We’re Debt Free!

Y’all, we did it.

We did it!


We paid off our entire $82,000 in student loan debt in 3 years + 2 months.

And we even did it 38 days before our goal {which was December 31st of 2016}.

There’s so much I want to share with you, so to keep myself organized, I am going to break this down into categories.

BUT, if you haven’t read our original story on our debt-free journey, please read this first. 

  1. HOW I FEEL. 

I made the final payment on Tuesday, it went through on Wednesday, I surprised my husband and told him on Thanksgiving {Thursday}, and today, Friday, it’s just now starting to sink in.

We’ve been working our butts off for the past 38 months.  At the beginning of this journey, there was no light at the end of the tunnel—nada—not a glimmer.  In fact, it was more like a black hole.  So, when the end actually started getting closer, it honestly didn’t seem like it was true.  I compare the thought of it to the dream of someday having the perfect body . . . you hope it will come true, but you know deep down it ain’t ever gonna happen. Now that this dream of ours is true, it’s hard to process.

When I made that last payment, at first I felt nothing.  It was like any other payment I’ve made toward our loans. Then I posted this picture to Facebook on Thanksgiving Day.  I had such an awesome response from my friends that when I was reading through everyone’s comments, I was overwhelmed with emotion and just started crying {happy tears,of course}.


Right after I told my husband the news on Thanksgiving Day.

Today, I have just felt giddy.  All day.  I am sure that soon I will finally feel relief.


I’ve gotten this question a lot since I’ve been public about our journey.  38 months ago we started Dave Ramsey‘s Financial Peace University.  This taught us how to reallocate our money and get on a budget.  I recommend that EVERYONE take this 9-week course.

Before, I thought I was doing the right thing by having our money going in every direction – college funds, savings accounts, retirement funds, and student loan debt {minimum payments, of course}.  Dave Ramsey’s 7 Baby Steps taught me that my good intentions weren’t working.

Here’s a bulleted list of all the changes we’ve made since September of 2013 to “find” extra money:  

  • We immediately stopped putting money into the kids’ college funds, the savings accounts, and retirement and started dumping that money into the debt.  That was super scary for me at first because I’m a saver.  This alone freed up about $400/month. 
  • We canceled our DirecTV which was costing us $125/month!  We invested in a digital antenna and an Apple TV instead.  We now watch local stations for free and pay a total of $17/month for Netflix and Hulu.  This freed up a little over $100/month.
  • We started paying cash for groceries.  Not only that, but I only budgeted $300/month for groceries and any other food.  This meant pretty much NO dining out.  I’m not sure exactly how much this saved us because I used to buy our groceries with our credit card and didn’t keep track, but I estimated this saved us at least $200/month.  
  • We changed our car and home insurance, which freed up about $50/month.
  • I was putting about $100/month toward my students loans, which had about a $6,000 balance.  We paid that off as quickly as possible by pulling money out of our savings.  That obviously freed up $100/month to put toward Randy’s student loans that had a $76,000 balance.

The minimum payment for Randy’s student loans were around $400/month.  By making these changes, we were able to put an extra $850 toward our debt each month {equaling $1,250} just from our teaching salaries.

Other changes:

  • I took a vow to pretty much not go shopping until we were out of debt.  I did get a few things here and there, but very little.  No new decorations for the house, no new clothes or new shoes, no new home appliances.  No fun.
  • I’ve always been cheap frugal, but I took that to a whole new level.  I figured out how to take advantage of Kroger fuel points, and I started making my own laundry detergent and other cleaning products.  I started getting rebates through the Ibotta app.  If you sign up using my code {fjovarx}, you’ll get $10 and I’ll get $5.  Yes!
  • We rarely ate out or did much for entertainment.  We watched movies on Netflix instead of going to the theatre.  We made sure to pack lunches every day.  We played games at home instead of going bowling or Chuck E Cheese.  I did workout videos from YouTube for free instead of going to a gym.

Extra Work. 

We could have just paid the $1,250/month toward our debt that we were able to “find” by simply reallocating our money.  In fact, that’s what we did for the first several months we started our debt snowball.  But this would have taken us about six years to complete, and I started developing a hate toward our debt that was so repulsive.  Like, if our debt was a person, I have no doubt I’d punch it so hard in the face I’d knock out half a dozen teeth.  I had to get it done quicker.  The only way to do that was to increase our income.

Here’s how we increased our income:

  • In January of 2014, I started my own cake pop business called Bondbons.  This has been a fun way for me to work from home and make an extra income.
  • My husband started a painting business in the summer of 2014.
  • I get “extra duty pay” through my school for doing things like subbing on my plan period, taking tickets for soccer games, supervising detentions on Saturday mornings, working on a curriculum committee, being a home bound teacher for students in the district, etc.
  • I supervise the ACT test about 4 times a year.
  • My husband used to be a mechanic, so he will often work on people’s cars from our home.  He will also find run down cars for cheap {or sometimes even FREE}, fix them up, then sell for a profit.
  • I taught summer school during the month of June.
  • We tried selling as much as we could.  We had several garage sales, and would also sell items on Craigslist or Facebook.
  • My husband donated plasma.
  • I started teaching cake pop classes and selling cake pops at vendor events whenever I could.

