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Last Updated April 8, 2020

This debt success story is from Ashley with She and her husband started with $45,000 worth of debt. They made a plan to pay off their debt, and was able to pay it off in only 17 months. Ashley was able to achieve these goals by budgeting and sticking to her plan. I hope debt success stories like this will motivate you. So, find out how she did it so you can too. 

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Debt Success Stories: And How Ashley Paid Off $45,000 In 17 Months

Ashley's debt success stories

1. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I am Ashley Patrick, Ramsey Solutions Master Financial Coach and owner of Budgets Made Easy. I help families eliminate debt using simple strategies so they can stress less and live the life they want. 

I started my blog after paying off $45,000 in 17 months. I was working as a detective for a small police department outside of Charlotte. 

2. When did you start your financial journey?

Our journey started in 2014 when my husband lost his job. He was the bread winner and had been employed at his job for over 7 years. We just had our second child and I was returning to work from maternity leave. 

We received a letter in the mail shortly after he lost his job telling us we had 60 days to pay back a 401(k) loan of almost $20,000. We couldn’t pay back the loan since the money was already spent on a home renovation and my husband was unemployed. 

It then counted as a withdraw on our taxes in 2015. It bumped us up to the next tax bracket and cost us over $10,000 in taxes and penalties. 

I put what we owed the IRS on to a 0% interest credit card for 18 months. The next month when the bill came in, I realized I didn’t know how we would pay it off in 18 months. 

I then started searching for debt pay off plans and came across Dave Ramsey and the debt snowball. Like most debt success stories, my journey started when I changed the way I budgeted and we saved money everywhere we could. 

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We also found ways to earn extra money by selling things and working side jobs. We did everything we could to pay off the debt as fast as possible.

Not only did we get that credit card paid off before the 18 months were up, but all our consumer debt! We paid off $45,000 in just 17 months! 

3. What were your financial goals when you started? What are your financial goals now?

When we started this journey, our goal was to pay off that credit card before interest accrued. As we progressed, we realized we could pay off all our debt.

We didn’t know we would do it so fast but as we worked and worked, our debt pay off date got sooner and sooner. We actually paid it off an entire year earlier than expected. 

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Our goals now are to save for retirement and college funds. I am now working from home for myself so our budget has changed a lot since we started this journey. 

We continue to pay for things in cash and avoid debt. We hope to cash flow a home remodel and a 20th anniversary trip next year. 

4. What was the main thing that caused you to want to change your financial situation?

Knowing it was possible to be debt free. I never liked debt and always paid things early but I didn’t realize the amount of debt we still had. We only had my car, my student loans, and that credit card, yet it was still $45,000 worth of debt! 

Once I knew we could live a different life, I wanted it as quickly as possible. 

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5. What was your biggest financial struggle? How did you overcome that?

The biggest struggle was getting my husband fully on board. He is a “go with flow” type of guy and goes along with all my crazy ideas. He wasn’t as excited or as engaged as I was but he went along with it.

His mindset really changed after an 18 hour road trip listening to Dave Ramsey podcasts the whole way. 

6. What was the biggest change you made to achieve your financial goals?

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We cut our food bill from $1200 a month to $600 a month. We were spending so much money eating out and at the grocery store for a family of four, with one being a newborn. It was ridiculous.

This was the first and largest amount of money we saved every month. 

7. Have you done anything out of the “norm” or “extreme” to reach your financial goals?

We quit contributing to our retirement accounts once we got to our largest debt. I did the math and realized we could be debt free a lot sooner if we stopped.

I still had a pension and my employer automatically contributed to my 401(k) so, we weren’t completely out of the market. Therefore, I felt comfortable cutting back for a short period of time. 

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8. How much debt did you have? Are you still paying it off? If so, when do you hope to be debt free? If not, how long did it take you to pay it off?

We had $45,000 in non-mortgage debt. We paid it off in 17 months! 

9. How do you stay motivated to keep going on your financial journey?

I stayed motivated by listening to Dave Ramsey podcasts, joining like-minded Facebook groups, making visuals and reading TONS of debt pay off success stories. I would read the stories every night before bed. 

10. What advice would you give someone who’s just starting their financial journey, or feels like you’re a unicorn and can’t achieve their financial dreams?

Know that it’s okay to say no to things in order to reach your bigger goals. It’s only temporary and you will be so thankful that you did it. 

Believing that it’s possible to stop living paycheck to paycheck is half the battle. Once you know it’s possible, you make your plan and get to work.

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I hope Ashley’s debt success story will motivate you. She was able to pay off $45,000 worth of debt in 17 months by budgeting, getting her husband on board, and being persistent. Once you have a plan and your budget, you just have to put in the work and do it! I share these debt success stories because I hope it will inspire to take some action and start your own financial journey.

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