How to Get Completely Debt Free by 30

I graduated from college at the age of 23 and was worth -$10,000. Over the next 7 years, I married, divorced, remarried, and still came out completely debt free (including the house) by the time I turned 30.

How the heck did I do that?

How to Get Completely Debt Free by 30

I honestly didn’t think I was doing anything that spectacular at the time. Sure, I was a little more aggressive than most, but was I super-human in my efforts to pay off my student loans, my credit cards, and my house? Nope. Absolutely anyone could have done what I did over those seven years.

Looking back, I attribute my financial success to the following reasons – all of which you can implement and use for your success as well!

1) I Got Scared

Everything was new. We just recently graduated, found an apartment, and were living on our own for the first time. Roughly three months in, I sat down to figure out how we’d been doing financially….and quickly realized that we were consistently spending $200 more than we earned each month. We were going backwards.

It wasn’t two minutes later that my wife walked in the door with that fateful envelop in her hand…from Direct Loans. It was time to pay back our student loans.

Put simply, I was terrified.

We were already going backwards each month. How on earth were we going to make additional student loan payments?!

That fear led to action. We cut back on expenses, worked more hours, and were actually able to move the needle in the right direction.

Lesson #1: Want to be completely debt free? Stop ignoring where you are financially. Sure, you might like being blissfully ignorant, but that’s not going to keep you from retiring broke and surviving on Alpo and canned tuna.

completely debt free2) I Got Mad

My wife of three years decided one day that she didn’t love me anymore and wanted out. Oh, and she wanted to take half of our net worth with her…$22,000.

You know how fear fueled action in the first phase of my life? Well now it was anger.

I was mad. No, I was furious. She had no right to leave. She didn’t even give our marriage a chance. And now she wanted $22,000 too?

“Fine. You want $22,000? I’ll figure out how to get it so this rotten nightmare will be over with.”

And that’s exactly what I did.

  • I wrote articles for $10 a piece
  • Mowed lawns for $15
  • Bought and sold two vehicles for a $3,000 profit
  • I lived on practically nothing and sold nearly everything I owned

I paid off the $22,000 in just six months.

Lesson #2: Want to be completely debt free? Get angry at your debt. Is it killing your freedom? Your relationship? Is it keeping you from living the carefree life that you’ve always dreamed of? Get mad, pay it off, and get it over with.

3) I Was Focused

When I paid off that $22k in just 6 months, I thought, “Why not take on the $54,000 mortgage debt? And you know what? Why not tackle it head-on and get it over with in a single year?”

I continued to live simply. I mowed more lawns, wrote more articles, and even made some money online. In the summertime, I saved another few hundred bucks by riding my bike everywhere, and I mean EVERYWHERE. If the destination was within 20 miles, I was on my bike.

On day 344, I officially did it. I paid off all $54,000 of mortgage loan debt. I was completely debt free and just 29 years old.

Lesson #3: Want to be completely debt free? Get focused and get intense. Set a goal, write it down and stare at it every. single. day. When you ask, “How can I..?” each day, your brain will figure it out. Trust me.

4) I Ignored the Nay-Sayers

  • “Don’t you know that everyone has a mortgage? Debt is okay you know.”
  • “You’re crazy to pay down your house at such a low interest rate. Why not invest instead?
  • “Dude, YOLO. Settle down and enjoy yourself.”

When you work to pay off credit cards, not too many people will get in your way. We can pretty much all agree that credit card debt is stupid. But when you start tackling the home mortgage with a vengeance, be ready for the crazy stares. People won’t understand you – and they might even confront you – but ignore them as best you can.

And here’s why.

a) On average, investing has earned people between 7-8% a year….but that’s the average. Sometimes you’ll earn 15%. Other times you’ll earn -10%. So sure, you’re more likely to earn 7%, but there’s no guarantee. There’s risk in every investment. You want to know how you can earn 4-5% returns with absolutely no risk? Pay off your house.

b) When I went through my divorce, I grew a hatred for debt. I hated the effect it had on me, and I despised what it did to my relationship. I wanted it out of my life forever. Through this anger I was able to pay off $54,000 worth of debt in a single year. If I would have decided to invest instead, do you think I would have contributed the same $54,000? Not even close.

At most, I probably would have put $10,000 toward my investments because the same emotion wouldn’t have been there (I mean think about it. Have you ever seen anyone taking on extra jobs and clawing their way toward investing $50,000 a year? Never. It just doesn’t happen). So let’s say I would have earned 10% on my investment during that year vs. the 4% that I earned by paying the debt off early.

Investment Earnings: $10,000 * 10% = $1,000

Mortgage Payoff Earnings = $54,000 * 4% = $2,160

The result speaks for itself…

Lesson #4: Stop listening to the math nerds of this world. They are great with numbers, but don’t understand emotion at all. By tackling your house debt, you can absolutely earn more.

Your Journey to Becoming Completely Debt Free

You read this article because you’ve absolutely thought about it. You’re toying with the idea of being completely debt free. And you know my take on it already – go for it. I’ve never regretted it for a second.

When I paid off my house and got rid of my mortgage payment, I discovered that my monthly bills typically totaled just $460 a month. Do you know how fast you can build wealth when your monthly cost of living is less than $500 a month??

Really fast.

Since that mortgage payoff date two years ago, my new wife (a much better choice this time by the way) and I have been able to increase our net worth by over $200,000! We did this with rental properties, side income, and NO DEBT!

It’s your turn. Stop taking advice from your broke friends about how to become wealthy. They have absolutely no idea. That’s exactly why they’re broke.

Want to grow wealth faster than you ever thought possible? Get out of consumer debt, pay off your house, and then invest like crazy.

