Couple Pays Off $229,000 Worth of Debt In 5 Years

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Melissa & Murphy Stewart of FitNFunds.com stopped by the neighborhood to share how they were able to pay off $229,000 worth of debt in only 5 short years.


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Key Moments To Listen For

How Murph & Mel Met [1:33]

How They Managed Money As Individuals Prior To Dating [3:09]

Realizing They Had $229,000 Worth of Debt [10:12]

Melissa’s Hesitancy to Pay off Debt [11:53]

How The Debt-Free Journey Affected Their Marriage[14:15]

Getting Started With Paying Off Debt [16:53]

How Long They Expected To Pay Off Debt Vs The Reality [20:00]

Overcoming Challenges And Staying Motivated While Paying Off Debt [23:25]

Influences & Resources They Learned From While Paying Off Debt [32:02]

Getting Started Investing [38:46]

Read The Transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 And once I started to see like the process working and us gaining the momentum and really knocking off the doubt one by one I had more confidence in the process but also in our marriage like okay, I trust him. Like this is working. Like this is, this is getting better, you know, so like I was more encouraged to keep going.

Speaker 2: 00:24 [inaudible]

Speaker 3: 00:25 welcome to the neighborhood. My name is Michael Lacey, husband, father and host of the wealthy neighbors show where every week we bring you an amazing interview or a message to inspire you as you build wealth for your family. Thanks for stopping by the neighborhood. Now let's jump right in with today's message.

Speaker 4: 00:47 Welcome to episode 16 of the wealthy neighbor show. Today we have Melissa and Murphy stewards stopping by the neighborhood and Mela Murph are the power couple actually behind the site fit in funds. And this site was created to help everyday couples just like them, not only master their finances but also maintain a healthy lifestyle. And today they're here to share how they were able to pay off $229,000 worth of debt in just five short years. So, melon, Murph, thank you guys for being here today. I mean, it's a pleasure to be able to sit down and talk to you guys about your journey, but before we even get into that, can you guys just share with the neighbors out there how the two of you even met and came to be a couple?

Speaker 5: 01:33 Yeah. Yeah. So our, our, I guess, yeah, us becoming one now. Um, it started off at the, um, you know, ironically enough, um, a bank called Wells Fargo. That was about 10 years ago. At the time we were, um, working at separate branches in our County. I went to her branch at the time to do, to pick up something from, uh, a friend who I used to work with at the w, a branch that we used to work at. And I did, I looked to my right and did a little double-take on this beautiful blonde girl. And one of the, uh, what do you call it? At the time. Uh, it's kinda like a lockbox. Yeah. Save your safe room in the safe box room. And, um, I looked good little double-take and I'm, you know, I'm strike by her beauty and I'm trying to understand who she is and everything.

Speaker 5: 02:16 I've seen her once or twice before in my, in my main grants. But, um, long story short, I went back to my branch and she was at first person or more than our first girl that I emailed out, if you will. And it was, it was, it was fun because, you know, it was, it was something that was new to me and I emailed her and you know, kind of invite her into a group date first to make sure that she was, she felt comfortable to be around me and then that's when they kind of progressed into becoming a one-on-one. And then here we are today,

Speaker 1: 02:48 my cousin actually worked at the same branch branch that he was at, so I was a little bit more hesitant, but she kinda convinced me cause she's like, he's a really nice guy. He's not your typical, you know, God, that's not ready to like commit and he likes you and whatever. So the rest is history.

Speaker 4: 03:09 Okay. So you guys have this chance encounter, right? And I have to ask both of you separately. How were you guys managing money as individuals at that time?

Speaker 5: 03:19 Horribly. Um, yeah, so I guess I can start. Um, like I said, you know, we met ironically enough at the bank, right? You know, where we supposed to get the right tools and resources in order to become financially stable. But honestly, you still, you still utilize credit to the max. Um, I was always on overdraft. Um, always had to go in and do a kind of rituals from my savings and then get over GI because I went over drawn and then paying those excessive overdraft fees. It was kind of a perpetual cycle that had almost like no end to it. So it was just, and here I am trying to sit in front of people, helping them manage their finances in regards to the banking activities that they came to me and um, to be, uh, to be trusted, to be trustworthy for their finances. So I just, this was a horrible, horrible mess. Still had a crazy amount of loans, car loans and old courses, loans at a time. So

