How This San Diego Couple Paid Off $36K of Debt In 2020 So Far

How This San Diego Couple Paid Off $36K of Debt In 2020 So Far | The Loaded Pig

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Stacy and Joe started 2020 with $65,565 of high-interest debt. This included furniture retail accounts, student loans, auto loans and solar panel financing. At the beginning of the year, they said “No more!” and got serious about paying off their debt. We did an exclusive interview with Stacy about their journey to become debt free. Find out how they were able to pay off $36,028 of debt in just 9 months! 

How did they pay off so much debt so quickly?

We don’t want to be normal anymore, because normal is broke.



“We were able to put this much towards debt, because we really buckled down and got serious about creating and sticking to a budget.” Creating a budget starts with evaluating your current spending habits and identifying what changes you can make. They prioritized paying off debt and cut down their spending in other categories, like eating out. Stacey and Joe started cooking almost 100% of their meals at home and began saying “no” a lot. It’s important to set your priorities so that you are able to recognize when you should just say “no” in order to get closer to reaching your financial goals. 

Cash Envelope System

They also used the cash envelope system, which is where you take cash out of your bank account, allocate it to spending categories and put the cash in labeled envelopes. This budgeting strategy enables you to see how much money you have left to spend in certain categories (like groceries, household and fun) for the month and prevents overspending. 

Countless studies have found that people spend more money when they use debit or credit cards as compared to cash. This may be due to the psychological effects of actually paying with tangible money and the more immediate feeling of having less money in contrast to using cards.

Debt Snowball Strategy

There are several debt repayment strategies, the 2 most common being the debt snowball method and the debt avalanche method. Stacy and Joe followed the debt snowball method, which is the process of paying off each debt from the smallest to largest balance while still paying all of the minimum payments. Using this strategy can help keep people motivated as they use each accomplishment to build confidence to pay off the next debt. Learn more about the debt snowball and debt avalanche methods in this article to see which one you can benefit from the most.

Setting Financial Goals

A main source of motivation to keep Stacy and Joe going was setting goals and accomplishing them. “It’s been really amazing to see that we can actually do this! What’s keeping us motivated is setting goals and seeing that we’re reaching them. To finally KNOW that we really can become debt free.” Not only do they celebrate reaching each goal, but Stacy shares their progress on her Instagram account @littlelovedhouse which gives them a sense of accountability. All this helps them to stay on track and has garnered a following of like-minded people on their journey to become debt free. 

Goal setting is important not only for debt repayment, but for any financial goal. Learn how you can set SMART goals that you are more likely to achieve in this article.  

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What are Stacy & Joe’s financial goals going forward?

It’s important to always have short and long-term financial goals set, so as you accomplish them there is always something to work toward. In the short-term, their goal is to save $20,000 in an emergency fund by the end of this year and to pay off their solar panels (their last high interest debt) by July of 2021. 

Having an emergency fund can prevent you from going into debt and help you avoid extra stress when the unexpected happens. Your emergency fund should be kept separate from your other savings and only used in case of emergencies. The ideal place to keep your emergency fund is a high-yield savings account, such as CIT Bank that offers competitive interest rates, so your fund grows faster than if you had it in your regular savings account. Find out more about emergency funds so you can get prepared in this article

Stacy and Joe’s long-term goal is to be completely debt free in the next 7 years. This means paying off their mortgage, and they said “We have a BIG mortgage, so we have a lot of work to do, but it will be so worth it!” Based on their incredible progress paying off debt so far, we know that they can do it!

To follow along their journey to becoming debt free, follow Stacy’s Instagram.

How To Ditch Your Own Debt

In 2018, on average Americans had $90,460 of debt according to Experian’s Consumer Debt Study. The good news is, that like Stacy and Joe, you can pay off your debt. 

The first step is making the decision to prioritize paying off debt. Then set your goals, find the right repayment strategy for you, make a budget and stick to it. 

Let us know your progress so we can share your debt repayment success story in the future!

Financial freedom begins with good habits.

Rebecca & Tiago,

Rebecca co-founded The Loaded Pig with the goal of helping people achieve their financial goals. Her passion for financial freedom has landed her on US News & World Report,, Cheapism, and many other sites. Rebecca earned her Master of Business Administration from the University of Florida and her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Miami. She is currently a professor in the business department at Broward College.