In 2013, paying off debt wasn’t a priority. The only thing I could think about was how we were going to feed our family.
Since we couldn’t afford to make our payments and keep food in the house, I had to visit my first food bank that year.
I remember waiting in a local school cafeteria for 3 hours just for my turn to get in line. Most of the food was freshly expired, but I was grateful.
That was the cruelest financial period in our lives and is also the most painful to talk about.
The Start of Our Financial Crisis
You hear stories all the time about people who make a good income but go into extreme debt because they have a problem with collecting consumer debt. I almost wish I could say that was our case. At least then we could have just cut up the credit cards, paid off the debt, and recovered.
However, that wasn’t the case. We have actually never had a problem with consumer debt. We had “normal” debt that we just couldn’t afford on our low income.
What kind of debt did we have? Between our mortgage, student loans, vehicle loans, medical bills, etc., we had over 170k of debt. After our monthly payments, we barely had any money left over.
At this time, our family of four was living on one, very low income. In fact, we applied for state assistance and were denied because we made about $30 over the maximum limit.
The struggle was real.
Our first attempts at paying off our debt:
From 2013 to 2016, I did everything I could to save money and work on paying off our debt. No one could stretch a dollar as I could.
I learned to coupon like a boss.
Learning how to use coupons effectively became quality family time. Let me just note that NO ONE actually enjoyed this quality time together.
Couponing is hard work and time-consuming, but it did teach us how to get groceries and other items for either free or next to free.
I learned how to negotiate.
In addition, I studied how to negotiate our bills. If I was able to lower our bills by even 5 dollars, that meant that 5 more dollars was going towards paying off our debt.
I remember getting a bill for 20,000 dollars (not included in the above debt figure) and I thought it was going to be the bill that bankrupted us.
After some research, I found out that the hospital actually had a ‘scholarship’ program or something similar. We didn’t technically qualify for it but I wrote them a letter anyway.
In the letter, I pleaded with them to cut us a break and included our paystubs which showed how much we worked and how little we made in return. About a week later, the hospital had called me and told me that they had decided to take my balance down to 0.00.
Thanks to God for allowing that to happen!
Any other medical bills we had, I was able to get lowered or set up a less expensive payment plan.
We also canceled anything extra that we didn’t absolutely need in our lives. That means there was no cable, subscriptions, etc. The bills that we did need to keep, I called the companies and asked for a hardship discount.
If we were going to be paying off debt and getting ahead, we had to go into financial “survival mode.”
If an activity wasn’t free, we didn’t participate. Simple as that. And vacations were non-existent.
How “Survival Mode” worked out for us:
Even with all that work, it wasn’t enough. Ryan and I were paying off debt at the speed of a snail. We were still drowning in debt and our whole family was miserable.
Life didn’t make sense. I was following the advice of so many famous people’s “debt-free” strategies but our debt wasn’t going away and our quality of life was not improving.
“Life” kept happening and we couldn’t get ahead. We would take 3 steps forward and a small unplanned hardship would set us 2 steps back.
I thought there was just no other way to the madness and that my husband and I were going to spend the majority of my life trying to recover from a few bad years.
I prayed for an answer.
When God answered my prayers
You see, in 2016, I thought I knew everything about paying off debt. I thought the key to paying off debt was to do what everyone else was doing. Besides, people have “perfected” these systems for decades… right?
One night, I was searching around YouTube. I found a video of two people who claimed to pay off their 30-year mortgage in 7 years with the help of a company called, “Truth in Equity.” The company helped accelerate those people’s mortgage payoff by teaching the homeowners about HELOC’s (Home Equity Line of Credit.)
I watched the video and mentally wrote it off as an impossible scam. But then, I watched a couple more video testimonies of people who have used their HELOC as a method of paying off debt.
Then, I started researching “Mortgage Acceleration.” I wish I could say that I found a ton of reassuring resources that told me this was a great thing to do, but that is not what I found.
Instead, I found responses like, “What a scam! Just make extra principal payments”, “HELOCs are too risky; they have high-interest rates,” and “accelerated mortgages just don’t make sense!”
The thing about opinions though is that everyone has one whether they actually have experience with the topic or not. Every single person who cried, “scam” had absolutely no personal experience accelerating their mortgage with the help of a company like this.
The internet said, “paying off debt with a HELOC is a scam.” Did we listen?