By doing all these extra things, we were usually able to pay an additional $1,800/month toward the students loans—making our payment around $3,000/month total.  Sometimes it was more, and sometimes it was depressingly less.



Tithing.  I have tithed 10% of my income since I started making my own money as a teenager.  That was something I was not going to give up during this journey.  My husband and I still faithfully tithed to our church and other organizations we’re passionate about this entire time.  This whole time our debt was paid on 90% of our net income.  In my opinion, this is the most important thing you can do with your money . . . well, actually, it’s God’s money.  He just lets us manage it for Him.

Murphy’s Law.  This isn’t something we controlled, but no one is exempt from Murphy’s Law of “Anything That Can Go Wrong . . . Will.”  During the last 38 months, we’ve had to owe more on taxes than we expected, we’ve had to get new tires on our van, my husband has had to fight former ding-dong employees in legal battles, we’ve had to make unexpected trips, we’ve had deaths in the family, and more.  Even though we’ve had an emergency savings fund, all of these events have put kinks in our pay-off plan, but we kept trucking.

Kids. I wanted to make sure that my kids {who are currently 8 and 10} didn’t have to suffer during this season of our lives.  I made sure to be available to help with homework, to attend basketball games and ballet recitals, and to take them out on dates.  I still had a lot to fit on my plate with orders to fill, essays to grade, lesson plans to make, and extra duty jobs to work.  Therefore, I tried to let that cut into my SLEEP more than my kids’ time.  No matter how hard we tried, our intense focus to get out of debt definitely took some time and attention from our kids, but we tried out best for it not to.


I came across this quotation a couple of years ago, and it stuck: “Never envy the success of another.  You don’t know how much she had to sweat to get there.”

I’ve had so many people comment to me that they’re so jealous of the fact that we’re out of debt now.  I know this is probably meant as a compliment, and I don’t know everyone’s financial situation, but I just want to scream: YOU WOULD NOT BE JEALOUS OF THE LIFE I LIVED FOR THE PAST 38 MONTHS!” 


It’s all cute and awesome now, but the only thing that’s been fun about this journey is seeing the debt’s balance go down every month.

This did not “just happen.”  No one helped us.  We did not gain an inheritance.  We had to work and make sacrifices.

Here’s a little glimpse of the not-so-fun parts that we’ve endured to get out of debt so quickly.

  • On average, I got about 5 hours of sleep a night.  FIVE.  It’s a miracle I wasn’t constantly walking around like a zombie and actually functioned {most of the time}. Even on weekends I rarely had time to catch up on my Z’s.  Sometimes I would have to catch a cat nap on my lunch break or in the van before my son’s soccer games.
  • I gained about 20 pounds over the 38 months.  YUCK.  This was mainly due to stress.  I found that I am an emotional eater, and you can bet that I wasn’t snacking on celery sticks.  I also did not have the time or energy to really care what I was eating, cook healthy meals, or work out.
  • My husband and I were like two ships passing in the night.  One of us was constantly working while the other was home with the kids.  Babysitters, dining out, and entertainment weren’t in our budget, so we haven’t had much quality time in the past 3 years.
  • There were times my hands would be so sore from rolling cake pops that I could barely grip the steering wheel in my van. There were also times I would be up so late working on orders that I would start crying from exhaustion.
  • I’ve been driving the same {paid off} minivan for nine years with no plans to trade it in, and my husband has been driving piece-of-crap vehicles because nice, newer ones weren’t in the budget.
  • My husband and I tried to help each other out whenever one of us wasn’t as busy with our own business.  He helped me make cakes, put boxes together, made deliveries, and tied bows on cake pops for my Bondbons business.  Over the summer I helped him . . . paint.  You guys, I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: I. HATE. PAINTING.  And of course the days I helped were always super hot and miserable.  I seriously loathed every single second as sweat was coming out of pores it shouldn’t be coming out of.
  • We constantly had to say “No.”  No to our kids when they wanted to go someplace fun.  No to our friends when they wanted to dine out.  No to our family because we couldn’t afford to travel.  No to ourselves when we wanted to update the house or buy something new or . . . do basically anything.
  • We were constantly tied to a tight budget {side note: we will ALWAYS be on a budget, but this one was REALLY tight}.  As I mentioned before, I only allowed us to spend $300/month on food.  Many times toward the end of the month, we would run out of money.  We had to get creative and make some interesting casseroles out of the food we had in the pantry, and often we had to just eat cereal or Ramen noodles for dinner.
  • As much as we tried not to cut into our kids’ life, the extra work still did.  One of my lowest points was when I had to miss my son’s soccer game because I was scheduled to work a Saturday morning detention.  That was the only game he scored a goal the entire season, and I missed it to make an extra $60.  I vowed that when we got out of debt, I would try my best not to miss another game or activity again.

