It’s Over. We’re Free!


Image courtesy of 10incheslab /

This morning I made a quick phone call, and just like that it was over. With our 55th payment, plus a partial payment scheduled to be automatically withdrawn on Tuesday, the last of the $109,000 of credit card debt that we had enrolled in our debt management plan is gone.

We’re free!!!

Free from the shackles of debt that have have held us down for our entire seventeen year marriage. Free to finally have the decision of what to do with our money fully within our own control instead of having to hand it over to credit card companies.  No more atonement  for the sins of years of over spending.  I honestly cannot articulate with words what I’m feeling right now. Joy, relief, anger, victorious all rolled into one.

What a journey this has been.

I am not the same person today as I was 55 months ago. If I could have one wish, I would go back in time to assure the Travis of 2009 that everything was going to be OK. Because in the beginning it was so hard, and I felt so alone. I would let him know that great things were coming his way, to show him how strong he would become, the father and husband he could be.

This journey has not been without it’s surprises.

I became a customer blogger for CareOne, my debt relief provider. As time went by, friendships formed. When I was a speaker at The Financial Blogger Conference in 2012 (Fincon12), three of my friends from CareOne were sitting in the front row. Two of them flew across the country for a single day to support me. Which is mindblowingly symbolic, because that’s exactly where they’ve been for the last 4 years.

In the front row, supporting us and cheering us on.

To my friends at CareOne, it is with all the admiration, respect, and love in my heart that I give to you an infinite and eternal, “Thank You.”

You have changed our lives forever.

The most important thing I’ve learned during this process is that being a provider for my family doesn’t just mean buying everything they want. The root of our financial problems was the simple error in judgement of equating saying “No” with failing as a husband, and as a provider. A true provider does what is best for the long term success. I’ve also learned that I cannot, and do not have to shoulder this responsibility alone.

Vonnie and I stand here today individually strong, but together invincible.

We are not out of debt. We had some amount of debt that could not be enrolled in our program, and some that we opted not to enroll. But we are way past the point of needing a debt relief program to guide us in the right direction.

We are now in full control of our finances, and our future.

In July of 2009 we started this journey out of desperation. Today that journey ends, and a new chapter of our lives begins.

A chapter full of hope, potential, and opportunity.

About Travis

88 Responses to “It’s Over. We’re Free!”

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  1. Scooze says:

    Congratulations!!! What a great accomplishment. Now your future is in your hands – enjoy it!

  2. Jennifer says:

    This is so exciting! Congratulations, your hard work has truly paid off! When my husband and I paid off our the last of $70,000 in September 13 we sat down and wrote out our list of new financial goals towards becoming financially independent. It’s fun to be in a different zone and now be saving money for our future, our own protection, our own fun plans instead of for what we already spent in the past. Again, well done!

    • Travis says:

      Congrats on paying such a large debt, Jennifer! Vonnie and I have sat down and discussed what we’re doing to do with the funds several time…and you’re right, it sure is FUN to plan what to do with it for the future, instead of using to pay for the purchases of the past! Thanks for your support!

  3. Stephanie r says:

    good for you! keep going!

    • Travis says:

      Thanks Stephanie! As mentioned, we do have some other debt that we have to take care of, but we have the means, the motivation, and the dedication to do it! Hope you’ll follow along as we continue our debt killing!

  4. E.M. says:

    Congratulations! You have worked so hard to get to this point, I can’t imagine how exhilarating it is to have over $100k paid off. Awesome job, and I love the hopeful note the post ended on. New chapters are exciting.

    • Travis says:

      Thanks for your support, E.M……I thought it was very important to note that while this is the end of our Debt management program journey, it is only the beginning of so many awesome things. Can’t wait to get started!

  5. Michelle says:

    I have been waiting for this post!!! A huge congratulations. I am so proud of you and your wife and it just proves that you can do anything you put your mind to.

    • Travis says:

      I aim to deliver, Michelle! 🙂 The fact that we can achieve anything we put our mind to is one of the very important lessons we have learned through this journey. We have so many more goals we want to achieve, and now we KNOW we accomplish ALL of them! Thanks for your comment!

  6. I am SO happy for you and Vonnie!!!!! You must be ecstatic today! Congratulations Travis, that is a huge accomplishment!

    • Travis says:

      Definitely ecstatic, Tonya…we’re so happy to be at this finish line, there have been days that I wondered if we would ever see it. I hope us standing here will inspire others to keep rolling with their get out of debt journeys!

  7. Congratulations! So happy for you!

  8. jefferson says:

    Great job Travis! This is a huge accomplishment and I am so happy for you guys!!!

    • Travis says:

      It’s the biggest accomplishment of my life, Jefferson – with the exception of somehow convincing my wife to marry to me. LOL. Thanks for your support!!

  9. We could not be prouder of what you have accomplished. CareOne remains honored that you chose us to accompany you on your journey, but this is all YOU! You and your family made the sacrifices, the right choices and remained focused to realize this incredible achievement. We are beyond thrilled!

