Shannon shares her journey from postpartum depression and anxiety about their debt to starting their journey of paying off $500,000 in just 3 years!
Our family has over half a million dollars of debt! My husband and I are doctors living the lie that “all doctors have debt”, and the only way to succeed is to take out loans. After finishing up our residency we had 360K of student loan debt, and instead of cleaning it up we financed cars, took out another 200K to open a practice, and even more for working capital and business start up costs. Before long we were drowning! Basically all of 2018 we struggled to even pay our rent and buy groceries...even though we had a six figure income! All of our money went to payments and keeping our business open. Because of the financial stress I suffered heavily from depression and anxiety for the majority of 2018. We started FPU in January 2019 and spent almost 7 months cleaning up our mess. Selling cars, moving, and cutting our expenses like crazy! We are now making huge monthly debt payments, but it took a lot to get here.
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Welcome to the money mindset podcast
and where you will find the inspiration and motivation you need to manage your money better so you can stress less and live the life you want. This is Ashley with budgets made easy and the money mindset podcast. And I am so excited to share with you today the journey of Channon. She is a frugal foot doctor, uh, that she is telling her story about going from depression and anxiety about the massive amount of student loan debt. You know, medical school is super expensive plus business stat of starting a practice and so she has about $500,000 in debt, but she has now has a plan and is planning on paying off that debt in three years. So she's going to share with you some of the changes that they have already made, how they are living intentional, not letting the doctor lifestyle creep up on them as they start to make some money.
Um, but you know, they are still being super frugal and being very intentional about paying off this massive amount of student loan debt and business debt. So just keep in mind that even though they may have, um, doctor income, you still have to be intentional cause they have doctor amounts of debt too, which is you know, a crazy amount of debt but they are going to be able to be debt free in a relatively short amount of time and then they can really start living the life that they love and the life that they want and really enjoy the doctor income. Right? I mean that's what we want to do is we want to enjoy our income and so she is sharing her journey. She's in the beginning of her journey and I cannot wait to talk to her again when she's debt free and I'll take you all, uh, whenever she gets to that point.
So I want to jump right into her interview, but first, don't forget to go get your free debt snowballs starter pack so that you can start this journey as well. So good. A budget's made easy.com/debt-bundle and of course I'll link to it in the show notes as well. But here is Shannon's interview. This is Ashley with the money mindset podcast and budget's made easy. And today we are talking to Shannon and Shannon is going to tell us about her journey to paying off almost half a million dollars worth of debt and some frugal living tips along the way. Welcome Shannon. Hi. Thank you for having me. I'm so happy you are here. Now. I really want to dive into, you know, how much debt you have and what you're doing to, you know, tackle that. But first can you just kinda tell us a little bit about yourself?
Yes. Um, I'm Shannon. I'm actually a podiatrist, which is a foot doctor in Texas. Um, my husband and I practice together, um, which has a lot of different challenges. Um, one of them being that, um, we came out of school with already about $360,000 of student loans and thought it would be a great idea too. Take out more debt to start our own practice. So that put us well over half a million dollars of debt, um, right out of the Gates, um, out of residency in school and everything. And, um, it's been very stressful trying to figure out how to run a business, um, how to budget, which is something that in seven years of marriage we never once talked about. Um, so just, just in the last year when we started this whole debt free journey was pretty much the first time we ever even talked about money in that entire time, which seems crazy.
Even going through the, the financing of the practice and all that stuff, we just figured like this was something that all doctors did. And that's just our only option really. I mean, we never even questioned it. Um, and so we also have three children that are ages six and under, and thank goodness our oldest started kindergarten, which relieves a little bit of childcare burden. But, um, yeah, also then a really big challenge, um, for us is balancing, um, our almost mortgage payment size childcare bill in two months. So we've done, um, a few different creative things with childcare and things like that, um, to help to cut our expenses, um, along the way. So that's kind of a little bit about us and our backgrounds.
