BiggerPockets Money Podcast

BiggerPockets Money Podcast 143: How to Pay Off $160k in Debt in 3 Years While Making $90k

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Shannon Gauthier discovered the debt she and her husband had gotten themselves into when a debt collector caller her at work and she started asking questions.

Shocked to discover $30,000 in unpaid debts, she quickly found herself a single mom as her husband left.

She tried to pay them off as best she could, but found herself somedays deciding whether to buy a gallon of milk or a gallon of gas to get to work.

Fast forward a year, and she met a new man who brought significant debt with him to the relationship – to the tune of $60,000!

Each of their divorces added more debt to their pile and at the height their debt totaled $160,000. Their income trailed this debt at $65,000 and they knew they’d have to do everything in their power to knock out this debt.

They moved in with his parents to pay lower rent and have someone to watch the kids while they worked. They couponed and did free things with the kids to be able to throw every single dollar they could at their debt.

This approach paid off, because by the end of the year, they will be completely debt free and be able to start saving and investing and working toward financial freedom.

If you’re in debt and see no way out, this episode will show you there IS a way to paying down your debt, that it isn’t always easy, pretty or fun, but it CAN be done.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts.

Listen to the Podcast Here

Read the Transcript Here

Mindy:
Welcome to the BiggerPockets Money Podcast, show number 143, where we interview Shannon Gauthier, and hear her story of massive debt pay down.

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Shannon:
Not realizing that it was important, I guess, is the strangest thing, but you don’t know what you don’t know, and your experiences are what they are. But not being able to have those money conversations and focus on things together, and just letting someone else do and assuming things are fine is never going to be okay ever. That will probably be the one thing that I tell everybody is you need to… If you’re paying the bills, you need to look at the statements. You need to see what’s being spent, and actually have some control and some say so over that.

Mindy:
Hello, hello, hello. My name is Mindy Jensen. With me, as always, is my effervescent co-host, Scott Trench.

Scott:
Thank you, as always, for the bubbly introduction, Mindy.

Mindy:
Scott and I are here to make financial independence less scary, less just for somebody else, and show you that by following the proven steps, you can put yourself on the road to early financial freedom and get money out of the way so you can live your best life.

Scott:
That's right. Whether you want to retire early and travel the world, go on to make big time investments in assets like real estate, or simply pay down your debt, we'll help you build a position capable of launching yourself towards those dreams.

Mindy:
Scott, I am so excited to bring Shannon’s story to our listeners today, because she has a story with some challenges in there. She had quite a bit of debt. I believe, at one point, it was hovering around $160,000 while she and her boyfriend were making between, what, 60 and $90,000 a year.

Scott:
Each making $30,000, $40,000 a year, maybe $45,000 a year to combine to do that. This is a story of debt pay down. It’s a story of divorce and the complicated financial mess that stems from that two divorced couple, both of which were previously divorced, paying down debt and attacking it in the messy, lumpy, emotional way that results from that with the hard choices. It’s just amazing hearing her story, and how she was able to tackle that slog through it, grind it out, and how she’s emerging on the other side in a ridiculously good financial position, and is just now realizing the opportunities that’s going to present.
I think you’ll like this one, everybody listening.

Mindy:
I agree. I think you’ll like this story too. She’s just such a happy person. It really comes through that this didn’t define her.
Shannon Gauthier, welcome to the BiggerPockets Money Podcast. I am super excited to share your story today.

Shannon:
Thank you, guys. I’m so excited to be here.

Mindy:
Let’s just jump right into it. Let’s talk about where your journey with money begins.

Shannon:
Well, actually, I come from a farming family, and so we lived a very frugal life anyway. If anyone’s familiar with farming, there’s a lot of money coming in, but there’s a ton of money going out, and very little money that’s for personal use when you’re dealing with a lot of lands and everything. I was used to seeing money come and go very quickly. My mother came from a very rural background, but with that, and of course, living in the farming lifestyle, you don’t realize that people don’t live the same way that you do. You don’t realize that they’re not experiencing life in the same way that you are.
I did not realize there were different ways to think about money besides, here, it all comes, and there it all goes because that was life as I knew it. Whenever I grew up and got married and tried to do the great grant adulting thing, in my family and in my life experience, my dad took care of the finances. In my head, that is what my husband’s job was to do. He took care of the finances, and he took that job, and I left it completely alone. If I wanted to do something, I’d asked. He’d hand me the credit card. I go, and I thought everything was fine.
Everything was not fine, anywhere near fine. He didn't really know, and he took on the good husband role and tried to do it without educating himself. I allowed that to happen. Whenever our relationship deteriorated, and we decided to get a divorce, I realized that I had a ridiculously bad credit score, which I'd never even thought about credit scores before because that was not within my scope. It was never anything that I was ever taught about.
They certainly don’t teach that in school. I was stuck there. Now suddenly, I have three children. I have like a credit score of 400 and something, which is oh my gosh, it was so bad. All of our credit cards were maxed out. Some of them had gone into collections. I was not aware. I mean, it was just really, really bad. I was trying to rebuild my life without any form of education. I was paycheck to paycheck. There were days or weeks that I had to choose between gallon of milk for my house or my kids breakfast and making dinners or that extra gallon of gas to put in the car that might get me to work.
It’s a scary place to be, but with life and money, the way that I was familiar with it, I always had what I needed as a child. It was always there, so I did not learn those lessons about saving and putting money away and budgeting. That was completely foreign to me, so I got thrown into a world that I was very unfamiliar with. It was an absolute struggle. That is when I met my boyfriend who we actually worked in the same place. His background was money, and it was that it caused family problems, and so he wanted nothing to do with it.
Neither one of us were really straight away doing too much with our finances. We were just paying our bills as best we could, and trying to make it paycheck to paycheck. We decided to move in together. We met in 2015, decided to move on together in 2016, which I know if you’re a Dave fan is the worst possible thing you could do. You don’t combine finances, but we were in our mid 30s. There were kids involved. We had to do the best thing for us, and that was the easiest thing to do.

Scott:
Well, take a quick break for a second and go back to the beginning of this. It sounds like in your first marriage, you were basically totally… Advocated is the wrong word, but you had no involvement in the finances whatsoever, even though your husband was opening up credit cards in your name, those types of things.

Shannon:
Correct

Scott:
Could you give us a picture of how you, looking back, would describe your income and expenses and lifestyle? What was the sources of income, and what was the lifestyle that you guys were living during that period, the first marriage?

