In 2009, only 20% of young adults ages 18-24 were unemployed or underemployed. Today, that number is hovering just above 50%. Combine this with 5 years of school to earn a 4 year degree at an average of $40,000 of debt per student, and you have a problem. 

Young adults are graduating later, starting their careers later, getting married later, having kids later, and saving later. This has put our youth's maturity at an all time low and their debt at an all time high.

One of the greatest decisions my wife and I ever made was to always remain debt free. We have worked very hard to achieve such a title at our age. We've also agreed to not even carry mortgage debt. Yes. That means if we buy a house, we pay cash for it.

While this level of financial freedom may sound crazy, it's really not. Even if you make $40,000 per year, you can have a similar life 5 years from now by following a few strict rules. I have provided them below:

1. Spend Less Than You Make. Period. Put even more simply. Act your wage. If you have to buy it on credit, you probably don't need it. Dave Ramsay famously said:

“We buy things we don't need with money we don't have to impress people we don't like.”

2. Don't Go To College Unless You Have To: Times are rapidly changing. A degree no longer equals a job, but debt. I'm not saying college is bad, but the system its built on is. As of 2014, 44% of college graduates are at jobs that don't even require a degree! I have written a more extensive post on this topic here.

3. Never Buy a New Car:  Buying a new car is like driving down the road throwing hundred dollar bills out the window. With new cars losing 70% of their value in only 4 years, it just doesn't make sense. Consequently, be the person who buys the idiot's new car four years later for 70% cheaper. That's why I drive a 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid, and it feels good πŸ™‚

4. Save 10% of Your Income No Matter What:  My wife and I have saved 10% or more of our income for over 5 years now. Some years it was only $300 per month while others it was $3,000. By saving we've had the freedom to travel, to give to others in need, and to live a life of pleasure. It's never to late to save, start today.

I found this infographic (below) that had some strong practical advice for getting out of debt and into a pressure free life. I recommend you take a read.


Are you in debt? Are you practicing any of these strategies now? How are they working? Let me know in the comments below.


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163 thoughts on “4 Rules For Becoming Debt Free By Age 30

  1. Vincent Russell says:

    My problem has been putting purchases on credit, essentially paying for stuff I don’t really need or that I could have otherwise saved for. I just recently started canceling subscriptions I didn’t need like Netflix (small, I know…but it’s a start). I love the idea of “If you can’t see it and can’t touch it, you won’t spend it.” Great advice and article, Dale.

  2. Veronica says:

    Advising people not to go to college is not a good advice at all! You don’t only learn stuff related to your degree, but you obtain knowledge about other more important things that you will not learn if you do not go to college/university. I think you should reconsider this tip!

    • Amber says:

      Actually, advising people not to waste their money on college is a great idea. I wish I had not been pressured to go to college myself. In my high school, the teachers preached that everyone needed to go to college. The truth is that everyone is not meant for college. In my opinion, if you aren’t going into a specific field that you have known you wanted to do your entire life, then you will be wasting your time and money. I owe a ton of student loans that I have been paying for over 5 years and barely paid off half because the interest rates are outrageous. I completed my Associate’s Degree, but I did not finish my Bachelor’s(only short a few classes) because of a personal situation. I am working at a job now that does not care whether or not I have a degree. I have been in this career field for 6 years, and I have been able to work up to the salary I would be making at my “career of choice” had I finished my degree. I love my job now, and I would not trade it for my field of study. I also have quite a few acquaintances that have finished their degrees and were unable to find a position in their field or either forced to take something part time. They also have amassed massive amounts of student loans with nothing to show for it except a piece of paper and a little extra knowledge that could have come from life experience. There are also a few that happen to be “educated idiots”. Some people should go to college, but it should be those that had amazing grades, got full scholarships, and/or have full college grants. If you have to pay out of pocket or through loans, skip it. My dad was the only person in my life that told me that when I was that age, and now I wish I would have listened.

      • Guest says:

        Completely disagree. College should not be reserved for only the most “elite”. And that great job you have without a bachelor degree? I’m happy for you, but think of how many other applicants did not get that job because you did. A new Costco was just built in my area. They are hiring 120 positions… and received more than 7,000 applications. If a degree does as much as get you in the door at this point, it’s worth it.

  3. David Ramos says:

    I am practicing these but its rough. I have a budget (based on Dave Ramsey teaching and using the Mint app). I have been saving 10% and giving at least 10% since I was 18 (about 7 years). I have only been able to land part time jobs – so every dollar of that left over 80% barely pays the student loans and food. I know I will be debt free before 30 but it seems so far away.
    Hopefully some doors will open up along the way to help this journey.

    • Dale Partridge says:

      Keep fighting the good fight, David. I know at times it might seem far but you’re doing the right thing and you’ll be so glad you did.

  4. Sarah says:

    Yeah the bit about not going to college is crazy. The data shows that a degree is still going to get you a higher paying job faster than not going. The problem is the student loan laws that make it such a problem for students to pay off. Also, how about having health insurance!? Seems like a car wreck or a broken leg would put a lot of people in debt if they don’t already have some form of coverage. The biggest problem is that American schools don’t teach extensive financial planning. Why not teach kids about IRA’s and mutual funds when their 16 so they can start saving then? And maybe even teach their parents how to save. Employment rates are back up to 2008 pre-recession leve

    • Dale Partridge says:

      I definitely agree that our kids need to learn how to save from an early age. This should be implemented by our schools but mostly by our parents.

  5. Vani says:

    I actually follow all 3 except the college one. I have alot in medical and student-loan bills. It gets hard to save that 10% because that’s what it comes down to after I paid for everything and that 10% is gas money but hopefully once its all paid off I can look back and see it as life;s lesson.

  6. Janae says:

    I kinda agree with the don’t go to college idea. If you are an entertainer or a self-motivated entrepreneur, don’t go to college. Waste of time and can kill your creativity. If you’re a “worker bee,” lack direction, and need to be told what to do, go to college so that you won’t work at McDonald’s all your life.

  7. Delia Gozman says:

    Well…I need a job:) At all jobs I had I was paid so low that I wasn;t able to get out of debts. And I finished a 4 years University and an MA in got a lot of debts…but in the moment I started the University things were different, and the best choice those days for a future was to get a diploma…something that people don’t need now…only a lot of experience…my only chance to get out of debts it having a job with a salary that can help me to get out of it…and I think all people need that and is the best solution.

    • Dale Partridge says:

      I don’t believe ALL people need that… I think our kids need to be taught about entrepreneurship in school and encouraged to go into business for themselves. But I do understand you did what you had to do to survive and get those bills paid. Sounds like a catch 22!

      • Delia Gozman says:

        I agree with the idea that kids should learn about entrepreneurship in schools as long as it come with practice. Cause learning something in school and entering in the real world, at least for me, are two different things. And for that catch 22:) was a 30%+ cut off of salaries in my country and that made things to become harder in paying all, having many guvernamental taxes to pay too. And as I know is good starting a bussiness in colaboration with three people, not by ownself. I tried staring a bussiness with at least one person but is hard to find people who wanna do something.

      • Delia Gozman says:

        Going for ourselves in a bussiness is a good idea, if we don’t have to pay so many taxes like in my country where for sure is killing the bussiness. My situation is complicated and is a lot to tell about it. But I wish the best for all people for getting out of debts how they know the best…cause I don;t know how someone can pay all debts without money.