Yeah. So, I mean, you guys seem like you're pretty normal. I mean, you know, and even for both of you being doctors, I mean to me, $300,000 in debt of course, I mean, I don't know firsthand, but that even seems like it, it's not even that much considering that you're both doctors. Like did you guys have some help in med school or did, did you find any ways to kind of lower that cost as well?
Yes. So I should say that that is all mine, all of my student loan debt and my husband was very blessed with a father that was able to help cashflow his medical school.
Oh, that's awesome. Yeah. Cause I was thinking it would be like double that. So when you said that that part was, you know, I was like dang, that's actually didn't seem to, I mean I know that's a lot of debt, but you know, considering it could be a lot worse, but I'm, yeah,
that too. Um, so even though there's two of us, since it's like a new practice, we really only make like one doctor income. So, um, you know, that have like making $400,000 a year. If we each were out there getting our own job, um, we are making, you know, just like a hundred and to 200,000 a year, which is like how much one doctor would normally make. Um, so we're kind of doing this all on one income right now as our practice grows. And, um, definitely, you know, if we made more it might be a little bit easier, but, um, I don't think that that's the main reason and it never usually is the income, um, that we struggled so much in the beginning.
Right. And it's awesome that you guys are doing this, um, while you're starting your business too because you know, you can kind of get a handle on it and you could really build a successful longterm business. Um, by doing the right things early. I mean, it's hard enough to start a business, let alone with that much debt and then trying to figure it all out together. So I think you guys are definitely on the right track. Um, so I did want to, you know, you guys got out of med school, started your own visit or residency and started your own business and everything. And then so what happened to make you say, Hey, we might want to pay this off. And so they're just living the doctor lifestyle and going along with you normal.
Right. So it all kind of started with the birth of our third child at the beginning of 2018 and really like those, the first two years of our practice started in 2016 January, 2016 and that first two years of our practice, we were kind of figuring it out and we had a lot of loans that we took out to kind of keep the practice afloat. Um, but then those loans started to come due and we were just kind of paying off debt and going back into debt. And then it was like all of a sudden, every month we were like, okay, we're barely going to pay our rent or you know, I was like, and I kind of did all the finances and my husband was like, I just don't even, I don't really want to know like, you know, just tell me if, if something's going bad just let me know.
But I don't really want to know anything about the money. So I had all of that weight on my shoulders. Yeah, all the time. And so I would just be like, okay, things, things are going good. And then like the next day I would be like, don't spend any money. Just don't even like touch your debit card or yeah, we have no money in the bank. And he was like getting mad at me. Like, what are you talking about? Like I'm working so hard all the time and you're telling me we have no money and like, we can't buy groceries this week. And that was really hard because, you know, we went to school for like 11 years, including residency to literally live paycheck to paycheck or not even paycheck to paycheck. Like we were drowning. We were going deeper and deeper into debt with like every day.
And I started to get like angry and embarrassed. I felt like a failure and I mean, I honestly was like, like I would almost fantasize about our business just going under because I felt like a weight would be lifted off my shoulders. And I was like, you know, we could just file bankruptcy and it would all just go away and [inaudible] you know, living like that every day with all of that anger and embarrassment and pressure, I started to really slip into kind of a depression. And um, then our third child was born at the beginning of 2018. And the combination of the hormones and the lack of sleep and all of this financial stuff going on, I just hit rock bottom. Like there were days I couldn't get out of bed. Mmm. I even got to the point where I thought, you know, my family would be better off without me because, you know, I thought, well, they'd get my life insurance and they could pay off all the debt and everything. It's hard to talk about, but yeah.
