I just want to chime in and say that I was very similar to you just 3 years ago! When I graduated from graduated school, we were 183K in debt, with over 133K in student loans, plus two car loans, and a mortgage for our mobile home. This was in our second month of marriage. I was so overwhelmed. It caused a lot of stress on my relationship, even the month after the honeymoon!
However, I found the journal section here to be a safe place to write and go back and forth, and then I tried to be all action and helpful around my husband. Now, we are down to about 20K in debt - 6k of the original debt, plus a new-to-us car that we financed in Oct. 2016. Not perfect, but progress. (As an FYI, I live in NC too).
You can do this!!! Some folks in the journal section have decided to live life a bit more, and so are paying stuff off slowly. Some people put the petal to the metal and crush it. I would argue for the petal to the metal approach and to try a bunch of stuff and see what sticks and works for your family. Any area of personal growth requires being uncomfortable and trying new things. Reforming financial habits - at least at first - requires that uncomfortable tenacity. Take advantage of your enthusiasm now to make changes so you can see and feel progress. A good start makes the journey easier. On trust:
But at the same time, I think your awareness that you must lead by example is right on / is key. You can lead by example, try new things (with DW's acceptance) and make a lot of progress. That will build trust -- in yourself that you can do this, and with each other, to keep each other mutually accountable. I think you need to build that financial trust between you and DW by leading with your behavior, especially given the spending history/background you gave us. So, I would start with the truck.
This series on The Simple Dollar is one of my absolute favorites in terms of reforming behavior. What Trent advocates is golden. Devote an hour a day or a week to better yourself and your family financial, by working on the emotional side of spending, or working on cutting a bill. http://www.thesimpledollar.com/31-days-to-financial-independence-intro-and-day-1-the-shallows-and-the-deep/The connections between health and finances:
One last thought: Now that our financial act is in order, I am turning to health. I did not have the mental capabitliy to deeply focus on two big life-changing projects at once. But I find that the same behaviors that led to pay off my debt apply in a similar-but-not-the-same way to weight loss.
The biggest thing that crosses over is:
1) This is a journey that requirements a very big "why", to keep going in the long term. Why pay off the debt? Do you want to retire? Do you want to help your kids through college? Do you want to be a good role model for your wife and your kids? Do you want them to have healthy financial habits so they can live a rich life. What's your why??
2) The journey requirements a relentless commitment to tweaking and self-improvement. What's one behavior you can change today? What's one phone call you make to better your financial situation today?
This also means a constant, low-level drumbeat of change as you change your habits. Change can be uncomfortable. It can also be exhilarating when you see your results. Luckily for you, you will be able to see the change through knocking your debts out one by one. On the right method for debt payoff for you:
This is why I would consider the Dave Ramsey-like approach, so that you can have the reward of knocking debts off and seeing results. A disclaimer: I did not follow the Dave Ramsey approach. I just paid off whichever debt bothered me the most. This alternated between lowest balance and highest interest rate, depending on what I felt was achievable.
Since paying off a large sum of debt requires change over a long period of time, it might be worth it to figure out consider what method isn't the "best", but rather what motivates you (and DW) more
? Knocking down debts fast (AKA snowball approach, lowest balance) or paying the least amount of money (highest interest rate) or the "emotional" approach (pay whatever sucker you hate the most).
Good luck! I will be cheering for you!