15 Ways I Paid Off $80,000 of Debt in 18 Months

15 Ways I Paid Off $80,000 of Debt in 18 Months

About the Author

Anna Runyan

Anna is the founder of Classy Career Girl, named by Forbes as one of the top 35 most influential career sites of 2014. She helps millions of women design and launch their dream careers, businesses and lives through her website, online courses and social media channels.

Comments (36)

Shauna B - August 18, 2015

First off, thank you for sharing! How long did it take to pay off your 80K in debt, if you don’t mind me asking! I am using these tips to save rather than pay off debt. 🙂 I can really resonate with needing to clear out clutter and sell, sell, sell. We have tons of c r a p that needs to GO!

    Anna Runyan - September 9, 2015

    Hi Shauna! I am glad you found these tips helpful! It took us a few years and it was not easy. It feels so good to get rid of crap. My husband and I just did that as we sold everything and then are on a cross country road trip visiting friends and family. You really don’t need all the stuff you think you do! 🙂

Anita - September 2, 2015

I would think it depends if it is a combined income, and what your incomes are that determines how much and fast someone can pay off a large debt.

    Anonymous - November 28, 2015

    Exactly. How do you pay off that much that much debt when you are single? If I had an extra income, I would be able to do that in 18 months too.

Anonymous - September 8, 2015

$80,000 in 18 months…..I’ll bet you make more than $20k/year though ? This just isn’t feasible for a single mom on retail income…..

    anonymous - January 25, 2017

    For the single mom on retail income,

    There are jobs that require little to no education that pay lots more than 20k a year. pick your head up and do some researching. I worked at a bank when i was in high school that paid 32k a year. there are just better situations that you can take advantage of, making getting out of debt extremely ‘feasible’… with technology these days its almost ridiculous to make under 25k a year… try Uber, you can make extra hundreds $$ a week. and taking surveys/watching videos online. people pay for your opinion.

Wendy - September 24, 2015

Paid off in 18 months or a few years? If a few years, how many? Having 2 incomes would definitely help to pay debt off quicker wouldn’t you think?

Mandy - October 9, 2015

This is wonderful. My Fiance and I have been working so hard to get our debts down. We are getting married in January, and should ONLY have our student loans left, and we are starting a savings. It feels wonderful not to have to manage multiple credit cards and stress about every penny. We still have so much to work on, but I know we can do it, and this blog is a testament to that!

    Anna Runyan - November 6, 2015

    You can do it! I love your passion Mandy. Don’t give up!

Daniel - November 8, 2015

I’ve worked myself into the hospital, twice, trying to get out if debt. End result was $10000 further in debt, five years lost, income decreased by 50%, and any chance of med-school right out the window. All because of a mountain of medical bills when I was graduating college which destroyed my credit rating. After 20-years I’ve just about lost all hope of ever getting out of debt.

    Elle - December 29, 2015

    I hear you! Right now we are in a mountain of medical debt because of me and it’s not going to end so I’m not sure I see the light at the end of the tunnel… Good luck I will be praying for you!

Lisa - January 12, 2016

Over the past year my husband and I have reduced our debt by 25K. Our first step was to actually discuss our finances like adults instead of fighting over it all the time, then we put together a plan like cutting out unnecessary costs like cable TV and having a car. Made such a difference just talking honestly about money!
Great post Anna.
Lisa x​

Sandra Berger - April 19, 2016


thanks so much for the amazing tips! It definitely helps when there are two incomes. However, it’s not necessary. I’m in the process of paying off my debt (especially my credit cards), too. I even got a side job – I started to uber on the nights when my daughter is with her dad – that helped me pay off some of the smaller cards quicker. So no matter if you’re single, married, are in a one or two income household, paying off debt is totally doable!

    Anna Runyan - April 20, 2016

    Your story is inspiring Sandra! Thanks for sharing it! Good for you! Maybe someday you can write an article on CCG and share your story! 🙂

    April - April 1, 2017

    Paying off debt is NOT always totally doable and that situation occurs far more frequently than you think. Look at the young woman who has 2-3 kids, whose husband said adios. Between housing, clothing, groceries and medical bills of special needs child, this person could end up in bankruptcy. These articles are about just as effective as me saying on SS last year of $31,000, I paid off debt of $150,000, but not saying that I just happened to have $150,000 sitting in my savings account. It takes 2 good incomes to pay off significant sizeable debt, not one of $25,000, $32,000 or even $50,000 because after taxes you’ve got about 75% to live on. And not all side hustles can produce enough income to make a major difference either. Sorry, but call me a doubting Thomas. I don’t believe these stories not without specific facts.

akosu - April 20, 2016

Absolutely love this article! I have paid off $22k in student loans in the past 1.5 years, and reading articles like yours inspires me to keep at it. Thanks!

    Anna Runyan - April 20, 2016

    Keep at it! Don’t give up! Thanks for your comment!

Karen - April 20, 2016

Thank you for your motivating true story. On January 1st 2016 my husband and I set a goal of paying off $32000 of debt by Dec. 31st 2016 by following Dave Ramsey’s baby steps. I am happy to report that as of 4/28/16 we will have already paid off $16,000!!!!!!! Wa whooooo! That’s half our goal in just 4 months!!!! 🙂

    Anna Runyan - April 20, 2016

    Awesome! So great to hear that Karen! Congrats!! It’s amazing what setting a goal can do along with some discipline and work. It’s not easy but I am proud! Hopefully you can share your story here in an article on CCG in the future and inspire more people!

Alexandra - July 6, 2016

This is so inspiring! Thank you for sharing your story. Right now I’m looking at just under 40k in student loan debt, and have been making great progress (over 3,000 in one month)! But I still love reading stories of people who have done it to keep me motivated.