Speaker 1: 04:14 yeah, prior to working at the bank, um, I took out a lot of student loans. Um, and so basically like the school that I went to, they would cut me a check for like 12 grand, like every, I don't know, three to six months and then I would live off of that. But I would like spend that money on like just, you know, clothes and like going out and like alcohol. And it was just like, but then on top of that I was also utilizing my college credit card. So once I graduated college, I was using that to like pay bills, like to pay rent. I was just so blinded. Like, I think the first six months of our relationship, like my friend was getting married in Hawaii and so I invited him and like I feel like everything, and I think she thought that

Speaker 5: 05:00 I thought she was rolling in the dough, my man

Speaker 1: 05:05 to fund that. And I remember before going on that trip, I called the bank and I'm like, can I get an increase in my limit? And they like rejected me because probably because I had so much debt, like all my student loan debt, I just couldn't get an increase on that card. So I was just in so much denial, like just kept racking up the debt. I mean it continued into the early years of our marriage, but it was just out of control.

Speaker 4: 05:34 So Murphy, you said something very interesting, you said, I thought she was rolling in the dough man. I mean, kind of talk about that experience. I mean, just kind of what was going through your mind. I mean you, you gotta be thinking like, dang, I think I hit the jackpot here.

Speaker 5: 05:47 Sure. So my, keep in mind, my friend, I'm sitting, you know, being with this girl, trying to establish a relationship, trying to mold into this thing that it is today, but the being is at a time I might, okay. So she's in a really beautiful studio apartment. I'm in one of a really affluent area at the time and you know, she's, you know, working at the bank and I knew what position she was in, so I kind of identify how much it was making, but not really. But here she is, you know, you could go on such and such who vacation, then every go Hawaiian. She asked me and I would feel really elated to go. Of course it's Hawaii who does not want to go to white, but I'm just sitting there trying to send my, wow, I'm not she, she really got her stuff together.

Speaker 5: 06:22 My God, like she, she's really, she probably has a nice savings account. She's probably financially stable. All these things was coming to my mind. They want to actually, you know, when worst comes to worst, she's tells me that she finds the whole thing on credit cards. And she wasn't sitting alone that, you know, it was definitely, you know, it didn't make me not want to be with her of course, but it definitely opened my eyes to the realization of how people can live normal and, um, in a way kind of had that facade that they are, they're doing well. But you know, also that was broken based on her, um, her willingness and transparency with me. So,

Speaker 4: 06:55 yeah. So Melissa, I mean going back to that, because we just kind of laid out this elaborate lifestyle for you at that point, did you feel like, Hey, I'm doing all right, or did you kind of feel like you were struggling financially?

Speaker 1: 07:06 I think I was, I was kind of grew up in a home where just like, we always struggled with money, you know, so like money was always like, we can't afford it, or we, we, it's just too much money, you know? So it was like, I would've found myself in that exact spot. Like, you know, I was driving a nice car and like, you know, I have this facade, right? This facade of like, I have money, I'm wealthy, I'm doing well, I'm well off. But it was really, I was just really like drowning in that debt and just like financial, like mindset of like repeating that of like never having enough, like just always going to struggle financially. And so it was just a really dark place, like really, really dark. But really I just kind of covered it up cause I just, you know, had the makeup and the clothes and the car is just avoiding it.

Speaker 4: 08:01 So then you, if I'm understanding this correctly, Melissa, you came to Murphy with your debt and your financial situation, right?

Speaker 1: 08:09 I think so, yeah. We both kind of opened up eventually. I think in the planning of our wedding we actually tried to get like a $15,000 loan. And I remember that was the time where the bank, we weren't able to get approved for that loan. So that was kind of like a sting, you know, it was like, well why not? And then I think we've kind of lost over like our debt at the time. Like when we were getting married of like, well this is, this is how much we have kind of thing. But it wasn't, we didn't go in depth at that point. It was just kind of like, ouch, we cannot get approved for another loan. What the heck, you know?

Speaker 4: 08:51 So then I mean, what ended up happening with the wedding story? I'm asking that cause I'm just kidding. I'm in now, like I'm just,

Speaker 1: 08:58 um, so the base, the bank one will approve it, but we actually reached out to a family member and they loaned us the money without interest and we, we work to pay that back over the first few years of our marriage. Um, so it wasn't a very costly wedding, but I mean it was a big, it was a big chunk of money. So, um, that's how we kind of funded our church or our wedding and our honeymoon, so.

