Ottawa·In Depth

Defeating debt success stories

Having trouble with your debtload? Take a gander here for some motivation as Ottawa residents share their stories of paying off their debt.

Success stories from some Ottawa residents who bounced back from a debt crisis

Having trouble with your debt load? Check here for motivation as Ottawa residents past and present share their success stories.

If you have erased your debt or are working hard toward that goal, let us know. Email your story to, and you might find it below.

Story 1: We are in our mid 40s and we've recently just finished paying off our mortgage. We have no car loans and only temporary credit card debts that are paid in full at the end of the month. We've always taken the shortest mortgage amortization period we could afford and then paid as often as we could, weekly. We've kept our cars as long as they were reliable — one is 12 years old and the other is six. We're planning for early retirement, hopefully in the mid 50s for me and when my wife’s teacher's pension is fully vested, which is early 60s for her.

  •  Bill and Marianne Graham


Story 2: During my second year at the University of Ottawa I started working at a bank, which was great because I was able to make a bit more than the average student. Life was not easy for me. I worked 30+ hours a week and maintained a full course load. I couldn’t afford a car so I walked or took the bus. This seemed worth it to me because I had a goal: I wanted to go to Europe and I wanted to buy a home. By the end of university I had managed to save $25,000. I was very lucky my parents paid my tuition. I used the money I earned to pay for everything else. My boyfriend and I moved to Alberta because we could get decent jobs straight out of school. I was worth $25,000 and he was worth -$30,000 because of his student loan. We had a 2005 Hyundai Accent and only brought what could fit in the car. Seven months after moving we bought our first home. It was $310,000, after CHMC taxes and lawyer fees our mortgage was $298,000. Our total debt was $328,000 – we were 21 and 23. This was a year and a half ago. As of today we owe $248,000 on our house and $12,000 on his student loan. We have worked hard to make as many extra payments as we can, changed our payment frequency to bi-weekly and doubled the payments. As for the student loan we have raised the payment from a minimum of $110/month to $900/month. On top of that we have managed to save a total of $25,000 in RRSPs. At this rate the student loan should be paid off by October 2013 and our mortgage will be paid off in less than 10 years. Many people wonder what the secret to our success is. The truth is it isn’t a secret and no we have no received a penny from our parents! My now husband was a terrible saver before we met and I have converted him to the SMART side. At first he found it extremely difficult but now that he has seen the reward he is totally on board. We will have our first child in March which will mean even more ways I can find to save a penny here and a penny there. I’m looking forward to the challenge!

  • Jennifer O'Neill


Story 3: I remember when I first acquired my debt. I got a $20,000 PLC loan from my bank and used it to start my independent life. It is hard to explain what it was that caused me to kick my desire to be debt free into overdrive. But thanks to working four jobs in one year I paid off the entire amount. I don't know how else to beat the system when it comes to being debt free. I do know that hard work and dedication is a solution. In other words, the desire to feel free from debt can be your best motivation.

  • Moses Kaulaity


Story 4: A friend on Twitter let me know you are looking for stories about living with and overcoming debt. Just this past February, I finished paying off $11,674.93 of student debt, only 15 months after I made my first payment. I also cleared a $1,500 credit card in the few months prior to that. This was accomplished solely on my own salary, as my husband was a student, and after paying rent and all my bills.

  • Yael Santo