How we got into and out of debt - a family story

By Kristin Sokol

For Deseret News

Published: Thursday, Oct. 10 2013 6:00 a.m. MDT

Bryce and Marissa Orgill enjoy time with their three kids and are sleeping well every night after paying off $45,000 in debt over three years. Theyre not sweating how theyll pay the bills every month any more.

Kristin Sokol

We all know someone in a serious financial predicament. It’s someone with tens-of-thousands in credit card debt, right? But, what about you? If you added up all your debt, would it scare you?

Three years ago Marissa and Bryce Orgill, a one-income family, sat down and added it all up. “We didn’t think we had a problem because we had no credit card debt. But when we saw it all written down, it was staggering” Marissa Orgill said.

But in three years, the Orgill’s had paid off $45,000 in debt, and they did it using one average-sized income. “It’s nice seeing paychecks going into our bank account and we decide where the money goes,” she said, “There is no one there to take the money anymore.”

Here’s the story of how they broke-free from their debt and underwater mortgage:

“We had $27,000 in student loans, $1,000 in medical bills, a car loan of $3,600 and an underwater mortgage problem,”Orgill said.

By many standards, the Orgill’s debt problems were not that serious. But in 2009 Bryce Orgill was forced to take an eight-week furlough from his job as an electrical engineer. The Orgill’s cut expenses to the barebones and still ate through their savings at an alarming rate.

Purchasing their home in 2007 at the height of the real estate bubble was an additional hardship. “We did the naive thing and stretched to afford our house. We bought as much as we could with the idea that home values and our wages would increase.”

Two years later in the middle of a recession, they were barely treading water.

“One day I saw Dave Ramseys Total Money Makeover book sitting on my moms bookshelf. It was calling my name. It was easy and inspiring to read. It lit a fire under us. We knew we had to do it,” Orgill said.

According to Ramseys advice, they built a small emergency fund, before paying down debts. Ramsey suggests paying off smallest debts first. “We were lucky to have enough money to wipe out our two smallest debts right away. That freed up some money to throw at our larger debts,” Orgill said.

The recession taught the Orgill’s the prerequisites they needed to get through this process. “After our furlough time we knew how to live cheap. We cut expenses by doing things like losing cable, using cheap pre-paid cell phones and clipping coupons. Any money we found, we threw at the debts,” Orgill said.

They also paid down $15,000 of their underwater mortgage and were able to refinance from a 30-year loan at 6.3 percent, to a 15-year at 2.75 percent. “Our house payment only went up by a single dollar,” Orgill said. “There was no government program available to help us. We had to help ourselves.”

Last week, the Orgill’s were featured on the nationally syndicated Dave Ramsey radio show for their accomplishments.

Ramsey asked the couple about their debt journey and complimented their focused determination. “Those people are my heroes,” Ramsey said. “I love people that can look in mirror and say I’m going to change my life and then go about the business of doing it!”

Orgill says reading Ramsey’s book made it seem doable. “Anyone who wants to get out of debt absolutely can. Start small by having a garage sale to get some extra money to eliminate your smallest debts and go from there,”Orgill said.

“The biggest motivation for me was that I don’t trust Washington. You can’t wait for them to fix the economy. You have to take charge and fix your own situation,” Orgill said.

Kristin Sokol authors TheVocalSokol.com, a blog dedicated to helping women stay happy mostly by doing fun things.

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