  8. acethestace says:

    I agree with all but not taking out a mortgage. If you do not buy, you are renting. My current mortgage payment is much lower than my college apt. rent ever was. It depends on where you live. The rest is pretty solid. I do not live in a McMansion, but a regular, medium sized family home. Buy a home as a place to live and raise your family, not as an investment.

  9. CoolJazz says:

    I’m almost 50 and been around the block a few times. I agree with everything except for skipping college. How would you know the “unless you have to” part? When you’re young you’re in self-discovery mode, and college can/should be part of that process if one has the desire to go that route.

    As for paying cash for a house, good luck with that one. Either you’re from a wealthy family, or frugal enough to save and buy a fixer upper at a fire sale.

    It’s hard out here in the real world folks…

    • Dale Partridge says:

      I commented this above: At the moment, college costs way more than it returns. With information available for free online and with more and more employers looking for talent/experience over degrees, the college value is sinking.

  10. Kellie Sturdivant says:

    I agree with everything you’ve written. Although I’m not in serious debt, I have acquired some credit card debt that I’m trying to pay off as quickly as possible and it’s hard. I will definitely start using these strategies and hopefully I will be able to stick with them. There seems to be some controversy in the comments about tip #2 (Don’t go to college). I believe that it depends on what you want to do in life. Obviously, many professional positions require degrees, but from my personal experience it just isn’t worth it. I went to college for almost two years and can honestly say that I didn’t learn anything that I deemed useful. At my job a degree isn’t required so I could move up the chain of command just based on experience if I desired to.

  11. bvales says:

    Being the exact demographic you’re talking about, and seeing my friends graduate from prestigious honors colleges not be able to land jobs in their field, or one that makes enough to pay their loans off before their kids go to college, I completely agree with what you advised about college!

  12. Alisezso says:

    I’ve been doing all of that except college. I had to go for what I wanted to do, and I actually think most people have to for certain careers. I even save 10% of what I make- I feel like it doesn’t help much since I have student loans, but it does. The fact of the matter is society as of right now costs way more to live in than what most people make. We are in a recession.

    • Dale Partridge says:

      Agreed. And at the moment, college costs way more than it returns. With information available for free online and with more and more employers looking for talent/experience over degrees, the college value is sinking.

  13. Andy says:

    I think this is a wonderful piece on a very relevant topic, although I’m not so sure I agree with the one on making college optional. I know you weren’t condemning it, but you can never have enough education. Plus, a degree is something nobody can ever take away from you. An college graduate always has that degree to fall back on, if need be.

    I’ll also admit that acting your wage is difficult. I’ll admit I’m an impulse buyer who would plays a TON of golf. But I get it. Sacrifice is discipline.

    Kudos, Dale.

  14. Kari says:

    Agree with all of Dales advice, very sound. I buy cars the same way πŸ˜‰ as for college, its a tough call…I don’t have a degree but always wished I did. Ive definitely witnessed coworkers who have degrees but are slackers but because of their degree were paid same or more than me. What are these fields of employment that don’t require schooling?

    • Michael Pelletier says:

      If I may share what I`ve seen in Manitoba Canada , women are working underground in mining or above ground driving heavy equipment or in oil fields or some factories,factories are not created equal but up north here there are canola processing plants which pay more than the usual assembly line and all that`s required is grade 12.

    • Dale Partridge says:

      My advice: discover what you’re passionate about and find a way to do it for a living.

  15. Alexey Valishvili says:

    Love it, Dale! Have been following Dave Ramsey’s plan for a little and see the result already! When would you say collage is necessary and when it’s not? Thank you!

    • Dale Partridge says:

      Dave Ramsey is an incredible teacher, so great you’re following his lead! I’ll have to write a blog regarding your question πŸ˜‰

      • Alexey Valishvili says:

        Looking forward to read it! I’m debating rather or not i should go get a second bachelor, because my first one as well as another associates is from Russia and not sure how much value it has on US market (even tho US education system recognized it)

  16. Herty says:

    great advice:) I’ve been practicing no. 1 and 4. for No. 2, i went to college with a blessed scholarship program…for No. 3, as a reward, my office gave a car. Thank God…anyhow, i love your advises Dale. may God bless you event more^^

  17. Jamie Morphew says:

    We’re debt free – house and everything! It wasn’t easy, but oh was it worth it. We tracked our progress on a white board. When we felt discouraged by how much we had left, we could look at the white board and see how far we’d come.

  18. Manuel Tirado says:

    Thanks Dale! I read all of your post and they are simply amazing. I often question the whole debt issue. However this article will help me A LOT. As an impulsive buyer #1 Needs to be tackled to the max. I only have 1 credit card and a College loan that NEEDS to be payed. Thanks for this article once again.

  19. Guest says:

    Our education system is so flawed. I’m currently a paralegal and I don’t believe I learned anything in college. I not only got a 4 year degree but an additional 1 year of specific training after that. $30,000 in debt and I can’t even find a job to pay me $30,000 a year and now I have nearly four years of experience. Student loans take 10% of my paycheck each month and that is supposedly based on my income. I haven’t even made a dent in anything other than the interest owed after as many deferrals as they would allow someone that’s making as much as a cashier.

    In North Carolina 1100 people are taking the bar exam this quarter. There are not enough jobs out there for the 70% who will most likely pass and soon I’ll not only be competing with paralegals with more experience, but with these new baby attorney’s because they can’t find jobs.

    They should be required to hand you a pamphlet before your senior year of high school describing the job market, what you need to do to get where you want to be, and how much your education will cost in comparison to how much you can expect to be making. Because if they would have done that for me I would have had the chance to change my situation. Now I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place because this is the American Dream.

    It’s difficult not to purchase things on credit cards when what you’re purchasing are your groceries.

    I’ll get off of my soapbox now, I just can’t believe the number of people who think college is still so incredibly important.

    I’ve read a few of your articles and you’re a great writer thanks for the advice.

    • Lynn says:

      With all due respect, if you feel like you didn’t learn “anything in college”, you probably did it wrong…

  20. AnnMarie says:

    Our education system is so flawed. I’m currently a paralegal and I don’t believe I learned anything in college. I not only got a 4 year degree but an additional 1 year of specific training after that. $30,000 in debt and I can’t even find a job to pay me $30,000 a year and now I have nearly four years of experience. Student loans take 10% of my paycheck each month and that is supposedly based on my income. I haven’t even made a dent in anything other than the interest owed after as many deferrals as they would allow someone that’s making as much as a cashier.

    In North Carolina 1100 people are taking the bar exam this quarter. There are not enough jobs out there for the 70% who will most likely pass and soon I’ll not only be competing with paralegals with more experience, but with these new baby attorney’s because they can’t find jobs.

    They should be required to hand you a pamphlet before your senior year of high school describing the job market, what you need to do to get where you want to be, and how much your education will cost in comparison to how much you can expect to be making. Because if they would have done that for me I would have had the chance to change my situation. Now I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place because everyone is too afraid of skewing the American Dream.

    It’s difficult not to purchase things on credit cards when what you’re purchasing are your groceries.

    I’ll get off of my soapbox now, I just can’t believe the number of people who think college is still so incredibly important.

    I’ve read a few of your articles and you’re a great writer thanks for the advice.