    • Travis says:

      I cannot thank you, and the rest of our friends at CareOne for all the support AND opportunities you have given us over the last 4.5 years, Suzanne. You and others at CareOne have told us many times that we are part of the CareOne family – which is one of the things that has kept us going….we could not disappoint or let down our family. We are honored to be a part of the CareOne family, and to make you proud. 🙂

  10. Kevin Vesga says:

    I would just like to say congratulations to you both. It is quite an accomplishment.

  11. Shay Hass says:

    Congratulations! I’ve been following your journey for a long while and I’m so happy to see the end of your big debt monster! Can’t wait to hear what’s next on your debt snowball payoff. Hope that things are more in your control and that you can stay on the path to building a life for you and your family that includes financial independence, peace, and stability! Great job! Shay

    • Travis says:

      Glad to have you walking with us, Shay, and hope you will keep walking as we now enter a very exciting time in our lives. Thanks for your well wishes and for your comment!

  12. Ky G says:

    Awesome! Awesome! Awesome!!!

  13. Sherrian C. says:

    I am OVERJOYED for you Travis!!!! So awesome!

    • Travis says:

      Sherrian, you and Khaleef have been a constant source of support and encouragement – we are so happy that we have you in our lives. That’s what happens when Khaleef leaves business cards on random hotel room doors…LOL. One day we hope to make a tour of the East Coat and visit you guys!!

  14. Kathy says:

    Congratulations! I am so happy for and proud of both of you! What an inspiration for others for you have been and continue to be. <3

    • Travis says:

      Thanks, Kathy….inspiring others is one of the reason I love sharing our story – I hope that by our success, others will see that they too can be successful in getting their finances back on track, regardless of how bad they think it is!

  15. Lori says:

    Congratulations! How inspiring to ready your story. I’ve just started paying down my debt this month and will rely on hearing other people’s journeys to keep paying down my debt. My credit card and revolving debt is just under 25K so hearing that you were able to pay off 4 times that in 55 payments gives me huge hope. Thanks!

    • Travis says:

      You CAN absolutely do it, Lori! Keep us updated on how you’re doing with your journey out of debt from time to time – you’ll be at the finish line before you know it!!! Thanks for stopping by!

  16. Miss Thrifty says:

    Well done Travis! I love this post – not just because you have paid off all your credit card debt, but because your happiness shines out of every word you write!

    • Travis says:

      I’m glad that it shines through, Miss Thrifty, we’ve got HUGE smiles on our faces and excited about the future and all it has to offer. Thanks for your support!

  17. Kathy J says:

    Major accomplishment!

    What an amazing & wild ride you’ve been on!

    I’m hoping to say those same words in about 8 more payments!

    Way to go!!

    • Travis says:

      You’re SO close, Kathy….keep pushing all the way to the end – so happy for you! Come back and let us know when you make that last payment so we can celebrate with you!

  18. Drey says:

    Have a listen to the song Finally Free by Michael English!!!

  19. Judy Kline says:

    Congratulations to you and your family Travis. You are truly a role model and an inspiration!

  20. Brad Chaffee says:

    WOOOHOOOO!! So happy for you and your family Travis!!! What an awesome accomplishment!! Congratulations man!!

    You and your family are an inspiration to so many people! You prove that not only can you do it but you can do it even when the mountain is quite large! You conquered that mountain my friend!! YES!!! 😀

    • Travis says:

      YEAH, Thanks Brother! We’re doing somersaults all the way down the other side Brad! Thanks for your support over the last couple of years, and when we see each other again (hopefully Fincon14!), let’s do some celebrating!

  21. HUGE Congrats Travis! I’ve been waiting for this post and SOO excited for you and your family! What a way to start a weekend! 🙂

  22. Congratulations! An amazing accomplishment! You should be proud! I am very happy for the both of you!

  23. Congratulations!!! What a wonderful thing to celebrate! Can’t wait for the day to come for us. Thanks for being an inspiration!!

  24. Dear Debt says:

    Not going to lie, got a little teary eyed reading this. I’m SO HAPPY FOR YOU! Your life has been enriched because of this and will go on to live happier, less worried lives. I’d love to read a dear debt letter from you now that it’s over and you’ve DUMPED THAT DEBT.

    Congratulations and thanks for being such a great inspiration for us still in the mires of debt.

    • Travis says:

      It’s been a very emotional week over here at the Pizel House, Dear Debt. I LOVE your statement about “happier, less worried lives.” <--- YES!!! I have a "todo" list, and a "dear debt" letter has been on it since we exchanged tweets awhile back...would be honored to do one!

  25. “The root of our financial problems was the simple error in judgement of equating saying “No” with failing as a husband, and as a provider. ” LOVE this, Travis!!!!! We are SO, SO happy for all of you. Many, many hugs we are sending your way from up “nort’ “. HUGE congrats!

  26. Jon White says:

    Congratulations Travis! I can’t imagine all of the emotions you and Vonnie are going through right now. Your story is very inspiring to us all, thanks for letting us be a part of it these past few years. The good news is that debt freedom isn’t the end, it’s only the beginning.