Shannon:
It was pretty, pretty rough. We did spend a couple of years with my parents, because we were early 20s, stubborn kids getting married. We spent a few years with my parents, moved out on our own for a job. I went into retail. Dropping out of college and went into retail to try to keep things going. He bounced from job to job, and I was the main income, so we were looking at about $40,000 to $45,000 a year as our annual income. It probably went up to about $50,000, and then three kids. We were living in a very, very low income area.
My parents gave us our car. We had one car. My parents gave that to us. Daycare was free. We had to subsidize that so that I could work. It was scary, and you start focusing on getting by day to day. You stop looking at that big picture, and you don’t stop and think, “Oh my gosh, what could I do differently? Where could I do it?” Instead, you’re just like, “Oh my gosh, well, let me run to the store and get some food on the table for these little ones.” Then I’ll try to breathe in a second.

Scott:
Do you think that you are racking up debt the whole time and having credit card problems, or was that more in the last couple of years where that began to really accelerate, I would say?

Shannon:
I had some credit cards of my own prior to getting married. I was pay them off, and you spend a little bit here and there. Pay it off. Try to build a good relationship with the credit card company, but I believe that the majority of the debt came out of the final three years of that marriage.

Scott:
What do you think was the catalyst that changed and caused all the debt racking up in those last three years?

Shannon:
We actually changed… I changed jobs, and that moved my family to a small town in Alabama. My husband at the time could not find a job. Then whenever he found one, he didn’t particularly care to keep it, and so he bounced a little bit trying to find his place and his spot. It became too much, and finances break up families and they break up marriages for sure. I started getting personal calls at work from credit card companies. I’m like, “Well, I don’t think anything’s wrong. Let me go talk to him.”
He’s like, “I don’t know why they’re calling. Everything’s fine.” Finally, I stopped one day at work and just talked to the person who’s just like, “Do you realize that you’re in collections for $30,000?” I had no idea, and I hung out for him. I cried and cried and cried. I went home. I pulled out. I went into his desk and pulled out everything, and realized that we were in a big giant mess. I did not think that we were ever going to get out of it.
Now, I had three kids and very low income, and I was in debt almost what my annual income was. It was terrifying. That was-

Scott:
What year is that? When is this trigger moment that’s happening?

Shannon:
That would be 2014.

Scott:
2014, you find out you’re at least $30,000 in debt, and you realize that you’re in a huge mess. How do you proceed from there? What is the action plan you put together? It sounds like you did one.

Shannon:
At that point, there was not one. It was a big giant fight. Then divorces are also very expensive, so more debt was incurred there. Again, it was spending a year just trying to get a handle on what life was going to look like for my family. Then I got the kids in daycare, and found a really great job in 2015, which is where my life changed. 2016, we moved again.

Scott:
Well, let’s go to 2015. You said your life changed, right? It sounds like… All right, you realized this in 2014. There’s a messy divorce. You come out in 2015. I imagine your picture at that point, your financial picture is even worse than what it was before relatively, because you’re on your own. You incur a little bit more debt from the divorce, those types of things. What is your picture in 2015 in how your life is changing?

Shannon:
In 2015, I actually realized I can take control over things. I can do this. I don’t really know what I’m doing, but I can darn well do a better job than what I had been. I got the kids lined up in daycare. Made sure that I got a really great job that would give me the ability to pick them up and to be there for them. I just started… Pulled out everything. You start making a list, and those lists are really scary whenever you don’t really know what you’re facing inside that envelope, and you start ripping all things, things open, and seeing all these zeros and commas that you did not expect to see.
I laid it all out, and I tried to figure out, “Okay, well…” Obviously, keeping my house going has to happen first. I kept my house, kept the house bills paid, got food for my kids, and then tried very hard to chip away at what was remaining. There just wasn’t a lot leftover sometimes. Sometimes there was nothing left over. Sometimes I had to let it go for a month, because there just wasn’t anything. There was no way I was going to pay that credit card bill.
Unfortunately, in the divorce, whatever he left, it wasn’t a right away divorce. He just disappeared on us, and so I had all of that debt. I tried to be very responsible for it. I carried it, actually ended up paying the whole thing off myself after time.

Scott:
How much was the total that you found yourself with in 2015?

Shannon:
In 2015, I was with… Let’s see. We had a car payment for about 7000 at that point, which I kept. Our rent was 750 a month on the house. I mean, credit card debt, not including what had gone into collections, we were probably sitting around $50,000 at that point with the lawyers that we were paying off and all of that.

Scott:
What was your relative income at that point?

Shannon:
I was pretty well sitting at about 45, because I just gotten a new job and had to start over.

Scott:
Got it. You’re saying that based on your… What I think is interesting or what I think is encouraging is the way you’re articulating this, it sounds like you felt that your got into the driver’s seat in this 2015 period with regards to your finances=. Is that what I’m hearing?

Shannon:
Correct.

Scott:
You’re describing that because you got in control, and we’re no longer racking up any more debt, and we’re able to begin at least paying down debt. Is that a way of articulating that?

Shannon:
Right. I was able to maintain and not get more. I couldn’t always pay large amounts off, but I wasn’t using the credit cards so much anymore. We were very, very carefully planning our meals, and the girls would get hand-me-down clothes from neighbors, which is the best thing ever. I was never really a shopper. Thrift stores are always fantastic for me. I was part of a mom’s group, and we passed clothes around and things like that. I always made sure the girls had what they needed.
Where I worked didn’t require fancy clothes or anything at that point, so I was golden there.

Scott:
Okay, great. How did things progress from there?

Shannon:
2015, I did get a different job, and then met my boyfriend there. In 2016, we both left the company and decided to move. He had been going through a divorce as well, and that was all finalized. We sat down. He’s like, “You need to know something about me.” He’s like, “I don’t like money. I hate money, but I’m coming with a lot of debt.” I’m like, “Oh, crap. Here we go again.” I’m like [inaudible 00:14:31]. I’m like, “Okay, so me too. If we’re going to do this, let’s lay it out. Let’s figure it out, and we got to put something together.”
I’ve got this wonderful guy who’s willing to take on three kids and even more debt, but he actually was not only coming with debt, but he was coming with an illness. For 15 years, he was dealing with what are called cluster headaches. They’re also called suicide headaches if you’re not familiar with them. The best way he described it was that 24 hours a day, it felt like someone was trying to force his eyeball out the front of his head by pushing a hot poker into the back of his head.
He was in constant pain. He was on a lot of medication, so he brought not only credit card bills from a marriage, where he did not have visuals of their financial situation, but he also had a lot of medical bills in the process. When his divorce was over, and we looked at our whole big picture, he had about 10,000 in medical and almost another $50,000 in credit card debt that he brought from his marriage, and that was 50% of theirs.

Mindy:
You have 50 of your own, plus 50 of his own, and then another 10 of medical. That’s $110,000.

Shannon:
Correct.