    • Sebastian Daniels says:

      Sorry for the hard times. I appreciated your long response. I use to think about law school but I saw unless you go to a top tier law school or have connections in the industry already then it is difficult to get a job, at least a well paying one. Loans suck : /

  21. Sebastian Daniels says:

    Brilliant post man. Living debt free and without burden is a wonderful joy. I agree that you don’t need to go to college for a lot of things unless you plan on going to grad school. You can easily teach yourself programming through online resources and start programming and making things so you are desirable to employers. A major benefit of college for most majors is networking, but is it really worth the $40,000 in debt.

  22. Renee Farnsworth says:

    Divorced, with over $100,000 in credit card debt, tax issues that are resolved only to the point I can resolve them… the rest lies in his corner, and he’s a master procrastinator. I don’t have the income to keep up with anything. I’m buried. I have no idea where to go, or what to do short of bankruptcy. He stopped paying the credit cards over a year ago, and I couldn’t do it alone. So now, several are charge off’s, and I haven’t even looked at my credit score.

    Bottom line? We lived beyond our means, I was oblivious to our finances, and credit cards were a way of life. I’m paying for it now.

    RUN don’t walk away from credit cards. If it isn’t in your bank account, you can’t have it. Period.

    • Sebastian Daniels says:

      I like the idea of run away from credit cards. It can be a dangerous path as you have experienced to rely on credit cards. I find using cash is helpful also. That way you literally see yourself losing money as you hand it away.

      • Renee Farnsworth says:

        Yes Sebatian. I have to get back on my feet. It is a daunting task to say the least. No matter what – even if my credit score gets back up, and I get everything straightened around. Never again will I hold a credit card in my hand. Unless it is a SECURED credit card – I won’t put myself in that situation ever again.

  23. Marlana P says:

    While I agree with most of what was said here, I don’t think you should try to pay cash for a house unless you are extremely fortunate enough to save up that amount quite quickly. Where are you living in the meantime while trying to save the $200,000+ for a house? In an apartment where you are paying. Paying rent, to me, is just as bad a throwing money down the drain. Even though a house mortgage comes with interest attached, at least you are investing your money into something that will eventually be returned to you when you sell the house. You may lose a little, but not as much as you are losing while paying rent. A house is always an investment, and it’s the one thing I will accept debt for.

  24. Kent McLeod says:

    All well and good but this only works if you are not living hand to mouth (assistance,under employed etc) The majority of people in that age group have low paying jobs with high expenses so really this is a bunch of shite.

  25. JennyLynn says:

    The graphic at the bottom is great but just because your job doesn’t require a degree doesn’t mean that you wont get paid more than someone who doesn’t have a degree or get hired over someone who doesn’t have a degree. There are also several perks to buying a new car like not having to worry about what the jerk who had it before you did to the car that you don’t know about. The author is ignorant and makes me mad. I would never give up my education. Even if it cost me double.

  26. Sarah says:

    The point about the car is a good one. But, take into account the interest rate over the course of your payback period (ex: 4-year loan). We looked at a Honda Civic (for gas mileage) and, with the interest rate of 3%, the 3 to 4 year old cars would have cost us 2-3k MORE in the long run compared with the finance deal Honda was offering (0% APR for 60 months/5 years) for new cars. Moral: Always run the numbers! Interest rates make a big difference.

    • Vera says:

      All the experts that I’ve heard who say never buy new also say buy used with cash. Never pay interest on a car.

    • channa says:

      Never finanace with a dealer! That’s what my dad always taught me. Go to the credit union instead. You will get a much better deal.

  27. Jennifer says:

    I was so excited to read this! My husband and I paid off our house when we were 25 and had no other debt . ($175,000) we move to a significantly more expensive area with a job transfer at 27. We ended up getting another mortgage for $142k but became debt free again at 29. Neither of us went to college so we don’t have student loan debt . We have one credit card which my husband only uses for reimbursible business expenses. We tithe @ least 10% out of every paycheck. I think that no matter what your income, with discipline, anyone can be debt free!! We started at $40k annual income 10 years ago when we got married and in 18 months had 20% to put down on a house and paid off a car. We rented at the time, which I hated , but we knew we’d move in a short amount of time so it was the smartest thing for us at the time.

  28. Lolannelle says:

    This is great if you’re married and your’re both employed, or your parents are financially supporting you. I’m 34, single and I only make $26K a
    year (yes with a college
    degree). Rent is $600, utilities, insurances, and food will take about $400, and student loans about $300. Which only leaves me with $50 for emergencies each month. I don’t go out, buy new clothes, or take vacations. It’s really hard being the only income in the house. I have no choice but to keep on living in debt and on a budget until I can pay off my $12K student loan. But it’s a great article. If I had read this in my 20’s I would probably wouldn’t even considered getting a Masters Degree.

  29. Chan says:

    I would also add a point about meals and eating out. I learned very quickly in college how far $20 or groceries will get you compared to a delivery pizza and 2-L of soda.

  30. Jessica says:

    I’m 23, I graduated with my Masters of Architecture (last year), and I’m 50k in debt despite working almost full-time through half of college.

    I was lucky enough to find a job in my field after moving across the country to San Diego,CA within just a couple of months. It pays me about 39.5k a year before taxes, but I place 15% of that income into a 401k (which is not matched at my current workplace) and about $50 a month into a Roth IRA. This cuts my paycheck down to about $900 bi-weekly. To supplement my income, I also work part time in retail one or two days a weekend, and pick up gigs whenever I can.

    I pay $600 a month to my loans (that’s, $7200 a year!) $300 of which is required per my current payment plan, and the other $300 to the loan with the highest interest rate. Although all my loans are federal, my interest rates are mostly between 6.5 – 7%.

    My loans make me feel like I’m suffocating. Had I known that my starting salary would be this low, and that my loans would amount to this much, I might have waited to pursue my Masters (which is required to become licensed as an architect).

    I realize that I could contribute less to my retirement account and to my loans monthly, but as of now, it will already take me 8ish years (doing exactly this) to pay back what I owe. It also seems to be a lot easier to live poor when you are young to start saving early.

    I’m hoping that by the time I’m 30, I’ll be debt free and have great saving habits that allow me more pleasure in life. I’ve done as much research as I can to have financial literacy. I have a small stock portfolio, great credit, and a large emergency fund set up (my car is going to die soon enough :/). If anyone has additional tips relevant to my situation, please do let me know. I’ll be here, trying to resist the weight of my loans and the stress of living on such a small budget in such an expensive place.

    • Kevin White says:


      I graduated with an architecture degree but it was 5 years so I didn’t need a masters.
      I would try and teach at a small school if you will. Teaching or working for the state will knock off some of your debt if you make 10 years of payments the rest will forgiven.

      I have about the same savings plan as you except I had to get car because I got in a wreck.
      I am about to pick up a second job so that I, like you, won’t feel suffocated by the massive amount of debt.

      Just keep on trying. I feel your same pain and it’s just hard but it will be worth it.

      • Jessica says:


        Thanks for the advice. I did see that they offer loan forgiveness after ten years for government service. Sadly, you probably have a lot more patience than I do. While I enjoy a well behaved and studious child, the other ones drive me up the wall. Hopefully with what I’m doing now, I’ll have paid off my loans within 10 years anyway. I wish you luck in finding a second job, and would recommend something very different from your main job (it makes it feel a little less like work because your brain has to change modes). Retail does it for me, and still teaches valuable skills.