Nope, no we didn’t. I couldn’t find one person who could claim, “I tried this and the company scammed me.”
I think when people are confused about things, they cry “scam” and stay away from it. I mean, that’s the reason why a lot of people don’t invest their money – they don’t understand investments and are afraid of losing money. In the end, those people lose.
In a state of desperation, I asked myself, “What do I have to lose?” I filled out a contact form on the Truth in Equity website and requested one of their free consultations.
An advisor called us afterward and helped us go over our debt. We used “screen sharing” and she entered all of our debt into their website’s database.
That advisor told me that what was left of my then 27-year mortgage could be paid off in about 10 years. The numbers were in front of my face but I still couldn’t make sense of it, so I thought maybe it WAS a scam.
I told her I was going to think it through. But honestly, I didn’t plan on calling her back because I thought the payoff time frame just couldn’t be possible. Surely, I would have heard of this method before if it were true.
I spent the next week or two looking over the numbers.
I ended up calling her back though ONLY about 100 times with the same questions. Lucky for me, she was (and still is) a very patient and honest person who just wanted to help.
Together, we went over some options:
- My husband and I could continue on the path that we were currently on. Which was putting 100% of every cent we had into our debt and towards our principal payments. We could have just tried to survive the poor quality of life and the stress that was drowning on our family.
- My husband and I could adopt this new way of paying off debt and purchase the Truth in Equity program tools through their website to help us. With this option, we would be on our own to figure out the figures that pop up in the future.
- We could change our debt-free process and hire her through Truth in Equity to stand by our side during this process…. and forever. This means that if we had questions, we could call her to help us out anytime.
Now think about it, if you wanted to be a professional golfer, you would hire a coach. If you wanted to be a gymnast, you would hire a coach. We thought the same thing should apply if we wanted to be debt-free.
So we made our first big financial investment. We hired Truth in Equity to help us step-by-step. That was one decision that changed our lives and was one of the best investments we’ve ever made.
Why do I say that this was one of the best investments we’ve ever made?
1. She got us started with the process and eliminated overwhelm.
Getting started with this process could easily be overwhelming. However, with her help, we didn’t feel any anxiety on our end.
She compared all of our surrounding banks for us and found out which one was going to be the best for us.
She gave us some very basic step-by-step directions that were broken down in such a way that even someone who didn’t know much about finances (but I thought I did) could understand.
All the pressure was off our shoulders and we could finally start focusing on more important things.
2. She had our backs with the banks.
When we were telling the banks what we wanted to do, one banker actually got mad at us for not buying the products he recommended to us! He lied straight to our faces about what we could and couldn’t do.
While we were there, we had to call Diana (our advisor) to talk to the banker directly. Diana told him that what he was doing was discrimination against her clients and that what he was doing was illegal!
At the end of that aggravating situation, we were approved for what we were seeking. However, we were so shocked and angry by that bank that we decided to use a different bank. Diana helped with that, too.
I really thought that all the stories you hear about banks lying to people were false rumors. Yeah, I was naive. We were glad to have her by our side.
3. She helps us strategize any financial hiccup we had or will have – FOREVER.
When you purchase this service, you get your advisor forever. Diana is there for us whenever we need her.
Before we committed, I even asked her what would happen to us if she got fired or died. (That’s how freaked out my mind was about money! The answer for other “freaked out” people is: you would get assigned another advisor through the company.)
When we first signed up, she would call to check up on us and keep us accountable. Now we call her whenever we need her. So when we found out we had a 10k foundation issue, we called her to help us make the best financial decision. Of course, she didn’t disappoint and we slept well that night.
4. We saved a lot of money in the long term
This is obvious. As a real person, I wouldn’t be telling you about mortgage acceleration if it didn’t help us.
Now, do you want to know the breakdown of our actual numbers and process?
***Keep in mind that this is a very basic version of my own personal breakdown and is meant to be a tool for your comprehension. Your process will depend on what type of line of credit you get, and what type of debt you have. Your process will be unique to you!***
We bought our home for about $140k. In about three years, we paid off about 5k of the principle (the rest was interest!!) We also had other debt and loans that totaled about 30k.
We moved around our money
Once we were approved for our HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit,) we paid off our mortgage with it. Then, we transferred all of our savings into it. Our HELOC became our checking and savings account.
This was scary to do because most people will tell you to have a “nest egg” in a savings account and they warn not to touch it unless you have an emergency.