Mindy:
You guys get together. What I want to point out is that you guys sat down and laid it all bare, and spoke to each other about money, which I think is really, really commendable and valuable. There’s this huge amount of guilt and shame that comes with having any amount of debt. It would be so easy for both of you having not concentrate… I don’t know how to say this without sounding mean. I’m not trying to be mean, but you both were in a relationship where you didn’t pay attention to money.
It’s so easy to fall back into past habits, and, “Hey, now we’re both in this new marriage or new relationship. I don’t want to tell about my $50,000 of debt. I just won’t.” I can see a lot of people doing that, so I think it’s great that you were both… It seems like you both decided to change the way that you worked with money and used money and really focus on it. Did he scare you with his 60,000? Did you scare him with your 50,000?

Shannon:
We actually started laughing, because it’s like, “Okay, so we’re both completely ignorant. Let’s do it together,” which I’ll be very honest with you, that was the most refreshing, comforting conversation I’ve ever had with someone as far as money, because suddenly, there it was on the table. There was no judgment. We were completely honest, and we had a picture of where we were. We talked about where we wanted to be, and I personally have never had that before.
I’ve never had someone sit down and talk to me about, “This is how much money we make. This is what we’ve got to do. Let’s make a plan. How are we going to make this happen?”

Mindy:
What was your plan?

Scott:
Well, before we get to that, when did this conversation happen? Was this very early on in the relationship?

Shannon:
Very early. We just moved in together for the first time, and he was like, “Okay, well, here it is.”

Scott:
Great. Now, we get to Mindy’s question. Go ahead, Mindy.

Mindy:
Well, it can seem insurmountable. The amount of debt that you have is basically equal to your income, but you still have to pay for your living expenses and food and clothing and rent and all of these things. What was your plan? How did you start to tackle this debt, and knock it out?

Shannon:
After putting all of our credit card and medical bills together, we started looking at percentage rates and interest rates on things. Then we realized that, "Holy crap, this credit card that we have $26,000 on has a 30% interest rate."

Mindy:
Oh my God, that’s-

Shannon:
It was-

Mindy:
How do you ever pay that off? I mean, every time… That’s like taking a step forward and two steps back every single time. Did you balance transfer anything, or did you just focus on paying those off?

Shannon:
At first, I was not aware that you could credit card hack in that way. We were just like, “Oh my gosh, we have to at least make minimums and try to figure out what our personal expenses are.” With his illness, he actually got a really, really great job. When we moved, we started looking at the cost of childcare in that area, because we weren’t residents yet, so we didn’t qualify for the state subsidized daycare, any of that. We balanced it out, and he’s like, “Sweetie, you’re going to need to stay home, because I can’t go to the…”
He could not drive. I had to drive him to work, because his headaches were sometimes so bad that he would have to shut his eyes for a few minutes. He was afraid he would go out of the lane or run a red light and get into an accident. I would drive him to work. Then I homeschool daycared my little ones at the time. I only had one that was in actual school. We spent a year doing that and trying to figure out ways to maybe try some new things for his illness that we had not tried before.
Luckily enough, within that year that we were in Georgia, we found a doctor who recognized right away what was causing the headaches to begin with. He had one surgery. He’s been headache free. He stopped all of his medications. Then we’re like, “Okay, so now we need to figure out what we’re going to do and where we’re going to go.” The cost of-

Scott:
What year is this? What year are you in right now?

Shannon:
Right now, we’re still in 2016, the year of 2016.

Scott:
2016.

Shannon:
At the end of 2016, we were faced with a decision about I had to work, and because of his illnesses and how long he had been out of work on medical leave, they actually replaced him at his job. He was terminated. Now, we’re in a state, and neither one of us have jobs, still have three kids, and now we have all of this combined debt. We have to make a very quick and very difficult decision. That was to move up to Wisconsin, and live with his parents. It’s never fun going home.
It’s certainly never fun to move into a home with people that you’ve never met in person in your life. They were very, very sweet and said, “Come here and try to make sense of it. That way, we’re home when the kids are home. You can both work.” That was within a month, we made the decision, and we made the move. Then we could actually start really, really chipping away at this combined debt.

Scott:
What did you guys could do for work when you were in Wisconsin?

Shannon:
Well, we are actually still in Wisconsin. Currently, the job I have now, I just had for a few months, and I’m absolutely loving it. I am a director of merchandising and vendor relations for a small company up in Wisconsin, Dallas. He is brick and mortar retail store management. That was what he had been since I knew him.

Scott:
What did you guys do? What was the… You’re there. Walk us through how you begin to attack this debt.

Shannon:
All right, we spent about two months just trying to figure out, “Let’s learn about credit scores. Let’s find out what’s happening here. Let’s…” We listened to podcasts, and we read blogs. We read all these different types of books. We were introduced to Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman, and just absorbing as much information as possible to try to figure out the best way to knock this out. We spent so little money, and all of our money, all of our paychecks went into one account, one checking account. We pulled out essentially what I would consider an allowance, which would get us through gas, a little bit of food and anything that we would need from paycheck to paycheck as personal spending.
The rest of it, we divided up amongst that debt. We decided to tackle it highest interest rate at the time, because over time, you end up saving more money that way, of course. It’s not as easy as paying off that tiny one and getting all those little wins ahead of time, but we didn’t have the big picture in mind. Because with three little ones, we did not want to live where we were living for very long. Let’s be honest, people have a different way of living and raising their kids, and so moving in with anybody’s parents really sucks.
They were great people and all of that. We don’t want to knock the contribution they made to our family, but it’s hard. It’s a very, very hard adjustment, especially in a very tiny home, and now there are seven people. That was our motivation right there was to hit that high interest rate and knock it all out as quickly as possible. Fortunately, during that process and me not knowing how to drive in winter, we had several car accidents, and we ended up having to purchase another car.
We incurred a lot of debt in that as well. Our commute ended up being pretty ridiculous. We were both driving about an hour, so gas was an issue too. You just make your adjustments as you go. I mean, life changes. As long as you don’t lose sight of what your end goal is, then your motivation is there.

Scott:
What were some big milestones that you remember in this journey after moving to Wisconsin?

Shannon:
The biggest one that sticks out for me was paying off his ex wife’s credit card debt, the debt that he incurred during that divorce because cutting that tie for him was very, very important. We actually focused on… Even though it’s irritating that would improve somebody else’s credit score and financial life prior to yours, that emotional disconnect from all of that for him was very important. The biggest and most important thing for us at that point was whenever we paid off the divorce debt that we called it.
That was about… Let’s see. If I recall correctly, there are six seven different credit cards that he didn’t even know about. I think that plus the divorce fees for him was an additional probably $50,000, 60,000. As we’re chopping away all of this debt, we’re actually incurring some of our own just to try to pay off that one. Does that make sense?

Scott:
No, it does make sense. What I think is so great about everything you’re saying here is this is the real hard, terrible stuff that you’re clawing your way out of, and it is not clean. It is not a method. There is emotion. There’s family. There’s real life and past relationships that are all influencing your decisions, resulting in the set of decisions that you made. What I think really is the heart of this whole story that I’m hearing is the decision to recognize the situation.
Make some hard choices that enabled you to create an enormous gap between income and expenses, and then plow that in the way that made the most sense for you, guys, in driving down this debt position over time. You decided to attack the debt avalanche style as opposed to snowball style, as Dave Ramsey would describe it-

Shannon:
Correct.

