Jimmy and Lorri Scroggins married 15 years ago, and then built a new two-story, four-bedroom house for themselves and their four children from previous marriages, ages 15, 14, 13 and 8. Their goal was to have the house paid off by the time the youngest child graduated from high school.
They missed the goal by one year but the 30-year home loan was paid off in just 11 years. The couple have also bought and paid for four cars and saved money from tax refunds to pay for insurance costs for the home and cars and taxes on the house.
“I didn’t spend money unless I needed to,” says Lorri Scroggins, who considers her family middle to lower middle class financially. She worked in management for Pizza Hut for 17 years, then 10 years at Nonna’s, but quit working last year. Her husband, 51, is employed by the U.S. Postal Service.
“Every month we made extra payments on the principle and when we got taxes back we always put at least half of that on the principal,” she explains. “We would take the smallest bill and get it paid off. Then the extra money from the bill we paid off would go on the next smallest bill.”
She says both her and her husband had gone through divorces and were left with attorneys’ fees to pay off.
“I had to scrape together enough money for my kids to eat,” she recalls. “I had a good job then and I made $10 a month too much to get any food assistance. I was at the rim of the barrel. I wasn’t falling in, but I was close.”
So when the couple married they set specific goals for being debt free. And they chose a house payment they felt comfortable with, one they could handle even if one of them lost their job.
“What they said we were qualified for wasn’t what we were comfortable with,” she explains.
“We didn’t really use credit cards. If we used a credit card I would have the money so when the credit card bill would come, we’d pay it off.