Last summer, my husband, Ben, and I found our dream home.
It was 74 acres of fields, woods, ponds and even an orchard teeming with fruit trees. We saw the opportunity to build a farm and a business for my husband; to give our four children, ages 3 to 9, freedom to grow.
The house itself was a mansion compared to the starter home we’d squeezed into for the past seven years. There was a kitchen that could actually fit all six of us (a luxury!), bedrooms for all the kids and even a home gym. When we made our way through the house and into the backyard, I looked at Ben with excitement.
“This is it,” I said to him, grabbing his hand. “This is what we’ve been waiting for.”
But here’s the thing: My husband is a middle-school math teacher and I’m a freelance writer, working from home with our four young kids. Oh, and we’re only 31. So how on earth would we manage to buy that kind of house at our age?
Well, it wasn’t easy, pretty, or without stress. (Seriously, I developed an eye twitch for months.) But the only real secret to us landing our dream home was the fact that we had been preparing for this moment for years — eliminating our debt over our decade-long marriage. Here’s how.
THE HISTORY BEHIND OUR DEBT
Our debt story began the moment we graduated college, and I began relentlessly attacking our loans. My husband and I had a pretty early start into adulthood — I became pregnant during my senior year of college, we married over winter break, I graduated in the spring with a bachelor’s degree in nursing, and then I gave birth to our first daughter a week later.
While my husband finished up his degree through the fall semester, I supported us by working the night shift as a nurse and caring for our daughter during the day. It was an exhausting time in our lives, but even then, I made paying off our debt a priority. I picked up extra shifts and applied that money to our highest-interest loan. While many of our peers were still finishing up their degrees, we were juggling new parenthood, work and some sky-high debts.
In six months, I paid off that first $3,000 student loan and was on to the next, with $20,000 left to go for our undergraduate degrees.
Read the rest of the of our debt payoff journey at Northwestern Mutual