However, by putting all of our funds into the account, our money was lowering our interest but was still available if we needed it. You are free to pull money in and out of a HELOC as long as you have it available.
Whenever we got paid, we deposited our money into our HELOC as a payment. Again, all of that money was still available to us if we needed it.
We started paying for all of our expenses on credit cards.
Using credit cards scare people for some reason. As for me though, I love credit cards. I have learned how to make the most of credit cards and would never EVER get rid of them.
By making all of our purchases on our credit cards, we are able to get multiple credit card benefits and cashback. (AND increase our credit score!)
Twice a month, we pulled money out of our HELOC and paid off our credit cards.
(And speaking of credit cards, we learned how to “Travel Hack.” When you are finished reading this post, check out, “How to Book Family Vacations for Free or Cheap.”)
We wrapped in our other debt
Once we got our HELOC paid down enough, we used our equity to pay off our other loans until we had everything wrapped up into our HELOC. Then we continued the monthly process.
Where are we now?
Since we have started working with Truth in Equity and using our HELOC, we have gone from paying off 5 thousand dollars of debt a year up to 62 thousand a year! Each year we focus on increasing our income to pay off the debt even faster.
To Date, we have paid off
over $100,000 DOLLARS OF DEBT!!! *Update* over 150 thousand dollars of debt!!!!! *Update* Effective April 1, 2020, we are DEBT FREE paying off $200,000 in debt!!!!!
Did we do anything in addition to mortgage acceleration?
Heck yes, we did.
Our original estimated payoff date from Truth in Equity was estimated to be about 10 years (2026). But, by utilizing everything I have learned from the darkest financial times of my life (couponing, negotiating, and working to increase our income), we have been able to cut that time estimate by over half.
Keep in mind that we paid off that much debt while still having unexpected life events pop up (EX: housing issues, broken ankles, etc…) We aren’t debt free yet but God willing, we will be in just a few months.
That would mean that in total, we will be paying off our 30-year mortgage in just 7 total years from the time we bought our house!! We got back 23 years of our lives!
The most important point I would like to make though is that the quality of life of everyone in my family has improved. We still live a frugal lifestyle, but we are no longer in “survival mode”.
We spend money on things we value now. My family has been able to take NICE vacations and we aren’t afraid to spend money on recreational activities occasionally. We are truly living a life we love now.
So what about you?
Your situation may be different than mine. You may have your mortgage paid off and are instead drowning in medical or consumer debt. No scenario is the same.
Your situation may be better or maybe it will be worse. I urge you to fill out your information and get a free consultation.
Let me tell you that without a doubt, I recommend that you hire Truth in Equity. You wouldn’t try to be a competing gymnast or golfer without a coach. So don’t risk not having an advisor when your finances are in trouble.
Truth in Equity wasn’t a magic button that I pushed to have success in paying off debt. However, they did help us learn a system that no one else could teach us. It improved our lives and it can improve your life, too.
What happens after I request a consultation?
When you fill out the form, an advisor will look over your unique situation and discuss the options for where you are in life. If you use my link within this post, my personal advisor, Diana, should call you.
There is no obligation and if you do choose to hire them – they have a money-back guarantee.
You don’t have to go on the same path with Truth in Equity as I did, though. Some people are really great with numbers and financial terms that they could figure this out by themselves. If you don’t hire them, the consultation and anything you learned is still free.
I’m sure there are also many other great companies that help to do similar methods as well. However, I can only speak for Truth in Equity and my advisor because I have personal experience and success with them.
Here is your chance:
Below, I am giving you the contact information for Truth in Equity. If you would like a more in-depth review of Truth in Equity, read my “Truth in Equity Review.”
I urge you to fill out the form below and get a free consultation. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Click HERE to get your free consultation.
Using a HELOC to accelerate your mortgage payoff and for paying off your debt fast is completely different than what were are taught growing up. Most of us were taught to get a traditional 30-year mortgage and to spend the next 30 years paying it off.
The banks count on that. They also know that you will probably upgrade your house and keep renewing that 30-year loan. Don’t keep following everyone else down that road.
A few years ago, I was in line at the food bank. I wouldn’t wish the situation on anyone. My soul can’t express to you enough how much your life can improve by getting out of debt faster. You owe it to yourself to fill out the form.
P.S. I would like to invite you to subscribe to my blog and learn about financial independence. Next, you might be interested in reading “How to Save Money When You’re Broke.”