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Frustrated with your credit card, car payments, and student loans? Learn how you two can come together to dump your debt faster and retire early! 

Imagine you're recently married, have two condos, a brand new car and a whole life together that's about to take off.

On the surface everything looks great but what happens when you run the numbers and see the real picture?

What if you two discover that you're $52,000 in debt?

Getting Rid of $52,000 of Debt to Becoming financially Independent

For Deacon and Kim, seeing this amount of debt was a turning point.

Today Deacon Hayes, personal finance author and Well Kept Wallet founder, is on the podcast.

We're getting into how he and his wife Kim made this transition from being in debt to working their way towards financial independence.

In this episode, we talk about:

  • how they managed to pay off $52,000 in debt in 18 months
  • the system they used to keep one another in the loop with money
  • planning and following through financial independence

Hope you enjoy!

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Resources to Dump Debt and Retire Early

If you’re looking to get ahead with your finances as a family, here are more resources to check out!

The Journey from Dumping Debt to Financial Independence

Elle Martinez: Where are you guys now, financially speaking. And where do you want to be in five years?

Does it seem like there's a huge gap between today and in the future?

I logged into our Personal Capital account to get a snapshot of what's been going on in the last five years.

And something that surprised me was how far we came with investing five years ago, we had lot more debt.

Our focus then was knocking that out. But once that was done, we directed some of that money towards a 401k and the IRAs. And now our investments have grown by little, over a hundred thousand.

Which sounds ridiculous even saying that, but there it is well tucked away where we don't access it. But the point is, if you would have asked me like five years ago, this is where we would be at, I'd say no way. I would have been hopeful, but in the back of my mind, I would have thought that's just too big.

But when you break down your goals into chunks and you work out a system together, which for us included automating, you can see results over time, like possibly retiring early. That's what deacon and Kim Hayes.

Dumping Over $50,000 of Debt Fast

Deacon Hayes: We both just came from bad backgrounds, you know, from our, from a family standpoint of you know, our families didn't handle money well.

So we knew that if we were to continue doing the things that we were doing that were going to have similar results, you know, we're like, oh, we don't want the results.

We want to have results where we are able to start a family and buy a house and, you know, go on nice vacations and be able to save for retirement and potentially retire even early, you know?

We knew that if we were in this debt, that those things weren't possible. So it really was kind of, we had that common goal of, okay, let's sit down and figure out what's important to us, and then work towards that goal together.

Elle Martinez: Wanting to go a different direction with their family finances.

Deacon and Kim started looking for inspiration and ideas, books, and sites to help them get out of debt.

Deacon Hayes: Hawaii. Dave Ramsey went through his financial peace, course. But also in the meantime was reading some other authors like jumble go on investing and Ron blue. Who's another guy, Larry Burquette Howard Dayton.

Like I read it, I read a bunch of stuff. But Dave Ramsey definitely was probably the, one of the most practical influences on us.

Elle Martinez: And part of Dave Ramsey's baby steps is attacking your debts one by one using the debt snowball method, which is based on the balance of each of your debts versus the interest rates.

Deacon said that that was a very motivating method for him.

Deacon Hayes: Because I'm a simple guy and I understood it, you know, like the, the behavioral side of it, right? Like, okay. Pay off the smallest one. I feel a little victory pay off the next smallest one. So it was kind of like that psychological drug, like yeah.

I, I need that as a human, like I need to know that I'm getting ahead to not turning my wheels

Elle Martinez: and to pay off over $50,000 in less than two years, meant some huge sacrifices and changes.

Some of them did come easy, eating out loud. Skipping the movies, but others required much more of a commitment to the plan.

The hardest was selling my brand new car because you know it had a push button start… and this is back in 2008, 2009 when that was like a new thing.

But I realized that that was something that needed to go because it was about $400 dollars of our debt payments.

…we sold it which was an upside down car and we got $5,000 for my wife's car, which was paid for.

And then we both drove these 20 or 15 year old cards to get by. So that was the hardest change.

Deacon Hayes

Deacon Hayes: The hardest was selling my brand new car because I was kind of used to, it had a push button start.

I'm like, this is back in 2008, 2009, when that was like a new thing, but I realized that that was something that needed to go because it was about $400 of our debt payments.

We sold that, which was an upside down car.

Two cars for less than five grand with my wife's car that was paid for.

And then we both drove these old, 20 year old cars or 15 year old cars to get by. That's where the hardest.

The easiest probably was like our cable, you know, it's like, well, we don't really watch TV that often.

And ‘Hey, Netflix is pretty popular now at nine bucks. So let's do that instead.'

Yeah, those are a couple of changes that we made that helped us. Well for the foreword, I definitely took some focusing on what, what assets and what liabilities do we have and how can we work things around?

Because I think easily, we kind of just kept making the cart payment. But we wouldn't have made progress on our credit card debt or on our student loan debt. So we knew that if we get rid of that fast the snowball would go that much better.

Elle Martinez: I think a big part of deacon and Kim success with how fast they paid off this debt is that they were on the same page from day one.

They knew they wanted to knock out this debt as fast as possible. So they had regular check-ins to make sure everything was going smoothly.

Deacon Hayes: Yeah, it w it was weekly is what we try to do. And obviously we had some hiccups. But the reality was is w the more that we focus on it, the better, you know, we were at managing our finances

Elle Martinez: and eventually he got rid of that $52,000 of debt, but then that left him with a question.

What do we do now? Where do we go from here?

….. And so it's kind of this progression of like OK I started with a debt but then it was like OK well you'd have savings that we need to invest in what are we investing for?

