How Bernadette Crushed $300,000 of Student Loan & Mortgage

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Bernadette Joy of Crush This Debt sat down with Solvable to share her debt-free journey. Here’s how she crushed $300,000 of debt –

My husband and I have paid $300,000 in debt in 3 years. It was made up of a lot of stupid decisions. But if you’re asking money wise, it was $75,000 of student loans, when I decided to go back and get my MBA, and not one, but two, mortgages because I thought I was going to be the next HGTV star. 

Something I needed to get over was creating a new mindset around money. I actually grew up in a household with a father who was an accountant, a mother who was an accountant and a brother who is an accountant and I was the only one that was not an accountant – yet we never talked about money.  I ended up having to learn a lot of stuff on my own to get started: getting all the resources, finding out what was out there from the experts, and gathering that to create my own mindset. 

How Bernadette Crushed $300,000 of Student Loan & Mortgage

When I started my debt-free journey, I didn’t know anybody else who was doing something like that and I didn’t have anyone to talk to to be honest, and it was hard. It was hard to go through this stuff and not feel like anyone understood what I was doing. When I looked to Instagram and started posting about all of my debt-free tips and things that I was doing, I was surprised that I had a lot of people reaching out to me in secret who I thought were successful on the surface – the doctors, the lawyers, who I thought were making a lot of money, and on the back saying “How are you paying all of this off, I am drowning in debt. Can you help?”. And I realized that just by sharing what I was doing that I was helping other people, and maybe helping them start their own debt-free journey. 

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This year we paid our house in April, which was so exciting! I was like, I still have all this energy and all this knowledge to give what can I do? So I started my one million dollar mission to help other people pay off debt. I’ve asked people if they’ve listened to my podcast, watch my Youtube or come see me speak at a conference or at a workshop and just report back to me if they paid off any debt to let me know how it went. I’ve had many people respond to my survey which is awesome. The crazy thing is that it’s been only like 15 people who’ve responded so if you do the math of that, it’s like $20,000 in average per person that have paid off, and 3 of them said they have paid over $70,000 in debt after listening to my podcast or sitting down with me having a conversation. 

I think the biggest thing that has saved me a lot of money honestly, is learning how to cook. Learning how to cook saves you so much money and my husband and I have also learned how to eat healthier. A lot of people think that you can’t eat organic and eat fresh food and also be on a budget, but that’s what we’re doing. It’s also done wonders for our health that we’ve saved a lot of money like that. So if you can, learn how to cook. When people say they hate cooking it’s because they’re bad cooks. So become a good cook and you’ll save a lot of money. 

I had this conversation with someone recently who reached out to me to help her with her debt. She said she had $15,000 just in credit cards and she was saying that whatever challenges they had, her kids thought that she was rich. She has 20 year olds asking for money now to pay for their wedding and their student loans and she’s like: “I can’t afford it. I don’t know why they keep asking for money, they think I’m rich.”  I said “Well, did you tell them that you’re not rich?” and she was silent for a while, and I said “How would they know that you don’t have the money if you don’t tell them?”.  So I think that one of the best things that parents can do. I wish I had that in my family –  being honest about what the financial situation is and include the kids in those conversations. A lot of times I see parents trying to shield their kids from that, thinking that they don’t want to stress them out or maybe they’re just embarrassed to tell their kids “no, I just can’t afford to pay that for you”. But what you learn is that kids are really resilient they may not understand it now, but down the road when they become adults, they’ll get it.