    • Lee says:

      I would rethink putting 15% into your 401k. If your company does not offer any sort of matching, you will benefit MUCH more by putting that money (at least some/most) towards your student loans that have 7% interest. You’ll feel much better about saving for retirement once your loans are gone, and you’ll be able to save even more. Think about how quickly your loans work disappear by taking the nearly $6,000 a year and putting it towards paying them off. Being young, you will have plenty of time to catch up on your retirement savings AFTER you are debt free.
      Now, if your company matched your 401k contributions, that would be a slightly different story. My company matches half of all contributions up to 6% of your gross income, so I put 6% into my 401k and the rest towards loans/debt. There’s no sense in contributing more than the 6% until I have all debt paid off so I don’t have to pay any more interest than absolutely necessary.

      • Jessica says:


        I have thought about this too, but to me, it makes more sense to invest higher to my 401k/Roth IRA in my early 20’s, and then later in my 20’s/early 30’s I can invest less towards that and more towards my loans. From the reading I’ve done, I understand that the amount that my 401k and Roth IRA income will grow will be greater than the interest that occurs on my loans. So in reality, I’m making myself more money in the long run with this method.

    • Yasmely says:

      A few days ago I read an article about student loan debt forgivness….it wont remove it all of course….but if u qualify…its a chunk that you wont have to pay back….Its an Obama program …something I saw on FB of all places….lol….I dont have a link or anything….but google it & see what you can find

  31. Stephanie says:

    My husband is trying to get into helicopter school, which has little to no grants/financing and if there is a loan opportunity we would be in debt for 20+ years! It’s been 3 years since it’s been our goal and we are still trying to save to pay for all of it. Our theory is, save up now and wait a few years and we can live a successful life than to owe on a loan for most of our life! Doesn’t make sense and it is sad that schooling does that to some people! Education is freeing but if there aren’t opportunities to use it or to get it decently it’ll weigh on your life! Good tips in this article and my husband and I use most of them. We’ve been only married for 4 years with a child and have absolutely no debt!

  32. KGeorge says:

    I went to school for Graphic Design and found it worth it. I did actually learn something. My loans are pretty high, but I try to see it by looking at my salary. If didn’t have bills I could pay off my loans within 3 to 4 years. Is college really worth the cost? No, but saying not to go to college isn’t the best advice either. I tell people if I could do it all over again I would have went part-time and paid everything out of pocket. It would have took longer, but I wouldn’t owe anything. Paying back my loans makes it impossible to save! I got lucky with my “out of college” salary, but I attribute that to the things I did in college (networking with the right people). Networking isn’t why you go to college. That’s is a myth they keep selling. You go to college, because the profession/passion you choose requires that you have a piece of paper to legitimatize you.

    I have tried to save 10% and I always find myself using it. I am not embarrassed to say I live paycheck to paycheck. It’s hard! One thing I am working on is eating out. When I really think about how easy it is to spend $20 to $50 cutting down can really stop me from having to dip into my depleting savings! That is my goal.

  33. leah says:

    Well we got married with the intention of not going into debt…but 9 years and 4 children later…we have a house payment and about 12k in other debts. We’d love to be debt free but at a salary of $ 26500.00 a year with a $900 mortgage payment…it will take a while. My husband has been unemployed for about a year of our marriage…A month here and there when his job was cut or a contract was lost. He is a very good worker but has no college at all. I stay at home with the children as per the way I was raised and the fact that child care is much to expensive. All these factors make the 5 year plan nearly impossible…though not completely impossible. We do have excellent credit and we always pay cash for vehicles. We’ve never paid over 5k for a vehicle and I still love the car we paid $500 for-it was a garage kept granny car, well worth every cent and then some. We still live frugally at the moment as we pay of our debt…but we know it will happen and are very excited to get there.

  34. mike says:

    Im fortunate to have taken a degree in my hobby, graphic design. However, i realised that a job doesnt make long term sense to me. The job will control my life and time, so now i do business full time and graphic design on a freelance basis. Im fortunate to have a platform that will give me finantial freedom before i get married in 2 years. So to have a plan of how you save and invest is important, but theres anothing thing you can control that will determine the speed of when to be finantially free, and that depends on the source of income you choose. The mode of pay has to be sustainable.

  35. Angel Tara Allen says:

    The whole “do not go to college” thing bugs me every time I see it. The post says “if you don’t have to”, but I think the younger generation is going to see this and they are going to miss that part, or not understand it. I have student loans higher than the average. However, I have an MIS degree (management information systems). I calculated an average salary of 80K (which is conservative) times 20 years of working. It came out to about 1.4 million. Prior to graduating, I had only had a few minimum wage jobs, went to school and took care of the kids. So my earning potential was about $10/hour, max. I did the math on that and that’s about $400,000 for 20 years of working. So after having gone to school, I raised my earning potential over 20 years by $1,000,000. Now let’s factor in the cost. My student loan debt is under $100,000, but I aggressively estimated that even if a person has $200K in student loans, they still make $800,000 MORE in their working career than without!

    In essence, you can also look at it this way. In my case, ONE year of my salary goes to my student loans. I get 19 others! (I’ll never personally see it with the cost of raising 4 kids, but that’s another story, lol)

    In my case, I literally woke up one morning – after graduation, and my earning power went from $10 an hour to $21 an hour and I was employed 5 DAYS later. Today, 2 years after that, I’m up little over another $10 an hour. I plan on going back for my Master’s degree (MIT or MBA) so I can eventually (and quickly) hit the $120K a year range. So at least for me, this has paid of greatly! But I chose the right degree apparently….that’s the caveat in my opinion.

    *I just used only working 20 years as an illustration. I know most people don’t get to retire after 20 years!

    • Lisa Andrews says:

      I agree with you. However, a lot of college students don’t make good choices like you did, and get a degree in something that is not marketable. That is where the mistakes are.

      • Angel says:

        I wholeheartedly agree! So rather than this popular movement that’s happening that’s discouraging kids from attending college, how about we refocus on teaching them how to make better decisions? You know, pick a degree that’s marketable, even if it’s a plan B, try harder for private scholarships and grants, don’t take out more loan money than is necessary, don’t take extra classes, etc? When I went through it, I made a lot of mistakes. The loans at that time, felt like free money. I basically lived off of them, despite the fact that I was getting above and beyond what was necessary to cover tuition. I transferred quite a bit, bit that was because my husband was in the Air Force. I took extra classes that interested me, which is good in a sense, but expensive. I didn’t fully get that this stuff wasn’t free! I had great grades and could have easily paid for much of it with scholarships, but I never applied. The reality of it didn’t strike me until much later. I know many people go to college whose parents didn’t go, so their parents don’t have the experience to guide them away from the pitfalls. My dad went back to school and got his degree when I was in highschool, but I married young and was off on my own so he had no idea what I was doing as far as financial aid was concerned. My husband’s parents never went to college so he had no idea that a class is something you have paid for and if you change your mind, you have to drop because their serious money involved. I just personally think we need to educate new students on how to minimize the debt rather than discourage it all together. And as you said, choose a degree that’s marketable. Even if you want to be an artist, you don’t need 40k in debt to be an artist but if you get a business degree as a back up plan and get a job in a marketable field while you work on your dream, you have something to pay the bills. It’s just worth so much to me. Not just salary but I feel the experience of going off and gaining new view points and experiencing different people and ideas really help us grow as individuals, if you allow it. Some people come out of college just as small minded as they went in. But the opportunity to grow is just tremendous if that’s what you want to do. Not saying this is the only way by any means but sometimes it’s the only way to kind of see the world in a sense. Meaning, must of us can’t travel the world, or even the country for that matter, so I see it as a good alternative to diversify yourself culturally.