What's the purpose?

Deacon Hayes

Deacon Hayes: So I think originally what was kind of like, okay, we paid off the debt. Now we need to get an emergency fund. Right. Like we, we, we had like a small emergency fund, but we needed to get like a six month emergency fund. So, you know, we kind of went from the debt to savings and then we're like, oh, we got to start investing.

And so. You know, I, I, like I said, I read some books about investing from different people. You know, Robert Kiyosaki, rich dad, poor dad, Jim Kramer, John Bogle, all these things intelligent investor by Benjamin Graham. Good one. And so really kind of figuring out like, okay, how do you invest wisely?

And so it was kind of this progression of like, okay, yeah, it started with the debt, but then it was like, okay, we need to have savings and we need to invest in, well, what are we investing for? What's the purpose, you know? And the purpose is kind of, okay, what are our goals? You know, so that we kind of lay out those goals.

We love to travel internationally. I love freedom. And at the time I was working a job where I only got two weeks off a year. Was a school teacher. She had more time off, but not, you know, not as much resources financially. And so it was one of those things where we realized, okay financial independence was something that really kind of stuck out to us as, Hey, be cool.

To, you know, leaving on an international trip whenever we want, or, you know, be able to, you know, take our kids out of school and just go travel on a family vacation. Like we didn't have that flexibility across. So it was kind of the first steps towards financial independence,

Elle Martinez: even though Kim. I paid off their debts and we're now shifting towards becoming financially stable and then eventually moving towards financial independence.

There was this thread that followed them during this journey, a key question that they had to make sure they answered. I

Deacon Hayes: think that a lot of people, they want to get out of debt or they want to achieve financial independence, but unless they solidify their why theirs, it's very unlikely. They'll get there because the why is what motivates us in the tough times, right?

Like the reality is. Can be hard and it can throw curve balls your way. And unless you have that, why like, Hey, I want to put my kids through college or I want to be able to travel or I want to be able to serve worthy causes or whatever it might be. Unless we have that, we're not likely to be motivated to stick to our goals when tough times hit.

So so for us, it was really figuring out what does that, why working on it as a team together. And then letting that motivate us to stick through the hard times and, and even maybe be more intentional about kind of our decisions so that we can achieve our goals. So that's why the, why was so important.

We started a family of two kids. We have a daughter is about 10 months and my son's almost three. And so, you know, starting a family and knowing like, Hey, Well, we want to be able to set them up in a way that we didn't have, you know, growing up. And so making sure that we can help provide for their college so that they don't have the, you know, $70,000 in student loan debt or whatever it's going to be at that age when they, you know, when they get that at eight.

Or, you know, being able to travel, like, I, I didn't do any international travel when I was a kid, you know, and I've, I've done a lot when I'm an adult. But to be able to let my kids experience that and see other cultures and other parts of the world, and maybe feel, you know, like kind of how blessed we are in America, you know, compared to how some other people have it and maybe not take for granted a lot of the stuff that we have over here and maybe even find ways to, to help others in need out there.

So like really those are types of things. Or a little bit deeper than money, but it's more like, Hey, how can we develop this culture in our family? That's beyond ourselves and, and use kind of our financial resources to make that a reality

Elle Martinez: and to help other couples to get out of debt and start working towards financial independence.

He wrote the book you can retire.

Deacon Hayes: Yeah. I wanted it to really be something where people can create a personalized plan, right? Like what my wife and I do might not work for somebody else. Right. Or what Pete from Mr. Money mustache does and his wife, what they do might not work for other people. So really just kind of lay out, like here are a few different paths, talk about real estate, stock market and business.

And, you know, you can kind of envision yourself in those paths and say, Hey, could you. Buy a property with 20% down, fix it up, you know, rent it out, manage it, you know, and then buy a second property and do that, you know, three more times and then have enough income to live off the rest of our lives. Does that sound appealing?

And if not, then what about the stock market where it's kind of more set up? Diversify have 25 times your annual expenses, that kind of thing.

Where it's much more formulaic, the math that you're talking about or the business where that's what I love, where I don't really want to retire retire. I just want to work when I want to work.

Right. I want to do what I want to do and work on the projects that are important to me. And so the reality is, is maybe I work four hours a week, but if I make enough in a month to be able to, you know, to do that and provide for my family That was really appealing to me. So people can read the, those different paths and kind of pick like, Hey, which one does really resonates with me.

And then kind of develop their own personalized journey towards that.

Finding their why took some time, but Deacon believes it has guided them well.

As parents with two little ones in tow, they're even more intentional with their finances.

The good news is that the skills they used to get out of debt were transferable.

Instead of sending in those extra payments to their credit cards and student loans, they directed them to savings and investments.

Jumpstart Your Marriage and Money Course

Want to give your marriage and bank account a boost? Pick up Jumpstart Your Marriage and Money course.

Jumpstart focuses on the big wins including earning more. Get LIFETIME access to a four-week course design to help you:

  • Stop fighting about money and create a budget that you BOTH LOVE
  • Automate your money
  • Pay off your debt faster
    Plus more!

You can get lifetime access here!

Music Credit

Like the music in this episode? Our theme song is by Gentle Regime. Additional music by Lee Rosevere and Logan from Music for Makers in this episode.

This episode was originally released in April 2018. Show notes have been updated August 2021.

About Elle Martinez

Elle Martinez helps families at Couple Money achieve financial freedom by sharing tips for reducing debt, increase income, and building net worth. Learn how to live on one income and have fun with the second..