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Family of 4 Paid Off $96k in Debt and Built a Custom Tiny House 


After finishing school, Jocelyn and Jarvis had $96,000 of debt from student loans, credit cards, and buying a small rural property.

They made some big changes to their lifestyle – using cash instead of credit, buying nothing new, and moving to a smaller apartment – and they were able to pay off their entire debt in 20 months.

After getting out of debt, they had the option to buy a conventional home but they didn’t want a mortgage, even though a mortgage isn’t necessarily a bad debt to have. Instead, they saved up some money and built themselves a tiny house, starting with a trailer that had already been framed by someone else.

Frugal Family of 4 Paid Off $96k in Debt & Built a Custom Tiny House

Debt Free tiny house fimily of 4 – Exploring Alternatives 2

Image © Exploring Alternatives

Debt Free tiny house fimily of 4 – Exploring Alternatives 1

Image © Exploring Alternatives

The couple has been living in their tiny house for over two years now, along with their two young children. They have a bedroom at the back of the home for the kids, and they have their own private space in the loft upstairs.

Debt Free tiny house fimily of 4 – Exploring Alternatives 3

Image © Exploring Alternatives

To learn more about Jocelyn and Jarvis, and their tiny house + debt-free journey, check out the latest video by Exploring Alternatives below.

VIDEO: How This Frugal Family of 4 Paid Off $96k in Debt & Built a Custom Tiny House 

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Danielle Chabassol
Danielle is a digital nomad who is passionate about tiny spaces, living with less, reducing waste and eating plant-based food. Danielle is half of the Exploring Alternatives blog & video project. You can find more of her at www.ExploringAlternatives.ca and her Exploring Alternatives YouTube Channel.

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{ 9 comments… add one }
  • Lesa February 4, 2018, 11:51 pm

    A wonderful story. You are part of the change that is happening across the nation. Wishes of happiness and prosperity.

  • Tom Osterdock February 5, 2018, 3:23 am

    Way to go guys. You Rock!

  • Dwight Kingwood February 6, 2018, 1:32 am

    So these people had a discretionary income of at least $4,800 a month. Straight out of school. Working a job and a half between them. Is anybody else a little more impressed by their good fortune than their frugality? I guess “Wealthy couple builds custom tiny house” wouldn’t make such a good headline, though.

    “Because we don’t have debt… we have a lot of freedom,” she says. No, you have a lot of freedom because you make a lot of money. No wonder you feel in control of your lives.

    • Alex February 6, 2018, 3:18 pm

      I didn’t think of it that way but I’m happy for them because they’re making smart long term choices with their money and lived in a one bedroom apartment as a family even though they didn’t have to (so that they could pay off their debts faster). There are so many people out there struggling financially but are not willing to do something like that.

      Plus we all know it’s possible to make a lot of money and still get trapped by making bad financial choices. This family avoided that and I think they deserve credit for it, don’t you think?

      • Dwight Kingwood February 16, 2018, 5:48 am

        I agree that paying off the debt is an admirable choice that will give them more freedom in the future. My point is that they already had a lot of freedom; they could choose to get rid of the debt and build a really nice tiny house, they could choose to save for a down payment on a conventional house, they could choose to start a business or make investments, they could choose to seize the day and squander it all – or any agreeable combination thereof. So the paean to frugality seemed a little phony to me, because frugality is not what put them in control. What did was finding well-paying jobs when they graduated, and I would have liked to see some acknowledgment of that. Yes, there are many people who wouldn’t be willing to do something like this, but there are many more who simply couldn’t do it. If you’re on minimum wage, being frugal won’t get you quite as far as it got this couple.

        • Alex February 17, 2018, 1:44 am

          Good points, Dwight, thanks.

  • Eric February 6, 2018, 3:28 pm

    $96,000 debt

    Paid off in 20 months

    That’s $1200 per week repayments, or $171.43 per day!!!!

    Wow, even on seriously good money that is incredibly impressive. My hat’s off to you on that… congrats.

    • Alex February 6, 2018, 5:03 pm

      That really is incredible! Thanks for sharing the math!

      • Dwight Kingwood February 16, 2018, 5:54 am

        It is incredibly impressive, but it’s also incredibly close to the median household income in the US – $59,039 or $4,920 per month. So for half of American families, doing this would leave less than $120 a month to live on. That won’t even pay for a one-bedroom apartment in most places, let alone gas and groceries.

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