Oh yeah. I can imagine. I w I had struggled with a lot of similar things after my third child as well. And it's, it's hard to even talk about afterwards, but you know, sharing your story, there's a lot of people just like you and thinking the same things. And so just sharing your journey about it is,
you know, a big step in helping a lot of other people as well. Yeah. And I, um, you know, I got the medical help I needed of course then, um, therapy and, and all of that. But then honestly, I'm starting to share my story actually helped me because I started meeting people, um, other people, other doctors too, um, that felt the same way. And they were like, Oh, thank you. You know, for sharing this. And, um, you know, I, I share about our debt free journey on my blog and everything. So I honestly think that was kind of like therapy for me in a way. Yeah. It really helped me to know I was helping other people. Mmm. But so 2018 we're kind of treading water and then, um, I had known about Dave Ramsey, I'm just in passing, but I always thought that that was like something we would do once we had money.
I didn't, I never thought of it as a plan to get out of this and to get you actually get us budgeting and get us to having money. Yeah. I thought, Oh, well, you know, someday we'll make more money and then we'll take care of our finances instead of the other way around. So, um, and I think that's probably common, um, a common misconception about that. So, um, but then with all this stuff going on, I saw that they were offering financial peace university at, at church that we live near. And I just mentioned it to my husband. I was like, you know, I'm really struggling and I think 99% of my postpartum depression is because of our finances and because we don't, we don't talk about it. And, um, it's, I'm really scared. I was like, we're going to lose everything. I really think we're going to lose everything.
And um, he was like, okay, let's go. So, um, in January of 2018 or no of this year, January of 2019, we took financial peace university and, um, it was so great because we started talking about money and then, um, it wasn't just me telling my husband all the things we needed to do, he was hearing it from somebody else and he was like, Oh, this, this makes sense. You know, we do make a lot of money and, but we don't have any and if we weren't paying all these debt payments, then we could be doing a lot of other things like paying for our kids' college and, and all those things. Then it kind of just sunk in. And, um, we were finally on board together, but it definitely, it wasn't like an overnight transformation. And that's something I really want people to know.
Like if they are getting discouraged, like they try to start any financial plan. Dave Ramsey or whoever, Mmm. And they are trying to pay off debt but they're just not making traction. It took us from the time we took financial peace university, it took almost seven months before we made our first that snowball payment because we were learning how to budget and failing and revising and learning again. And we were, as we did our budget, we were like, Oh, well we need to get rid of the cars and we need to downsize our house and we need to be better at our miscellaneous spending. But it took us time because we were so far gone at this point. Um, it did take us a long time to get to where we could start chunking the kind of money that we've been chunking for the last four months, um, on our debt.
So it wasn't an overnight thing. And I want people to know if they're feeling discouraged, like, just keep going and keep moving forward. That's the only way that you're going to eventually make progress. Absolutely. And you know, and you should plan for your plan to fail. And so that way that you know what to do and it's not like coming out of nowhere, cause I mean everybody's gonna make mistakes and it takes time to really start making those small changes so that you can get where you need to be. But how much have you paid off in the last four months? So in the last four months we've paid off just under thousand. At the end of this month, I think it's going to be 40,000. That's awesome. No. Yeah. Crazy. And also our income did not go up. So from January when we started this and we were drowning to now there's no increase in income.
It's all from getting on a budget and cutting our expenses. That's awesome. So did you get rid of cars or like what kind of things did you cut out to get to this point? So quite a few things. Yeah. We, um, so we had a lease that we knew is ending in August and we had a, a paid for car that was worth about 13,000. So we sold that, got the 13,000, and we said, this is our budget. We're not financing a car or anything. This is our budget to get two cars when we have to turn in the lease. So it wasn't easy. We had to do a lot of work, a lot of research. Um, mostly my husband, he's like the researcher. So, um, and we ended up getting a minivan and a like little commuter car for whoever doesn't have the kids and it's just kind of going back and forth to work, um, for about $11,000. And we even had like a little extra to put on the debt from that whole thing. So that was really awesome. And then the craziest thing, and this is the one that got the most like, okay, you guys are weird.
but we were living in like this very beautiful, we were renting, um, because just with everything with the practice and all that stuff. Anyways, we haven't actually ever bought a house before. Um, but we were renting a beautiful two story, 3000 square foot house on a golf course and it was like $2,500 a month for rent. And we moved [inaudible] into a 1000 square foot house with our family of five. And we sold like all of our stuff. We actually, we had a garage sale and made almost $2,000 just at our garage. So that's awesome. Like all our furniture and everything. It was, it was crazy, but it was, it was motivating. So like all of these little things that we were doing kept pushing us further and further and we were like, okay, now what else can we sell? What else can we get rid of?
