How I Ditched Debt: How Two Teachers Wiped Out More Than $53,000

In this series, NerdWallet highlights people’s debt payoff journeys. This month, Jae Bratton recounts how she and her husband brought a laser focus to wiping out debt, motivated by hopes of starting a family.

My story of ditching more than $53,046 of debt on two teachers’ salaries is one of pain, perseverance and cooperation. But it’s also very much about love. My husband and I began paying off debt soon after our wedding in 2016, and we made the final payment three years later, right before our son was born.

I was adamant that we wouldn’t start a family until we zeroed out the debt. Rumor has it that kids are expensive, so I wanted to free up space in our budget for the inevitable medical bills, child care and college fund.

That rumor turned out to be a stone-cold fact.

Our four main strategies provide a roadmap for others working toward financial independence.

1. Create a battle plan

Debt is an opponent, a monster to slay before you can move on to the next level. It requires a…

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This article was written by Jae Bratton and originally published on