Speaker 4: 09:25 Gotcha. You know, I, I love the, the, the wedding honeymoon stories because I don't know if you guys know this, but on our honeymoon is where my wife and I had one of our first financial conversations and that's kind of where we came clean about. Our finances was literally on the honeymoon. Like we couldn't have picked a better place. And so that, but that was where we kind of, it kinda hit us cause like we're spending all this money and at the end of the day we're both in the back. Well I was in the back of my mind going, man, you know, we're spending a lot of money on this thing but we still have rent and we still have these car payments and we still have these credit cards. And so like there was this internal struggle with me. I mean, she wasn't really feeling it. She was just like, it's our honeymoon. Let's go crazy. But I was starting to feel that. And so it led to a, an uncomfortable discussion on our honeymoon. And so I'm curious, when was that moment for you guys where, you know, one or both of you felt like, Hey, we're going in the wrong direction with this thing, we might need to consider doing something different.

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Speaker 5: 10:23 Yeah. So now this comes to, um, okay. So this, that's a really good question because this is about five and half years ago when we actually begin our debt free journey. Um, I was, you know, something that me and Melissa we do on heavily is I'm invest in ourselves, especially if your mental state, right? Um, mental health for sure. And I remember, I remember specifically vividly you, me being in one of my therapists office, um, my therapist's office at the time and I was sitting in a lobby and you know, at the time I was broken as a man, as a husband, just really trying to figure out what went wrong in regards to our finances and every other aspect of our marriage and just didn't know how we got to a moment of rock bottom, they call it, right. And, um, specifically finances because we just be over, you know, overspin every category of our household.

Speaker 5: 11:07 We didn't know which way was up our still loans was ridiculous. We didn't know how much we had in it. I'm all the seek of is still in the infancy stage, but, um, something clicked. I remember a friend or family member in the past tell me about some man they on day UMC and um, you know, it just, it just, it just populated instantly. And I did my research instantaneously at the time and spawn out, you know, this whole man's story and how much you've helped millions of people. You had a dead end. He has a, a simple as simplicity method of getting out of debt. And, and I thought that was um, you know, enlightening to me and got it. You know, didn't know how to get out of debt, let alone what the steps are to do that. But long story short, brought it home to Melissa, showed her she was not enthusiastic as I was. I was heavily enthusiastic. But, um, but yes, so that was the start of our deputy journey. Yeah.

Speaker 4: 11:54 So Melissa, I mean, what was giving you pause about that? Because, and the only reason I asked that question is again, same situation with me. I, you know, after our honeymoon I come home, I'm Googling, I found like three or four people that I'm following, I got all this info and then I'm just like, all right, we're getting on a budget, we're doing this, we're doing that. And my wife was like, nah, bruh, it ain't, it ain't going to be like that. And so, but listen, like kind of what was the hesitation for you?

Speaker 1: 12:17 Um, I guess I was just, again, like that the mile just kinda kept me like wanting to avoid, avoid, avoid. And I was just like, this is just too much work. Like, and then also like I had just gotten a new job, so I was like, well, I want to like fund my lifestyle. Like I want to have my new clothes and Miami wardrobe and like, um, you know, like kind of like the doubt will always be there. And I remember like that, um, year that we're going to start that new year's Eve was kind of like our last hurrah and it was just, we funded those like new year's Eve party with like money that we didn't have. Yes. I really needed to go to the doctor and like, have some medical stuff taken care of with that money, but instead I was like, no, I wanna like go out with my friends and like get a nice dress.

Speaker 1: 13:09 And then anyways, the nights just turned out like really bad, like champagne spilt all over me until like, I dunno, at that point I was like, okay, you know, like we gotta make a change, but I'm not really feeling this. And, but I was just like in kind of like a, again, like a desperate dark place where I was like, okay, like I was a little bit open to it. So I think like that January is when we started officially started our debt free journey. And, um, you know, it took me about a year to get a hoard, um, because it involved a lot of sacrifice. I think we sold our car that first year. We were sharing a car and we were commuting together and um, you know, just all of our extra cash was like really going towards like the money that we had owed and like, I didn't even want to think about how much student loan debt I had. Like that first year I was just like, Nope, I don't want to talk about it. Like I don't want to go there. So, um, it took some time, but at first I definitely was hesitant.

Speaker 4: 14:15 Yeah. You know, my wife and I, we just celebrated our five year anniversary in October. Thank you. Thank you. I appreciate that. And you know what I'm talking about our money journey, I always say like that month or two where I was trying to get her on board with the financial plan, that was the hardest stretch of our entire marriage. We fought more in that short time than we have in any amount of time since. And so I'm just curious, I mean, what kind of effect did that have on you guys as marriage? Because Murphy, you know, you said you were like, you were ready to go. You're like you were doing this and Melissa, you were, you said, you know, it took you kind of like a year to get fully onboard. So did that have any effect on your marriage, the communication, anything like that?