Um, and then childcare was a big thing. And this, this isn't an option probably for everybody, but for us, we figured out that us both being at the office at the same time, it didn't make sense because we were only busy enough for like one doctor. And so now we trade off. Um, so I stay home three days a week and my husband stays home two days a week and um, the other one goes to work. And that way we basically completely eliminated childcare and we were at one point paying almost $3,000 a month in daycare. Yeah.
Well that's awesome because I'm so glad that you guys were able to do that. Cause I mean you've got a big mountain to climb so you've got to make big changes, but you know, you didn't do it all overnight. You made small changes in the right direction to get you there. So how, how was it, you know, you're both doctors, you've got this, you know, social stigma or you know, perception that people have of doctors and where they should live and what kind of cars they should drive and all this stuff. So how did you kind of get through that mental block to say, okay, we're gonna drive $6,000 cars and we're going to downsize to $1,000 a month house instead of, you know, upgrading house and upgrading cars and things like that. So kind of what, um, did you have anything like mentally that you kinda had to work through to get there or other people you know from the outside judging you?
Yeah, that was definitely hard. Um, I think one of the biggest things is yeah, because I was like worried. Oka
y. Do people think we're not good doctors because we don't have like a Mercedes, you know, and I, I wonder, I mean, maybe some people do think this, I don't know, but I'm like, our patients see us rolling out with our, you know, minivan that like squeaks when you turn it on the belt and everything and they're like, why am I coming to see this doctor? Like they can't even afford a nice car. They must not be that good. Or they must not be that busy. I'm really, we're just, you know, new doctors and we're just trying to build our practice and, and all of that stuff. But that was really hard. And also the feeling of we deserve this because we worked so hard and I mean, you know, you finally get out there after going to school for so long and you just think like, well, I deserve a nice car because I worked so hard and you know, I, we've never bought a house and I'm like, man, I deserve like my nice pretty house for my kids.
You know, I'm like, have it all planned out in my head how it was going to be. And um, I dunno, just [inaudible] yeah, just so much more calming and relaxing the way we're doing it now. Like I have zero money stress right now. Honestly, I really bill, I mean, we have all that debt, but we have a plan to attack it. And that was one of the hardest things, like with my depression and everything was just feeling overwhelmed and not knowing how we were going to do it. So as soon as we had a plan and knew how we were going to get out, I felt like instant relief. So that's better to me than the cars and the houses and all that stuff is feeling good.
Yes, absolutely. So when is your projected debt-free?
So I'm optimistic that we can do it in three years because I, even though we're only doing about 10,000 a month, we need to be doing about 15,000 a month to do it in three years. Um, but I think that our income will increase as our practice gets busier. And I'm obviously hoping my little blogging side hustle can bring in some income as well. So I think it'll be three years from, let's see, this June was June, 2019 so 2022 2021 yeah, 2022. That's awesome. Tony too is my hope. And then, you know, we'll have all this income to save for a house and do all these things we've always wanted to do. And it's really not that long. Like my oldest son just turned six and I'm like, Oh my gosh, that went so fast. Yeah, I know it goes faster and faster too. Like the more gets you that, cause I know it's like, Oh my goodness, where does the time go?
I know. So yeah. I mean, and if people are like not starting because they think it's going to take too long, I mean that's just not a good reason because the time's going to go anyways. Exactly. You're exactly right. You can be stressed about it during that time or you know, have your plan and you know, just like you said that just having a plan helps reduce your stress so much. Um, so what things, um, you know, what other things would you say to people that they're in your situation, you know, they're, they're depressed, whether it's partly, um, postpartum depression or just money, stress and depression about the debt and you know, and they were kind of in the situation that you were in. What kind of advice would you give to somebody that, like you said, just, they don't see the point in even starting, but they really need to do something so that they can start making progress.
