Carrie Willard, 41, a stay-at-home mom, Atlanta, Ga.
Carrie Willard and her husband, Zeke, paid off $80,000 of credit card debt and car loans in five years. And if that wasn’t impressive enough, they did it on just one income—from Zeke’s furniture repair business.
How’d they stay on track? “The most important thing we did was hold weekly meetings. This helped us stay motivated, and even improved our marriage, as discussing money often uncovers hopes, dreams and fears,” Willard says.
Each month, the couple reworked their budget, adding in upcoming expenditures and removing other line items, in order to stay on track with their goals of paying off debt and building an emergency fund. They also discussed ways to save more, from selling items on eBay and Craigslist to buying used clothing and cooking at home instead of going out.
The Willards finally accomplished their goal in 2015—five years, three kids and two cars (paid in cash) later. But they didn’t discontinue their weekly checkins. Now, they meet regularly—in a quiet space, away from kids and other distractions—to review their progress on saving for a home down payment.
Thanks to their success, Willard recommends all couples create a budget date night. “Because money styles differ, a husband and wife could find that money is a source of tension, but budget meetings give you a way of working out these things in a way that maximizes your strengths and minimizes your weaknesses,” she says. “It also prevents the nerd from doing everything and the free spirit from opting out.”
J.D. Roth, 47, a blogger in Portland, Oregon
Back in 2004, J.D. Roth owed more than $35,000 in consumer debt. “Like most debt, it was from choosing to live beyond my means—buying things I could not afford,” he says. But Roth turned it around—paying $1,000 a month toward his debt for three years—thanks to a new mindset: He started thinking of himself as a business.
“A business has to make a profit, right? I decided that I had to make a profit, too, which meant that I had to earn more than I spent,” Roth says. “I told myself I was the CFO of JD, Inc. That meant I both cut my expenses and increased my income.”
He started by ordering less takeout, growing a vegetable garden to save on groceries, refinancing his mortgage and visiting the library instead of shopping at bookstores. Then he increased his income by selling off unwanted possessions and launching an IT consulting business.
After crossing the finish line in 2007, Roth used the money he’d been contributing to debt repayment to pad his savings account. “Once the debt was paid off, I could use the profit to ‘grow’ the business of me. It worked like a charm!” Roth says.
July 22, 2016
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