Author Topic: -$330,000 to Zero  (Read 3970 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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-$330,000 to Zero
« on: August 29, 2014, 05:09:48 PM »
As of today, DH and I are finally in the black!!  (Sorry in advance for the length of this post, but perhaps this information will be helpful to someone else.)

In 2012, we started with $330,000 in grad student loans.  January 2014, I posted a case summary when we had a net worth of -$115,100.  As of today, after getting our pay checks for the end of the month, we have a positive net worth of $2,000, three months ahead of schedule!!  Whoohoo!!  Over the next few days, we will be making mortgage and student loan payments, which will knock back about $1,700 or more from that figure (due to interest, taxes, condo fees).  We still have $186,000 in student loans so our positive net worth is due to the equity in our condo, tax-deferred accounts, an HSA, and about $20,000 in taxable accounts.  Others may have decided to refrain from buying a condo and contributing to taxable accounts until after the loans were paid off, but, for us, it was very helpful to feel like we were not just paying off debt but also increasing our assets. 

The first year after grad school, we barely made a dent in our loans.  In 2013, we really started living frugally and attacking our loans.  I discovered MMM at the beginning of January and since then we have cut back on unnecessary expenses even more. 

We currently have joint salaries of $340,000.

Here's a look back on how our lives have changed since MMM:
-We have increased net worth gain by $2,000 a month.  In 2013, we were increasing our net worth by $13500/mo.  In 2014, we have been increasing our net worth by an average of $15,500/mo.
-We've gone from eating out or ordering delivery about once a week to just a couple times a month.  Our average cost for each meal out has gone down a lot too.  We used to feel completely comfortable spending $100 or more on one dinner.  Now, we opt for much more affordable restaurants. 
-We have gone from regularly eating bags of potato chips to increasing our vegetable intake probably three or four fold and cooking 85% of what we eat from scratch.  Currently, we're still fine-tuning our healthy eating by decreasing meat and sugar consumption.
-We went from buying Starbucks and lunch every day, to bringing coffee, breakfast and lunch to work every day.  I haven't entered a Starbucks in at least two months.
-We changed all of our 401K investments to low-fee index funds.
-We stopped dry cleaning all of our button-down shirts for work and now wash them in our washing machine, which is actually better for the shirts in the long-run as I've since learned that the chemicals involved in dry cleaning are very abrasive to clothes.  I also learned that most of our work pants can be machine washed despite being labeled "dry clean only".
-We now go to Craigslist and thrift shops first whenever we need to buy something.  I've also made a pact to never buy brand-new clothes every again (with the exception of underwear, socks, and shoes).  Clothing shopping is my frugal achilles heel, but I now feel completely ridiculous having ever purchased new clothing, even if it was on sale.  (I highly recommend, altho it's more expensive than your typical thrift store, there's a better selection and the clothing quality tends to be a bit better.)
-We have donated a lot of our belongings and adopted a much more simple and minimalist lifestyle.

Obviously, we have been incredibly fortunate to have very high paying jobs, but we have made our fair share of mistakes and ridiculous purchases (e.g. very overpriced furniture and living like kings during grad school).  A couple with much longer mustaches than us probably would have gotten rid of the student loans already (or not gotten into such extreme debt) and built up a nice stash.  However, we are still learning and growing our frugal muscles more each day. 

My lesson for those just starting on their mustache building journeys: the MMM way works, but it's not one size fits all.  You have to find what works for you, which will take a while of growing pains before it becomes second-nature.  For instance, I experimented with growing our own vegetables for a couple months.  But, ultimately, it didn't work in a condo with limited sunlight and for two people with incredibly demanding (read: long hours) jobs.  Similarly, we could never line dry our clothes right now.  Also, it took time for us to find and learn quick and easy to cook-from-scratch recipes.  I would love to make our own yogurt, but time intensive things like this are just not possible right now when we go through two tubs of yogurt each week.  However, making our own bread using the 5 minute artisan bread minute is ridiculously easy.

We are so grateful for MMM and this community!  Thanks for all of the inspirational stories and educational posts!!

(tldr: We went from negative $330,000 to positive $2,000 in 2.5 years.)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: -$330,000 to Zero
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2014, 05:34:31 PM »
That's awesome! Congrats. I almost spat my drink out when I read 330k student loans lol but it definitely looks like they paid off with that salary. It looks like you 2 have the frugal thing dialed down pretty well, I'm sure you'll be FI in no time, keep it up!

iris lily

  • Magnum Stache
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Re: -$330,000 to Zero
« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2014, 06:53:27 PM »
Scary debt load, but awesomely wonderful job at getting that sucker gone, and great job on the salaries. I'm sure that you guys can now see how quickly you can pile up the 'stache should you choose to go at it whole hog.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2014, 11:05:22 PM by iris lily »


  • Walrus Stache
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Re: -$330,000 to Zero
« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2014, 07:22:08 PM »
Well done. I reckon you could go from zero to $3 million now within 10 years at this rate....

Set a big goal and reach for it lol.


  • Stubble
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Re: -$330,000 to Zero
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2014, 07:39:14 PM »
Similar story and numbers with debt for different reasons.  I paid my last debt off on a birthday to celebrate and memorialize and declare that I will be there never again.

It was a GREAT learning experience on so many levels and I owe our high savings rate to that experience and I'm glad (now) that our children got to witness frugality.

You've done something that has a very high probability of setting you up for a life that most in this country only dream of and will become jealous when hearing about it - so shout loud here and mums the word with the rest of the world.

If there was an Olympic event for saving, you'd be a contender!

Pat yourself on the back, have a beer, and start planning your next goals.

The reward for hard work is more hard work but the exhilaration of finding a gem at Goodwill that costs $3 and is 50% off on that special Saturday sale, is precious.

By the way, when you're on the black side of compounding interest, the money grows like magic, and you're getting very close, even though it probably doesn't seem like it yet.



  • Walrus Stache
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Re: -$330,000 to Zero
« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2014, 01:54:26 AM »
Congrats on your smart moves en route to victory over steaming piles of debt!

FYI - Crock-pot yogurt is pretty effortless, especially if you carefully pre-warm the milk in the microwave. One batch should easily get you through the week. Google it. Also, Kristin over at The Frugal Girl has a good ice chest technique that's easy and foolproof. I started with the cooler version and then as I got more experienced, I switched to the crock-pot method. I also just buy the big tubs of plain Mountain High Yogurt at Costco on occasion, because the price is so good. No work, no guilt.


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: -$330,000 to Zero
« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2014, 10:18:31 AM »
Wow, that's very impressive!! At that rate you will build your FU money 'stash in no time. And are on track for early retirement.


  • Bristles
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Re: -$330,000 to Zero
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2014, 02:34:08 PM »
That is very impressive and shows that no debt amount is insurmountable.  At this rate you will be FI in a couple of years!