Speaker 5: 15:02 Oh, absolutely. It put a strain for sure. Because you know, just thinking about, you know, changing a behavior behavior that you've, um, adopted for many years. You know, for us it was what at at the time, 20 plus a year. It's at a time that'd be adopted as behavior just to stay put on what we've learned in the past. So to kind of extract that selves and change the paradigm of our, you know, our life perception, it puts strain because we had a push, I sell to a different aspect of living in regards to our finances. Um, but I say it put a strain on our marriage, but thing is they actually open up and actually even moved that strain. So allow us to be more intimate, um, relationally to open up about different aspects of our marriage financially. Cause finances is so personal. We don't like talking about that at all.

Speaker 5: 15:47 And we didn't. We really did. You know, even though we combined our finances together as we got married, but you know, it really opened up a new door that we never really experienced in our marriage. And um, it was so incredible to understand that we both, we wanted to get out of debt but you know, we had a kind of bond kind of put together two and two and two and to figure out, okay, how can we do this together? Because we didn't agree on certain components of what I was actually disseminates for at a time in regards to this program. There was no way, but it really put a strain first. But then it helped us progress towards opening up and actually bettering our marriage at the time. That was how I perceived it

Speaker 1: 16:23 in the beginning. It was just, I was so blinded. It was like I really just had to trust the process and like trust Murphy. And once I started to see like the process working and us gaining the momentum and like really knocking off the doubt one by one, I had more confidence in the process, but also in our marriage, like, okay, I trust him, like this is working, like this is, this is getting better, you know? So like I, I was like more encouraged to keep going.

Speaker 4: 16:53 So when you guys started, you had $229,000 worth of debt. Where did you guys start with the snowball or the avalanche? How did you, which method did you guys go towards?

Speaker 5: 17:03 Yeah. Yeah. So we did, um, they remedied snowball. There's no bumps. So we start with the smallest amount, the amount of debt, and then move towards the big one of course. Right. Okay. And you said something, here's something. I know my had Michael about us having twins, $29,000 in debt, so we didn't know we had that much. Um, so it's, the weird thing is this, I think about two to three years into our deputy journey, you know, we thought we had about 189 ish. Okay. But something was, wasn't adding up. And for me, I'm a numbers guy and I understand, you know, we could, we put all identity a table, but something was not had enough. So I did a reassessment on our financial standing in regards to how much debt we had. And my eyes was, you know, I, I, I was woke, sorry, I let you know, walk me home. I was, I was walking at a time because I'm seeing, Whoa, well we owe, how much, so you just added no, that 30, 40,000 a number. And I was completely, I was shocked at the fact that I thought we had this much, but then no, we actually had that much, which was $229,000 in debt. So it was a very, a, a I experienced that was eye opening for sure.

Speaker 4: 18:04 So how did those numbers break down?

Speaker 5: 18:07 Um, in regards to what we had or just

Speaker 4: 18:08 right, right, the total debt. Yeah.

Speaker 5: 18:10 Yeah. Yeah. So the total deaths. So we had, um, yeah, IRS credit cards, cars, um, lines of credits. You said IRS,

Speaker 1: 18:24 the loans I have

Speaker 5: 18:26 shut the majority of the student loans. Yes.

Speaker 1: 18:29 25,000. And then the remaining of it was the consumer debt. So those were the smaller ones, which we started with this, you know, the consumer debt. And then I thought we would be like debt free once we were done with the consumer debt. And Murphy was like, no, we better keep going. We've got to pay off your student loans. So, um, and we did, we continued on.

Speaker 5: 18:51 Yeah, we had, we had everything on the sun, Michael, everything under the sun, unfortunately.

Speaker 4: 18:55 Wow. So I mean, what was that, you know, you said you're a Dave Ramsey guy and I, I mean I'm familiar with Dave Ramsey, Dave Ramsey play on myself, but for the person out there who may not know, I mean, what was the first step you guys had to take as you guys moved towards that freedom?

Speaker 5: 19:09 Yeah, so we can elaborate on this one. So also go step one is $1,000 to get into your mini baby. Step one, right? But for us, we thought about it differently because we had a first get on the same page. I feel like that was like kind of ground zero was step one and we had to make sure we, I'm aligned in the purpose and goals or why we were doing this. We always, we always establish why we were doing what we were doing. So that was kind of step one. And then also the next step was getting that emergency fund of $1,000 and then baby said two was tackling the, um, all the debts excluding the school year mortgage. At the time we didn't have a mortgage, but we just took care of all the debt that was in our names and we tackled it from small to the biggest one. So that, that was the, um, the aspect in which we took.