Scott:
… because of the higher interest rates on those debts. Can you walk us through very briefly your knowledge binge and what that look like? I’m using that term to describe what sounded to me like several months of you really diving in and reading and learning and understanding about this. How did you begin that journey and discover these concepts?

Shannon:
Pinterest.

Scott:
Pinterest?

Shannon:
Strangely enough, I was googling through large debt. Then I thought, “Well, maybe we can do the credit help company or a debt consolidation.” I just started Googling through things that might help the situation. This little Pinterest article popped up. I’m like, “Oh yeah, Pinterest isn’t just house decorating. I can go and I can look for this kind of stuff.” I found a really wonderful source of blogs that way, which is where I actually discovered Suze Orman and Dave Ramsey, and all the many, many, many others, but I was credit probably day for the structure that we did.
Then validating the fact that breaking down our finances that way was the right thing. But whenever we looked at it, the principles are phenomenal, but they don’t always apply to every life situation. That’s why we chose to do higher end debt. Even though we had credit cards that were of a higher interest rate, we had to pay attention to what was emotionally important for my boyfriend and for me. For me, it was having him in a really great state of mind. For him, it was getting rid of that final connection to his past.
We probably did waste the money that way. That’s okay, because the end result was exactly what we wanted it to be.

Mindy:
This is the point in the show where I say personal finance is personal. The fact that you made choices that somebody else may not make doesn’t matter. Shannon has to do what’s best for Shannon and Shannon’s financial situation and Shannon’s family. I love that you went with the debt avalanche. For those who aren’t familiar, the debt snowball method is to line up your debts from smallest amount to largest amount, and pay minimums on everything except the smallest amount. Throw every extra dollar at the smallest amount, and get the win of paying off an entire debt.
Then take the money and do it to the next one and the next one and the next one, whereas the debt avalanche is a reverse of that, where you’re listing them from highest interest rate to lowest interest rates. You’re saving the most money in interest by paying off the highest amount first, which makes mathematical sense. But like you said, you had $26,000 at 30% interest. How long does it take to pay off $26,000? It’s going to take a long time to get that win, so that can just seem daunting.
Then you throw in the ex wife’s debt, and you’re like, “I don’t ever want to pay a dime on her debt. I wanted to have a zero credit score.” I can totally see where that emotional, “I just want to get done with it, and I don’t care how it affects me. The emotional win is what I need more so than the financial win at this point in my life,” and I mean dealing with cluster headaches on top of all of that, God bless you both.

Shannon:
If I bounce around in my story is because my life bounced around a lot of years too.

Scott:
I think we’ve got a very good chronological of the story. I don’t think we’ve been bouncing around too much at all. I think this has been really great. Let’s continue and pick up right where we left off, though. You paid off what sounds like $50,000, $60,000 in his debt from the prior marriage. How long did that take? What point in time are we at in our story when that’s paid off, when you reached that milestone?

Shannon:
We actually finished all of that by the end of 2018.

Scott:
That was how long after you’ve moved to Wisconsin?

Shannon:
That took us two years.

Scott:
Two years, okay. You paid off the first 56,000 in two years. What happens next?

Shannon:
Then we went into… Of course, we had to purchase a car. Of course, we were using our own credit cards to try to balance things out, slowly chipping away a little bit here and there the stuff I brought in, but there were only at that point, whenever we moved, just a few hundred dollars apiece. We knocked those out really quick. Then we just started tackling our own personal finances, because neither one of us… Although we use credit cards, we learned to use them very wisely. We learned how to use credit card hacks, which was the thing that truly got us some momentum going.
Instead of being afraid to open new credit cards and what that might do to our credit score, at that point, we didn't give a crap about our credit scores. We wanted to be out of debt. We would find credit cards with zero percent APR for 14 months, and max it out by doing a transfer from those highest interest rate credit cards. Then whatever we didn't transfer out, we hit that highest interest rate and then bounce back to that zero interest whenever we were done. That is what truly saved us thousands upon thousands upon thousands of dollars.

Scott:
That’s $50,000 in accrued interest from those 30% debts you currently have.

Shannon:
Absolutely.

Scott:
You discovered that in 2018. Is that right?

Shannon:
Correct.

Scott:
What’s the payoff journey go? How does it accelerate from there?

Shannon:
Once we were able to do that, we realized numbers are fun. We can manipulate the numbers, and we can make these things happen the way we want it to because we actually have that control and not the credit card companies. Then it just became a game. How little can we spend right now, and how much can we knock out of that higher interest debt? We would have a big giant date night, and spend a little bit of money whenever we paid off one of them because that was a huge accomplishment.
Although a lot of strategists say, “You can’t do that. Now, you’re spending money.” That was, again, the emotional reward that we would give ourselves at the end of that. We would take the girls out, let them go to a trampoline park, and just do whatever for one day. Then we come back and be like, “All right, this is the next one.” We’re not spending anything. We’re giving ourselves $300 a week for gas and incidentals and whatever we need, and here we go. We’re going to do this again.
Then when that one was paid off, we had our little day out doing our fun thing, and then we jump back into the next one. At this point, as of the time I’m talking to you right now, we do have some lawyers fees leftover from a situation that we are working on. That’s a couple of thousand there, and then there are three more car payments, and guys, we’re done.

Scott:
That’s awesome.

Shannon:
That’s the most amazing feeling.

Scott:
You started this journey in 2016 in Wisconsin. It sounds like you’re still in Wisconsin. Do you hit zero by the end of 2020, do you think in terms of your debt?

Shannon:
We will be zero by December for sure.

Scott:
That’s awesome.

Shannon:
We’re finally going to be broke again.

Scott:
That’s awesome. How do you feel? How do things feel as you’re approaching zero? What is your lifestyle like today, and what do you think it will be as you enter into 2021 and start building wealth?

Shannon:
The feeling is… To say relieved is very much an understatement. You don’t realize how heavy things like that weigh on you, because most of us subconsciously avoid it. Your phone starts to ring, and you get that little jolt in your chest because you don’t really know who’s on the other line. Maybe it’s a debt collector. Maybe it’s another bill that’s coming to you that you were unaware of, but that’s not there. You can answer the phone and not worry about having to say something like that.
You don’t have to think about it. You can say, “Hey, this is going to cost an extra 20 bucks this month, and that’s okay, because there’s actually a little bit of money there.” You’ve got wiggle room. You’ve got freedom of choice. You’ve got freedom to choose what you want to do and where you want to go at that point, and that the value in that far outweighs any form of sacrifice that it would take to get there.