Deborah - August 19, 2016

My husband and I have been in and out of debt due to medical bills, or our children’s college. We used our savings to help each child become self sufficient with an education. We went without new cars, clothes, shoes, vacations and eating out to pay off our smaller home , which due to the economy isn’t worth what we paid for it. No expectations of the sale of it to finance a retirement home! Thank God the utilities bills are very low for NE Ohio. I rejoined the work force to be able to save for retirement as the average retiree receives a SS check of $1351. Or $2460 for married couples. The pressure is on saving for retirement now, as I have seen mother’s medical bills that come with Medicare (around 8,000 yearly). I like your ebay idea of selling “accumulations” and wanted to mention clothing can be sold by consignment. Great way to shop too. I only wish I could cut back on the grocery bill!

Curiosity - November 29, 2016

Paying off $80k in 18 months means you saved and earned enough to pay at least $4,400 each month. If you don’t mind the inquiry, what are your combined income and professions that allow you to effectively not need $4k each month?

    Anonymous - December 10, 2016

    I agree. I would like to know income because that plays a large factor in paying off debt.

G - January 4, 2017

I don’t think this post is really about how much she makes! She is giving out what helped her to get off debt! My husband and I will be getting off debt at the end of this year! About 30k in debt, one income of 37k. I know is hard but is possible, we currently have about 15k to pay so far! It has been better than expected! And all this with two beautiful kids to race! Just figure your income, expenses, what’s left to work with and just getting as much into the smaller debts! You think that putting an extra 5 dollars to debt is not worth it! Try experimenting with it and you will see how it’ll go!

Amanda @ timemoneyandchoices.com - January 5, 2017

@ G … you are so right and I love your attitude. Congratulations on what you have accomplished. Dave Ramsey is very clear that the total money makeover works for anyone on any income level. Everyone can do the debt snowball. I did it a few years ago and we are still chipping away at the mortgage but otherwise are debt free. Best of luck to you in 2017!

April - April 1, 2017

I agree with single mom on retail. Both of you were making significant salaries. Even with all the selling of items, you still had to put together an additional $4500 a month. With the rent of the room, cutting back on cars, etc. you probably managed $1000 additional. That left you with $3500 to replace and that took a job earning $70,000-75,000. I think these kinds of articles are so very deceptive.

Lynn - May 11, 2017

No kids here so of course the DINKS could pay off their debt😂

    Anna Runyan - May 12, 2017

    Hi Lynn. I’m completely speechless that you would write this. I have no words. Just so you know, at this point when I wrote this blog post I was recovering from my first TWO miscarriages and how I wish I could have had that kids when I originally wrote this blog post. My journey led me to IVF (which didn’t work) and millions of doctor appointments, etc. Please be careful what you write on people’s blogs without really knowing their situations. Getting out of debt has nothing to do with having children or not. It’s a mindset and a commitment and can be done whether you have kids or whether you have loads of doctor’s bills TRYING to have kids.

    Jessica Cooper - June 7, 2017

    Aww. How could you say that? As someone who has only one miracle child (Praise God!) with miscarriages prior to and after her birth, it saddens me to read this. And while I’d love to be remarried again, it’s safe to say that my daughter and I spend quite a bit less than I did when I was with her father. The only person to point to for debt problems in families of children are the adults. My 5 year old has nothing to do with the decision making around the income from my job. That’s all up to me. Just as it is all up to you.

    Further, I found this post inspiring and motivating. I needed that little push to get myself in order and making smarter decisions. Thank you so much for sharing! God Bless you!

Jennifer - May 12, 2017

Awesome article, and very helpful suggestions. I think this would be helpful for people too who aren’t necessarily trying to get out of debt but rather trying to save for a large purchase. I was back living with my parents in my late 20’s due to trying to find a job in my field right when the recession hit… I ended up making the best of it, and by following many of these same tips, saved enough in 2.5 years to buy a home. In Southern California! It’s doable.

Also to the naysayers–of course this exact plan isn’t going to work for everyone. Each person has a different situation. She’s sharing HER story, and how SHE was able to pay off debt, and sharing helpful tips on how to do so, which can help you if you open your mind and learn how to apply these tips to your specific situation.

Jason - May 13, 2017

This comment is for the troll Lynn. It must be hard living in your miserable life, going on blogs and saying dumb stuff. Is that the only way you can get some attention? Save your nonsense for when you become smart enough to think of helpful tips and make your own blog. Just thinking about that makes you cringe because you know you can’t EVER do what she’s doing huh? Get a life some how and show some damn respect! How bout dat!

Tara - May 13, 2017

Excellent article with lots of great and inspiring tips. It’s amazing what can be done with some creativity, inspiration and discipline. Thanks for sharing your story and how you created a new future for you and your family.

Markita - May 14, 2017

Anna, I appreciate you sharing your story! The advice is practical and allows others to share their struggles or triumphs. My husband and I don’t make a lot of money and we live pretty lean while raising two small children but if we really focused the little debt we do have (outside of student loans) could be paid off. It may take some time but moving forward is better than moving backwards or not at all.

Trish - May 22, 2017

I just want to encourage everyone that compares the journey.

Everyone’s journey will be different. As is mine. I’m working as hard as I can to dump $33,000 of debt.

I’ve had setbacks and can only do my best. I hope to be out of debt in 5 years and to me that IS FAST!

Although this story is insipiring (the same as when people lose weight real fast), all rules don’t apply to everyone. Accentuate the positive, and look at how far you have already come in your journey and look forward to the end.

Jason - November 11, 2020

Did filing for bankruptcy ever come up in your thought process?


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