Speaker 4: 19:53 Okay. So then when you guys actually laid it all out and then you got settled on that right number, right. The 229 did, did you guys have a timeline for paying that off? And then how long did it actually take versus the timeline that you had in your head?

Speaker 1: 20:09 Yeah, so to begin with, we didn't set up the timeline. We just kind of went, you know, all in like little by little. Um, but yeah, I was always all along. Even after the first year, I was always like, I don't want to know. I don't want to hear it. Like, I just like, I was just like, I don't want to know how long is this going to take us? Like, so exhausting and grueling and like this, you know, like, so, but Murphy, he was always like, well, it's going to take us, you know, two years or three years, um, you know, to finish this. But I would say like the year I was so tired, like, I think it was spring of 18, 2018 I was like, I need an end date. Like I need an end date. Let's crunch these numbers. And, you know, Murphy had always had kind of like the end in mind and he'd remind me, but we wrote, that's when we really sat down and was like, okay, like we need $3,833 every single month to finish this by April of 2019. And so we put that number up on the wall and I looked at that every day and I was like, okay, 3000, $833 and then, so that's kinda how I knew that kept

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Speaker 5: 21:25 and I can add it into a little bit more. Um, so I've always, I've always had an end date, but I just never really brought up to them, listen, based on what she's just, you know, elaborate on, she didn't want to know. Right. But I secretly did have that end date because I'll maybe in my numbers person that I had to have a goal, you know, you have a goal in mind. I was something that I really had to do. So I, I implemented it in regards to conversations that we had, but you know, like I said, she had those, um, those fingers in her ears, she don't want to hear, she's wanting to do, to work and everything. But I knew that we, if we reached that moment of clarity that allowed me to, okay, cool. We, we need to X amount of five years in time. That was a, that was kind of roughly to do run a number was I had initially, but the last year as she said, that was when she really said, okay, I need to kind of visually see that end date now. And that's where we implemented that visually on our own journey. So,

Speaker 4: 22:19 so Melissa, you know, I love that you said that because I'm a firm believer in having visuals around the house and all those sorts of things to keep you motivated. What, I mean, what do you feel that did for you?

Speaker 1: 22:31 Um, I mean it was just like motivating. I mean, I would look at that every single day. And I think it, it kind of like, I would just kind of like meditate on it in a way. Like it would be in my mind, in the forefront of my mind. Like, and then I was just like, and also too with that number, we have like three things on there that we're going to do once we are debt free. And I was moving, um, uh, a debt free vacation and starting starting like family planning. And so that to me was like, okay, like I can finish this because like I want that so bad. Like I think it was just like looking at that every single day really cut me focus and like, you know, also too, we did have like a, a thermometer too that we would kind of color it. Um, we didn't really keep that up to date.

Speaker 4: 23:25 So I mean, you guys were plowing away at this for quite awhile. I mean, a couple of years, you guys were digging yourselves out of this hole. Did you have any like setbacks or anything like that on your journey? And if you did, I mean, why didn't that keep you guys from quitting?

Speaker 5: 23:43 Yeah, I can just one moment. Um, I think most of it was, she was saying earlier, she kind of alluded to it about how they came to a point that it became so hard and regards to kind of seeing them big, um, number of personal loan debt. Like I said, she had a majority of it, right? So that was so monumental or more so it was almost, it was insurmountable to her. And, uh, I want to tell a quick story on this and the kid doesn't really, is going to help, um, kind of bring more context. Um, so her, we sent her grandma email about our situation financially and her emails, uh, her, her grandma's sent the email back and replied about how my wife is not going to get the student loan pay or pay it off until she's going to her menopause stage.

Speaker 5: 24:27 So, so that hit me hard. Um, I was so angry. I was in lit a fire underneath me to really determine that we were not gonna let that happen. You know, and it's like we, so I took that and kind of added more fuel to the fire, but the hindrances that we had, I think it was just the exhaustion, you know, the continuation of putting forth all this money that we've earned based on commissions and on past checks that we got from the employers over time. It was just to be solid with money going out the window and just so hard to kind of fathom every month that we were throwing this money to our stupidity that happened in our past lives. But I think that that was some aspect of hindrances that I can imagine that we had those crossroads that to determine are we going to keep doing it or we are not. But I think our why kept those going. We had to keep redirecting, align ourselves with what our, why that helped us progress in this journey.