Mindy:
Just the stress level, I mean, that’s so hard to… You say it weighs on you. It touches everything in your whole life, because, I mean, everything costs money and not every… There’s lots of ways to do free things, but everything costs money. When you’re at the grocery store, you’re thinking to yourself, “Oh, I’ve got all this debt. I can’t stuck up on that sale, because that’s money that I could be putting over here,” or, “Oh wow, how can I go…”
What was your first date like when you celebrated your first win? Was there guilt in there because you’re spending money on something instead of throwing it at your debt? It’s great to celebrate your wins, because when you just like, “Oh, okay, my life is plodding along. I got a win that I don’t recognize. I just keep plodding along.” You have to enjoy your life. I think it’s great that you celebrate your win.
I mean, in the grand scheme of things, what does that $100 at the trampoline park really going to do as opposed to the lift that your spirit gets for having a fun day out?

Shannon:
Exactly. Yes, there was guilt, because it’s like, “That was just one car though, and here we are spending this money. I could put that towards the next day.” We don’t have to go out and do this, but our kids are experiencing this with us. That was the big thing for us. It’s like… Look, our kids know what we’re doing because we’re very, very upfront, “Hey, we’re moving into grandma and grandpa’s because…” This is what I… I mean, they were little. Don’t get me wrong. They did not understand everything, but they understood that we were moving to a place so that we would have a hard time for a little while.
We had to say no to a lot of things a lot so that we could say yes to them for a lot of things later. They were making those sacrifices with us. Literally, my babies were fast forwarding through commercials, so there were things that they would not want because they saw us doing it too. We were very proud of them because they were taking on an adult thought process. Kids shouldn’t have to think about those things, but they were experiencing them with us, and so we also wanted to thank them for hanging out there with us and understanding what we were doing and being patient with that process.
As much as it was fun for us, it was more of a reward for them. “Hey, they helped us not be so stressed out by not asking for all these things and for understanding where we are. Now, let’s go take them somewhere fun, so they can enjoy this too.” That was our thought process on it. We had our mom-dad time. We were over here having some extra dinner watching them run around and play. They got to enjoy and see what it was like without that pressure as well.
They got to see mom and dad having fun, and to see the difference between this is the crunch time when we’re having to focus really hard and pay off. This is the end result. This is the fun you get to have, because you’ve done this, and you made that sacrifice. That was a lesson that we could teach them. We certainly couldn’t give them money or things or… Really, we were in a tiny house.
We really couldn’t give them a lot of space either, but we were able to give them those little mini lessons. Again, totally worth every penny spent to do so.

Scott:
What is your living situation currently?

Shannon:
We’re still there. We are still there. We’re actually in the process of looking for a house right now.

Scott:
Awesome. What has happened to your credit scores?

Shannon:
We have excellent credit scores at this point, both of us. Mine last time I checked, and it’s been a couple of months, so that’s bad for me, but mine is almost 800, and because the cars and his, his is 760.

Mindy:
But that’s-

Scott:
I don’t think there’s any reason to check it every month or even every quarter at that point. You’ve got a clearly good credit. You’d know your complete command to your financials at this point, so no bad on you for not knowing your credit score. Now that you’re way past 700, even 800, that’s awesome.

Mindy:
That’s excellent credit.

Shannon:
We’re golden now. Now, it’s just building up the savings and making the FICO score pretty.

Scott:
Great.

Mindy:
That is fabulous.

Scott:
What I think is really powerful here is I think as hard as it was to make the decision, you, obviously, I think made the right decision in making the sacrifice to move in with his parents in Wisconsin, and now, you’re coming out the other side a few years later broke, but no longer in debt and with excellent credit and with what seems like great jobs. Renting a nice place is going to be a breeze at this point.

Shannon:
Exactly. It’s still hard sometimes to wrap our head around because we have been digging ourselves, for lack of a better phrase, digging ourselves out of the hole for so long. It’s like, “Oh my gosh, we can afford that now. We can do this now. We can move to another state now if we wanted to. Let’s look at that.” The options open up so much when you don’t have the weight of debt and fear.

Scott:
Absolutely. What do you think you’re going to do in the next couple of months?

Shannon:
The next couple of months, life isn’t really going to change too much. We’re just weighing our options and looking around for something that fits. The girls are in school, so a big giant move right now isn’t really feasible for us. We might coast a little bit until the summer whenever they’re out of school. In the same process, we’re just not spending. We have gotten very used to living within that certain budget range and giving ourselves that little bit.
The rest of it right now is piled right into savings until we can make that final decision.

Scott:
Great. It sounds like now with your last little bit of debt, you’re going to pay off a last little bit of debt, and begin piling up savings.

Shannon:
Correct.

Scott:
How are you thinking about building wealth now that you get back to zero?

Shannon:
That is a lot of self education that we’re working on right now, because that was never an option for us to begin with. Anything extra coming out of our paycheck, whether it was towards income tax or towards an FSA or HSA, we’re just like, “No. No. No. Need every single penny. You can’t take my money over here, and get it over here.” Now, we’re realizing the opportunity in the FSA and the HSA, which is, “Why didn’t we do this sooner? Why…” It’s tax deferred, and all of that.
We wanted to look at some vanguard. We actually opened up the website, and started looking at the different types of Vanguard accounts to set that up. We know… I’ll be 40 in December. He’s already in his 40s. We started late. There are a lot of things that we are simply not going to be able to do. For instance, we are not going to be able to pay for our children’s college at all, so we cannot give them that. But what we can give them is every bit of knowledge that we have learned so that they don’t make the same mistakes that we did.
We’ve actually started doing that. My oldest is 13. We just opened up a checking account for her. She has a very small allowance from doing some household work. She budgeted her school clothes this year, and she purchased her own school clothes. We got her shoes. She was responsible for her entire school wardrobe, and she did it with 20 bucks to spare.

Scott:
Can I ask, Shannon, here for a second? You guys are saving $50,000, $60,000, $70,000 a year right now, right?

Shannon:
Well, we’ve just finished paying off, so we don’t have a big savings right now.

Scott:
No, what I’m saying is you guys are saving. You guys are accumulating wealth in the form of paying down debt previously at a rate of what appears to be greater than 50,000. Can I ask a ballpark income?

Shannon:
Right now, between the two of us, we are finally up over 100,000.

Scott:
I mean, you’re making $100,000 a year. It sounds like you’ve got excellent credit. It sounds like you have no debt. You’re paying off. If you don’t have paid-off cars, they’re close, I think, you said, right? You’re going to be entering 2021 in a position where you could conceivably accumulate $30,000, $40,000, $50,000 a year in wealth, and you haven’t even begun contributing to a 401k, it sounds like, at a meaningful capacity or an FSA or an HSA, all which are tax deferred and reduced your tax liability.
You talked about college plans, 529 or whatever, those types of things. I would just say I think you’re going to have a fun next couple of months as you start thinking about what that means and how much wealth you can accumulate over a decade. We have people achieving financial independence and building a several hundred thousand dollars or even seven-figure net worths in 10 to 15 years on income starting with incomes less than what you guys combined bring in.
Am I a bit going crazy, starry-eyed, Mindy, or how do you think? What’s your reaction to what I’m saying?

