelming and I only have $46000 AUD let alone $157,000. Thanks for the “kick up the butt” article!

  27. Jacob November 12, 2013 at 4:33 PM

    Having met Maria and Travis at FinCon, you are spot on, they are remarkable! Travis and his wife are an AWESOME couple, and have a powerful story to share, as much as it sucks to have lived through it, they have used it to change for the better. And Maria is just plain awesome. $157k in 3 years is no joke!

    Stephanie’s passion has no only brought her out of debt, but allowed her to exit the workforce and pursue her passion of helping others as well. Baller. And Jordann has found financial freedom and won’t let it go. I bet it’s hard to pick up a credit card or think about ANY kind of loan after pursuing debt freedom with such vigor.

    Congrats to all here, very inspiring stories, and showing that the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t just an exit, but a whole new world!

    1. J. Money November 12, 2013 at 9:58 PM

      Oh man, you’re not kidding… Travis and Vonnie are so in love!! So sickening and awesome at the same time! Haha…. I think I’d be in trouble if my wife saw how Travis treats Vonnie all the time ;)

      1. Travis @Debtchronicles November 13, 2013 at 9:04 PM

        LOL, you guys are too funny – I always say, Happy Wife, Happy Life. :)

  28. Micro November 12, 2013 at 6:34 PM

    That is awesome and congratulations to those guys. I really like seeing those posts and stories because it helps give me motivation to stay the course. I won’t be throwing up the debt free sign soon but I know if I just keep chipping away, that day will be around sooner than I think.

  29. Michelle November 12, 2013 at 7:19 PM

    I always love hearing about debt free stories. I never thought that I would be able to get rid of my student loan debt, but they are gone! And it feels awesome :)

  30. Tushar @ Everything Finance November 12, 2013 at 8:17 PM

    Debt freedom must feel so good. I can’t even imagine what it is like to have a weight that big and heavy lifted off your shoulders. All very inspirational stories – that’s a lot of debt to be paid off over a short period of time! It’s definitely possible for everyone,you just sometimes have to get creative.

  31. Anne @ Unique Gifter November 12, 2013 at 9:02 PM

    Woohoo! Happy stories everywhere! I also like that everyone on the list had big numbers and medium time frames, we’re talking years here… it’s a long walk to get out of debt, but it does happen at the end.
    Yay for everyone… and some glitter and some champagne.

    1. J. Money November 12, 2013 at 9:59 PM

      It ain’t no celebration without glitter!

  32. Dear Debt November 13, 2013 at 2:13 AM

    This is so inspiring! I’m almost half way done climbing out of 81k in student loan debt! The half way mark is hard…..trying to build up more momentum, and this might just be the spark I need to keep fueling the process until the new year. Getting out of debt is no joke, it really takes a toll on all aspects of your life.

    1. J. Money November 13, 2013 at 10:33 AM

      You can do it!!! KEEP GOING!!! There’s a sexy party waiting for you at the end of it – let’s go! :)

    2. Joe November 13, 2013 at 12:24 PM

      Great job everyone! I’m rooting for you Dear Debt. See you tomorrow. ;)

    3. Izzye G November 15, 2013 at 2:19 PM

      Congratulations, that’s awesome! I also owe 78k in student loans and cant when I can say I am half way Done!

  33. Tara @ Streets Ahead Living November 13, 2013 at 9:08 AM

    I love reading stories like these, they’re great inspiration. For someone who has a ways to go, it’s always great to read stuff like this.

  34. Izzye G November 13, 2013 at 2:39 PM

    During the earliest days of the Credit Crunch; October 2008 I Panic and convinced my husband to begin paying down our debts. I went against conventional wisdom and tacked the mortgage first($70,000), then personal credit card. First extra mortgage payment on November 2008 and last was December 2011. Credit card Debt($12,000) eliminated early 2012 and currently working on eliminating car payments one is down to just $4000 and paying it 3 years instead of 66 months and will be paid off by April 2014 and my other car (10K) will be paid by December 2014. All of that and helping our oldest son financially through college, he graduates Spring 2014 .Then will tackle student loans and youngest son’s college pre-paid plan. I can smell the sweet aroma of being debt free!!

    1. J. Money November 15, 2013 at 11:37 AM

      Wowwww you ARE doing things in the opposite order! Haha… Mortgage first, then credit cards, then cars? That’s too funny… and by funny, I mean AWESOME :) Keep hustlin!

      1. Izzye G November 15, 2013 at 2:29 PM

        Thanks J! All of that and during the same time bought and rehabilitated a a couple of rental properties. Almost ready to rent the second one.

  35. Lance @ Money Life and More November 13, 2013 at 7:47 PM

    We’re slowly, well… actually quickly, knocking out over 80k of student loans my wife had. We update our progress on Friday, but we’ve paid off over 50k so far in 2.5 years since she has graduated.

    1. J. Money November 15, 2013 at 11:37 AM

      Hot damn! Work it, son!

  36. Blair Illiano November 14, 2013 at 11:31 PM

    Great success stories, J! I guess it’s a matter of not indulging in self-pity and wallowing in despair, and actually coming up with a plan to attack that debt- and these people did it well.

  37. Walunt November 19, 2013 at 10:26 AM

    Great read today as I get ready to pay $1767 to my car loan. After that payment, my mortgage+car debt will drop to $95,849. Over the past couple of years we’ve paid off about 15k in student loans, 30k for the other car, and cash flowed a solid 25-30k in kitchen, window and deck renovations. Two years to go until the last 95k is paid off!

    1. J. Money November 19, 2013 at 4:34 PM

      WOWWW that is great!!! Especially with a mortgage included in there – let’s trade! ;)