So, this journey has not been fun, but it was definitely worth it. I’d do it all over again to ensure the financial freedom we’re going to enjoy in the future.


I’ve also gotten this question a lot, and there’s so many answers.

Many people have had the impression that we are going to live it up, quit our jobs, or buy whatever we want now.

While we will have more freedom with our time and money, we will continue following Dave Ramsey’s 7 Baby Steps, so we will still be on a strict budget.  I’m sure that makes me sound like Captain No Fun, but don’t worry, we have lots of enjoyable things planned, too.

Here’s a list of what our future looks like:

Savings + Investing. 

We are now officially on Baby Step 3, which means we need to fully fund our Emergency Fund.  This will be a savings account that will have 3-6 months worth of our living expenses in case something tragic happens {a loss of a job, a horrible accident, etc.}.

As mentioned above, we’ve been driving the same minivan for over 9 years, which is getting close to 200,000 miles, and my husband has also been driving crappy cars to make do. We plan to drive these vehicles until the wheels fall off, but in the meantime, we’ll also be putting money into a separate savings account {called a “sink fund”} for “new” {to us} vehicles in the future so we can PAY CASH and not have to get a car loan.  We never want to go into any kind of debt ever again.  Ever.

We have also put off investing and retirement during this time.  My husband is actually only about 11 years away of being able to retire from teaching, so this is quite scary to us.  After our emergency fund is completed, we will be on Baby Step 4, which is to start investing 15% of our income.

We also need to start putting money back into the 529 Education Plan we have for our kids to save up for their college.  We don’t want our children to have to endure crippling student loan debt like we had to.  This is Baby Step 5, but it can be done the same time as Baby Step 4.

We still have a mortgage that we’d like to pay off early.  This is Baby Step 6, which can also be done at the same time as Baby Step 4 and 5.  Any extra money we have after investing and saving for college will go to the house.  Have you ever played around with a Mortgage Payoff Calculator?  Click here to try one.  For us, just by paying an extra $100/month {on a 30 year mortgage} will cause us to pay off our house 7 YEARS EARLY!  An extra $500/month would pay off our house 16 YEARS EARLY!

Reallocating the Money.

We have had a limited budget for groceries, gifts/giving, and entertainment. We plan to reallocate our money so we open up more room for all of those areas and can have a bit more comfort in our lives.


We will both continue to teach and do our side businesses. In order to accomplish everything we want, we still need to make some extra money.  BUT we can now limit how much we work.  Before we took whatever jobs or orders possible out of necessity, now we can pick and choose what we want to do.  We both like doing the businesses that we started, but neither one of us can keep up at the pace we were going.  I don’t know how this will look just yet, but I do know that I am going to get some more sleep at night.


As mentioned above, we won’t be working as much.  I plan to give my kids more undivided attention that they deserve and need.  We also want to volunteer more.  We just want to relax and spend more time with family and friends.  I plan to spend more time cooking healthier meals at home and working out.  I would like to blog more and maybe even write a book.

I also plan to facilitate Financial Peace University classes in the future to help other people get out of debt in our area.


Before doing anything I mentioned above, we are going to celebrate first!!!  In fact, tonight we’re taking our kids to a nice, fun restaurant and to see a new movie in 3D.  We have rarely dined out since 2013, and we never go see new movies.  We either rent them, watch Netflix, or go to the cheap $2 theatre in town.

I also went shopping for fun for the first time in over 3 years.  I plan to redecorate our living room—something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.  I’ve even gotten some new shoes and clothes.  Look out, world.

The most exciting thing we have planned though is a long, sweet vacation this summer out west.  Since we’re both teachers, we have the summer off, and we will probably be gone for a good 3 weeks.  We will even be able to afford a house sitter!  Woot! Details about that trip will be a post for the future.

Thank you to everyone who followed our journey and encouraged us along the way.

We have lived like no one else so that we can now live {and give} like no one else.


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PS – Share this post on social media via our Facebook page {click here}, and I will send a lucky winner a copy of Dave Ramsey’s book The Total Money Makeover to help you get out of debt. It will change your life.




Paying Down Debt – September 2016

The daily Facebook “memories” are a funny thing.  Most of the time they remind me of adorable pictures I posted of my kids from when they were itty bitty, or a super funny moment that I had since forgotten.  Sometimes the “memories” show an old side of me that doesn’t even exist anymore.

This past month, I came across something I posted back in 2009:


I remember “that girl” from 7 years ago.  Even though she was frugal, she didn’t have a budget.  She put everything on her credit card—she made sure to pay it off each month, but when that time came, there was little room for groceries or anything else.  “That girl” from 7 years ago was in denial that she and her husband were racking up $25,000 just in INTEREST on student loans because they didn’t “have” the money to pay on it, so they annually deferred it.  Because of that, they were ignorantly accumulating over $80,000 in student loan debt to pay back.  “That girl” from 7 years ago saw no hope of ever getting ahead financially.