Mindy:
No. I was looking up the actual show numbers. Susan and Norm joined us on show number 130. They also started late and reached financial independence, I want to say, in 11 or 12 years.

Scott:
You should listen to their show because they had a very similar situation, it sounds like, to what you and your boyfriend started in.

Shannon:
All right.

Mindy:
Then you say you can’t pay for your girls college. Well, Zach, who shares the last name except his pronounces it Gauthier, Zach got here on episode-

Shannon:
[crosstalk 00:44:57].

Mindy:
… on episode 64, talked about just 1000 different ways to pay for college. Of course, there’s grants and scholarships, but there’s a lot of other things as well that can help out with paying for college. I see big things in your future like Scott does, because you already have all the knowledge. Yes, you’re starting late, but there are lots of people who are starting where you are at age wise with all the debt from before.
Personal finance is personal. I’m going to say that every single episode. You absolutely will be able to reach financial independence because you have your mind set so firmly set.

Scott:
Just think about this, you paid off credit card debt at 30% interest rate, and you thought that the system was rigged in your favor when you were able to pay 0% interest rate, right? Imagine you accumulate $30,000, $40,000, and instead of paying no interest rate or paying 30% interest rate, your money is generating a 10 or 8%, 10%, 12% interest rate return for you. That is the road ahead, I think, here that should be very exciting. I would encourage you to do a similar deep dive to what you did in paying off the debt around investing in wealth building, because I see a path to you within…
If you keep up the savings rate or anywhere close to it, your incomes go up or whatever, you’re going to be able to accumulate 30, 40, 50 a year to a certain extent, and invest that. That will snowball from there. That’s $400,000, $500,000 over a 10-year period, plus compounded investment returns, maybe putting in the 600, 750 range without any luck with just very average or below average returns. [crosstalk 00:46:54].

Shannon:
No, that’s fantastic. Whenever we actually were like, “Oh my gosh, compound interest is a thing, and look how pretty it can be in five years.” Then we’re like, “All right, we need to start looking. We start reading because we can get a month and start this.” If we don’t want to just drop that extra $2,000 into this account, and make this investment and just see what it does while we’re finishing off this over here, because we have that wiggle room now to be able to do that. Again, something else we do is sit down, and as we’re learning these things, and because the whole idea of index funds, it’s so, so incredibly foreign to us.
It was never anything we thought we would ever get into. We couldn’t afford to get into it. Now that the option is there, and we are doing some reading, when the little ones come in, “Hey, mom, what are you doing?” “Oh, well, come here. Sit on my lap. Let’s talk about this.” Again, since we don’t really right now have the gift of finances for them, we do have the gift of education and personal experience. Although, yes, lining up our retirement, we don’t want them to feel obligated to take care of us.
We still want to take care of them and have fun with the grandkids one day. That’s what we can give them right now in order to set them in the right direction.

Scott:
How old is your oldest?

Shannon:
My oldest is 13.

Scott:
13, okay. I think you’re going to be pleasantly surprised at how far you can go in the next couple of years, given what I just heard-

Shannon:
Thank you.

Scott:
… and the stories that I’ve heard on this show a billion times. I don’t know if you feel the same way, Mindy, but…

Mindy:
Yes. Yes. No, I’m like, “Yes, she’s going to win. She’s going to win. She’s going to win.” I want to give a plug to my friend Chelsea’s summit coming up. I believe registration is open now. It’s called the Mamas Talk Money Summit. It is free. I love my free resources. It is a free summit. That is October 12th through the 19th, I think. I should look that up. It’s an online summit with discussions from a lot of really knowledgeable women about how to learn about money, how to handle your finances, some higher level discussions.
I’m there as well talking about real estate. It’s my favorite thing. That is a great place to start the process of learning about money.

Shannon:
That’s outstanding. Yes, I would definitely love to check that out.

Mindy:
We have a new segment of our show called Financial Scan, but it doesn’t sound like you’re doing a lot of investing right now outside the FSA and the HSA.

Shannon:
That is correct. Yes, we do have not really investment property as much as an inherited rental property. Whenever he divorced, he kept his home in the divorce. It was rented out at the time, and we kept the renters in it just to cover the mortgage really, and breakeven, because he wasn't sure what he wanted to do with the property at the time. Unfortunately, right before COVID hits, we did have to evict those tenants, and they trashed the inside of the house a little bit, so there's a little bit of extra expenses that we had to go through there.
But you have really good insurance, they will cover a lot of that. It was very little out of our pocket to fix up that house. Now, actually we have one more weekend there to get where it needs to be. Then we've actually decided to sell that property. The proceeds from that and the equity built in that house is what we're going to use to start that investment journey.

Scott:
Awesome.

Mindy:
Where is this property at?

Shannon:
It is in Illinois. It’s a smaller town, south of Chicago called Sandwich, which makes me giggle every time I say it.

Mindy:
I know Sandwich, Illinois.

Shannon:
You do? Oh, that’s perfect.

Mindy:
I’m from Illinois and Wisconsin.

Shannon:
That’s wonderful.

Mindy:
Actually.

Shannon:
We are [inaudible 00:50:47]Colorado so…

Mindy:
When you sell the property, I don’t know what the real estate market is like in Sandwich. Is there going to be… Do you think it’s going to be a quick sale?

Shannon:
We are hoping that it will be the properties that we are looking that are very similar. Fingers crossed always because you never know post COVID what’s happening in there. It’s a beautiful area. It’s a very nice subdivision right outside the fairgrounds very, very popular, very clean, very pretty and prime real estate for that area. We’re hoping for a very quick turnaround. That particular community does not have really…
There's maybe a dozen rentals on the market right now, and four or five homes for sale. People are trying to get into that town right now. We're hoping that the timing is just right. We won't be holding on to it too long through winter.

Mindy:
Perfect. How long has it been since he lived there as his primary residence?

Shannon:
He moved out of that home around the end of 2014. They moved down-

Mindy:
He has… I’m trying to think if he could-

Shannon:
They’ve had renters.

Mindy:
… do the primary residence exclusion and not pay capital gains taxes on the property when he sells.

Shannon:
I don’t believe [inaudible 00:52:05].

Mindy:
I don’t have any advice on that one, unfortunately.

Shannon:
No problem. At this point, we just need to not pay the mortgage. We’re also carrying that mortgage payment. Well, we don’t have renters in there at the moment. That’s creating a little bit of tension in the financial situation as well.

Mindy:
Well, that’s good. Well, I hope you have a very quick sale.

Shannon:
Oh yes.

Mindy:
Well, I think it’s now time to move on to the famous four. Are you ready for the same four questions that we ask of all of our guests?