Speaker 1: 25:19 Yeah. I would just say like the pure exhaustion. And then, um, you know, along our journey we took like weekend getaways, but we didn't do any like, big vacations, like, you know, and so that was another thing too where I was like, I'm working so hard, I'm so tired. Like I just want to take a vacation. And then, you know, seeing all these other people like take travel, you know, different places. It was just really difficult to be like, okay, well Sunday, I guess we can do that, you know? And so it was just like, just like kind of like that heartache of like, Oh, when are we gonna just like get this out of our lives or we can just move past it, you know? And um, it's just, it was just an emotional kind of journey to, cause it just came with a lot of different like, um, like shame, like feelings of just like anger and like, how did I get myself in this much debt? And so just like walking through all of that to, like Murphy was saying, it's not just about the debt, it's really deeper than that. You know, it's really like, like just working on yourself, like those things and how you grew up and like, just all those different aspects of your life, um, are really uncooperative when you're going through this journey. Right,

Speaker 4: 26:34 right. So my, I mean this question's for you, you know, because again, me and you kind of came at it from the same perspective. Like I was so determined to get debt done and we paid ours off in 16 months, which is pretty fast according to some state standards. But there were still times within that 16 months where even though it was a short amount of time and I knew it was a short amount of time, I would get like, Oh my gosh, this is never going to end. And just a little discouraged a little down, you know what I mean? And so how did you keep yourself motivated as the person who's kind of leading this charge, you know, when you kind of felt those moments on those days?

Speaker 5: 27:13 Yeah, good question. So, um, for me, I've always been so competitive. Um, I've come from background, uh, athletic background. So when I set my mind to something, I'm going to do it. Like regardless of what the obstacles I'd be confronting along the way. Um, and also got to, you know, will faith-based family. You know, I'm a man of God. I believe that when God, he as he inserted this plan is man's name in my mind. And I really truly believe that he gave me this tool to now utilize in our family to change our trajectory of our family tree. So I was not gonna give up on myself because me being a leader of my family and the reason I'm saying leader of my family, cause I never had that when I was younger. My dad, he was, he wasn't really around. So that was something that was, I was not going to repeat those patterns, um, to then let my family kind of, um, die financially, if you will.

Speaker 5: 28:02 Okay. So it's, so I had that in back of my mind to change not only the future generation of my, our family tree, but now too, because I wasn't going gonna quit on something that I've seriously thought I got from God. And then taught with my wife, say, babe, I can't do anymore. I've never had that mentality going into it and I never had it while going through it. So I was always someone competitively. Um, really Amy for towards the future of our success in this journey. I never gave up on the fact that we can do this because I saw the end, the end result. I'm like, we just do this monthly it was going to happen, but of course it wasn't perfect because obviously exhaustion takes place, arguments and kind of manipulating the budget here and there, but I never felt that I could not do it based on what I just saw him upset. So

Speaker 4: 28:49 yeah. So then you guys hit that moment where you hit submit or you drop the check off or whatever you did for that last payment. What was that day like? What was that moment like for you guys together as a couple?

Speaker 1: 29:06 Oh my gosh, I don't think we slept like the first days leading up to that. So many feelings of emotions, like excitement and like just like relief and, um, like it was like probably the second best day of our lives. Like, so awesome. Like just the adrenaline and like, Oh my gosh. And then, you know, of course after that it was just kind of like, wow. Like of course, like emotional, like tears and awesome.

Speaker 5: 29:41 Yeah. The worst

Speaker 4: 29:42 the word I can come up with is exhilarating. Um, and life changing for sure. Um, and just really a sense of accomplishment, um, to that magnitude because I only have ever individually accomplished something so, so magnificent and it's an [inaudible] for sure. But also we, we got to share it with them, our community online, on Instagram. And I really, that was really cool. That was awesome to kind of experience that because we didn't really, um, divulge our journey until maybe the last year of our journey of our debt freedom. But, um, it was just so awesome to be, um, in San Francisco to times where we did at definitely screaming. It can really show and pronounce our new beginning of this new chapter in our, in our marriage, in our lives. It was such an exhilarating experience and it's only something that I can talk to him, Louis and my face, but it's just something that you have experienced itself.

Speaker 4: 30:29 I can only give you a tip top of what it felt like, but once you in it, it just, it's almost something that you can't really explain and I'm sure you can feel the same way, your wife, it's something that, it's just incredible to know that, wow, okay, we have, we will not have no more debt going towards any banks, any IRS or any cargo ships since like this is all our money now and we can actually utilize appropriately for our family. Yeah, so you guys were living in San Francisco, that's a high cost of living area and you paid off $229,000 living in that high cost of living area. First off, that's incredible. But I mean, second, you know, what would you say to somebody who's in that area that has that excuse of, well it's super expensive here and I can't do it for myself. I mean, what would you say to that person?