“That girl” from 7 years ago felt stuck.

I’m not “that girl” anymore, and I’ll never be again.

Just over three years ago, my husband and I started our Financial Peace University class. I learned to get on a budget, how to reallocate our money for our benefit, and we never turned back.  Bills are no longer stressful for me.  To be honest, paying them is kind of fun (did I really just type that?).  I especially love seeing the balance of our student loans go down every few weeks.

Speaking of that, in the month of September we paid off $2,976 (just $24 short of our monthly goal).  You can click here to see our current balance and progress.

Here is what we did to make that possible:

  • I supervised the ACT on a Saturday morning.
  • Randy’s painting business has slowed down quite a bit, but he was still able to do some painting jobs to contribute.
  • I subbed several days during my plan period, line-judged for volleyball, completed some curriculum committee work, and supervised Saturday morning detentions—all of which I received “extra duty pay” from my school.
  • Our gas and water bills were both lower than we have budgeted, so that extra money went to the debt.
  • My Bondbons business had a ridiculously good month.  Part of this is due to the fact that I catered 80 dozen bondbons for a wedding at the beginning of September.   That’s 960. Just take a look:

Almost 1,000 bondbons for a beautiful wedding in September.

That’s covering my entire kitchen table, by the way.

This.  All this. The wedding catering and the current balance on our debt are true testaments of patient endurance.  When I started Bondbons almost three years ago, no one would have placed an order this enormous.  It took time for me to prove myself to others, to build up clientele, and learn how to take decent looking pictures from my phone.   And the debt.  It’s been a long, stressful road, but it’s almost over!  Every amount of money, small or large, that was thrown at the debt has made a difference and gotten us to where we are.  If we never would have buckled down and got serious, 90% of our monthly payment would still be going to interest, and I’d still be “that girl” from 2009.

I like “this girl” from 2016 better.

Stay tuned for our next update from October.


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Paying Down Debt – August 2016


I am pretty excited about this update because we are finally down to only FOUR DIGITS of debt!!!!


Do you realize how close that makes us?  That feels like almost nothing after we started with $82,000 in the hole.  And after our April and May, I wasn’t even sure if we’d get to this point by the end of the year.  Our goal is so near and we still have almost four months left.

This month moved the needle more than any other month.  Just in August alone we were able to pay off $6,289.  I can’t believe that was even possible.  That’s more than double a typical month for us.  Click here to see our progress.

Here’s what we did in August:

  • I had an unexpectedly awesome month with my Bondbons business.
  • My husband worked his tail off painting.  He was given an awesome opportunity to paint apartments for three weeks.  He was seriously gone for about 12-14 hours a day, but it obviously paid off.
  • I did some curriculum work for my school district {always a super fun way to end the summer}
  • Our water and gas bill were lower than expected—the extra money was put toward debt.
  • We have money allotted to go into our emergency fund every month should we have to dip into it, but we haven’t had to for about three months.  I was going to leave it in there to help cover next summer’s expenses, but decided to go ahead and pull it out and throw it at the debt.  We can save up that money after our balance is $0.

I’ll close with this:

You know those memories that pop up on Facebook?  I came across this post {which was actually from July . . . but we’ll apply it to August, okay?}.


I remember that night of July 25th, 2013.  My husband and I had one of the biggest fights over money in our marriage.  We were desperate.  I put this question out there as a plea for help, and thanks to the comments I was made aware that our own church was hosting classes for FPU.

Just a few weeks later, I posted this in August:


Three years later, we have paid off over $72,000 simply by living below our means, budgeting, and putting in extra work.  CRAZY.  I had no idea we would be this close to being done so quickly {I was thinking it would take us six-ten years minimum at first}.

I’m so glad we made the decision to take those classes together three years ago.

Looking forward to posting about September.


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Paying Down Debt – June+July 2016

I recently started using the MyFitnessPal app in order to better track my caloric intake.  I was a bit depressed when it was discovered that to lose any weight, I could only consume 1,200 calories a day.  By the way, my husband is allowed over 3,000 calories {and I hate him}.

So . . . 1,200 calories.  That’s it.  I quickly realized that I had to make conscious efforts to meal plan, measure portions, research, and find healthier alternatives.  Oh, but fun news! If I exercise, I can eat more.  Like, if I walk about 300 steps, I can have an extra cup of kale.

Yay . . .

Dieting is so much like budgeting.  It’s no wonder that so many Americans are overweight, broke, or both—it’s way easier and fun just to eat and spend how you want.  But weight isn’t going to magically come off and debt isn’t going to magically go away.  You have to be proactive about both.  My 1,200 allotted calories is like my budget.  I can’t “spend” more than that or I’m not going to see results.  But if I want to eat a little more, well . . . I’ve gotta take a few laps around the block.  If I want to see my debt go down, I have to live within my means and work some extra hours.

