How we paid off $18,500 in debt to travel! (Or finding money to travel)

money to travel

Do you need money to travel?

Michael and I got married May 18, 2013. At that time we were both working full time making close to $80,000 annually together. We paid for the wedding ourselves and as you may know weddings typically aren’t cheap. We are both the oldest on all sides of our family so naturally we were “expected” to have a big ordeal of a wedding. Although we had a quaint beach wedding-reception on site, we still forked out nearly ~$10,000 easy! (I refuse to remember the exact amount) So, here we are starting our marriage in debt, when we really just wanted money to travel with.

The Debt Toll

  • We had $7,800 in wedding debt between the wedding venue and the rings.
  • $8,000 left to pay on Michael’s truck-the car payment was $500+ monthly
  • Medical bills totaling~$1760 (yay anxiety)
  • personal debt of $500
  • Verizon cellular charge for switching Michael to ATT-$700, *eye roll*
  • Grad school loans for me of $14,000
  • GRAND TOTAL ~$32, 760.

Wait! It gets better. 

Fall of 2013, Michael decided to return to college and finish his undergraduate degree. In order to do this, he had to quit his job because he worked out of town too much. August rolls around and I am still in Grad School but working full time and he is jobless. We cut our income in half and were forced to do the same to our lifestyle. But how?

This is where Dave Ramsey comes in play. We started “Financial Peace University” in September, 2013. For the first time we began to understand how to budget and prioritize properly. The first thing we had to do was cut our spending down in order to find the money we supposedly had.

After putting $1000 away for emergencies we began working hard for the next year!


How We racked up CA$H

  • Michael donated plasma for money (yes, blood money).
  • I worked as a summer adjunct professor and taught a night class for nutrition, in addition to my 40+ hr/week hospital job. ( We were dedicated!)
  • We switched from smartphones to flip phones
  • We got rid of cable we never watched
  • We stopped our internet and used our apartment’s WIFI instead (Yay for being close to the office)
  • We finally sold Michael’s truck because we never used it. We lived close to the college so we became a 1 car family!
  • We sold our electronics, clothes, beanie babies, video games, and train horn. Basically, we sold anything we thought would bring in cash to pay down the debt!

Thankfully our prayers were answered, in October 2013, Michael found a part time job in the mall. He was within walking distance of school and home! It was amazing to have more income again but working in retail all weekend is a big sacrifice.

In the months following, we “seasoned” our apartment: Which seemed to have saved us $20-50 a month in energy cost!

  • We added blackout blinds to reduce the Florida heat
  • Lowered our door sweep so air couldn’t seep out
  • Placed weather stripping on our windows and sliding glass door to retain our A/C.

How much did our Sacrifices make us?

  1. changing our phones saved us $200/month 
  2. selling his truck for what we owed was $8,000 plus an extra $500/monthly in our pockets
  3. our online selling brought in ~$2000
  4. no internet or cable saved us ~$100/monthly
  5. having just 1 car saved us ~$300/month between gas and insurance we were spending on the truck
  6. We also began working out at our home gym and outdoors to save $20-200/month in gym memberships

We paid off the personal debt, medical bills, and Verizon bill first. Then we tackled the wedding debt, and lastly, we sold his truck totaling ~$18,500. 

We use Dave’s gazelle budget, now called to budget monthly. I try to plan ahead for events or date nights each month along with the usual bills. We openly talk about our budget and are mostly on the same page. 😉

Life NOW…

Presently, Michael will graduate this December and we have paid out of pocket for his schooling most of the way. He is a rock star student and earned grants and scholarships as well! We also use and to RENT school books and typically save $200-500 a semester! While I’m not engulfed in couponing, I do shop clearance and use online codes when available. We cook at home most days and go out for drinks maybe once a week . I completed Grad school in 2014, just paying off my loans now.

After almost a year of being strict on our budget we decided to push PAUSE on our debt snowball and save for traveling instead. While we are not debt free yet, we are getting older everyday. Neither of us wants life to slip away or for us to be too decrepit to hike all over the planet, besides we are kid free for now.

One option was to continue to pay off debt and delay travel or the other way around. We wanted money to travel! We made a hard-thought decision to travel.  I can’t wait for that to be constant travel.

**UPDATE** As of August 2017, we have moved in with my father to save more money prior to our move to Europe!

I am proud of the debt we have paid down and the countries and numerous cities we have explored thus far! Life is a marathon not a sprint! Although we have loosened our budget in some aspects, we are still strict on saving for our adventures. It is NOT EASY but it is always WORTH IT!

When you work hard for what you have it can NEVER be taken away from you. Through this process we have argued and fought but have become better friends, lovers, spouses, and teammates together!



Be Well and Travel Often!

What have you done to be able to save money to travel?


money to travel

**This is not a sponsored post, all opinions are my own**

About Author

Maegan and Michael are Adventurous Southerners who share their world journey and approach to living the travel lifestyle. You can expect humor and lighthearted banter blended with REAL travel stories and tips. Maegan is a registered dietitian, while Michael has an excerise science background, but both are outdoor lovers, and revel in the beauty of cultures unlike their own. Now, Maegan and Michael are working towards expat life through remote work. Join the adventure. Do you love to travel? Does your full time job or career prevent you from living the life you dream of? This is the duo to follow. Feel free to contact us if you have questions.


  1. Lauren turner says:

    Y’all are so inspirational!! Keep it up!!!

    1. That means so much thank you. Check out my piece on Asheville before you head up there!

  2. Melissa Hand says:

    I LOVE this blog Maegan!!! We are so much alike in that we have a passion for travel, a strong desire to see this amazing world (Brian & I actually just got back yesterday from a week in Yellowstone & the Grand Tetons–beautiful beyond words!!!), and set goals for our lives with our hubbies. Our financial goals were to be debt-free by age 40 and we accomplished that goal! If we planned at a younger age (in our 20’s), we would have been debt-free sooner. So with your planning and wise-ways, I KNOW you will be debt-free faster than you think. In order for us to pay everything off faster, we sold almost everything (like you did) and decided to live more simply. We haven’t had cable in years either! We shopped for & found lower interest rates & consolidated our student loans, credit cards, etc. and sacrificed to make double payments to pay it all off faster. We make it a point to have one BIG trip a year and several small local trips because, yes, time flies and we are getting older every day! We say the same thing, that we want to see and walk around the world before we are too old and decrepit to do so! Continue to follow your dreams, accomplish those goals, cherish old friends & memories, and embrace new friends and new memories being made. Live simply, love deeply and travel often! It’s all good for the soul!! I love u both and, as I always say, I’m so proud of you & Michael!! Xoxo

    1. OMGOSH! I had no idea you guys were debt-free! We must celebrate soon and I cannot wait to hear about your most recent trip!

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  7. Melissa says:

    This is very inspiring! Changing your lifestyle to work on debt is not something that everyone is willing to do. I’m especially impressed that you switched to flip phones! Haha. It would be so hard for me to make that sacrifice! Well done on your accomplishment 🙂

    1. Maegan says:

      Thank you! It has been worth it so far!

  8. Toni says:

    Wow, that’s what I call dedication! Amazing job guys, very well done! Cutting your living costs is actually not that much of a big deal if you commit to it and have an aim, just getting started is the really scary part.

    1. Maegan says:

      Thank you! We take it 1 day at a time!

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