Hey everyone! Today I have another really cool debt payoff story from Emily over at Accidental Hippies (love that site name haha). Her and her husband did some very cool things to pay off their debt quickly and are sharing their financial independence story here. They even built their own house off the grid! Enjoy! -M$M
You see so many articles about how us millennials are broke and drowning in debt. We're killing industry after industry. We spend all of the money we could be investing in real estate on…avocado toast, apparently.
But if you take time to read between the lines, you really see millennials harnessing what money they DO have to make better choices than eating out at mediocre chain restaurants and purchasing homes they cannot afford with money they do not have.
You see young people learning to hustle and trying to create a better way of life based on values forged in the crucible of the worst financial crisis in a generation.
That's exactly what my husband and I have done.
We paid off $24,000 in debt in 11 months and changed our lives forever.
I don't mean that as hyperbole. Being debt free lets us live the dreams we never thought were possible.
My husband Mark and I were high school sweethearts. We married at the tender age of 21 with pennies to our names, just a few years before the Great Recession hit. We made minimum wage incomes while finishing school. Like most older millennials, we racked up copious amounts of student loan debt and followed that up by graduating into the worst job market in decades, desperate to stay afloat.
After years of struggle and financial anxiety, my husband and I paid off over $24K in just under a year on on my music teacher salary while he was a freelance musician. I also saved enough cash to buy myself a new-to-me used car for $6K in that same time frame just by saving my private lesson money and loose change. LOOSE CHANGE. Oh, and we added a baby to the mix all in the same whirlwind year.
A tale as old as debt
Our debt was the normal millennial stuff like student loans, car loans, credit cards, and items that should have been covered by an emergency fund like a new furnace and air conditioner for our house. We used our credit card as an emergency fund and generally didn't prepare for much.
We made very little money at the time and just flew by the seat of our pants. That is, until my mom lent me her Financial Peace University audio CD's.
I ignored them for months. After all, what could I possibly learn from self-help drivel, right? I was so wrong. I randomly decided to pop them in and listen while I cleaned one day and was HOOKED. I made my husband listen with me and he got hooked as well.
From there, we were ON FIRE to get rid of our debt for good and make sound money choices from there on out. We had avoided “adulting” for long enough and it was time to make a radical change for the sake of our family.
Using the debt snowball method, we paid off the remaining $24K of our debt in 11 months. We didn't resort to any drastic measures to do it either; we took on lots of side hustles, lived frugally, and managed our money intentionally. It's absolutely something that anyone can do if you stick to it.
Paying off the debt isn't the story though
Paying off our debt and living a frugal lifestyle made us radically re-evaluate our life goals. We had spent the majority of our poor years leafing though old issues of Mother Earth News, reading articles with titles like “Build a Debt-Free Home” or “Learn to Build With Timber From Your Own Land”.
We would see the gorgeous photos of hand-built homes in peaceful, idyllic fields and dream of doing it ourselves one day. What would it even be like to build our own house with our own hands? We had always had so much debt and made so little money that we always thought it was just a pipe dream.
Getting rid of debt opens up the possibilities
Paying off debt and keeping it away changes something within the very core of who you are. You are no longer a slave to the lender, but a master of your destiny. You affirm your own ambitions and gain the skills necessary to take you from dreaming about them to actually achieving them.
If you develop the drive and tenacity to accomplish something like paying off all of your debt, just imagine what else you might be able to achieve!
Financial independence through homesteading
We realized that if we kept waiting to buy land and build a house we'd probably NEVER do it. So we sold our little house in the suburbs to buy 16 acres of raw land and build a house from scratch.
We opted to build with an alternative, natural building technique called “cordwood masonry”, which is simply a log home where small lengths of logs are laid with the end grain sticking out instead of running lengthwise like traditional log cabins.
Building this way drastically cut our material costs, improved the efficiency of the home, and so far has allowed us to build this home for cash. The house is still a work in progress, which I document thoroughly on our blog Accidental Hippies.
Our homestead allows us to pursue financial independence by decreasing our overall living expenses and increasing the at-home income potential
Every aspect of the house was designed by us to be sustainable for us to live in as our family grows and changes. The house is off of the electrical and water grid, so we won't be constrained by growing utility bills. The land we live on will allow us to grow, hunt, and forage for more and more of our own whole, healthy foods.
Building a homestead has also opened our minds to the possibilities of making our money from home. We have so many different avenues to make a healthy income right at home using our skills, knowledge, and available resources.
Seeing the examples of people like Bobby here at Millennial Money Man reinforces the fact that you don't have to be strapped to a 9-to-5 job just to make money and pay bills until you die. You can use your resources and talents to build the life you want on your own terms.
Paying off our debt was the best thing that ever could have happened to us.
Everything felt so futile in the years before we kicked the debt to the curb, and now we feel like we can tackle anything. If you find yourself feeling like you'll never get out of your debt, don't despair! If two average broke kids can grow up to build a debt-free homestead, you can live your dreams too.
Being debt free is the first step in making your aspirations attainable. Whatever payoff method you use, make a plan and hold yourself accountable to it. The rewards are simply too great not to do it. You owe it to yourself!
Emily is a homestead blogger who paid off $24,000 in 11 months. Her goal is to share tips, tricks, and knowledge for building a self-sufficient life. Check out Emily's blog at accidentalhippies.com. Follow her on Facebook at Accidental Hippies.