My Money Story: Tai McNeely, His and Her Money – $30k in Debt Paid!

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Tai is a passionate Christ follower, proud wife, and mother of three. Compassion, integrity, and serving others are a few of her strengths. However, a bag of peanut M&M’s is her weakness. She is also a natural hair enthusiast, and an organizational junkie.

In this interview she share's her and her husband Talaat's money story and how they were able to pay off $30,000 in debt in one year and she provides some really invaluable advice on the topic of marriage and finances.

She has since spent years in the financial industry, helping people with loans, debt, and money matters. Loaded with experience and skills, she has now taken her knowledge to create alongside her husband, Talaat, who calls her the Chief Operating Officer of the home! Enjoy!

Tai McNeely

"Goal setting is something that we also do because it is important to give yourself goals to work towards. This will allow you to not give up and to see that your perseverance is not in vain."

Can you give us a little background about your money story with your husband? 

My husband and I were high school sweethearts that fell in love, but we were total opposites in how we handled our money. I was completely debt free with a great credit score, and good money habits. My husband, on the other hand, had a ton of debt, a terrible credit score, and awful money habits.

When we got married there was a learning curve because one of us was the spender and the other was the saver. Not only were we trying to figure out how to be married, but also how to handle our finances with two different money styles.

We had a bigger problem than just his debt alone. The real problem was that he was not upfront with how much debt he was in. He was very ashamed of the mountain of debt that he had created and did not want to bring the consequences of his decision into our marriage. Therefore, he attempted to conceal the truth in an attempt to give him enough time to try and pay off the debt prior to us getting married and without me ever knowing about it.

Of course, his plan did not work and we had to have a very tough conversation and he had to come clean. It was a very tough moment for me, but through a ton of prayer, we were able to get through that tough point and begin the work of walking hand in hand with paying off the debt.

How much debt did you and your husband pay off in total? 

We paid off a little over $30,000 of debt when it was all said and done. We were able to accomplish this during our first year of marriage.

Tai McNeely

How did you keep yourself motivated 

We kept ourselves motivated by much prayer and seeking knowledge. We would read books and articles individually and then share them with each other.

Oftentimes, our dinner conversations would consist of something that we read or found out about that day around the area of our finances. A big key to our motivation was the fact that we would dream together.

We would allow ourselves to think about what our life would like and the types of things we would be able to do once we paid off all of our debt. Taking the time to dream and envision a new life without debt kept the fire lit in the tough times when would have otherwise felt less than motivated to continue pushing forward.

How did you manage the days where you just wanted to go out and spend money? 

We made sure to budget for fun days. This allowed us to stay focus and keep our eyes on the prize. My husband is the free spirit and I am the money nerd. He had to remind me that it is ok to have fun while you are working hard. Over the years I’ve gotten better with allowing myself to enjoy my hard work! We learned that having a budget is not telling ourselves to no to things, it’s actually telling us when we can get it.

What would be your money advice to your younger selves?

I would have set up an IRA sooner than I did. I read somewhere that if a 16-year-old worked a summer job and put $2,000 in a Roth IRA over 4 years totaling $8,000. They could earn over a million dollars once they retire without ever putting another dime into that IRA. The power of compound interest is real, and I wish I would have learned that sooner that I originally did.

Tai McNeely

What steps are you taking to ensure your debt freedom is permanent? 

My husband and I set guidelines and goals that we live by faithfully. This keeps us grounded and on the same page. We set up a monthly budget to tell our money where to go.

Goal setting is something that we also do because it is important to give yourself goals to work towards. This will allow you to not give up and to see that your perseverance is not in vain.

Although it’s been close to a decade since my husband and I became debt free, I still remember the stress and strain of what it felt like to be in debt. Those memories keep me motivated to never get to that place financially ever again.

How do you your husband handle communicating about finances in your marriage? 

We allow each other to speak openly without being judged. We sit down and discuss our finances on a monthly basis at a bare minimum. There are times where we don’t see eye to eye and that’s ok. But, we at least have to hear the other person out and have an understanding heart.

What advice would give a new/young couple trying to figure out their finances together? 

Don't put the responsibility of handling your finances on one person. We made that mistake earlier on in our marriage. I was the one with the better money habits so we thought that it would be a great idea for me to handle the finances. This lead to frustration and resentment on both of our parts. It is important that you both play a role in managing your finances. Teamwork makes the dream work!

Thank you so much Tai for this amazing interview! We have learned so much from you and appreciate your time answering these very important questions!

Be sure to stop by her and her husband Talaat's website, to check out their financial content and to listen to their podcast.

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