Ohio couple, parents of two, have massive student loan debt behind them

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Ohio-based Josiah Poletta and his wife, Courtney, are finally free from $142,000 in debt – including $126,000 in student loans – after a bitter struggle.

It’s ultimately a story of triumph and positivity, no matter how you slice it.

The husband and father of two — a high school history teacher in Van Wert, Ohio — told Fox News Digital in a phone interview about the path he took to get to a much better place financially and personally. It was a path strewn with pitfalls.

Still, he said he wouldn’t have wanted the government to save him from the dire financial situation he found himself in, he said.

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Today, he and his wife feel good about where they are, he said, and the steps they’ve taken to “get our finances in order.”

Poletta said he graduated from college in 2014. After buying a car, the couple had “a total of $142,000 in debt, including $126,000 in student loans,” he said.

The Polettas of Van Wert, Ohio, at their wedding. The couple wanted to get into debt and be in a better financial position “instead of owing other people money”.
(Poletta family)

Most of the debt was his, he said — he went to private school and took out various loans over time to cover his expenses, he said.

“But I’m not here to play the victim,” he said. “Basically, the reason we decided to pay off our debt was that we felt it was the best way to get our finances in order instead of owing other people money,” he said. he declared.

“We wanted to have our own money aside if we needed it.”

“We wanted to have things for ourselves and not be in a place of negative self-esteem,” Poletta also said.

“So,” he said, “we basically started using the Dave Ramsey method of getting out of debt, step by step.”

I wanted to start a family, buy a house

Poletta said he and his wife were driven by a desire to start a family and buy a house — and they wanted a method of clarity and organization that made sense.

Les Poletta à leur mariage.  Josiah Poletta a déclaré à Fox News Digital que le couple voulait "our money to stay <i>our</i> money."”/></source></source></picture></div>
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The Polettas at their wedding. Josiah Poletta told Fox News Digital that the couple wanted “our money to stay our money”.
(Poletta family)

“We wanted to do a lot of different things that paying other people with our money wouldn’t allow us to do,” he said. “We needed to be able to put our finances in order and allow our money to stay our money.”

Poletta explained how he and his wife used the Ramsey Method: “You start by making sure you have $1,000 in savings for any emergencies that might arise – and a lot of people don’t even have that,” he said.

“They can use credit cards if they need to, but we wanted to have our own money set aside if we needed it.”

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He then described the second stage, calling it “the debt snowball method”. You list all of your debts, from smallest to largest, and using a snowball type method, you pay off one using your own money. . Then you use the money you were paying someone else earlier for the next debt – and you keep going on and on and on.”

The Polettas are shown with one of their children in an image they shared with Fox News Digital.  Their long-standing goal was to be debt-free.

The Polettas are shown with one of their children in an image they shared with Fox News Digital. Their long-standing goal was to be debt-free.
(Poletta family)

The Ramsey Solutions team describes it as “a debt reduction strategy” in which “you pay down your debts from smallest to largest, regardless of the interest rate”.

“But more than that,” they also state on their website, “the debt snowball is designed to help you change your behavior with money to never go into debt again. It gives you power over your debt – because when you pay off the first one and move on to the next, you’ll see that the debt is not the master of your money. You are.”

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The third step, Poletta told Fox News Digital, “saves three to six months of expenses” in an emergency fund.

“When you pay off the first one and move on to the next, you will see that debt is not the master of your money. You are.”

The fourth step is to set aside money for retirement; the fifth step “is for your children – do the same, set some money aside for them.” The sixth step, he said, “is paying off your house.” And seven, he says, “are you living debt-free.”

The Poletta family finally recouped their debt – thanks to planning, hard work and a bit of luck.

The Poletta family finally recouped their debt – thanks to planning, hard work and a bit of luck.
(Poletta Family (Fox News))

The Polettas are currently in “what’s called stage 3B”, he said.

“Changing Their Family Tree Forever”

They have their debts behind them, “we’ve set up our emergency fund — and now we’re saving to make a down payment on a house, which in this housing market requires more down payment than in the past” , said Poletta.

“I spent an entire winter without heating my car because I couldn’t afford to repair it.”

He also described the difficult times he went through recently to make ends meet and pay off much of his debt.

“I donated plasma twice a week,” Poletta said, earning about $70 to $120 each time, he said. “I also spent an entire winter without heating my car because I couldn’t afford to repair it.”

Poletta said he “didn’t have a bachelor party or honeymoon.”

The Poletta family during a recent winter.  Dave Ramsey described the couple as "people of integrity who work hard for their families."

The Poletta family during a recent winter. Dave Ramsey described the couple as “people of integrity who work hard for their families”.
(Poletta family)

Plus, he said he and his wife “ate plain noodles because we couldn’t afford to buy groceries. I’d save some money [on] lunches to make groceries last, never eat out, sell a vehicle so we have a vehicle to share — and keep our heating at 60 degrees in the winter.”

Personal finance expert Dave Ramsey, host of “The Ramsey Show” and author of eight number-one bestselling books, told Fox News Digital of the Polettas, “Courtney and Josiah are an amazing couple. They’re great people. people of integrity who work hard for their families – and sadly, they were two of the 45 million Americans who fell into the trap of student debt.”

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He added, “I’m so proud of them for committing to ‘The Baby Steps’, getting themselves out of debt and changing their family tree forever.”

Josiah Poletta – who lost his father when he was young – described how he and his wife would pay off their debt “in big chunks”.

The Poletta family told Fox News Digital that "budgeting is what saved us."

The Poletta family told Fox News Digital that “budgeting is what saved us.”
(Poletta family)

He said their income fluctuated a bit, so whenever they had extra money at the end of the month, “we were going to throw it all on the lowest debt,” he said, in addition to pay a normal monthly amount.

He also said that “budgeting is what saved us – and paying down debt is what got us out of the hole.”

“I personally decided it was time for me to repay those loans, so I don’t really think the government should bail me out for that.”

The couple have been aggressive about paying off their debt for about two and a half years, he said. He acknowledges having been helped to repay all of his debt. He and his wife didn’t do it alone; they are grateful for the help they received unexpectedly.

By October 2021, their debt was behind them.

Regarding the notion of student loan forgiveness today, Poletta once again said, “I’m not here to play the victim.”

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“I realize that I was the one who made the decisions to get to where I was,” he also said – “so I personally decided it was time for me to repay those loans . I don’t really think the government should bail me out for that.”

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