        At any rate, I agree. Better choices need to be made.

        • Carra says:

          The problem now (I am just graduating college) is that those scholarships that people are constantly telling us students to get, don’t work the same way anymore! People don’t understand that with the internet every single one of those scholarships are on those scholarship websites and millions can easily and quickly apply to them. This means the competition for these has gone up dramatically! In fact just at my school, I remember they gave us a scholarship packet, for every local scholarship and I took the time to write essays, get recommendations, fill out countless forms, and then one boy at my school (whose mother is on the school board) won fifteen out of the thirty-five. Some one them were for things like wanting to major in education while others were wanting to major in engineering! By making all of these scholarships at everyone’s fingertips it makes them impossible for the average person to get. Also great grades don’t get you anything anymore, I graduated with a 4.2 and was 50th in my class. The number one in my class, who was also class president and an extremely nice, articulate guy, didn’t even make it into UC Berkeley or Harvard. (Of course our football star, dumber than everyone did) People need to learn more about what it looks like before they say stupid things like just get scholarships.

    • df186 says:

      Very logical. The problem is: what guarantee do you have in keeping an 80k/yr job? With the economy ever changing and companies cost cutting, having a 100-200k debt that has no equity is asking for trouble. You said it yourself, with kids and a family you’ll never see the benefits. And there are other jobs out there that pay much more than minimum wage and that don’t require extensive schooling. Last year, I made over 120k with only a high school degree.

  36. suzanne says:

    I agree with this entire post. Very smart. I’m currently a college student and have had EMPLOYERS tell me that my personality is more important than my knowledge because they can teach me anything a college could in an eighth of the time but you can’t teach someone to like people or be a team player. Honestly, its crap. Just like anything else.. When the wealth (or education) becomes morewide spread, the value decreases. My grandma has said that a high school diploma used to pjtput you in high ranks. Now? It shows you can follow the law and pass standardized tests.

  37. JaeBelle says:

    I know everyone is trying to figure out what to do with my generation but telling kids to skip college is a BAD IDEA. First off I disagree with the entire idea that people shouldn’t get educated simply for the sake of education. Second those so called jobs you can get without a degree are going to be decreasing in the coming years and increasingly becoming automated. An example, a friend of mine went right to work after HS as a bank teller, she was actually making decent money and started going to school( a class or two a semester) well last summer they started “training” the tellers to deal with the new automated banking system, which is not an ATM, anything you would need to go to a teller for you can go to the system instead(she explained it better to me) they told the current tellers to start directing customers to the auto system. Well a few months later my friend(who was a teller manager at this point) was let go. She made the most money out of all the tellers and a few months later more tellers were let go. Fortunately for her she just took the opportunity to increase her class schedule. Another story, I used to work at an insurance company. I have a degree and my supervisor didn’t(he had just worked there so long they HAD to promote him) he would send these embarrassingly incoherent email. I truly couldn’t understand what he was trying to say and was baffled as to how he was in a position to email important clients or customers. I ended up either ignoring his emails and waiting for him to either call me on the phone to explain or come to my desk. I highly doubt he is going to get a much higher position within the company simply due to his lack of ability to clearly communicate. Lastly I don’t think a person needs a degree to be a secretary, yet most of the postings I see for those positions REQUIRE an associates degree and prefer a bachelors(depending on how large the company is). The fact is the economy SUCKS and if I didn’t have a degree right now I would be making minimum wage and in the same position of being to broke to afford much. Instead of telling people to skip college they can postpone. Meaning work and save for a few years so they can pay for school outright. Don’t go to an expensive college unless you have a full scholarship, there is nothing wrong with state schools. You could also go to a community college for the first two years( which is significantly cheaper) and transfer to a four year or take a break for a few years to save money and then transfer to a four year. People should go to college if that’s what they want, they just need to be smart about it. And colleges need to be better at preparing students for a working life. Having an uneducated populace is not going to do us any favors. Also keep in mind who you are telling to skip college. A white male will likely have better job prospects and better pay even if he doesn’t go to college. It’s women and minorities who suffer when they lack education.

  38. Tom says:

    My wife sent me this article. I have just started paying off debt. I had a debt collector calling and one day decided to listen to what she had to say. I only paid 25% of the total in 2 payments. Simple. These steps can be easy if the right path is taken. I will be following this guide more closely as I plan on owning my own home in 2 years when I’m 26.

  39. Dawna says:

    As someone who is 31 and completely debt free, please don’t head all the that is listed here! To suggest not going to college is absurd! I am working on my masters degree, for 10 years I was the person working a non-degree required job, but opportunities arose where only I could obtain these perks because I had a degree. I was also one of those with an unmarkatable degree, but you honestly have no idea what the future holds, I am so thankful for my educational background. My dad had worked for over 20 years for a company and was let go, because they now want their requirement to be a college degree for thie company. My dad was in his early 50’s, not too far from retirement working minimum wage jobs. My dad tells me time & time again his biggest regret is not going to college, it has blocked him from so many opportunities.
    You can totally go to school on a salary less than $30,000 and have a debt that can be paid off within a very short time period, I am a living example of that.
    Also, on the new/used car thing at one point I may have agreed, in fact it was when I was searching for my first car that I realized that is not always a wise investment. Consider the milage and life left of the car and possible repairs. I bought a new car nearly 10 years ago, long paid it off and it still runs great, I can always relly on it to be dependable to pick up my friends driving used cars that are constantly breaking down. Seriously, sometimes the cost of a used car and the cost of repair of a car that needs a lot of care can really outweigh the initial high cost of a new car.
    Just be smart with your money, think about things before you buy. Always put money away in savings.

  40. Dawn says:

    I find it hard to swallow this advice from someone who, at periods, had $3000 to save a month. I would love to have that problem and would have no problem being out of debt. Living within your means is by far the best piece of advice here.

  41. Alexandria Sage says:

    I do agree with the majority of this post and take exception of a few things. I was enjoying the comments but was appalled at the grammar, spelling, and punctuation within them. To those who comment, if you’re going to articulate a well-thought-out comment please do so properly. I had a LOT of trouble following the thoughts and had to stop. Just sayin’.

  42. Mary says:

    I agree with some of this. College is necessary for most jobs. As a teacher, I am required to have a college degree, and I have to keep taking classes to keep my certificate current. I knew going into teaching that I wouldn’t make a lot of money. I could never save $3000 a month because I don’t bring that much home in two months! Sometimes being happy with your job is more important.

  43. Erin says:

    My husband and I are 24 and 25. We got married last August with over $60,000 worth of debt from college. We made a pack to get debt free ASAP. We have been working hard toward that goal for almost a year now and have knocked our debt down to $15,000 at this point. Our goal is to have our college debt paid off by the end of 2014. With the rate we are going we are projected to have it paid off by November this year. It takes dedication and extreme self disipline, but of we are able to do it so can any one else. We can’t wait to be debt free! Great article!