Shannon:
Let’s do it.

Mindy:
Shannon, what is your favorite finance book?

Shannon:
Right now, after reading a whole bunch of them, I think the one that I have gotten most excitement about, there’s actually two and both of them are by Rachel Cruze, who is the daughter of Dave Ramsey, which is funny, because we don’t really follow his principles all the way through. The first one is Love Your Life, Not Theirs, which actually got me thinking outside the Dave Ramsey.

Mindy:
Yes. Yes.

Shannon:
You have to do what’s good for your family. It was ways of going, “Why can’t… They’re doing this over here. That really sucks, and they just went on that trip, and I want to do all those things, too.” It reminds you to reel yourself back in and realize why you’re taking the current steps that you’re taking, because that is your end goal. You have to have a path and a plan to go there. She’s got a lot of very, very practical advice that I took to heart both as just an average person who’s not investing and just starting out and as a parent, because she does have a lot of parenting advice in there as well and teaching your kids finances.
The second one is Smart Money, Smart Kids, which, again, we’re not following all the way because we have to make sure that we do what works for our family, but it taught us how to break down finances in a way that our kids can understand and to digest without throwing all of these technical terms at them. Those are the two that I would probably recommend the most for just an average person with no blog and all that kind of fancy stuff.

Mindy:
That’s great. That’s great. No, and you can always find somebody who has, I don’t want to say a better life, but who has more things than you.

Shannon:
[inaudible 00:54:20].

Mindy:
Just on the same token, you can always find somebody who has less, who has far less. Yes, love your own life. Lead your own life and do what’s best for your family.

Shannon:
Sure, and just be grateful for the things that you have and the things that you’re able to accomplish because your timetable is not the same as everybody else’s. Someone can do it in three years. It might take you 10 to do it, but by golly, you’re going to get it done anyway. You just have to do it in a way that works for you and to make smart decisions for your family. I had to learn how to coupon because groceries down south are pretty darn expensive. That was a whole new thing for me, and then I got addicted to couponing, and that was a whole new experience.
I grew up thrift shopping, but I hated it. Then when I had a little bit of wiggle room, like, “I’m going to go to this store in the mall,” and I realized how expensive regular clothes were. I’m like, “You know what, I don’t mind the thrift shops anymore.” It became fun for me. I mean, we recreated a grocery game, and see if who could find the item that we wanted cheapest. Do we have a coupon, and who could get it cheaper? It’s all about your perspective on it.

Mindy:
You’ve said that a couple of times, the game thing. My husband and I will also have a game where how little can we spend this month.

Shannon:
Yes.

Mindy:
We write down every expense and every dollar that we spend. We’re like, “You’re really analyzing every purchase before you make it, because you want to win the game of, “How little can I spend?” It’s just-

Shannon:
My boyfriend and I are naturally competitive people. Then we would take our little X amount of dollars that we would give ourselves. It’s like, “I bet I could have more leftover writing for the week than you can.” It was turned into a little competition between us, but totally good natured. We’re high fiving each other, and sometimes it was very irritating for me because he’s much more of a saver than I am. It’s just those little ways that you can motivate yourself and try to keep it going without going, “Holy crap, I still have $10,000 to pay off.”
It’s like, “Holy crap, I just saved $5 more than you did today.”

Scott:
Let’s move on to the second question here of the famous four. What is your biggest money mistake?

Shannon:
Not paying attention and letting someone else have control and tell me things were fine, and just not allow this… Not realizing that it was important, I guess, is the strangest thing, but you don’t know what you don’t know, and your experiences are what they are. But not being able to have those money conversations and focus on things together, and just letting someone else do and assuming things are fine is never going to be okay ever. That will probably be the one thing that I tell everybody is you need to…
If you’re not paying the bills, you need to look at the statements. You need to see what’s the expense and actually have some control and some say so over that.

Scott:
I think that’s a great, great articulation of the mistake not being in control, not being in command, not knowing what you’re doing, and allowing it to happen to you and all that kind of stuff. It’s like money is not the most important thing in life. I know we’re in the money show. That might be sacrilege. It’s just not. It is the most important thing in life. If you’re spending a lot more than you bring in, then it becomes all consuming, and it completely controls your life.

Shannon:
It goes from money is scary and evil and not realizing that money is completely neutral. Whether it’s good or bad, it’s all in the way that you use it.

Scott:
Yep. Love it.

Mindy:
I love it too. This is quote central right here at the [crosstalk 00:57:57].

Shannon:
Oh really? Yay.

Mindy:
Quote. Quote. Quote. Quote. What is your best piece of advice for people who are just starting out?

Shannon:
Education, absolutely… Read. Read. Read. Read. Read. If you don’t like reading, listen to audiobooks on your way to work. Listen to podcasts. Listen to people and surround yourself with people who are willing and happy to talk about the things that you don’t know about, because, again, you don’t know what you don’t know. Just casual conversations with people. I have picked up so much advice because somebody might be doing something every single day that’s totally normal to them, and you’re like, “Oh my God, I’ve never done that. That’s a $100 mistake I just made.”
Talk, educate. Read by all means.

Scott:
Awesome.

Mindy:
Perfect.

Scott:
What is your favorite joke to tell at parties?

Shannon:
The only parties I go to are birthday parties for my kids, so I apologize for this one. My older one had some friends over, and they were going on. Here, where we are in Wisconsin, there’s a lot of kayaking and hiking and all of this. One of her friends said, “Yeah, you know how much we like walking around and hiking and hanging out.” We’re listening to music, and I put together this playlist. When I was a kid, it had peanuts in it and all these different songs.
Now that I’ve gotten older, I kept all of them because they’re still fun to listen to, but I’ve got Eminem in there now. Then she duly went, “I call it my trail mix.”

Scott:
Nice.

Shannon:
Corny as hell, but he was 16, just a kid when he said it, and he was so proud of himself, so I had to [inaudible 00:59:34].

Scott:
[crosstalk 00:59:34]music.

Mindy:
My trail mix.

Scott:
I like that a lot.

Mindy:
Shannon, do you want to tell people where they can find out more about you?

Shannon:
Well, I don’t have a blog. I don’t have a podcast. I haven’t written a book. I’m just me. I have an email address, or you can find me at Shannon Lee. I’m on Facebook. I do have an email address if anyone has questions about couponing or thrift shopping or anything like that. It’s Shannon, S-H-N-N-O-N. I did a weird thing with numbers [email protected], so [email protected]

Mindy:
Perfect. If you have any questions, hit up Shannon, or you can always email me [email protected], and I can forward them on to Shannon.

Shannon:
Absolutely.

