We’ve got an awesome freedom story today from Claudia at Two Cup House. They found their way to debt freedom and are now on their way to achieving the financial freedom they dreamed about back in 2015!
Building Normal Debt
When you graduate from college, you find yourself eager to live a grown-up life. You start your career and start spending all your money to create that picture of what you think life is supposed to be like. The student loans you have - you can just pay the minimums. No need to sacrifice your ability to make that perfect picture a reality! Bring on the home mortgage, new cars, and awesome furniture.
That’s what we did! We financed our college education, landed jobs in stable fields, bought new cars, a house (1,500 square feet & remodeled it), furniture, and ate out all the time. We were living the normal American life with over $200,000 of “normal” debt.
- Credit Card Debt: $16,515
- Mortgage: $156,013
- Student Loans: $36,079
Realizing We Didn’t Want Normal Debt
About ten years later in April of 2015, we found two blogs that got us thinking differently. John and David of the Debt Free Guys paid off a ton of debt and Carl of 1500 Days was pursuing financial independence so he could quit his job – both were (and continue to be) inspiring for us.
We had dreamed about getting out of debt. Then our eyes opened to the possibility of downsizing to a lower-maintenance home and traveling the US to visit all the national parks.
While we had the inspiration, we weren’t on a fast track to change. We experienced some health troubles that made us realize how short life could be. Fortunately, the health issues dissipated, but our desire for financial freedom didn’t. We didn’t want to wait around to see if our health issues resurfaced. We would have to make change happen NOW!
Achieving Debt Freedom
Inspired by 1500 Days, we decided we were going to pay off all of our debt and achieve financial freedom in 1,500 days. If this plan sounds half-baked, that’s because it was. At the time we made this decision, it was April 2015 and we had more than $200,000 in debt!
We forged ahead with our half-baked plan. We needed to get out of debt fast! Our first step was to eliminate our mortgage. We put our house on the market and planned to pay for a tiny home with the equity from the sale. Our second step was to pay off the rest of our debt. In order to do this, I applied for a full-time job and Garrett spent a lot more time on his commission-based sales job. We also cut expenses, including food and utilities. Every little bit helped us save more money to pay off our debt faster.
We listed our house and while we waited for the sale to go through, we worked on paying off our credit card debt. After six months, we were credit card debt free, but hadn’t been able to sell our house. This was frustrating as we were excited to move on. So the next month, we took out a small mortgage and moved. It was another six months before the house sold and an additional six months before we were completely mortgage free. With a lot of dedication, in March of 2017 we paid the last of our student loans and became officially debt free two years after we started this journey (about 730 days).
Tackling Complete Financial Freedom
The second half of our dream is to become financially free. Since paying off all of our debt, this dream has evolved. Instead of focusing on retiring early, we are focusing more on doing work that matters and spending more time outdoors. Right now we are trying to balance enjoying this life and creating the flexibility that financial freedom affords.
For now, we are loving our tiny home and have adapted to it quite quickly. Sure, it has its challenges, but every housing situation does. Living in a “tiny” house is a dream come true because it’s low-cost, low-maintenance, and affords us tons of time to spend outdoors hiking and kayaking.
As we look to the future, financial freedom or having enough money to make a change in our lifestyle is still the goal. We’re constantly trying to make smarter decisions on how we spend our money and time so that we can work less, earn more, and travel in a location-independent fashion. I know that we’ll get there, maybe even within our half-baked 1,500 day goal (about 300 days left to go).
Once we reach financial freedom we’ll be free to focus more on our passion projects and then who knows what will happen!
Advice For Others Jumping Into Lifestyle Changes
Enjoy The Journey: One thing I wish we had done differently is focus more on enjoying the journey. We’ve had a blast so far, but there were times that we worked tons of extra hours to get to debt freedom faster. Sometimes it’s OK to slow down and enjoy the view.
Find Your Tribe: Personal finance bloggers inspired us to dream big and pushed us to take action, so without them, I don’t think we would have made the progress we’ve made. An added benefit is that bloggers who were our accountability partners throughout this journey have become good friends.
Thank you to Claudia for sharing their journey with us. It’s amazing how much you can change your life when you find the inspiration, create a plan, and start making the necessary changes right away! We’re looking forward to seeing you accomplish complete financial freedom and checking off the rest of your national parks list!
Do you have a freedom story you would like to share? We would love to hear from you! Submit your story here!