  44. Lea says:

    I’m sorry but if $3,000 is 10% of your monthly income, you really have no business telling people how to get out of debt. Most people in their early 20’s would be extremely luck to make that in a month. And telling people not to go to college? Really? My husband is going to be a teacher how do you suggest he does that without a degree?

    • LaRee says:

      It doesn’t say don’t get a degree, it says don’t get a degree unless you need it. if your husband wants to teach, obviously he would need it.

    • Rinna says:

      He said $300-3,000 range was what he and his wife were putting away a month- and that’s probably their two incomes combined.

    • Amy says:

      Yea I’m with you … I’ll be lucky if $3,000 is my monthly income as well. As if it’s all thaaaat easy to save.

  45. Ashley says:

    It is hard for me to agree on everything here. I am currently working on my debt as well, but to say not to go to college? I’m sorry, but most jobs still require a degree; at least those that are worth having. Even in a company like Target you are required to have a degree to pursue anything above a Team Member position. Most of my debt and my mothers debt it because of my college, but it means a lot more to have that degree in hand on interviews. Maybe we should talk about State schools over Private, seeing as how private schools are much more expensive.

    Second on the new car idea, there is no way I could have a 4 yr old car, and no one is going to want my 4 yr old car when I go to trade it in. I have put 94,000 miles on this one and 98,000 on my last car. Buying used can work if you find something that has low miles and I am yet to find a car 4+ years old with low miles on it.

    Finally you save 3k of your income? That is approximately 36k a year. That is a reason that you are debt free when your income is higher than some people make in a year.

  46. Erin says:

    Definitely live within your means. Not obtaining a college degree? If you haven’t noticed, a bachelor’s degree is like the new high school diploma. At least here in Southern California, it’s been impossible for me to find a decent job that pays more than minimum wage without a degree. I will have about $20,000 in debt. I am very glad I went back to school. Sure, it’ll take me a couple of years to get out debt, but once I pay it off, I will be able to save that portion. I’ve been driving the same car for 9 years now and I will have it until it dies. I live at home with my dad and my son because I can’t afford anything else. You also forgot to include being content with what you have. That will keep you from buying crap you can’t afford in the first place.

    • Erica says:

      Not sure what your field is, but there are a lot of people in So Cal working salary jobs without a degree. I work in the game industry and there are plenty of designers, coders, developers who taught themselves and, though some had to start from the bottom, got a full time job with benefits in the same or less amount of time it takes to go through college. You just have to work hard and seek online resources to teach yourself and build a portfolio.

      • Erin says:

        I’m in special education, so I have to have a degree and a credential to teach. But, it will be worth it in the long run. That’s great you were able to find a job here in So Cal without a degree. It’s not as easy as it used to be. I’m not much of a computer tech, so I had to go with something I was good at. πŸ™‚

  47. Ashok says:

    I am following 1 & 4 daily…and I dont have any debts till now and I am going to finish my doctorate in chemistry and I am planning to travel a lot. For that I have to work again for 2 to 3 years…anyhow, I know that I can do it. Dale is a really inspiring personality and I am really inspired by his articles and I am recently started following him on social media. When I was a child and during my education I saw my father suffered a lot to pay our education fees and other installments. At that time, when my teachers send me out of the class for not paying the school fee and my father told me to wait for few days because he has spent his salary already for other things and he had to borrow from others for it. Temporarily it was cleared but later he was suffered a lot to clear all his debts, but I decided never to take money from others and never borrow. Save what ever you have and believe in yourselves. Till now I didn’t borrow anyone unless I feel that I can repay within one or two days. When I finished my graduation, I got a seat for my Masters in a college but my father told his inability to pay the fee and I decided to work. I worked as a teacher for 2 years and I saved money to complete my Masters. When I got a seat in the University, I stopped working and Joined in the campus and I paid my college fee. During my PG, I have gone for home tutions and earned some money to pay my room rents and for food. After PG, I joined under my Professor as a Research Scholar and also as a Lecturer in the University. I know, being a temporary employ we don’t know when they are going to replace us, so I started saving my money and in those times when I don’t have paid I used my savings and I am still using……..

  48. Stephanie Fish says:

    When getting a college degree chose one wisely. It’s next to impossible to get a good job in your career of choice with only an Associates Degree. Our school system is flawed in a few ways; teach our students how to reuse some of their college loans to build a “nest egg” (investments, start a network marketing business) this way there is a positive cash flow coming from that negative debt. Another thing that needs to be taught to our students while a Senior in high school and again as college Freshman is “personal finance”. We can’t make our students learn, but we can make them listen.

  49. Chelsea says:

    One of the things I saw with other people my age (I’m 25) is that a lot of people are lowering their students loans so that they can live more comfortably now, when in reality they’re really only paying off their interest over a painfully long period of time. Deferring or reducing your loans is a necessary evil for some, but if you don’t have to don’t do it!

    And @dalejpartridge:disqus- I was wondering your thoughts on marriage for younger people. I’m 25 and see a ton of people my age getting engaged. I just don’t see how people can afford an engagement ring, let along a giant wedding, in a financially responsible way. I understand a lot of people get support from a parent for the wedding, I just can’t wrap my head around how people can afford a wedding or engagement ring without making a painful dent into savings or adding to your debt.

    • ambervd says:

      We got engaged at 25, married at 26 but we choose not to go with the industry standards for rings a wedding. A typical wedding in Fl averages 25,000 + and typical diamond ring sets over $1500. I went for a small diamond set, and amethyst costing close to $600 and our wedding was less then $9000. Again- not industry standards.

      • Chelsea says:

        Yeah that’s how I’m imagining it too, but at the same time even that much money is out of reach for us. At least where I am right now, spending almost $10,000 seems like a distant idea. The only thing that I can see is that you break things up over the course of 2 years or so- pay for a venue, dress, and chair rentals one year then other odds and ends another year or something like that. Obviously my inexperience is my biggest detriment!

        • Kristen says:

          I would suggest setting a realistic budget for what you can afford within a year based on monthly savings. If that is not enough, extend your timeline. The easiest ways to reduce wedding cost is venue, food, and headcount. There are low cost venues such as parks and backyard weddings. These allow you to bring your own food and pick your own caterer thus controlling food cost. Ask your friends and family if in lieu of a traditional gift they will gift you a wedding item such as cake or your veil.

          • Sara says:

            My now husband and I got engaged when I was 21 and he was 23. He bought me a beautiful 1.2 carat engagement ring with the money he was saving since be was 13. We got married less than 9 months later and paid for our entire wedding and honeymoon to Jamaica by ourselves. We had the perfect wedding. I wouldn’t change a thing. We both worked in high school and college and were able to save up more than $50,000 combined. Half of that we used for our wedding and the other half we saved. Now, a couple days away from our one year anniversary, we have our student loans paid off (more than $55,000) and are close to purchasing our first home without any help from our parents. I have always had a budget (I majored in accounting in college) and made sure we stuck to that budget. If you really want to get married, pay off your student loans, or buy a house before you are 25 it is possible. It’s all about saving and realizing what’s most important to you. Majoring in something that you can actually get a job in after college is also helpful =)

          • Erica says:

            My fiance and I have saved $20,000 over the past year for our wedding. If you want something, you just have to make a budget for it. Yes, it took a little out of our monthly short term savings, but I continue to put the same amount I have in my Roth IRA. Budgeting is the answer!!

