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This couple erased $156,000 of debt by moving into a tiny house

Natalie Mayrath
Producer/Reporter

When Claudia and Garrett Pennington first got married, their finances were “a mess.”  A few years into their marriage they amassed over $200,000 of debt. Claudia says that after getting fed up with looking at the balances and bills each month, they saw the glaring need for an overhaul. “When we made our first budget, we literally put pen to paper. How much did we have coming in, and how much did we have going out.”

Their newly organized financial plan made one thing clear:  Downsizing their home in Columbia, Pa., was a surefire way to knock out a good chunk of debt by reducing their mortgage payments. They had talked about living in a tiny house for years, and “realized it would fast-track our ability,” Claudia says. “When we sold our big house, we saved $156,000.”

They found a local home manufacturer and ordered the smallest house possible , measuring at about 500 square feet. While the tiny house minimized their utility bills by sheer size– smaller house, smaller bills– the Penningtons also found ways of drastically cutting their living expenses.  “We are down to one car, we cut our grocery bill, and we didn’t buy clothes for two years while we were paying off our debt,” says Claudia.

They started blogging about their debt payoff, and Claudia says that while it was scary facing all their debt on paper, it was a motivating to see the amount they owed decline. She says that “keeping track of how much we were paying off every single month helped us see the real progress we were making.”

The debt payoff process has allowed the Penningtons to hit the road on their dream trip, where they will live out of their single car and teardrop camper as they visit all the U.S. National Parks this year, a dream they’ve had for over 10 years. “It feels unbelievable,” Claudia says.  

Are you or someone you know struggling with debt or downsizing? Do you  have money questions you need answered? Let us know at  moneyquestions@yahoo.com .

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