Want to be completely debt free by 30? The method is simple. Get started today!

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19 comments to How to Get Completely Debt Free by 30

  • whiskey

    Another good article. Those steps are exactly what peoples need to experience / will experience if they are to get debt out of their life.
    What worked for me is getting mad about it. “sick n tired / tired n sick”
    Once you gain momentum it starts feeling good.

    • It’s exactly what I experienced, so I know it works. And it can work FAST! To go from $-10,000 to owning two houses free and clear just eight years later. That’s crazy! But…absolutely possible.

  • Grateful Reader

    Just wanted to thank you for your blog. My spouse and I have benefited from the tools you provide and we are grateful. We are approaching forty – and even though we are later than when you took this journey, we are determined to do it too. 🙂 We love the debt snowball tool – we find it really motivating to play with the numbers and see how fast we can recapture our income. Thanks again!

    • Glad you love the blog GR! And I’m so glad that you’re using the debt snowball tool. It wasn’t easy to make, but it’s helped so many people that it’s definitely worth it! Let me know when you pay off your debt. I love to hear those success stories. Best of luck to you!

  • Emily

    People confront you about paying off your house?

    • Hi Emily. Yeah….it’s pretty annoying. I work in finance, so all of my peers continue to preach to me that “debt is a tool” blah blah blah…and that I’d be better off investing my money. I try to explain to them that paying off 4% with no risk just makes more sense – not to mention the fact that with emotion included, people end up putting far more money toward debt than they would toward their investments. BUT…they don’t see the wisdom in that…

      Instead, I’m going to be a multi-millionaire in 20 years and they’re going to scratch their heads puzzled….

  • Stephanie

    Thank you for this article! I’ve been aggressively paying off my 320k 35 year mortgage (Canadian) for the past 6 years (3 more to go). No post secondary education, divorced, single mom of 3 boys, working 4 jobs and loving life! Thanks to rental income, low expenses, side hustles, and blogs like yours I’m set to retire in 10 years. I know I’m on the right path,even if my broke friends look at me and shake their heads. You keep typing, I’ll keep reading:)

  • Very inspiring Derek. Also, nice job on finding a wife who is supportive of your goal of financial success. It’s crucial to be with someone who has the same mindset as you for finances!

    I’m on the fence of if I want to pay down my mortgage, sell, or buy another property. Thoughts?
    Erik @ The Mastermind Within recently posted..The Richest Man in Babylon

    • Good thing I learned my lesson the first time, huh? My wife now is awesome. She’s frugal, sensible, and a fantastic Mom!

      Since I grew a hatred for debt, I decided to pay off the house first and then saved up to buy our first rental with cash. If I had to do it all over again, I’d do it exactly the same. You can grow wealth incredibly fast when you’ve got no debt. Plus, when you buy a rental property with cash there’s no pressure to rent it out quickly, which means you’ll make a much better decision on the renters.

      What are you leaning toward doing?

    • Bruce

      Erik, sounds like you are on the right path. I definitely recommend to pay off the mortgage. My wife and I paid off our house in the 1990’s… when the stock market was booming, housing prices rising, and interest rates falling. Everyone else was refinancing, reducing their monthly mortgage payment and investing their savings in the stock market… afterall, it was rising well over 10%/year, and their mortgage cost (after taxes) was likely 5%. As Derek said, number crunchers would tell you to do that. However, we paid off our mortgage, didn’t have that worry, and then used our mortgage payment savings for investing in our future. It was counterintuitive, but given what happened in the stock market in the 2000’s… ended up being a good move. Conservative moves are usually good in the long run. Good luck!

  • Thanks for sharing another great read. You are absolutely right, emotion is far more powerful on the human brain than math, use it!
    Well done on your achievements 😊
    Miss Balance recently posted..How to save more than $750 in the next 30 days

    • Sure MB! I’m a math nerd so it took me a while to learn, but after paying off all the debt and experiencing this life of options and carefree-ness, I believe that it was hands-down the best way to go.

      We’ll be ready to buy our next rental at the end of this year and then our passive income will really start flowing! It’s a pretty cool experience and I recommend that everyone follow the same path.

  • […] Step: If you’re completely out of debt, start saving up your dollars for a rental property! It’s a great way to earn a passive […]

  • ThreeRoundGroup

    Anger as fuel. I’ve been there, too. During the 2007 layoffs, I hated the feeling of being helpless if I lost my job. I still remember how the big honchos would make everyone squirm as he/she re-arranged everyone’s department or bullied higher paid experienced colleagues to retire for fresh off the market cheaper newbies. Fast forward to 2017, I am maxing out my 401k and Roth IRA, I have no student loans, no car loans, no credit card debt and with a net worth halfway to the 6 figure club! I secretly pity colleagues falling for middle class trappings who did not learn from 2007-2008.

    • Great job attacking your debt and saving for the future! You’re going to have an awesome life and you coworkers… are going to struggle for a long time. Maybe even forever. It’s pretty sad, but it’s the life they chose for themselves.

  • That’s awesome that you knocked it all out! I have to remind myself often that the numbers don’t always need to drive the decision. If something’s making me unhappy and pulling focus, the numbers matter less. I’m an engineer so this is a constant balancing act.
    Mike recently posted..Aldi Tips With Marriage Kids And Money

    • Yup – you’ve still got to have some fun while you’re paying it off. Heck, I rewarded myself with a $400 road bike when I hit the halfway mark. But in all fairness, that bike did help me save money in gas. 🙂

  • […] 7. How I Got Completely Debt-Free by 30 – Life and My Finances […]

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