  50. Erin says:

    A lot of people in their 20’s are trying to keep up with a lifestyle they had while growing up with their parents or what they saw their parents had. My mom always reminds me that when they were newlyweds and young parents they couldn’t afford to go out to eat or get coffee everyday before work, that was only something they were able to do in their 40’s. It’s hard to not want it ‘all’ right away, but most of us won’t starting making money for the extras in life till our 30’s & 40’s. Your 20’s should be about paying it off and setting yourself up for that comfortable life in the future..

  51. Summer says:

    You have some good tips. As a past Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University graduate and teacher, I strongly believe in the debt snowball approach instead of the avalanche. While the avalanche seems to make better financial saving sense, the snowball (smallest debt to greatest) keeps you more motivated while paying off debt. I tried to avalanche method first and was quickly discouraged because I wasn’t seeing progress fast enough.

    • Sam says:

      I’ve done my debt payoff prediction both ways, and it seems like I’ll have my debt paid off sooner with the snowball method. It could be because I have such similar interest rates, but I’m thinking it has more to do with having one less credit account means one less interest payment to worry about?

  52. Jessica says:

    I’ve been doing a cash only budget for the past 2 years, it’s been the best thing I’ve ever done. I have had to use a credit card here and there for an emergency car wise, as I became such a stickler with the envelope trick the funds weren’t readily available when I needed it. I also did mock rent…its a great tip I acted like I had to pay rent every month a set amount into savings, now I have a good down payment for a house. You offered some really helpful tips

  53. Christy says:

    I’ve never put words to it before, but this is how we live too. No, we don’t have as nice of a house, or some of the things our friends have, but it sure makes for a happier life. We only make 30k a year, I am a stay at home mom of two and we still give 10% to charities or church. Thanks for writing this, because I think. A lot of people don’t think they can do it, but reality is it seems people aren’t willing to adjust their lifestyle to one they can afford. We sacrifice a fancy house, new vehicles, big vacations, restaurants, but we have less stress, a great marriage, happy kids, and a sence of worth when we’re able to give out time and money to others in need. I am 26, my husband 29, we have no student debt, and our cars and house were paid in cash. Not because we’re lucky, but because we worked REALLY hard for it. Anyone can do it if they’re willing to make sacrifices.

  54. shana says:

    Having a baby this last year has really been a challenge for us. I feel like we can never get on top of things. I work partime making pretty decent money and my husband full time. We have a mortgage, daycare, two car payments already equaling around $3000 a month and that doesn’t include the rest of the bills and credit card debt. AHHH this post does present some light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks

  55. Katmassive says:

    This article changed my life’s course i discovered this site which lead me to learning more about passive income and the importance of transparency starting out online. Thank You so much.

  56. Mollee says:

    Love it. My husband and I operate very similar to this. We’re within a year of paying off my car (bought in March this year), which is our only debt. We’re still living the apartment life. It works, but I hate paying rent to something else instead of paying towards an asset of our own. Any tips on saving for a house? Once the car’s out of the way, a home’s next on the list.

  57. Sharon says:

    I’m 25 and my husband is 27 yrs old right now. We’ve been married for almost 2 years,we own a house,a “kinda” brand new car,and Lord willing we plan on being “debt free” by the time I’m 30 years old. We bought a house that we can afford,we do couponing,we use our money wisely. We want to be debt free and we’re working hard to achieve it!!! πŸ™‚

    • Zachary Devon Mink says:

      That’s so wonderful Sharon!!! My Wife and I are in a similar situation (minus the house). But we’re 24 and 25, and a few months out from being debt free! Congrats!

      • says:

        But you just said you DO need to go to college? Are you changing your mind now…?

    • Adie says:

      Actually, you don’t. Most of the people I work with who make upwards of $60,000 salaries never got a degree. Most (but not all) of those people received certifications in specialized fields–something much less expensive but just as effective as college. A few have no advanced education at all. Of the people in my office who did go to college, only very few of them have degrees applicable for the field they’re working in.

      If you want to be a doctor, lawyer, biologist… you need a degree. If you want to work in an office, or manage a retail establishment, or start your own business… a degree might help you, but it’s not even close to necessary.

    • danomanion says:

      Yep I agree with Adie and Amaya. I also work with several people making good incomes without degrees. It really depends what you are going to school for. If you want to be an artist or a software/web developer, skip college, read the internet and learn from the countless amounts of books, videos and blogs, connect on the internet and go to meetups. That’s all you really need. If you want to be a doctor, you should probably go to college.

  58. Janelle says:

    Hubby and I are proudly debt free. He thought the value of money and he said interests are like giving away free money. We only have mortgage and have the luxury of driving a brand new car.

  59. Guest says:

    I feel I don’t have financial role models in my life, and need to educate myself and develop the habits to get out of debt that I have been in since the age of 14 due to unattended medical bills. I need to learn and cultivate the practice of mindful spending, diligent bill paying, and finding income to attend to the financial needs I have.

  60. Pamela69 says:

    Love the strategies and absolutely agree with all of them. As a former Investment advisor and banker, I would see on a regular doctors, lawyers, high income earners having debt loads that were way beyond there capabilities of servicing this debt and having terrible credit. Most financial gurus teach the strategies to solve the symptons but never getting to the ‘root of the problem’. We all have the tools to manage our money, but never seem to follow through- but it goes deeper. We need to transform our relationship with money and change our limiting beliefs around money. I recently wrote a book called ‘Money Esteem’ with ideas to recognize our money story and understanding that any moment we can change our relationship and story with money. Thanks Dale.

  61. Janine says:

    Good advice. Just one thing: please don’t ‘pay cash’ for a home. A wiser idea would be to have a mortgage and use the rest of the money in conservative and well balanced investments. You’ll make much higher interest than what you’ll pay to the bank on your house.

    • June says:

      I disagree. I have a very inexpensive mortgage (4%) but over the life of the loan ($120,000) I will pay the bank $86,243.41 in interest. That is almost double.

      • JoshuaRL says:

        But if you put this into an investment of some sort that gives out 5% APR you’re netting 1% and don’t have to wait until you’re 50 to buy a house with cash. You’re basically letting your investment pay your interest on the house, and with rental prices usually higher than a mortgage, you’ll save money all along.

    • Chowna Ramir says:

      unless your investmen bottoms out and you have no money to pay your mortgage and you lose everything.

  62. Caitlin Muir says:

    Love, love, love this.

    I’ve managed to be debt-free my entire life – I “hacked” college with a mix of community college, testing out of courses, scholarships, and online classes. It took me three years to finish my BA!

    My husband came to the marriage with a little bit of debt. We’re knocking that out rapidly before buying a house. We’ll have a tiny downpayment but we’re not planning on buying a McMansion. Just something small, affordable, and perfect for starting a family.

    Living debt free might not feel glamorous at times. Budgets aren’t sexy. But there’s something really awesome about not owing people anything.

  63. Joe Tannian says:

    Great list. I like item 1. It seems if you can’t spend less than your income – debt free living will be never be possible. Sadly, many can’t seem to do this consistently. Financial freedom has a lot to do with our attitudes around money and possessions. Changing our hearts attitude in this area will make step number 1 and other steps easier.