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Speaker 5: 31:19 Rent cheaply for sure. And once they not really at the end of kind of towards the end of our journey is to hang out with like minded people. Um, you know, physically and also, you know, digitally if you will on online because that camaraderie really, um, extended a more so build momentum to the next, allowing us to really push forward to that debt free. Um, freedom, joy journey, date, date I should say. Because the reason why I say that because we were aiming for April of this year, but we actually finished a month, a month earlier. So that really, that wasn't even surprising for us cause you know, we hit it a month early, which was a huge accomplishment. So,

Speaker 4: 32:02 yeah. So you mentioned Dave Ramsey when we first started talking. Were there any other books or podcasts or anything like that that you guys were listening to that were, you know, kind of helping feed yourselves and give you that energy and keep you aligned with a certain strategy?

Speaker 5: 32:17 Yeah. Um, so the books I've read, it wasn't necessarily, I was, it was a few. I think my wife, she can kind of elaborate, but for me, I listened to a lot of podcasts and also Dave Ramsey was one of them. But also listen to things that helped me gain more perspective in different paradigms. Right on, you know, I think one, I don't know if you heard of Gary Vaynerchuk, wasn't was one Lewis Howes, grad school of greatness. Just those avenues and gateways to listen to other people's success stories on how they gain momentum and building whatever goal they were suing me for fitness wise, personal wise, finance wise, whatever. But um, you know, I think, you know, we read, or my wife's, she started with, um, I think was it actually, no, I'm sorry, million millionaire next door by Tom Stanley and that was a good one. Um, and also I need another book I read was the linchpin. That was another one, just kind of more so a personal aspect. But financially I think I can have my wife talk about that one cause she, she read a lot more financial books than I did.

Speaker 1: 33:15 Oh um, so total money makeover by Dave Ramsey. You started reading that.

Speaker 5: 33:21 We didn't finish

Speaker 1: 33:24 also, you know, financial peace university. We did the class like year three on our journey and we actually watched it via online home. Um, but you know, we were able to like do the course together and talk about our answers. Um, so yeah, I, I would, I'm a big podcast or now too. I think in the last like year and a half or so since we've been online, like just listening to some of the podcasts, um, of some of the people that we follow, like his and her money and um, just different podcasts that, you know, aside from financial literacy, things like that, like Rachel and Dave Hollis. Um, there's just so many, gosh, who else?

Speaker 5: 34:09 Okay. So it's a plethora of them push. Sure. I can't even name them all. But, um, yeah, so it wasn't no strictly financial things that, you know, most so many. I was, uh, of grabs up an array of things that allow us to build momentum and keep us, keep us, um, physically and more so mentally, um, you know, building momentum to get through this. There's a long track of five years doing this debt free journey. So it was, you can only imagine the things that we had consumed. It makes sure that we were actually being ourselves appropriately to, you know, keeping track of the long lasting effect and the goal reaching that. So

Speaker 1: 34:45 no idea that like there was other people out there that were paying off the first four years. We kind of were like, okay, you know, cause I didn't listen to the Dave Ramsey show at all, like, or the debt free screens, um, unless it was on in the car when we were driving. Um, I just had no idea that like there was people out there doing what we were doing and like, you know, people out there really trying to help you pay off debt and like give you insight of ways to save money. And so it was like this whole new world once we got on social media, there's so many free resources out there, you know, all I have to do is like download their podcasts or like Google, you know, so it's like on and on and on. There's so much deep knowledge out there that you can find that can help you. So

Speaker 5: 35:34 yeah, I love the fact that you guys mentioned other podcasts

Speaker 4: 35:38 and other books that weren't financial related because I'm a believer that most of this journey, especially when you're on one for five years, right? Most of it is mental and so, you know, podcasts like school of greatness and things like that are going to help you with that mental side that are going to help you persevere and hit that goal. So I'm glad that you guys mentioned that, but I want to go forward a little bit because you know, you guys pay off your debt and it's this incredible accomplishment and you know, things feel amazing. But then what happens next with you guys? I mean, what's the next goal?

Speaker 1: 36:10 Yeah, no, that's a great question. Um, when we paid off our debt, it was amazing as we were just describing. I think, um, the next couple months into it we realized, wow, like we're still doing the same grind. Like we're still, you know, um, so we kind of had to like slow down a little bit and, um, you know, immediately we moved, which we wanted to do to get closer to work. Um, and then we were able to like take a debt free vacation celebration and do a lot of different celebrations. Um, but what Nat, what's next is now we're really starting to just like, you know, build up our emergency fund and, um, leading into the new year, doing some traveling. Um, and then of course, like starting to invest and meet with a financial advisor, um, to kind of talk about like where we're headed with our building wall, uh, next next steps and starting a family planning and um, Murphy's going back to school and we're able to cashflow that. So I mean, it's just like on and on and on, like there's just so much that has opened up to us and I think just now, like seven months later, we're really starting to see like, wow, like there's just a whole nother world out there. Just so cool to have those options.

