After two layoffs, Lindsey Boycott and her husband decided to start over. Here’s how they paid off their debt and created a new plan to stay debt-free.
When you think about a typical debt repayment story, you probably think about slashed budgets, side-jobs, and cut-up credit cards. What you would probably never consider is a complete purge of all assets and moving to another country—but that’s my story.
It all started with my husband getting laid off from his mechanical engineering job. Up until that point, my husband and I were a pretty average middle-class couple. We enjoyed well-paying careers, owned our home, and had a pet dog. We spent time with family and friends and liked to go camping.
Even though we weren’t spending a lot of money on fancy vacations or luxury items, our debt seemed to creep up on us until it was almost overwhelming. Some of it came from student loans, but most came from dining out, car repairs, and house maintenance.
Even though our life was good, I wanted to travel the world…but always thought it was out of our reach. I mean, who has money for that? As it turns out, we did.
There Was No Plan for Getting Laid Off
My husband came home with a small severance check and an application for employment insurance, but the Government of Canada’s employment insurance was not going to suffice. He swung into action and started applying for other engineering jobs in our city.
We had some savings set aside, so with some cutbacks and careful budgeting, we were able to make ends meet. This was when it occurred to me that we could live on a lot less than I thought we could.
We rented out our basement, I picked up some contract work, and we started figuring out how we were going to afford our new life. Everything revolved around my husband getting a new engineering job. Unfortunately, the economy wasn’t cooperating and jobs were scarce.
We went months without any job leads in his profession, so he started applying for customer service jobs. He found a job in the retail industry and worked there for three months before being laid off again.
Our Crazy Decision that Made All the Difference
As we went through my husband’s year of unemployment, we realized we were in serious danger of having to declare bankruptcy. We cashed in our investments (worth $30,000) and immediately paid off a student loan, a car loan, and a store credit card.
It was at this point that I realized selling our house was our best option. I did some research, ran some numbers, and went back to my husband with a plan.
I argued that selling our home would wipe out our mortgage and the rest of our debt and leave us enough to start over.
After some discussion, we were committed. We were going to sell our home, pay off the other $39,000 in debt, and move to the United Kingdom.
Saying Goodbye, Selling it All, and Moving On
By the time my husband was laid off from his second job in a year, we were emotionally and financially exhausted. We needed a new direction and England could offer us a fresh start. My husband has family that can support us as we start over again and the move will help us realize our dream of traveling in Europe.
My husband was born in England and lived there prior to moving to Canada. His dual citizenship allows him to live and work in the United Kingdom as a citizen—making it the perfect landing spot for us. We had an offer within three weeks of our house being on the market. Next, we had to part with most of our possessions. I thought it was going to be hard but, honestly, it wasn’t—it was a gift. Having all those investments and assets to pay off our debts gave us the second chance we needed.
Chasing a New Beginning
We’ve gone from a 1,700 square foot house full of stuff down to a couple suitcases and a few boxes. We’re putting our affairs in order and getting ready for our next great adventure to begin.
While we’ve had to make sacrifices to save our financial future—selling our home, paying off debts, and saying goodbye to friends and family—I know this is worth it. Because of our choices, we’re able to start the next chapter of our lives without the burden of debt.
Lindsey Boycott is a Canadian-based personal finance writer and blogger at Cents, Sense and Sensibility. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.
Any third-party resources or websites referenced above are not under our control. We cannot guarantee and are not responsible for the accuracy of the resources, websites, or any products or services available through such resources or websites.
While we hope the information and opinions offered by the author in this article are useful, it’s only intended to provide general education and it’s not intended as legal, tax, or investment advice, and may not apply or be useful to your specific financial situation.