Money doesn’t solve all our problems, but money does solve our money problems. That’s one of the many theories behind Jhanilka and Anthony Hartzog debt free success story. The two millennials joined financial forces to pay off their $114,151 debt. Next, they have their eyes on continuing to increase their net worth. “From rags to (almost) riches,” Anthony Hartzog jokes in our latest Personal Finance Spotlight.

Figuring Out How to Budget as a Couple Took Us Four Months

The personal finance “gurus” make budgeting seem easy. It’s not. Budgeting sucks! For the average person, going from balling out of control to balling on a budget feels like a sacrifice no matter how catchy your book title.

However, this couple knew they had to get their financial house in order. First, they tried to create a budget like the experts recommend (tried being the key word here). It took them four months just to master the art of tracking their everyday expenses as a couple, while also finding the discipline to stick to their new budget. This initial difficulty proved worth the struggle. Over time, as they could view the progress made in their decreasing debts, they finally began to enjoy the process.

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Now they have a six month, fully-funded emergency fund and try not to take on any new debt they can’t pay off in full during the month. This is a far cry from their original six-figure debt. The couple credits purposeful thinking and monthly money talks to stay on the path to finance their debt free goals. They also made sure they budgeted money to enjoy life in areas like travel, which is a personal joy and priority for both.

We Didn’t Even Know How Much Total Debt We Had Together

Your journey to debt freedom can’t start and stop with vague New Year’s resolutions and verbal pledges to the debt gods. You still have to put in the work. When it comes to reaching debt freedom, actions speak louder than words. Luckily, cash speaks louder than debt. You need a debt free action plan for your money.

A Christmas Story: It was a Christmas mirage that caused the couple to finally face their debts. In 2016, in a poetic irony, they had trouble paying off the credit cards used to buy gifts for friends and family. Until this moment, they admit they didn’t even know how much total debt they had together. They were living the familiar money in, money out lifestyle. When they sat down and totaled it up, their combined debts came to an impressive $114,151.

  • $2,600 on credit cards
  • $24,000 in car loans
  • $24,000 and $63,500 (or $87,500) in student loans

How to Pay Off $114,000 in 23 Months

Like another Personal Finance Spotlight guest, How Dave Ramsey’s Debt Snowball Helped Her Pay Off $89,000 in Two Years, the couple credit the wisdom of the personal finance grandfather, Dave Ramsey, for helping inform their debt free plan.

Anthony religiously listened to Dave Ramsey’s podcast, The Dave Ramsey Show, and read his book The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness. In addition to our budget, we adopted the debt snowball method, paying off the smallest to largest debt and tracked it on an amortization spreadsheet. – Black Enterprise

Source: Dave Ramsey

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Everyone wants a sexy side hustle. But the best way to make more money is to work more. So we just worked more. – Money

Related: Paychecks & Balances YahooFinance feature – 7 Steps Increased My Salary 400%

To further increase their income and pay down their debts even faster, they took on side hustles and multiple jobs. Just twenty-three months later the couple was completely debt free. A great 30th birthday gift to Jhanilka!

Although their household now brings in over six figures, this wasn’t always the case, and a high income doesn’t guarantee a high net worth if you choose to spend it all. You still have to make responsible spending decisions with your household income. For Jhanilka and Anthony, this meant prioritizing paying off their debts. With a bit of patience, a great plan, and a lot of focus, they believe you can repeat their proven success in your home.

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