Right. I would say definitely don't be ashamed to reach out for help if you need like the medical help or anything like that. That was really hard for me being a doctor because I know like all the primary care doctors and everything around here. So I was really embarrassed. Like I didn't want anyone to know I was suffering and struggling. But everybody just wanted to help me. Like everyone was so nice and just wanted me to feel better. So people, if you reach out, people want to help you, nobody wants to see you suffering. So don't be afraid of that. And then I really think just starting, like just taking some kind of action that will get you going and start your momentum. So it can be the smallest thing, like just adding up your debt. But some people haven't even added up their debt. And it was, even though we had so much, I thought it was more or you know, I just didn't know. So just adding up your debt and knowing what's really there and having something tangible that you can see I think is really helpful because avoiding it makes it so much worse in your head. So just seeing the real numbers helped me a lot, even though it was so big, just helped a lot. So I think taking some kind of action, even small will really help.
Yeah, that's, that's very true. Um, and so do you have, um, any last words of wisdom? I mean, you've had a lot of, a lot of good advice here. Is there anything that you would like to add?
Like, like your podcast says, mindset is so important and I never even thought about that before. Like just believing that you can do something and how powerful that can be.
Absolutely. And that's why I love sharing stories just like yours because it really helps people believed that they can do it too. At least it did for me. Like I would read them every night before I went to bed just to kind of help keep me motivated. It's like, okay, they can do it, then I can do it. And so, you know, that's just why I love sharing stories. Like you're so much. Um, and another question that I love to ask people, because you know, they say millionaires read at least one book a month is what is your favorite nonfiction book? You know, not a medical book but it doesn't have to be finance related either.
You know, just self-improvement in general. Yes. So this is my absolute favorite book and also my husband's and it's the first personal development book I can remember reading and the same for him. And it actually got us into reading personal development books and that's the slight edge by Jeff Olson. Um, and it basically just talks about how it's this very small, simple, consistent actions that we do every day over time that are what lead to success. So it kinda got me like thinking instead of watching like teen mom on MTV. Yeah. Every night. Like I could be reading something that would be improving my mind or you know, instead of scrolling Facebook for 20 minutes, I could be working on a side hustle or something like that. And you really, you realize how much time you actually have in the day. Um, and even an extra five, 10 minutes of doing a simple action can really grow over time. And it, it applies to paying off debt as well.
That's awesome. I've got to order that book. You're the second person that has mentioned that book and when I asked that question, so I really got to add it to my list. I have so many books I want to read them. It's a really quick and easy read.
It's a good starter one, especially for people who are just starting to get into personal development. Oh
great. Yeah, I like the quick ones. Um, I read, um, the monk and the merchant, which is a really quick read, but that's, uh, that's one of the last ones I read as well. So where can people find you? Okay. So I email@example.com and I'm the frugal foot doc on Instagram and all social media pretty much. Um, and my YouTube channel is just my name, Shannon, Karen's, and yeah, I'm updating everyone about our debt free journey. I'm posting new videos every week and update my blog as much as I can. So yeah, that's awesome and I will link to everything in the show notes as well. YouTube and social media and website as well. So thank you so much for joining us today and I cannot wait to have you back on when you are debt free to share your whole debt-free story. I'm so excited for you.
So exciting. Thank you so much for having me. I feel really honored to be on here and be able to share my story. Thanks. Thank you so much to Shannon for being here and I cannot wait to update you all on her journey when she gets to the point of being debt free. I mean I know that this is going to be a really awesome journey for her. I mean that's a lot of debt to pay off in, you know, about three years. So she is going to, her journey is going to be amazing and I cannot wait to update you all now. Don't forget to go get your free debt snowballs starter pack and budgetsmadeeasy.com/debt-bundle also linked to it in the show notes, but I will talk to you guys soon.