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Like a lot of young married couples, Dana and Evan Schrock didn’t talk about money. They especially didn’t talk about the $140,000 worth of debt they had between them.
It was the newlywed elephant in the room.
"I think on my end there was a lot of guilt," Dana says. "Because I came into the marriage with student loan debt. He had a car payment, but compared to my student loan debt, it was nothing."
Evan was stunned when his wife finally opened up about how much they owed. "I remember when she told me about her student loan payment. I was like, What? You have how much student loan debt?"
After that, they went back to avoiding the subject for the most part. It was just too overwhelming. Plus, they knew it might end in a huge fight if they started talking.
Things finally began to change when Evan’s dad invited them to join a Financial Peace University (FPU) class he was leading. They agreed to go, but Evan still felt overwhelmed by the debt.
"In my mind, I looked at it as something we’ll never pay off," he says.
FPU seemed like a good idea for other people—people with a relatively small amount of debt. But how could it help with their huge debt?
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Later that year, when they filed their tax return, they were shocked to see how much interest they were paying on their debt—$12,000! It was the wake-up call they needed.
"It was in that moment that I looked down and said, 'We’ve got to do something about this,'" Evan says. "That’s when we really started to bear down on the budget and attack this thing with a vengeance."
He says the written budget was the key to their progress. "When we weren’t doing the written budget and giving every dollar a name we weren’t making any progress. Our money was just escaping away from us."
Dana also picked up extra hours at work to supplement their income. "[It was] a lot of extra hours, a lot of long 12-hour shifts, and a lot of time away from my family. But it was worth it because now it’s done."
They also sold everything they could live without, like their couch, their kitchen table, and even Evan’s prized pickup truck. In fact, the truck was the final big boost they needed to speed up their debt snowball.
Now, they’re debt-free and focused on changing their family tree for their young daughter, who was born in the middle of their debt snowball.
"Now we can start saving that money and investing it for our future and our daughter’s future," Evan says. "And from here on out our kids are going to grow up not ever having to worry about money."
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