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August 5, 2019

How Couples Can Stay Motivated When Paying Off $100,000 of Debt


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Our first question of the month comes in from Daniel from Texas who wrote to me on my Facebook Page:


My wife and I have been married for 3 years. We are currently trying to pay down approximately $103,000 of debt. We initially started with $190,000 of debt when we got married. So we are progressing. 

What's the best approach to talking about debt and tackling it together? 

We've taken the Dave Ramsey course and are currently doing the Debt Snowball, but at times we get into little arguments on our approach on how to tackle this debt. Any advice on how to handle that? 

And what did you guys do to stay gazelle intense while on your debt-free journey? We are starting to get pressure from family about having kids and she feels like we are stagnant in our lives due to this debt.

Thanks for hitting me up on Facebook Daniel!

First of all, INCREDIBLE job on paying down around $90,000 of debt since you got married. That is an insane amount of money. Kudos to both you and your wife. That sort of commitment and drive is rare and you should absolutely be commended for it. 

It sounds like you’ve gotten hooked up with Mr. Ramsey and that is awesome. Dave is the KING of debt slaying in my opinion. I have the opportunity to coordinate a Financial Peace University class at my church and it just works. So first things first, stick with what you’re doing because you’re headed in the right direction.  

Now let’s talk about how to keep the drive alive with this debt crushing process. Maybe it’s a bit easier when a couple is paying down $5,000 of credit card debt to become debt-free, but you’re working with $103,000 of debt! 

Here are 5 things to consider as you’re crushing that big debt number:

1. Set a Budget Party Date

At the beginning of each month, review your budget and your debt amounts with your wife. This activity will help you two set the tone for the month. During this Budget Party, you can do a few things:

  • Talk about your long term goals as a couple
  • Plan your spending and saving for the month
  • Track your debt paydown progress
  • Discuss ways you can make more money through your full-time jobs, side hustles or selling stuff

Don’t forget to make this a recurring and fixed date on the calendar. If you do it once and then you don’t stick with it, you’ll lose the momentum. Since you’re writing me this note Daniel, you are probably going to be the Budget Party meeting leader. 

Related Question: How Do I Get My Spouse on Board with Budgeting?

2. Find a Budgeting Tool that Makes the Process Easy

Nicole and I use Mint as our budget tool of choice, but there are many other options specifically for couples like Zeta or Honeyfi. Find a budgeting tool one that works well for you and your wife and run with it. 

If you don’t like the idea of an online budgeting tool, don’t let that stop you. Use a spreadsheet or even a piece of paper and a pencil to get started. 

3. Infuse Some Fun into the Process

Now that you’re consistently getting together to track your progress, try to add some fun into it so you both want to show up each month and keep paying down this debt. 

Put some sort of visual indicator of your success on the wall or your refrigerator so you can track your progress with the debt pay-down process. I like the idea of a Debt Thermometer so you can get motivated every day to see that big debt number fade away. 

Nicole and I used a big whiteboard when we were paying off our $48,032 of debt. It felt incredible to physically erase the number each month and write a new smaller one on the board. 

Your Budget Parties can include wine, beer, pizza … whatever makes you feel like your planning your future and having fun versus stuck in a board meeting. 

4. Don’t Feel Pressure to Have Children Until You’re Ready

Having kids is A LOT of work. I mean a lot. I had no idea. 

If you’re not ready to have children, then wait. Don’t let outside pressure from family dictate when you’ll have children. This is your life and your future. 

If you’re already feeling stressed with your debt, adding children into the picture may pile on additional stress to your marriage. 

5. Don’t Let Your Debt Hold You Back from Having Children

On the flip side, if you and your wife are thrilled at the prospect of becoming parents then GO FOR IT. Don’t let your debt hold you back. 

When I learned I was going to be a father for the first time, I went absolutely nuts on my debt. I wanted it to be gone before she was born. My daughter’s ultrasound photo was my visual motivator to keep going.

Zoey Ultrasound 2011
Zoey Ultrasound in 2011

I went out of my way to earn more money at work and save more money at home because I knew that our future debt freedom was going to set my family on an incredible path of wealth and happiness.

Daniel, I hope this advice helps you in your debt pay down journey. Please reach out to me when all this debt is destroyed because I want to celebrate your victory on my podcast. Because what you’ve already done AND what you’re about to do is incredible. 


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Carpe Diem Quote

“Knowledge is power: You hear it all the time but knowledge is not power. It's only potential power. It only becomes power when we apply it and use it. 

Somebody who reads a book and doesn't apply it, they're at no advantage over someone who's illiterate.

None of it works unless YOU work. We have to do our part. If knowing is half the battle, action is the second half of the battle.” 

Jim Kwik

What action are you taking today to eliminate debt from your life? 

Please let us know in the comments below.


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Andy Hill

Andy Hill, AFC® is the award-winning family finance coach behind Marriage Kids and Money - a platform dedicated to helping families build wealth and happiness. With millions of podcast downloads and video views, Andy’s message of family financial empowerment has resonated with listeners, readers and viewers across the world. When he's not "talking money", Andy enjoys being a Soccer Dad, singing karaoke with his wife and relaxing on his hammock.

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The Marriage Kids and Money Podcast is dedicated to helping young families build wealth and happiness.

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