Working extra hours.  That is something my husband and I have done nonstop since we started this journey to become debt-free almost 3 years ago.  Luckily we have a lot more time over the summer since we’re both teachers.  We’ve cut back so much on spending the last few years, but the key to our success has definitely been a lot of overtime.

I am happy to report that June and July have been way more auspicious than April or May. We were able to pay off $6,966 of student loan debt in those two months!!!  This does not even include all the business debt my husband had to pay off as well.  To see our current balance, click here.

Here is what we’ve been doing over our summer “break”:

  • I worked on a curriculum committee for several days
  • I taught summer school during the month of June.
  • Randy has been painting nonstop {like 12-14 hours a day at times}
  • I helped Randy paint, again, and it was horrible, again
  • I supervised the ACT on a Saturday morning
  • Randy fixed up a couple of vehicles and sold them {he used to be a mechanic}
  • July was extremely busy for my Bondbons business.  Not only have I had a lot of orders {when summertime is typically slow}, but I’ve been hired for several future weddings.

I thought I’d share a strategic move I made for those of you number-crunching-nerds like me.  One reason our payout was so high in June {which in and of itself was not an awesome month} was because my husband and I both received our June, July, and August paychecks at the beginning of the summer {well . . . after the Kansas legislature decided it was important to adequately fund public education}.  Anyway, I took the amount that we pay toward student debt every month from our salaries and made one big payment in June instead of making those payments in July and August.  I did this for two reasons.  1) April and May were so horrible that I needed to see that balance go down in a big way to get me motivated again. 2) By paying a large chunk sooner allowed our lovely interest that accrues daily to go down.  We ended up saving us around $25, just by making those payments one and two months ahead of time.  Not a ton, but every bit helps.

Oh, and by the way, since starting MyFitnessPal in late May, I’ve only lost about 2 pounds. I’m clearly better at budgeting the checkbook than the snacks.  {wink}.

Stay tuned for our August update.


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Paying Down Debt – May 2016

Well, last month I bluntly proclaimed that April sucked but had high hopes that May would be better.

It wasn’t.

{Insert incredibly frustrated sad face with one small tear trickling down the cheek}.

In order to pay off our student loan debt by our goal date, which is December 31st of 2016, we have to pay off about $3,000/month.  We allot $1,218 from our teaching salaries each month to go toward the debt {we were able to “find” that much money from canceling cable, limiting our grocery bills, putting a hold on our kids’ college funds and our retirements funds, etc.}.  The other $1,782 has to come from extra work we do.  Because of many different factors in April, we weren’t able to put any extra money toward our debt, so we were only able to pay off $1,211.

This past May we were only able to pay off $1,158.  You can click here to see our current balance.

Despite making little progress, we’re still working our butts’ off.  That’s what is so frustrating.  It feels like being someone who only eats kale and works out 16 hours/day, but is still fat.

Here were some of our roadblocks this past month:

  • May is typically one of my busiest months for my Bondbons business.  People order for Teacher Appreciation Day, Mother’s Day, graduation parties, and Memorial Day. For whatever reason,  I had few orders this year and May ended up being one of my slowest months since the inception of my business.
  • Remember that huge house I mentioned last month that Randy’s painting crew was four weeks behind on?  Yeah . . . they’re STILL not done.  Because of the rain and other personal issues, they’re now eight weeks behind.  No one gets paid until it’s finished.
  • We still had some extra summer expenses that had to be paid.  The little extra we made had to go toward that.
  • Randy had some unforeseen business expenses that have actually put his business in debt.  I thought about adding that to our debt total, but decided not to since I feel it is a separate matter.  However, a large chunk of his business profits will be going toward the business debt instead of the student loans for the next several months.

Sadly, the future may look worse.  Randy and I are both public school teachers in Kansas, and as of right now, Kansas schools may not even be able to open in the fall.  We’re praying that the government is able to solve this and everything will be fine, but for now, we will be socking away as much money as possible just in case.  If a solution isn’t figured out by June 30th, we won’t receive pay checks after July.  Until then, we will only pay the minimum payment on our student loans, which is $218.

Guess how much of that will go to interest.


Sigh . . .

As I mentioned earlier, we still have been working extremely hard.  Here are a few things we did in May in addition to our teaching jobs to generate more income:

  • I supervised every Saturday detention we had in May {I usually do one or two a month}.  There was not a Saturday I got to sleep in.
  • Randy has been working on some painting jobs on his own.  There were a couple of nights in May he didn’t get home until 4:00 in the morning and then turned around and taught the next day.
  • I put in over 30 hours of working with two home bound students through my district.
  • A friend of ours started building custom tables and hired Randy to do the finish on all of them.
  • I subbed as much as I could during my plan periods.
  • Since my Bondbons business has been extremely slow, I started helping my husband paint.

Y’all, that last one . . .

Let me tell you something.  I loathe painting.  I would seriously rather pop the pimples of a stranger. {By the way, if anyone would actually pay good money for that, let me know}.

