We’re Paying Off $200K of Debt and Saving for a House
See how a couple in Minnesota making roughly $100K/year is handling a recent drop in income as they set their sights on buying their own house.
Welcome to YNAB Money Snapshots—where you see a real picture of someone else’s budget and finances. They’re all anonymous, because sharing money is still a squirrelly topic for many, but we think airing them out in the open makes you better with your own money story.
As you read these budgets, keep in mind that some people make lots of money and some people make a little bit of money, but we know it’s what you do with that money and how you feel about that money means more than any yearly salary.
- Names: Reggie & Lisa
- Ages: 26 & 27
- Location: Minnesota
- Jobs: IT Product Owner | Epidemiology Consulting
- Living situation: We’re DINKs (Dual-Income, No Kids). We moved in with my wife’s parents in November 2019 to pay off debt faster and save for a house. They are nice enough to not charge us for rent, utilities, or most food.
Our income was $165,600/year pre-pandemic, but that fell by $70,000 as my wife was recently laid off due to the pandemic.
- Retirement accounts (401K & IRAs): $74,000
- HSA: $6,400
- Cash on hand: $8,400
- Student loans: $50,000
June Inflows: $9,838
- Payroll: $3,729
- Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED): $6,108
- SoFi: $1.36 (monthly interest paid out)
|Tithe & Offering||$685|
|Maisy Wellness Plan||$43||Vet care for our cat (sort of like pet insurance)|
|Groceries||$26||Thanks in-laws! (This refilled the snack cabinet for the month)|
|Pet Food & Supplies||$40|
|Vacation||$191||Couples camping trip!|
|Total Needed $2,390|
Coronavirus has made the last few months very different for us. But specifically last month, my wife lost her job, so all of her “income” is from unemployment benefits. My company has a one-day-a-week furlough for all employees, which reduces my pay by 20%—but my company qualifies for a Share Work program which supplements a portion of my lost wages with unemployment benefits.
My car also decided that it would be a good month to die, but thankfully I’m working from home so I won’t need a new car for awhile.
I graduated college in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree and $80,000 in student loan debt. My wife graduated college in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, and $100,000 in student loan debt. By the time we got married in late 2017, I had a $13,000 car loan, and we financed various wedding expenses for $7,000.
So with $200K in total debt, we decided early on that we wanted to be debt-free and take substantial steps to get there. We are blessed to have good income, so we started pouring money into our loans using the debt snowball method.
We didn’t live on a bare-bones lifestyle of beans and rice, but we also didn’t spend money on a lot of the “extras.” We primarily used Mint to budget and keep track of finances, but eventually realized the benefits of YNAB and switched over.
Using YNAB has been tremendously helpful and helped us budget better than we ever did with Mint. By the end of 2019, we paid off half of our debt and had about $100K left. We also made the decision in late 2019 to move in with my wife’s very-kind parents who aren’t charging us anything to live in their house.
The timing of moving into my in-law’s house couldn’t have been more perfect. My wife lost her job due to the coronavirus pandemic and my pay was cut by 20%. However, the combination of decreased spending due to the pandemic, living with my in-laws, receiving unemployment benefits, and all of our loans being put in forbearance has allowed us to decrease our debt to roughly $50K.
We’ve continued to put money into our loans while they are in forbearance, but we also decided to start saving for a house earlier than anticipated. My initial plan was to live with my in-laws for another year to finish paying off the remaining $50K and start saving for a house, but we actually decided to shift gears. Now our goal is to find a house within 4-6 months!
On Living With My In-Laws
There was a random day last summer when we were doing our budget and realized how much faster we could pay off our debt by not paying $1500/month in rent and utilities. We’ve always been focused on paying off debt since we got married, but for some reason this conversation got us really motivated.
My in-laws only lived 15 minutes away from us so we talked about it:
- Could we deal living with them?
- Would they be open to it?
We sat down with them and asked what they thought. To our surprise, they pretty quickly said yes. They’ve always been very generous, so even though we offered to pay them, they said they didn’t want anything for rent, utilities, or food.
Because we live here for free, we help out a lot around the house to make sure we show our appreciation and don’t make it a burden for us to be here. We remodeled the entire basement before we moved into it, we helped build a massive retaining wall and patio in the backyard, I cook for the family at least a few days per week, I’ve helped replace the water heater, and we do general cleaning, dishes, etc.
If you’re thinking about moving in with your parents, here’s my advice I learned along the way:
1) Don’t move home indefinitely. Set a time frame. It helps you achieve your goals and your parents will appreciate that you’re not going to live with them forever (our timeline was 2 years).
2) Have the conversation about boundaries before you move in. We differ greatly from my in-laws in many aspects in life, but because we have our own distinct space in the house and talked about respecting each others’ space, we’ve managed to stay sane and still be on fairly good terms with them. And don’t forget to talk about social boundaries too—just because you live at home doesn’t mean you always have to eat and hangout together.
3) If you can offer physical labor or chores for a discount on rent, food, and utilities, it’s well worth it. It saves you a ton of money and helps show that you’re not just a burden.
4) Plan to be frugal. You don’t have to live like a poor college student, but it also doesn’t benefit you to move home if you’re not going to put most or all of your savings toward your goal. Plan a night out or small vacation every once in a while, but keep your end goal in mind and make it a top priority when it comes to budgeting.
Our Financial Goals
- Pay off the remaining $50,000 of student loan debt
- Buy a new car (mine died last month)
- Save money for a house and move within the next 4-6 months
My car gave out in May, but my company said we are working from home through the end of the year, so we decided to just stick with sharing one car for now and put off getting another car until early 2021.
The ultimate goal is to be debt-free so we put most of our extra money toward that. We just paid off a $25,000 private loan, so we have just under $50K in total debt left!
For a house, I figure we’ll need about $15-$20K and we’re saving this in a sinking fund for the down payment and closing costs. We’re looking for something closer to my work with a two-car garage and potential for a DIY project. We’re pretty handy, so we’re totally fine redoing a kitchen, bathroom, basement, etc. The house doesn’t have to look pretty, just have potential!
I would rate my current financial situation: 4/5
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