    • Travis says:

      That’s right, Jon, it IS only the beginning – we’ve got some other debts to take care of, but now we’re in control, and we can build wealth in parallel. SO MUCH to look forward to!

  27. Congrats Travis. That’s a big load off your shoulders I bet.

  28. Catherine says:

    whoooo guys!!! so happy for you! youll need to let us know how you plan pm using your new found “income”. Enjoy it 🙂

  29. Petunia 100 says:

    How wonderful! Congratulations to you and your family. 🙂

  30. Debby says:

    Oh my… GOD!!! I’m so happy I read this post today. Very inspiring and motivating! Congratulations! 🙂

  31. Alicia says:

    A huge congratulations to you two! That was one heck of a mountain you’ve climbed, and I’m so happy to hear that it will be over. I hope to join you in another year and a bit!

  32. Travis, I don’t think I can properly articulate how much joy reading this post gave me. I knew this day would come for you guys, because you’ve stuck to the plan and have stayed so incredibly positive (at least in your writing) since I’ve known you. But I’m guessing it still felt a little surreal… I’m so, so, so happy for you and Vonnie, and for what this means for your family. I hope you’re celebrating this weekend, because this is a huge milestone. Onto the next ones. 🙂

    • Travis says:

      Writing it gave me a lot of joy as well, my friend. 🙂 I could have written a book with all the memories and experiences that were swirling around in my head as I tried to figure out exactly what I wanted to say. Writing has been my outlet, the way by which I pulled myself up out of the dark and depressing feelings that come with trying to accomplish something that many times feel insurmountable. Being positive in my writing made me feel positive and kept us moving forward. It does feel VERY surreal right now….I don’t think it will really sink in until we do our budget for March, and find a very large chunk of money sitting in our budget because we don’t have to make that payment anymore. Our son’s reaction was what you would expect from a fifteen year old. Not much…but I know it meant something to him inside there somewhere. 🙂 On the other hand, from what I’ve leaked out about Tori here on EOD, you won’t be surprised to know that she came home from school and the first question she asked was, “did you do it? Are we done?” She’s an amazing young woman (who now fusses over her hair and makeup each morning…UGH), and just looking at her, and Tristan, and Vonnie makes me realize that everything we’ve went through over the last 55 months has been absolutely, positively, 100% worth it.

  33. OK, I’m crying. Congratulations! You must know that your victory gives others – including me – hope. You say you wish you could assure the Travis of 55 months ago, and I want you to know that you’re assuring the Prudence of today. I look forward to reading the next chapter : ) God bless you and your family.

    • Travis says:

      Knowing that the post gave you that kind of assurance puts a smile on my face, my friend. I will be standing at that finish line watching you coming down that home stretch, Prudence – you’ve come so far already!

  34. Your story is incredibly inspiring. As someone who feels like they can never ‘get ahead’ of their finances and who wants to get out of student debt and have full control over their financial future, I’m inspired to be patient and persistent as I make payments month after month towards my ultimate goal of being debt free!

  35. Sorry to be late to the party here Travis, but here is my big CONGRATULATIONS! This is incredible. Your willingness to push through it and make the lasting change in your life is inspiring. I wish you the best of luck on your continued journey for financial independence. This is just awesome!

    • Travis says:

      You’re not late, Grayson…you’re right on time! 🙂 Our lives are definitely changed (for the better) forever…can’t wait to see what the future has in store for us. thanks for celebrating with us!

  36. Congrats! That’s GREAT news!!!

  37. scarr says:


    I am so happy to see that you and your family completed this journey. Awesome job!! hurrah! hurrah!!!

    Also, as a graduate of the DMP myself, I want to thank you for all of your inspiring posts throughout the past few years. I hope you continue to share your great insight with us post-debt.

    Great job!

    • Travis says:

      Ooooh, it’s fellow DMP graduate Scarr!!!! I’m so glad you saw this and commented! Yes, we’ll definitely be sharing where we go from here…we have lots of work to do yet with our finances…but the future is bright. Can’t wait to get started!!!!

  38. Aaron says:

    Good riddens! And, good job Travis 😉

  39. Mrs. Money says:

    Congrats! That is incredible. What a great accomplishment!

    • Travis says:

      thanks so much, Mrs. Money….I couldn’t let your well wishes sit in the spam filter – thanks for letting me know you left a comment, and thanks for your support and encouragement!

  40. AverageJoe says:

    Dude, you da man.

  41. Congratulations, Travis! What a huge accomplishment and it had to feel so good making that phone call. You did it. As you said, now you can start REALLY living on your terms. Congratulations to you and your family. 🙂

  42. AWESOME!!! Congrats to you and Vonnie!

  43. bybee says:

    A little late, but congratulations to you and your family! I saw you on a YouTube post earlier today and followed you over here to find out the rest of the story. Your journey is over, but mine is beginning. Thanks to stories like yours, I’m fired up.

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