When you paint a house, you get sweaty, messy, and there’s like . . . bugs and stuff outside.

Nonetheless, I told the husband that if I wasn’t going to be busy fulfilling cake pop orders, I might as well help him get painting jobs done to help speed up the process.  The first time I helped him, I painted outside for five hours straight.  I thought my entire arm was going to fall off the next day.

I will continue to do it though—I refuse to sit at home and do nothing while we’re wallowing in debt.  I just keep thinking of how sweet our life will be once we’re debt free. The freedom we’ll have for ourselves and the ability to give outrageously will be priceless. That is worth a summer of getting sweaty and messy.  Oh, and even the bugs.

When we’re out of debt, I vow to never touch a paintbrush again.

June looks grim, but I pray it will be better.  I’ll update regardless.


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Paying Down Debt – April 2016

I am going to be blunt.


Even though Randy and I still worked our butts off, not one extra dime was able to go toward our debt {other than what we already budget from our salaries}.

Because life.

Here are just a few things that life threw at us this past month:

  • We unexpectedly owed on our taxes {when we expected a return}. Blah.
  • Our “tax guy” who we’ve used for the past eight years charged us almost double what we’ve paid in the past without warning {he unfortunately lost a  loyal customer . . . I’m not about that kind of inflation}.
  • Even though we usually budget well for all the everythings in life, I did not do a good job of budgeting for our upcoming summer expenses—summer camps for the kids, a family reunion, swimming lessons, etc. It’s a lot and most of it had to be paid right then.
  • We had to pay the tags and taxes for our vehicles {I usually use our tax returns to pay for this  . . . but that didn’t happen}.
  • Randy’s painting crew was supposed to be finished with a large job four weeks ago, and they STILL ARE NOT DONE!!!
  • I had a fairly slow month with my Bondbons business.
  • Randy dropped his brand new cell phone in a cup of coffee {of all things} and had a pay a pretty penny to have it repaired.
  • Our children had to attend child care before and after school—something they rarely have to do {and each time costs money}.
  • ‘Tis the season for those dang baby ants.  Anyone else have those? We had to hire the exterminator to come out.
  • And the worst: Randy’s sweet 93-year-old Grampie passed away.  This not only emotionally took a toll on us, but extra time and money went into trips to the hospital to visit him before he passed, the visitation, funeral, burial, etc.

So, yeah . . .

To meet our goal of being debt-free by the end of 2016, we have to put at least $3,000 toward our student loans each month.  This month, we were only able to do $1,211.

That’s not even half.

Amid my grumblings above, I am thankful that we at least still put a dent in the balance. It could be worse.  We could have made no progress at all, or even gone further into debt. It’s still incredibly frustrating though.

Like I said, we still worked our butts off.  I was not able to sleep in one Saturday in April because I was either supervising the ACT or a detention. During one detention, a detainee called me a “bitch” for asking him to remove his hat . . . so . . . that was nice.

My husband and I also catered a wedding at the end of April.  The bride and groom ordered 65 dozen bondbons {that’s 780!} for their big day.   I love doing weddings.


The Bonds catering Bondbons.

We weren’t the only ones who worked hard.  Our kids did too.  They had to pull some weight into raising money for their summer activities.  One thing they did was go door-to-door around our neighborhood and sold candy bars.  They did pretty well and, in my opinion, were the cutest solicitors our neighbors have ever encountered.


My kids selling candy bars to raise money for summer camps.

Oh!  And one more thing to add to the list.  I found $0.35.  That was definitely put to good use. {wink}.

I’m praying that May will be a much better month.


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Paying Down Debt – March 2016

I usually try to come up with something funny, thoughtful, or inspirational to share at the beginning of these posts, but I just don’t have it in me this month for our debt update.

Sorry, kids.

Nothing particularly interesting happened this month, but we were still able to pay off $2,973 in March.


Click here to see our latest balance.

We’ve done the same old same old this past March:

  • I have continued tutoring a home bound student
  • I have subbed as much as possible during my plan period
  • Randy and his crew have done a lot of painting
  • We sold some stuff around the house through Facebook
  • I’ve supervised detentions
  • I had a successful month with Bondbons
  • I have done some committee work through school
  • We’ve made a point to be exceptionally frugal

I am happy to report that we have now paid off 70% of our debt.  Eek!

This March we celebrated both our son and daughter’s birthdays.  Birthdays can get expensive, but since we budget for birthdays, Christmas, and other gifts throughout the whole year, this was not an added financial stress this month.  Do you know how much more enjoyable it is to celebrate your child’s special day when you don’t have to worry about how you’re going to pay for everything?

Well, it’s glorious.

Stay tuned for our next update.


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Paying Down Debt – Jan/Feb 2016

Life is busy.  It’s even busier when you’re on the fast track to paying off debt.  I did not have a chance to write at the end of January, and I’m just now writing at the end of February {AKA—the middle of March . . . don’t hate}.

The past two months have been hard.  My main avenue for making extra money to throw at our debt is through my Bondbons business, but I knew January was going to be a slow month.

