How We’re Paying off Six Figures of Debt on One Income

$110,000 of debt.

That number may or may not come as a surprise to you, knowing that my husband & I are both only 23 years old. And no, that’s not all student loan debt! I didn’t even go to college. Well, I did – for 2 weeks, then I dropped out. That’s a story for another day.

Before we get into how we’re paying off this much debt, I should tell you exactly what the debt is.

  • $11,000 husband’s student loans
  • $14,000 husband’s new car
  • $85,000 mortgage

Those are obviously nice round numbers, because who really cares, right? Haha!
My husband’s student loan is actually broken down into smaller amounts for each individual loan.
Those look more like this:
$1,300 – $1,500 – $2,400 – $2,800 – $3000

Yikes.

How are we paying off our debt?

Put simply, we’re following bits and pieces of Dave Ramsey’s advice – namely the Debt Snowball method.

If you haven’t heard of Dave Ramsey, I recommend you pick up this book* that he wrote! (Amazon Affiliate link – I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you if you purchase through this link) He’s sold more than five million copies of this book & helped change tons of people’s lives. I won’t preach his methods as the end-all-be-all, as I have my issues with parts of his program. But this is one thing I’m 100% behind.

You’ve likely heard of it, but if you haven’t:

With the Debt Snowball method of debt repayment, you pay the minimum payments on all of your debt, EXCEPT the debt with the smallest balance.

You throw every dollar you can find at the debt with the lowest account balance due until it’s gone. Once that’s paid off, you continue onto the next smallest debt. Except now you’ve freed up the entire minimum payment amount of the debt you just paid off. You have an extra $50 (or however much) to apply to your next smallest account. This builds momentum.

Dave uses the term “Gazelle Intense.” Paying off debt is as if you’re a gazelle about to be eaten by a lion: You run! You see the progress of paying off your $400 Visa card balance much more quickly than you’d see results from making extra payments on your mortgage. Progress is encouraging and motivates you to keep going, which makes this system brilliant. (In my opinion, of course)

We’re working on paying off the student loans one by one, then we’ll be moving onto our car payment!

We have a budget, and I love our budget. 

You can read my super simple step by step guide on starting your own budget here. We used a Zero Based budget, which means every dollar we earn has a pre-determined place to go, before my husband’s paycheck is even deposited.
Every extra dollar that we previously would have just put in savings now goes to debt payments! But don’t worry, we still save! We’re a month ahead on our bills, we have a well cushioned Emergency Fund, and we have separate savings for things that may come up that aren’t truly “emergencies.”

It’s going to be a slow pace, since we are a single income family. But the journey to being debt free is worth it! I don’t even know what I’ll do with myself once the payments are gone, it seems so far off. But we’re excited to get there!

A post breaking down our REAL LIFE budget, with real numbers is coming soon! I’ve had a few requests asking to show how our family really survives (and thrives) on one income. I’ll link to it here once it’s up!

Are you working on becoming debt free? What strategy are you using? I’d love to know in the comments below!

save this to your pinterest board for motivation later!

How to Pay off Debt on ONE Income! Paying off 6 figures of debt as quickly as possible. Tips to become debt free.
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17 Comments

  1. Alexandra
    November 5, 2018 / 7:05 am

    Hey Kayla! What an awesome post. I really appreciated reading it, and I am definitely going to check that book out. I have been wanting to create a budget for some time – but it is hard to know where to begin. Thank you for being an inspiration!

  2. November 5, 2018 / 9:34 am

    I recently became debt free (except my mortgage) by using the debt snowball. It really is such a great way to build momentum and motivation to keep on knocking those debts out one by one. I am 100% behind the debt snowball method.

  3. November 5, 2018 / 10:32 am

    We love Dave Ramsey and used the snowball method to repay a ton of debt too. Thanks for sharing your debt free journey and showing that its possible to pay off debt, even with a single income!

  4. November 5, 2018 / 12:46 pm

    Keep up the great work! Yay for a very small mortgage and no credit card debt!

  5. November 5, 2018 / 2:37 pm

    Our debt is mostly college loans and it feels we’ll never pay it off! Congratulations on your progress!

  6. November 5, 2018 / 2:58 pm

    Thank you for sharing this advice. I had not heard of the “snowball” method but it makes sense. I will take this and look into my finances to see how it applies to us.

  7. November 5, 2018 / 5:28 pm

    I love Dave Ramsey, have used him & passed his book onto my kids. Stay focused on the long term & you’ll do great. My 26 year old still tells me, Mom, I’m living like no one else today, so in the future I can live like no one else. It’s a beautiful thing. Good luck!

  8. November 5, 2018 / 8:08 pm

    Great post. Going to look into the book it sounds like a very realistic approach to paying off debt

  9. Erin Haugerud
    November 5, 2018 / 9:20 pm

    This post could not have come at a better time!! We needed this!

  10. November 6, 2018 / 9:29 am

    I needed this post so bad. My husband and I have hardcore struggled to pay off debt these past couple of years and one of our biggest problems is that we only have one bigger income. I work as well, but I’m self-employed so my income is way more flexible and based on how much I’m able to work with our toddler home. So it’s been a challenge. But I really want to work on Dave Ramsey’s tips a bit more and see if we can get it under control again.

    • kaylahaas
      Author
      November 6, 2018 / 12:46 pm

      I’m SO happy you saw this post when you needed it! I know its got to be difficult having fluctuating income, but if you can refine your budget to cover all expenses with your hubby’s checks alone, you could pour every dollar you make toward tackling your debt. 🙂 I believe in you!!

  11. November 6, 2018 / 8:19 pm

    Thanks for sharing! I had never heard of the debt snowball method before.

    • kaylahaas
      Author
      November 6, 2018 / 8:27 pm

      Thank you for reading! I’m happy to introduce you!

  12. Karen
    November 7, 2018 / 12:29 am

    Ive used his method before too and it is amazing. Such a great motvating way to work on debt.

  13. November 8, 2018 / 11:32 am

    I am on the debt free journey as well. In fact, I love Dave Ramsey and the Debt Snowball method. I will continue to follow your journey, as I too have debt that is in the six figure range. Lot of bloggers that I’ve come across have debt but it’s not in this range. 90% of my debt comes from student loans (I attended 2 private universities) and the remaining 10% comes from credit cards. The good thing is I have paid off the balances on my credit cards that had low balances, now my focus is on my cards that have higher balances. Can’t wait to see how you aggressively attack this debt while living on one income.

    • kaylahaas
      Author
      November 8, 2018 / 5:50 pm

      Thank you so much Shatoria!! It’s so nice to have a friend that’s on a similar journey, especially one that blogs about it too!

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