Speaker 4: 37:32 Yeah, I like that you said that because I mean, you know, like I said, we paid off our debt pretty quickly and I mean we're coming up on four years now of being debt free and there are still days where we'll do something and I just go, wow. Like all that work for those 16 months, the, the hard sacrifices that we made, they were all worth it. Right? Like my wife, she just went back to school. She just finished her principal certification. We've gone on like six vacations this year. All, you know, we bought a brand new, you know, we bought a new car, like all of these incredible things. And so I'm glad that you brought that up because I do want the listeners to understand that like, yes, the journey is hard, right? It does take a lot out of you, but what you get on the other side of that journey makes every single sacrifice so worth it.

Speaker 4: 38:21 And it happens really quickly. Like it's not something where you got to wait 10 years before you see the effects. Like you start to feel it like once, once you pay off that debt and you know, you guys, his number was like 38 33 I mean that the next that's not going to debt, that gets to stay with you. Right? So like, you know, just imagine the possibilities that you could have, you know, if you are debt free and, and you got to keep your cash flow. And so you did mention that you guys were getting ready to start investing. I mean, what, what are some of the strategies that you're considering as you plan to build wealth for yourselves? Going forward.

Speaker 5: 38:56 Yeah. There's two things that we're thinking about. Well a mutual fund invested in mutual funds in a hospital stock market and also, um, potentially, you know, all seem buying a home but property, uh, or shall I say investment property down the road too. So those, those avenues of investment properties, I'll see our home primary residence and just investing in the stock market. Those three things or three avenues in which, you know, the financial vehicles that we'll be embarking upon. Cause it just, you know, we want to take advantage of everything that's out there that allows us to grow out wealth and ultimate goal is not only to spend and invest but most, most, most, most definitely paying if we want to do is give and give spontaneously, have people help people in regards to their financial situation and just really show them how it can be done. So those, those avenues and then investing in and give you MCAS what we're, I'll be planning on doing so.

Speaker 4: 39:46 Gotcha. That sounds great, man. That's exciting. I'm excited for you guys going forward. I mean, first all, let me say, I have enjoyed talking to you guys so much. I've laughed a lot, smiled a lot, and I've been inspired myself just by the grit and perseverance that you guys displayed paying off that much, that over that length of time, right? Because people see our story. You know, we paid off 60 1016 months and they go, Whoa, that's crazy. That's awesome. That's, but for me, it says even more about somebody to stick to a journey for four or five years and continue to grind it out over the longterm like that. I'm more impressed by those stories than I am the people who paid off 100,000 eight months. So kudos to you guys again for sticking that out. But I did want to give you both the opportunity to share, um, where people can find you if they've been inspired by your story today and they want to latch onto you and follow you as you guys go on this wealth building journey, where can people find you guys?

Speaker 1: 40:44 Yeah, so mainly wringing out on IgE and funds. F I T. N. F. U. N. D. S. I'm also on Twitter, on Facebook. Uh, YouTube, uh, I think we have a tech talk now so it's fun funds on a tick tock zero six one two one zero so it's a little bit different but um, yes and then also our website too but and funds.com

Speaker 5: 41:13 [inaudible] dot com

Speaker 4: 41:16 well Hey Mel and Murphy, thank you both for stopping by the neighborhood and sharing your journey with us today. I'm going to be sure to link to your website and all of your social media profiles in the show notes, which all of you neighbors can [email protected] slash episode 16 but if enjoyed this episode, be sure to hit the subscribe button to catch even more episodes just like this one in the future. Also, if you have a goal to be better with money yourself this year, be sure to download our money [email protected] slash guide for our money guide, which will help you make better financial decisions this year. But thanks again Mellon Murph for stopping by and thank you neighbors for tuning in to another episode of the wealthy neighbors show

Speaker 2: 42:12 [inaudible].

Connect With Mel & Murphy

FitNFunds Website

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FitNFunds on YouTube

Mel & Murph Stewart of FitNFunds stop by the neighborhood to share how they were able to pay off $229,000 worth of debt quickly. Their debt-free journey only took them 5 years.


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How do you stay motivated to pay off debt when the process takes multiple years? Listen to this podcast episode to learn how Mel & Murph paid off $229k in 5 years.


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