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$100,000 Paid Off in Five Years on Teaching Salaries

Jamie and Jenna were “crazy in love”...and horribly in debt. As they were planning their future together, the couple took a cold, hard look at their finances.

Jamie recalls, “Total, combined student loans, and we both had a little bit of credit card debt and a, like the car loan out too, it was right around $100,000.”

The two were both working as part-time teaching assistants. Neither jobs paid more than twenty thousand a year.

“And I remember again, both of us like almost laughing at the mountain of debt that we knew that we were under,” says Jenna.

Unsure of what to do next, Jenna prayed about the debt and the future marriage.

She says that’s when God made her an unbelievable promise...one that she immediately shared with her fiancé.

“Jesus is now saying that us as a couple are going to be debt free in five years.” Jamie was shocked. He said, “It was like one of those 'You’ve got to be kidding!' Like there's no way that that's possible.”

The couple mapped out a plan to pay off their debt. They created a budget based on their limited income. They also decided their first expense would be tithing.

Jenna says, “i knew that it was something that would honor God. Something He calls us to do.”

Jamie adds, “When I heard the idea of tithing would be 10% of your income, like I did a quick math calculation, and like 'that's a lot of money every month.'"

A few months before their wedding, both Jamie and Jenna were offered full-time teaching positions. But with just a few weeks to go before the big day: bad news.

Their school hadn’t been taking out the state-mandated retirement deduction. To make up for the shortfall, both Jamie and Jenna had their paychecks slashed.

Jenna remembers, “They were literally taking half of each of our salary every paycheck for the next six pay periods.”

Jamie says, “It felt like a gut punch. Like we had been working so hard.”

Now, the two would have to make do with even less than they had planned. The couple went on with the wedding and despite their limited income, Jamie and Jenna held on to their promise from God – and stuck with their plan to tithe.

“For the first like year or two like we struggled. Like with the idea of being so restricted and sacrificing things and not being able do the things that we saw our friends and family and community doing,” says Jamie.

Jamie and Jenna picked up side jobs along the way and continued to tithe off of what they earned, and they credit that for helping them get through those lean months.

Jenna explains, “12 weeks ago, they – we had half a paycheck, 12 weeks later, you know, fast-forward, we got through that stressor and we didn't have to dip into our savings at all.” 

“I think continually being like humble enough to say 'Yes' to Jesus that he has more plans and bigger plans for us than we could ever do for ourselves, I think is a big part of what tithing is and how Jesus can really transform your life,” says Jamie.

The two continued to chip away at their debt. The school stopped garnishing their wages, and they even earned pay raises. Their daughter was born in 2017.

Then in January of 2019, shortly before they celebrated their fifth anniversary, Jamie and Jenna paid off the last of their $100,000 debt. Just as God had promised.

“I wouldn’t have believed it possible to pay off $100,000 of debt in five years. But we said yes to Jesus. To Jesus, one plus one equals whatever He wants it to,” Jamie says.

Today, Jamie and Jenna are still teaching. They own a home and they’ve also started a financial blog, where they tell the world about how tithing put them on the road to financial freedom.

“If we hadn't committed to tithing and made that a non-negotiable in our lives and our budget, then our budget wouldn't work,” Jamie shares.

Jenna explains, “Looking from the time we started to where we are now, $100,000 in five years on teaching salary, which is not a lot, uh we could not have done it without Jesus providing.”

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