Save $20K? Pay Off $11K in Debt? How We Hit Huge Money Goals in 12 Months
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"If you're ready to hustle, anything's possible!"

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'Tis the season for New Year's resolutions—so why not dream big? Whether you've set your sights on paying off debt, increasing your take-home pay or boosting your net worth, get inspired by these four who hit massive financial milestones.

Here’s how they did it in less than one year’s time.

“I paid off $11,000 of debt in nine months—and finally became debt-free.”

J.R. Duren, 39, personal finance writer in Jacksonville, Fla.

"My wife Heather and I started our debt-free journey eight years ago, when we were on the hook for $22,000 in credit card balances we’d racked up from our single days (when we were charging everything from clothes to gas and going out). We cut that number in half in 18 months by retooling our budget and directing surplus income, like tax returns, toward our debt. We were proud of that progress, but thought we could do better if we were more intentional.

So in May 2011, we set a goal to pay off the remaining $11,000. Again, we re-evaluated our spending and cut down on non-essentials, like impromptu weekend trips, date nights and our individual fun money—saving roughly $300 to $400 per month. We also made other sacrifices, like canceling plans to fly to San Diego for Christmas and pressing pause on going out to lunch with friends like we used to every weekend.

Whenever we could, we got creative: We used hotel points and Groupon perks to swing a budget-friendly anniversary trip to Savannah. And we snagged a 0-percent interest credit card that allowed balance transfers in order to pay off our debt faster. It came with a $150 signup bonus, too, which covered the transfer fee.

Just nine months later, we were totally debt-free.”

"A lucrative side gig helped me save $20,000.”

Brittany Anas, 35, freelance writer in Denver, Colo.

"When I started working at a newspaper in 2004, my salary was just $38,000—which didn’t bode well for my dream of becoming a homeowner. After a few years of working, it became clear that I needed another way to boost my income if I wanted to put down 20 percent on a home one day.

In 2007, I landed a part-time bartending job at a local restaurant, and decided I’d work three to five shifts per week. Moonlighting as a bartender wasn’t easy, especially after a long day at the office, but I routinely pulled in anywhere from $75 to $300 per night. Worth it.

I put every penny into my house fund and kept at it for four years. The most I raked in was $20,000 over the course of one year; and in total, I saved up $50,000. All the while, my salary never surpassed $40,000. I finally bought a three-bedroom, three-bath home in October 2011.

I quit bartending soon after, but still look back on it as the best financial move I’ve ever made. Putting 20 percent down translated to a monthly mortgage payment that's less than what I was paying in rent. If you're ready to hustle, anything's possible!"

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January 18, 2018

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