Side Note: Doesn’t January just flat out suck?  If I could get rid of one month, it would be January. Everyone is broke, fat, and cold.  That’s it.  It’s good for nothin’.

Anyway . . . January wasn’t just slow.  It was Puh-Thet-Ic.  I had hardly any orders, but  I was optimistic about making up for it in February with Valentine’s Day.  Unfortunately, I only ended up with about 35% of the orders I was expecting.

It was Bummer-ville at the Bonds.

But we have a goal to reach—and that is to be completely debt-free {other than our home} by the end of this year, so we had to utilize other avenues to make this happen. Despite some set backs, we were still able to pay off $3,649 in January and $4,132 in February.  Those numbers are huge for us.  You can see our current balance by clicking here.

Here’s how we did it:

  • Randy majorly downgraded his wheels . . . he sold his cute little car and has started driving the van that he uses for his painting business.  It’s not cute, but it’s worth it.
  • I started using the ibotta app.  In a nutshell, I get rebates on groceries.  You can also make money on referrals.  In just two weeks I racked up $130 that I was able to transfer to my PayPal and pay off debt.  If you sign up using my code {fjovarx} you will receive $10 and I’ll get $5.  Try it.  It’s fun.
  • Randy’s painting business was profitable.  PTL!
  • I have tried to sub during my plan period at work as much as possible {I make $20 each time I do it}
  • Randy bought, fixed up, and sold another car and made a nice profit.
  • I have been fortunate to work as a home bound teacher for most of the school year. The sweet girl who I’ve worked with since August finally got to return to school in February. Fortunately I was given another student to work with the very next week. I work with him about four hours/week.
  • Randy switched his business account to another bank that requires a much smaller minimum balance {something I did with my business account back in December}.  This was a difference $700!
  • I have supervised Saturday morning detentions and worked on a curriculum committee at school {both offer extra duty pay}
  • Our gas bill was $80 lower than usual–so $80 went straight to the debt
  • I taught a cake pop class at Sweet! Baking Supply in Lawrence.
  • We’ve saved a ton of money with fuel prices being so low. We’ve saved even more money by using our Kroger Fuel Points.  In February, we were able to fill up 35 gallons for only $11.52!!!  35 gallons would have cost us about $135.00 just a few years ago.  The money we’ve saved has gone straight to debt.
  • I sold cake pops at Trails Market and Gallery for Topeka’s First Friday Art Walk in February.
  • We’ve also been incredibly frugal.  We rarely dine out, spend money on entertainment, and refrain from shopping for anything that’s not a necessity.

I want to touch on something before I close.

Do I think college is ridiculously too expensive?


Are interest rates too high on student loans?


Does paying student loans make life difficult and strain finances?


However, these student loans are OUR responsibility. We are the ones who went to college and took out the loans.  No one forced us to enroll at a university or tricked us into being in debt.  That was our choice.  It was also our foolish decision not to pay on them for years and to live in denial as the balance accrued over $25,000 in interest.

Randy and I are not sitting back and whining about our debt situation—hoping that the government will swoop in and fix our problems, and our decisions and mistakes certainly are not the fault of the wealthy in this country.

We are taking action for our choices.  After several years of sacrifice, it will all pay off.



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2015 – Paying Down Debt

Whoa.  Happy New Year!

I’m going to be honest.  I’m a little nervous about it being 2016 because Randy and I set a goal that by December 31st of this year, we would be completely out of debt {except for our home}.  We still have a long way to go, but I don’t want to focus on that for this post.  I want to focus on how far we’ve come.

If you haven’t read about how we got on this kick to pay off debt, read this.

My husband and I started this journey in September of 2013.  In 2014, we mainly just cut parts of our lives {like cable and dining out} and reallocated our money so that we could dump more into our debt.  By simply doing that, we paid off $14,200 in just one year.

Not bad, eh?

But by the end of 2014, I was so beyond sick of our debt.  If we just paid off $14,200/year, it was going to take us over four more years.  I wanted to be done in like . . . well . . . way less time than that. A fire was lit under me, and I had this desire to go crazy gazelle intense on our student loans.  I wanted to rid of it as soon as possible. I told Randy that we had to do whatever it took to be complete out of debt by the end of 2016.

Any chance I could get, I was listening to the Debt-Free Screams on the Dave Ramsey Show.   You can click on the link below to watch a continuous stream of over 500 videos of people who go on the show to describe their journey and celebrate their victory—their new found freedom. It’s crazy inspiring to hear the stories of people who have walked in our shoes.

I am proud to say that since we really kicked it into gear in 2015, Randy and I paid off $24,923.


That’s over $10,000 more than the year before.  

Just over two years ago we were $82,000 in debt.  That number was so scary.  It was paralyzing.  It caused us to just crawl into a hole and live in denial.  After taking control, our balance has gone from $82,000 to $36,000 in just 28 months.   See details by clicking here.

