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Newlyweds on a Budget: How we paid off $20,000 in debt in 30 months

Erika Torres
by Erika Torres, Dimespring 30 (@newlywedsbudget)

When my husband and I got married, we had about $43,000 in debt between the both of us. It was a combination of credit cards, car loans and student loans. Since then, we’ve paid off more than $20,000 and have $20,015 left to pay off — all student loans.

And lest you think that we rake in the dough, let me tell you that we paid off this amount of debt, in spite of the following:

  • Living on one income for four months.
  • Paying for an emergency room visit and subsequent medical visits, and having no paycheck for five weeks because of said injury.
  • My husband working part time for three months.

Paying off half our debt has not been easy. We have struggled and have made enormous sacrifices. After five months of marriage, we downsized to a guesthouse in someone’s backyard and the kitchen was the size of a closet. We also have yet to go on a honeymoon since we’ve been so focused on paying off debt.

READ: 5 easy ways to cut wedding costs

And when even these sacrifices weren’t enough, we worked harder to make more money — I took a freelancing job and we both worked every overtime shift possible.

Our values have also shifted over time. We don’t buy as many things anymore — I can’t remember the last time I spent money on new clothes or makeup — but we don’t have much of a problem buying organic food or spending money on experiences.

Truthfully, we probably could have paid off more if we stuck to a no-frills budget. Instead of taking that road trip up the California Coast or weekend trips to wine country, we could have paid an additional $5,000 to $10,000 toward our debt. But for us, it wasn’t worth it.

READ: Should couples have separate checking accounts?

We are willing to make certain sacrifices to pay off debt, but we are not willing to completely forgo all life’s pleasures for the sake of paying off debt within a short amount of time. Traveling is important to us, especially before we have kids. So if that means that it will take us a little longer to pay off debt, we’re okay with that.

So more than halfway there — what’s our next goal? $20,000 in 30 more months? Let’s do it.


Erika Torres graduated from Wellesley College with dual degrees in English and Italian Studies — and $30,000 in debt. Since getting married in 2010, she and her husband continue to work at paying off debt and saving money, while still having fun and traveling. Erika is a member of the  Dimespring 30, a community of bloggers sharing their thoughts, opinions and perspectives on personal finance.