Fo Alexander is the Personal Finance Coach and Business Systems Strategist behind the Girl Talk with Fo podcast and blog. She specializes in teaching millennial women how to dump debt and build bank. As part of her journey, she and her husband paid off $78,000 in debt in less than three years even while taking some time off to cash-flow their wedding. For this week’s Personal Finance Spotlight, this is their story.

$47,000 in Debt Paid Off in Six Months

Fo was making $60,000 a year when she decided it was time to turn her financial life around. She heard stories of individuals paying off debt well into their 40s, 50s, 60s or later and she knew that wasn’t a lifestyle she wanted for her household.

One moment that still comes to mind is when I heard that the President and Mrs. Obama were still paying their student loans into their 40’s. I couldn’t believe that people who were seemingly wealthy were still paying off debt well into adulthood. – Clever Girl Finance

Related: Clever Girl Finance Saved $100,000 on a $54,000 Salary

She set out to become the exception rather than the rule. This meant downsizing her lifestyle through cutting cable, working overtime, and putting all her future tax refunds and work bonuses towards her debt. Despite never making six-figures like many of the popular personal finance articles you read on the big news sites, she managed to pay off $31,000 of her debt entirely on her own prior to meeting her husband.

Related: Five Minor Steps You Can Take to Save $5,000 This Year

Team Work Makes the Dream Work

She briefly paused the final leg of her journey towards debt freedom to pay for her wedding in cash. With a partner at her side, they joined incomes and began attacking their debt together. It wasn’t easy, and it didn’t happen overnight! There were reduced costs of living, eating out less, saving cash wherever possible to focus on debt payments. They knew a short-term sacrifice would end in a long-term gain. Their goal as a couple was to become debt free by age 30.

Most people will never become wealthy if they are married to people who are wasteful. A household divided in its financial orientation is unlikely to accumulate significant wealth. – The Millionaire Next Door

#RelationshipGoals: The now debt free couple is each other’s accountability partner. Their next goal is to pay off the home they bought together in five years. They plan to tackle the mortgage with multiple streams of income, focus, sacrifice, and determination.

A 7-Step Plan for Debt Freedom

In an effort to better ourselves personally and professionally, many of us become indebted in thousands or tens of thousand dollars in debt. Some of the usual suspects haunted Fo as well.

  • $24,000 in undergraduate student loans
  • $54,000 in graduate school loans

Still in her early 20s and recently graduated, she faced a total debt load of $78,000. Undaunted, her debt journey began in December 2013. By October 2016, and now married, she was able to lay claim to the status of ‘debt free’ (other than the mortgage). Without a specific example to refer to she credits her self-taught journey to trial and error and the seven personal finance books that changed her life. Here are the areas she focused on during her journey:

  1. Establish a Clear Goal
  2. Calculate Exactly How Much You Owe
  3. Create a Budget
  4. Eliminate and Reduce Expenses
  5. Stop Creating More Debt
  6. Call Your Lender and Negotiate a Pay Off Plan
  7. Increase Your Income Wherever Possible

Read about each in more detail on her blog, GirlTalkWithFo.com.

Related:

Fo is clear to reiterate that paying off her debt didn’t come easy. It takes time and a solid plan. However, she believes it’s possible for most people with a consistent plan. You can sign-up for her 5-day #DumpYourDebt email challenge today or follow her around the web to learn more about her tips and tricks for financial success.

Talk with Fo:

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