This week we are excited to share another story from a Young Debt-Free Family. The story below features Nathan from Millionaire Dojo. Nathan and his wife Kaitlyn have gone through career changes and are in the process of building a small side business in their pursuit to becoming millionaires.
This story is a bit different than others we’ve featured. There’s no massive debt pay down story here because Nathan and Kaitlyn have never had much debt besides their mortgage.
So often we celebrate stories about people who pay off massive debt, kick a bad habit or addiction, or lose a bunch of weight. I love reading about these types of inspiring comeback stories as well. But what about the people who do things right from the beginning? I know these stories aren’t as dramatic, but it’s still inspiring when you read about a young married couple who have managed to avoid debt and are on their way to financial success.
“Kicking debt in the face and helping you make your wallet as fat as a sumo wrestler.”
It is impressive what Nathan and Kaitlyn have already accomplished at age 25. At the same age, I was just completing my masters degree and starting my first real job. As you’ll read more about below, like Nathan, I also had an eBay business back then. My family continued to rack up debt in our 20s until finally waking up at nearly 30-years-old. They are off to an amazing start and the steps they are taking today will result in massive results down the line.
Like so many of our other interviewees Nathan and Kaitlyn used Dave Ramsey as a starting point into the debt freedom and financial independence movement. Say what you will about Dave, but he knows how to motivate people to get out of debt. Nathan and Kaitlyn then graduated from Dave’s advice on debt freedom to Mr. Money Mustache on their path to financial independence.
Now on to their story. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
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Young Debt-Free Families Interview with Nathan from Millionaire Dojo
1) Start by telling us about yourself. Please include any details you feel comfortable sharing about your family, job situation, income level, and amount of debt paid.
My name’s Nathan, I’m 25 and have been married to my wife Kaitlyn for 2 years. She’s also 25. My current job is a systems engineer in IT. My wife helps her family run a small private school and gets paid a little to do that. I’m also building an eBay business on the side of my full time job and sell antiques at an antique booth.
Our total household income in 2018 was about $50,000. I’m expecting it to be considerably more this year as my eBay business grows.
When my wife and I got married, she was working on the construction side of the movie industry. We were making a combined income of over $100,000 a year. A little over a year into our marriage, we decided it wasn’t worth the money for my wife to continue working in the movie industry. It was consuming all of her waking hours and was a high stress job.
Our story is a little different than most couples as we never had any debt other than our mortgage. My parents introduced me to Dave Ramsey’s teenager course when I was younger and I knew going forward, it would be best to avoid debt. My wife didn’t go to college and I only went to a community college and was able to use financial aid to avoid loans.
We still have the mortgage and don’t intend to pay it down. The interest is only 2.625% so we’re better off investing our money in index funds rather than paying the mortgage down. We’ve always bought dependable used cars with cash to avoid car payments.
2) What inspired you to stay out of debt? Did you have a specific moment where you decided to make it a goal to avoid debt?
When my wife and I got engaged, I started listening to the Dave Ramsey podcast every day. Listening to all the people call in with massive amounts of debt and hearing the stress in their voices motivated me to take the necessary steps to avoid debt at all costs.
We bought a house well within our budget and even now that our income is half of what it was when we first got married, we are still able to make the payments easily.
My wife lived with her parents until we got married and was making a lot of money, so there wasn’t ever a need for her to borrow money to buy anything.
3) How did you stay disciplined stay out of debt?
I think the key to staying out of debt is to develop a mindset of contentment. We’ve got way more than we need already and I feel like we have the same kind of lifestyle as most people who live with debt. If you’re just smart about optimizing the big expenses like housing and transportation, you’ll stay out of debt easily.
By just implementing slightly smarter strategies in your household, you can cut your monthly expenses way below the average. We have two subscriptions – Netflix and Amazon (at the student rate). We use LED light bulbs to cut our power bill. I work from home, so we save a ton on transportation. We bought Toyota and Honda cars and they haven’t given us any major issues. We only shop at Aldi grocery stores and save a ton on groceries. It’s all these little things that add up.
4) Were there any apps, tools, or websites that were especially helpful in staying out of debt?
One of the most important financial tools is a budget. I use EveryDollar and it’s ridiculously simple. I put in our expenses at the end of each day and it only takes a couple of minutes every night when you do it that way.
By having all of our income and expenses laid out, I’m able to know exactly how much we’re going to save for the month. Knowing this is crucial when planning for debt pay off, or investing.
Another life changing website is Mr. Money Mustache. I read every article he’s written and have learned so many actionable steps to become wealthy. If you live like MMM, you’re going to pay your debt off fast and have a lot of money in no time.
5) What advice would you provide to other young families who are overcome by the stresses of debt?
Don’t be discouraged. You’re going to get this debt paid off and start being able to enjoy your money if you just stay focused on paying it off. If you aren’t using a budget, start! EveryDollar is free and really easy to set up. Look over all of your expenses and cut anything you can.
Look at all of your recurring bills and start shopping around to see if there are any cheaper options. We cut our phone bill in half without sacrificing quality by switching from Verizon to Total Wireless. That one move is putting $600 back in our pockets every year.
6) How has staying debt-free changed your family’s life? How do you expect it will impact your family’s life going forward?
Staying out of debt has given us a lot of freedom early on in life. We’re able to put our money into investments and let it grow, rather than throw it away at debt payments. It does take a little sacrifice to stay out of debt, but so does being in debt! We don’t get to go buy whatever we want when we want, but we are able to save and have fun with our money on a regular bases.
Staying out of debt is going to have a huge impact on our future. All the money we put in investments is going to continue to grow and at this rate, we’ll be millionaires in our 40s easily. Eventually, work is going to become optional and we’re going to have a lot of free time to put towards the things we love to do.
That’s the key, you’re trading your time for whatever it is you’re buying with debt. The more money you spend, the more money you have to earn to pay for those things. I don’t want to waste my life away working so I can have a shiny new car. I want to impact the world in a positive way and have the time to do that.
7) Are you pursuing (or have you reached) financial independence?
We are pursuing financial independence, thanks to coming across Mr. Money Mustache. We still have a long way to go, but continue to make progress each month. I expect we’ll be FI sometime in our 40’s at this rate.
I’m also trying to see if I can build my eBay business to a level where we can live on the income it brings. If I was able to become a full time reseller, my schedule would become very flexible and it would almost be like we were FI.
8) Is there anything that you haven’t yet covered that you’d like to share?
I’d just like the readers to ask themselves a question. What do you want to do with your time on this planet? Find out what means the most to you and pursue it full throttle! You are what you think, so start thinking about what you want your life to become, and you’ll notice it start heading in that direction.
If you’ve got a lot of debt, think about what your life could be like if you were able to get it paid off. Start dreaming, and then make that dream a reality by pursuing it with everything you’ve got! No excuses.
9) Where can we learn more about your story
You can follow my blog at https://millionairedojo.com/ I share all of my financial tips and give monthly updates on our net worth. I also do a monthly update on my eBay business and give you all the tips you need to start making money on eBay. Sign up to my newsletter and get the newest posts once a week.
Thanks again to Nathan at Millionaire Dojo for being willing to share his family’s story. If you have questions, please contact Nathan or leave below in the comments. Thanks for reading!
Mark is the founder of Financial Pilgrimage, a blog dedicated to helping young families pay down debt and live financially free. Mark has a Bachelor’s degree in financial management and a Master’s degree in economics and finance. He is a husband of one and father of two and calls St. Louis, MO, home. He also loves playing in old man baseball leagues, working out, and being anywhere near the water. Mark has been featured in Yahoo! Finance, NerdWallet, and the Plutus Awards Showcase.