  64. Kiersten McMonagle says:

    Thanks for these tips – I’m one of those students who just graduated with about $70 grand in debt. Right now, I honestly don’t know if saving 10% of every paycheck is possible, but at least I’m working at a job in my desired field which requires a degree, and where I know I have a ton of growth potential. My hope is that within the next couple years, I’ll be able to start saving!

  65. teddjpb says:

    You caught my attention in the first paragraph (after the bolded one). I’m a teenager and I’m planning on graduating at an early age and people keep underestimating me because of my age (which I find offensive, and I’m not easily offended). I’m probably at what would be considered a normal maturity level for kids back in the 20th century, but now I’d be considered some sort of Einstein of maturity here in 2014. It’s disgusting to see all of these kids growing up with zero responsibility, losing their virginity at age 12, gluing their minds to technology, and so on. Anyway, great article and thanks for the advice πŸ™‚

  66. Portia says:

    My husband and I are aggressively paying off our student loans and living well below our means. As soon as we get the student debt paid off, we are going to start investing and saving for a downpayment. I am interested in learning more about passive income and finite and infinite interest. Any suggestions on where to learn more?

    • Linsey K. says:

      Portia – That’s great that you and your husband are taking an active role on the defense side of finances with living below your means and digging out of debt! But there is definitely some power in playing offense when it comes to finances…. And your spot on with your interest in passive income! Few people even know that passive income exists and even fewer know how to capitalize on it. πŸ™‚ I have some information that you will be very interested in! Get in touch with me via my email:
      I’ll be looking forward to connecting!

  67. Kay says:

    Sorry but for all these articles I see there is always one thing in common I highly disagree with. This whole “don’t use your credit card” thing makes no sense. If you buy an item with cash, you get nothing in return. If you buy an item with your credit card, you get rewards based on whatever card you’re using. I have a visa that gives me points every time I use it, and the points are hooked up to my amazon account. I’ve had this visa since I was 18 so I’ve gotten hundreds of dollars worth of items for free with these points, just by using a credit card rather than cash. But the reason they are free is because I pay off my entire bill every month and on time. Now don’t get me wrong, I get the idea behind cash over credit. It forces you to actually see your money leave your hand and perhaps persuade you not to buy the item in the first place. But the thing is, I just don’t agree with that being your motivator behind not buying something. You should be able to look at the item, not whether you have the money for it, and decide whether or not you REALLY need it. Just because you have the money for it, doesn’t mean you should buy it. To me, cash over credit just seems like something for people with no self control. (sidenote, for as much as I love my credit cards, I do NOT condone using them at small little independent stores, those are what I save my cash for)

  68. Rhian says:

    I know it may be a small thing, but not having all your facts or sources correct can harm the credibility of your entire article. The quote you attributed to Dave Ramsey in the first point is actually a quote from the book Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk. Dave Ramsey may have said it, but he did not give proper credit where it was due.

  69. Paul says:

    I think a big problem with many people today (and in particular younger people) is that they have trouble with distinguishing the difference between wants and needs. For example, many people are stuck in the habits of smoking cigarettes, smoking pot, and/or drinking alcohol. These things can be fine in moderation, but the problem is that these things have the illusion of being needs if one becomes addicted. A person who might otherwise be very capable of paying all of their bills on time and saving money each month can end up unable to even make their monthly bill payments if they are enslaved to meeting these “needs” first. A pack of cigarettes a day adds up to $200-300 per month depending on where you live. Two beers a day with a splurge on the weekends can add up to $100-200 per month, or much more if someone is a regular clubber. Pot is probably the most expensive of these habits and although its “addictive” nature can be argued, in my experience those who use it rarely do so in strict moderation (of course exceptions do exist). The point is, I know multiple people who do all three of these things on a regular basis. For those people it is the $500+ per month going directly towards immediate gratification that provides no asset or reduction in debt which is making it so difficult for them to figure out budgeting and get on the road to financial freedom.

  70. Arika says:

    Lol “even if you make $40,000 a year…”
    So I make much less than that, and I have a degree with student debt- does that just mean I’m screwed?

  71. SHEENA says:

    This is all easier said that done when you are a single parent to 3 beautiful children living on a budget of $24,000 a year…..

      • Jamie says:

        You dont know what circumstances put her in that situation. Maybe she was financially stable when she had them. Things change, and if you dont know the whole story before pointing fingers, then you are the moron.

      • Really? says:

        You shouldn’t judge others without knowing anything about them. We call that being an asshole.

    • Quarles says:

      Exactly What I was thinking even if you follow these rules where are you getting that amount of cash???

  72. Travis Peters says:

    Great post Mr. Partridge, I do truly believe we can live debt free – ESPECIALLY MORTGAGE FREE. Currently my wife and I only owe on our house but we are attacking that aggressively. We have agreed that from now on we will only pay cash for future houses as well. I too have an online blog where I teach on very similar topics, so I’m glad I found your site! I’ll be checking in more.

  73. Mortgaged and happy says:

    The only debt i have is my mortgage and i dont think that is bad debt to have. I am 29 years old and i have had my home for 5 years already. I was able to buy it with 40% down and no co-signer, had i continued renting for the past 5 years i would not have built the equity i currently have. So no, i dont agree with waiting to buy a house cash down.

    • ness0388 says:

      Most people don’t have 100% of the cash to buy a home. I think the way you did it is ideal for most financial situations. Having a hefty down payment is smart. Less to pay down, less interest and time, nix the PMI, etc. The fact that you have no other debt, means you can focus your debt-payoff efforts solely on the mortgage instead of a bunch of other crap. Bravo to you for being smart with your money.

  74. Tara Smith says:

    Don’t go to college?!? You’ve got to be kidding me! Education = higher paying jobs. If you want to be stuck at your low paying job, by all means, don’t go to college and get a degree.

    • Devanie says:

      Education does NOT mean higher paying job. I have a degree and only LUCKILY got a job in a field CLOSE to my major. I am being paid AVERAGE at best.

      • ness0388 says:

        Agreed. Getting a degree is not a guarantee for anything but student loan debt (unless you pay cash for college). The training and experience and networking skills you use along with your degree is what will determine your success. It’s not the degree. You can get training (EXPERIENCE) and certifications that will go a much longer way than just a degree. A degree can be a training tool and networking tool, but don’t think it’s a golden ticket to success.

    • sgorno says:

      I’m in a field only slightly related to my degree, doing work that I taught myself how to do for which none of the positions I’ve held required a degree. So I’d say college is entirely dependent on your field of interest and not a absolute necessity.

  75. Ryan Lane says:

    Hi Tara,

    Dale is discussing, if you do not have the money to go to college do not go. This means you can still go to college but you will need to find the money through scholarships and other sources to be debt free once you graduate college. A good strategy to get an equivalent to a bachelors or master degree is to look at the college course materials and buy the books they will be studying during the year. These books and the ideas in them, will be what your study through the year. Therefore buying these books and gaining the knowledge without becoming in debt $50,000, could become a better option.:) I hope this helps and wish you success.

    Best Wishes,

  76. writelaughdream says:

    Literally paid off my first card today! Only two more to go. Definitely on a path to debt freedom. Can’t believe I haven’t gotten serious about it sooner.

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