This didn’t just happen.   We didn’t inherit money.  No one else has helped us.  We are two teachers with kids—surely you know we’re not raking in the big bucks.   This has required many sacrifices and hours of extra work each week.  We’ve been intentional with every single minute of the day and every single dime that has come our way.

So what exactly did we do?

  • We got on a very tight budget and decided where every dollar needed to go.  If you need help setting up a budget, I recommend http://www.everydollar.com.
  • We started paying with cash way more.  Even though we paid off our credit card bill each month, research shows you’re likely to spend 18% more with plastic-–that was definitely true for us.
  • We changed things around with our home security system, cell phones, etc. and put the money we saved toward debt.
  • We also worked our tails off.


  • worked construction and painting jobs full time during the summer and nights/weekends during the school year
  • worked on cars for people {he used to be a mechanic}
  • got his local minister’s license and performed a wedding in the fall
  • helped organize our family garage sale where we sold tons of stuff
  • even won $20 playing a friendly poker game . . . not how I would recommend making money, but, HEY—it went straight to the debt. Every dollar counts, right?

In addition, I: 

  • sold lots and lots of bondbons, and thanks to a local bakery who started referring us, I had marketrecord-breaking profits from September – December
  • taught about eight different cake pop classes
  • started selling cake pops at vendor events
  • supervised detentions on Saturday mornings at my school
  • started tutoring a girl with Cystic Fibrosis who is home bound from school
  • line-judged for volleyball meets
  • taught summer school
  • served on a curriculum committee for my school district
  • supervised several ACT tests on Saturday mornings

I always hesitate to post this for fear of sounding like we’re bragging. Dear readers, please know that is not the case at all.  I list all of those things to show you that it’s possible!  If we can do it as two teachers with kids, you can do it, too.   Sometimes people just don’t know where to start.  And I’ve talked to so many people who just feel hopefully and that they’ll always be in debt.  If you are intentional, you have the power to change your future.

2015 has been exhausting, but when I look back and see that we paid off almost $25,000 in debt this year alone . . . it is all worth it.

Here’s to 2016 and the high hopes that it will be our last exhausting year like this because we really really want that balance to be $0.00 in the next 366 days {good thing it’s a Leap Year to give us extra time . . . wink}.

Next update will be in February.  Stay tuned.


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Paying Down Debt – October 2015

When I was a sophomore in college, I had the bright idea to start running to stay in shape {this is going somewhere . . . I promise}.  The problem with said idea is that I am a horrible long distance runner.

Like, seriously.  It’s pathetic.

My good friend Rachel {a runner} offered to be my mentor for the Turn-Courtney-Into-a-Runner Project and offered to go with me on my first few treks.

Bless her heart.  She’s a sweet one, that Rachel.

For our first jog, we decided to only do a mile.  Piece of cake, right?

Yeah.  I think I died.

I had honestly never run that far before in my life.

Sweet Rachel {left} and me at our junior formal in college.

Sweet Rachel {left} and me at our junior formal in college.

As we were running this 1-mile course she had mapped out, I’ll never forget when I realized we were approaching a small hill.  It seemed impossible to tackle.  At that moment Rachel said, “Okay, Courtney.  We’re going over the hump . . . literally and metaphorically.  Not only are we going up a hill, but this is the halfway point.  Get past this and it will be smooth sailing.”

She was right.  Once we got past the half way point—once we got over that hill—it seemed so much easier.   It wasn’t as daunting.  I had this.

What a metaphor for life.  When we start a task, it can seem so intimidating, but if we can just get over that “hump,” the rest of the journey seems doable.

I am proud to say that this past month we were finally able to get over the “hump” in our debt-free journey.  We are now over half way there!!!!

Click here to see our new balance.

You have no idea how refreshing it feels to see the “amount paid” be a higher number than the “amount owed.”

During the month of October, we were able to pay off $3,012.  Here is what we did this past month to make extra money to put toward the student loans:

  • I was a line judge for several volleyball games
  • I was a home bound teacher for a student with cystic fibrosis for over a month
  • Randy has continued working with his Promise Painting & Contracting business in addition to teaching
  • I supervised the ACT test on a Saturday morning
  • We were under budget in several other categories of our finances, so that extra money went to the debt
  • I supervised several detentions on Saturday mornings
  • Bondbons had a record-breaking month in sales—thanks to a local bakery who has started referring us when their customers ask for cake pops.  That has been a major blessing.

October was exhausting, and there were many times I wanted to give up, but seeing that balance drop below the half-way point recharged me again.  What’s really exciting is that with every payment, more and more is going to principle while less and less wastes away with the interest.  Two years ago, $358 was going just to interest every month.  Now only $176 is going to interest each month.  That’s a difference of $179/month!  Getting over “the hump” has allowed us to gain more and more momentum.

Our next goal is to get under $40,000.  Stay tuned for December to see if we’re able to hit it.

Oh, and as for running . . . I’m still horrible.  I think for now I will stick to just paying off debt.  😉


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