Mindy:
Shannon, this was great. This was really nice to hear from somebody who has been through the big debt pay oof, and lived to tell the tale. It can be just a daunting task, as you know. I love that you did the things necessary to get it paid off as opposed to just, “Oh, well, I guess I’m always going to be a debt, whatever,” and continuing to build the debt or ignoring it or just not having the hard conversations with your boyfriend about it.
That’s so important. Hiding the fact that there is debt doesn’t pay it off.

Shannon:
No, not at all. I guess the biggest thing that I would want anyone listening to this to take away, because they might not have the opportunity, when they have someone they can move in with. I get that, but it’s still completely possible and completely doable. It will take longer, probably, but it’s not something that you don’t have control over. No matter how bad it feels, no matter how deep down your debt is, it’s depressing. It sucks. I get it. It’s doable.
In little tiny steps, it’s totally doable. I know that there are probably listeners who are like, “Well, of course, she was able to do it because she moved in with her boyfriend’s parents, so they don’t have bills.” We do. We pay them rent. We didn’t live there debt free. No, we paid rent. We paid portions of the bills. We bought new water heater to the house whenever it went bad. We earned our keys there. We contributed to food. We split the bills and all of that.
Even doing that, we just did it on a smaller scale. Instead of paying $1,000 a month, we paid a few hundreds, but we still were having to make those responsible payments to them as well to contribute to the household.

Mindy:
Well, and it’s not like moving in with your boyfriend’s parents is just some paradise. Like you said, you’re now living with someone else. Any time you live with someone else, they have different ideas about this or that or whatever. Now, you have to conform, “Oh, you allow the girls to do that in the house. I don’t.” Or, “Oh, I allow the girls to do that in the house, and you don’t, and now we have to balance it out.”
It isn’t some magic pill or some easy button just to move in with somebody. There’s still a lot of adjustments. That’s… Go ahead, Scott.

Scott:
I think that’s what makes your story so powerful. I think everybody gets that, but there’s no… Everyone understands. Anyone listening to this understand, “Hey, it’s very, very generous and a big boost to your ability to pay off that debt to be able to move on, but it’s also a major sacrifice for you and for them.” It’s not just like a gift there. It’s like… I love my parents very much. I know they’re listening to the podcast. Mom and dad, if I move in back in with you, I know you’d do it. I know if I needed it, and I love that, but I wouldn’t want to live full time at home with my parents.

Shannon:
No. [crosstalk 01:03:31]going back and forth.

Scott:
I don’t think they would want that. That’s just how it goes sometimes. I think that’s what makes your story so powerful is because that was the best option. You didn’t have that many options at the time. You took what you do need to do. You did it. You made it a monster improvement to your financial position, and you come out the other side in the upper middle class in terms of income, and the ability now to begin building some real wealth at this point, right?

Shannon:
Absolutely. The most fun is… We actually talked about, “Well, how are we going to live? How are we going to buy our groceries? How expensive the house that we want?” The five of us are squished into I would say probably about 300 square feet. We all share a kitchen. They’ve got their bedroom and all of that, but we’re in a tiny spot. We realized that we don’t really need that much house. We don’t really need to spend as much as we were spending even whenever we first started out, because we realized that there’s just not a lot that we truly need.

Scott:
Given that you've been doing it, have you considered the concept of house hacking?

Shannon:
Yes. We absolutely have. We looked at several. In our house search, we have looked at several duplexes and all of that. I don’t know. The boyfriend is leaning more towards land as opposed to that, but we’re definitely considering it. It’s a fantastic idea. I’s even one that I would completely recommend, and I’ve discussed with other people.

Scott:
Awesome. I get it. With three girls that age, maybe not, but I just wanted to be sure you’re aware of it. It sounds like… I mean, you have so many good options now. It’s just great.

Shannon:
That’s the biggest thing. Once it’s gone, you have so many choices that it’s almost paralysis by analysis, if you know what that phrase means, because now there’s so many choices. Holy crap, I’m not used to that, so I have to analyze every single one, and where am I going to go with this? That’s part of the fun, too.

Scott:
Awesome.

Mindy:
That is fun. Shannon, thank you so much for taking time out of your day to share your story with us. This story is one that’s been requested for a while, somebody who was in a lot of debt and wasn’t making a huge salary, somebody who was a single mom to just share their story, and this is how I did it, and the encouragement that you’re giving everybody, you can do it too, is just so refreshing.

Shannon:
Well, thank you so much. If anybody has any questions, I know the podcast situation is a little… It’s brand new for me. I’ve never done that before. I’m sure that I trailed off and left halfway information, but I absolutely love helping people. That’s half the fun and why I do the job that I’m doing now. Questions, by all means, if you want me to just talk to you and break something down into some of the finer details, or say throw a situation at me, and we can look at it together because there’s plenty of money to go around.
There’s plenty of reasons to support another person and help them get there too.

Mindy:
That’s very sweet.

Scott:
Awesome.

Mindy:
That’s awesome. We will talk to you soon. Thank you so much.

Shannon:
Absolutely. Thank you so much, guys. It was wonderful.

Mindy:
Scott, what did you think about Shannon’s story?

Scott:
Like I said earlier, I just thought this was… Again, this is the real stuff. People sometimes get into these huge financial holes like Shannon’s that she described there that seemed completely insurmountable. She was forced to make a large number of tough decisions. She made them. She got back in command. Then she grounded out painfully over the course of several years, realizing more and more control and better and better flexibility, but even long past the point where she could have probably technically moved out of her current living situation, she stuck with it, continue making the sacrifice and is going to reap those rewards in the near future in terms of lifestyle, and optionality and wealth and power.
She doesn’t even quite realized at all yet, I think, as we discovered at the end there, where she’s about to discover just how much wealth, I think, she can build over the next five, 10 years, and achieve some bigger goals than maybe she’d ever really thought of given her savings rate.

Mindy:
I am excited for her as well because I think that she is going to continue to live the frugal life that she has been living, and then just watch her bank balance, because right now she’s a… What are we gonna call it, a zero air?

Scott:
Yep. Broke. She’s, she’s, she’s…

Mindy:
That’s an awful word. I’m going to call her a zero air.

Scott:
That’s how she described it. Look, that’s a big accomplishment. She worked really hard to get to broke. Now, because of that, she’s got an 800 credit score. She started to save up some money in the bank. She’s about to pay off remaining debts. There’s nothing wrong with being broke. That is a big, big accomplishment, and good for her. She’s about to become rich over the next couple of years.

Mindy:
She is about to become rich. She is going to be really rich. I am excited to watch her bank balance grow exponentially. Frankly, I would love to have her back on in a couple of years to share what has happened since then. I also want to interview her kids to see what they thought of when they were going through it. Maybe in 20 years, we’ll have her kids on.

Scott:
Episode 1000. Yep.

Mindy:
Scott, should we get out of here?

Scott:
Let’s do it.

Mindy:
From episode 143 of the BiggerPockets Money Podcast, he is Scott trench. I am Mindy Jensen, and we will see you later, alligator.

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