Quenton Ross and Marchelle Ross are living debt-free after paying off nearly $120,000 in student debt in just 29 months.
The couple, who lives in Michigan, started their financial plans the day after they got engaged. They vowed to pay off their debt while they are young so they could have “freedom” later on in life, The Daily Mail reports.
The Ross’ also said they were inspired by the book “The Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey and credit their financial freedom to the lessons they learned from it.
“There are two ways to pay off a debt: You have to scale back or bring in revenue,” Quenton, 33, told The Daily Mail.
“As long as you owe someone, the money is never yours,” he added.
Quenton is graduated from Michigan State University in 2008 with a double major in telecommunications and criminal justice and a debt of $40,000 before interest, according to The Daily Mail.
His 28-year-old wife accumulated $77,000 of student loan debt when she obtained her bachelor's and master's degree in educational administration in 2016 from the University of Detroit, Mercy.
After discussing their finances and how they intended to be debt-free, the couple settled on the “snowball method,” which includes paying off the smallest loan first before moving on to the next one with a higher balance.
“I remember just a few days after we got engaged, we wrote down all of our income, expenses, and current debt.. down to the penny (He made me),” Marchelle wrote in an Instagram post.
“It was then that this focused husband of mine rolled out the vision for us to be DEBT FREE!” she continued.
They prioritized their joint income, which totaled $150,000 a year, by using the first check they received from their respective jobs each month, their “guaranteed money,” to pay for necessities like mortgage and utilities.
Marchelle made around $50,000 working as a teacher and Quenton earned double, $100,000, with a combined income from his job as a director of production for a local broadcast company and his side hustle, Q11 Photography.
“With the second check of the month, we would put toward whatever loan we were focusing on at that time,” he told The Daily Mail.
Quenton said he knew he wanted to pay off his loans while he was still young because he watched others struggle to pay back their student debt and never really accomplish that goal.
“My mom had loans for, like, 20 years after she graduated,” he recalled to Fox News. “It was just kind of something that you assumed would always linger around and never go away.”
The Ross’ decided they wanted to create a different life for themselves without the burden of a legacy of debt.
“It all boiled down to freedom. I didn’t want to work my entire life… and always have to pay bills,” Quenton said. “I wanted to get to a point to where I was able to live freely and comfortably and not say, ‘I have to work a full-time job when I’m 60, 70 years old.”
Their plan worked because they saw eye-to-eye on what future they desired for themselves.
“We talked about a lot of very serious things in our relationship so that we were on the same page,” Marchelle said. “We were very clear on what we wanted: We wanted to sacrifice young so we could enjoy life when we got older.”
Their financial freedom has afforded them a life they could also enjoy now, while they are still young.
Being conscious of every dollar spent, from groceries to barbershop visits, has allowed the Ross’ to go on vacations and own a $350,000, 4-bedroom home.
Like many plagued by student loan debt, Quenton didn’t start paying back his loan until he finished school. Marchelle paid a small portion of her undergraduate loan while she was still a student, but had to defer it due to high interest rates.
Neither wanted to opt-in for deferment as many people they knew in similar circumstances advised.
Then they read “The Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey and it “changed our mentality on how paying the debt was possible,” Quenton said.
They sacrificed things like dining out, going out to social gatherings with friends, and even hair cuts.
“I didn’t even go to the barbershop the entire time,” Quenton told Fox. “I learned to cut my own hair.”
He also put in the work by totaling 75 hours a week for three years between his full-time production job and his photography business. The side business helped immensely because they used that additional income towards their debt.
Their sacrifices and hard work paid off, literally. In just under three years they were debt-free.
Quenton told The Daily Mail, “It felt amazing just to see the ‘zero’ and to know you’re free was liberating.”
Marchelle added on Instagram, “He set a standard and has constantly showed me what it means to not stop until a goal is complete.”