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This debt success story is from Shannon with She and her husband started with about $750,000 worth of debt. They made a plan to pay off $750,000 of debt, and right now they have about $500,000 left. Shannon and her husband hope to be debt free in the next 3-5 years.

Shannon was able to achieve these goals by budgeting and putting in the work. Learn how she did it so you can too. 

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1.    Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m Shannon!  I live in Texas with my husband and three kids under 5.  We are both podiatrists and own a private practice. I’m also a personal finance blogger at

The Freckled Foot Doc headshot

As you might expect, we have ALL the student loan and small business debt that comes with medical school and opening a small business.  In fact, our total debt is over half a million dollars!

2.    When did you start your financial journey?

Doctors make a LOT of money, right?!  Maybe if they know how to run their business efficiently!  We opened our small private practice right out of residency, with zero knowledge of how to run a business.  Other docs were doing it, so we figured we would manage!

We already had a staggering $360,000 in student loan debt, but still proceeded to finance our new practice, plus other loans for working capital and equipment. It was a mess, but we didn’t even realize it yet!  We were staying afloat, until we weren’t.

In the beginning of 2018, we had a series of financial hardships within the practice, things that normally wouldn’t have been too big of a deal, but because we were always paycheck-to-paycheck (at home and in the practice), it all hit very hard.

We were also expecting our third child any day! 

The Freckled Foot Doc expecting

We realized we were beyond broke, and could barely afford to buy groceries.  All of our bills were late, and we were freaking out.

After I gave birth to our beautiful, healthy son, I found myself suffering deeply from post partum depression.  The financial stress, plus three kids, and the everyday struggle of motherhood and business ownership became too much. I couldn’t get out of bed, much less develop an action plan to dig our way out of the mess.

Once I got the help I needed for my depression and anxiety, I decided to share my story in case there were others suffering from the overwhelm of six-figure debt as well. 

About half way through 2018, I turned my mom blog into a personal finance blog.  This was actually therapeutic for me! I felt like I could help others, while helping myself.

I had always been a fan of Dave Ramsey, but thought that was something we would do “someday”, when we were making more money. Little did I know, that budgeting the money that we had NOW, would make it seem like we had more money.

We started budgeting and cutting expenses like crazy at home, but we were still struggling to even pay ourselves from the business.  That’s when I realized we also needed to be doing a budget for the business! Once I started budgeting our business, we finally started to get caught up on our bills and are able to pay ourselves every month.

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We also went through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University in January of this year.  It’s taken us several months to clean up our mess, and set ourselves up for future success.  Our debt snowball will be longer than the typical 2-3 years, but we have experienced the alternative, and are ready for the sacrifice!

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

Before we started our debt free journey, we thought we would just be typical doctors with student loan debt for 25 years.  “Everyone has debt”, “all doctors have student loans”, “you’ll always have a car payment.”

Our new goal is to be “weird” doctors!  We plan to drive inexpensive paid for cars, live in a “tiny” rental while we pay off debt, and always pay cash for the things we want in life.  

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

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Financial security.  My husband and I never thought we would make millions of dollars being podiatrists, but we did think that we had chosen careers that would support our family.  We never thought we would have to worry about money being doctors.

All of that changed when I was suffering from postpartum depression, and could not even enjoy our children because I was worried we wouldn’t be able to feed them!  I thought we would lose everything. I never want to feel that way again!

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

Our biggest financial struggle was communication about money.  I would always handle paying the bills, and so I also felt the majority of the financial burden.  I would tell my husband, “don’t spend money!”, and he would get frustrated because he was working his butt off at the office and wondering why we didn’t have money.

Once we took Financial Peace University, he was able to see from an objective point of view that our spending and debt was out of control. We started sitting down and having a budget meeting every month, and now we work together to see where we can save each month.  

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

Definitely budgeting!  We also changed our schedule so that we can trade off staying home with the kids.  Due to this change we are able to save $2,800/month on daycare! With three kids that are not yet in school, the daycare bill was killing our budget.  

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We will be moving in 2 weeks to a new rental house.  We currently pay a whopping $2500/month in rent, and are downsizing to something HALF the price!  I can’t wait to see that change in our budget.

Also, my car lease will FINALLY be up in August.  We will trade in my husband’s paid for car, for two cheap paid for cars and have zero car payments!

Most people think we are crazy, but all of this screams financial peace to me!  I can’t wait to see just how little we can live on, and how much we will be able to throw at debt.

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

People probably think it’s weird that two doctors would move their family of five into a small rental house, or trade in their nice cars for two clunkers!  Ha ha!

Also, blogging as a side hustle is probably not the norm.  I also sell clothing on Poshmark, and make pretty good side cash doing that! 

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?

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We have over $500,000 in debt!  The scary part is we actually had about $750,000 when we first came out of residency, but we did manage to pay quite a bit of it off (mostly because we had a set payment for our practice loan that was on a 3 year term, so we had to make that payment every month).  

It pains me to think, that if we had been budgeting we probably could have made even more progress.

We estimate that it will take between 3 and 5 years to pay it off.  With a medical practice, there are so many insurance issues (denials, taking months to receive payment), that our income can be very inconsistent.  We could have a great year, or a terrible year, but the fact that we are living on so much less now, will make the hard years much easier to get through!  

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

I never want my children to feel the way that I did just a year ago!  I want them to know how to handle money, and I don’t want money to limit their futures.  

Sharing my journey on my blog also helps me to stay motivated because I don’t want to let my readers down!  I stay motivated so I can help others get started on their debt free journey.

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?

You just have to start.  Even if it feels completely hopeless, start with one small step.  Make a budget; even if you fail and go over, you probably spent less than you would have if you didn’t have the budget.

Our journey has taken almost a year just for us to get caught up on our bills so that we can prepare to start our debt snowball!  That has been very discouraging, but the alternative is to stay stuck in the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle.  

Once you get started, you will keep finding new ways to save, more ways to make money, and new ways to stay inspired and motivated!

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I hope Shannon’s debt payoff success story will motivate you. Shannon started to pay off $750,000 of debt; and has a plan to pay off her remaining $500,000 of debt in the next 3-5 years by budgeting and being persistent. Once you have a plan and your budget, you just have to put in the work and do it! 

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