Ohio couple, parents of two, are struggling with massive student loan debt

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Ohio resident Josiah Poletta and his wife Courtney are finally free of $142,000 in debt — $126,000 of which is from student loans — after an epic 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 getting into a much better place financially and personally. It was a difficult path.

Still, he said he wouldn’t have wanted the government to bail him out of the financial distress he put himself in, he said.

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Today, he and his wife are comfortable with where they are, he said, and the steps they’ve taken to “put our finances in order.”

Poletta said he graduated from college in 2014. After buying a car, the couple “was in debt for a total of $142,000 — $126,000 of which was student loan debt,” he said.

The Polettas of Van Wert, Ohio, during their wedding. The couple wanted to get out of debt and be better off financially “rather than owing other people money.”
(Family Poletta)

Most of the debt is his, he said — he went to private school and took out a variety of different loans over time to help meet his expenses, he said.

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

“We wanted to put our own money aside for when we need it.”

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

“So,” he said, “we basically started using Dave Ramsey’s method of gradually getting out of debt.”

Wanted to start a family, buy a house

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

Die Polettas bei ihrer Hochzeit.  Josiah Poletta sagte Fox News Digital, dass das Paar wollte our money to stay."”/>

The Polettas at their wedding. Josiah Poletta told Fox News Digital that the couple wanted “our money our money stays”.
(Family Poletta)

“We wanted to do a lot of different things that wouldn’t allow us to pay other people our money,” he said. “We had to be able to get 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 — and a lot of people don’t even have that,” he said.

“They could use credit cards if they need to, but we wanted to put our own money aside if we need it.”

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He then described the second step, calling it “the debt snowball method.” You list all your debts, from smallest to largest, and use a snowball-the-hill method to pay off one with your own money. Then you use the money you previously paid to someone else for the next debt – and you keep on doing it, on and on.”

The Polettas are shown with one of their children in a picture shared with Fox News Digital.  Her longtime goal has been to be debt free.

The Polettas are shown with one of their children in a picture shared with Fox News Digital. Her longtime goal has been to be debt free.
(Family Poletta)

As the Ramsey Solutions team describes it, it’s “a debt reduction strategy” where “you pay off your debt in order from smallest to largest, regardless of interest rate.”

“But beyond that,” they also state on their website, “The Debt Snowball is designed to help you change your debt behavior with money so you never go into debt again. It gives you power over your debt – because as you pay off the first one and move on to the next, you’ll see that debt isn’t the boss of your money. You’re.”

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Step three, Poletta told Fox News Digital, “saves three to six months’ worth of expenses” in an emergency fund.

“As you pay off the first one and move on to the next, you’ll see that debt isn’t the boss of your money. It’s you.”

The fourth step is to put money aside for retirement; Step five “is for your children – do the same, put money aside for them.” Step six, he said, “pays for your house.” And seven, he said, “live debt free.”

Through planning, hard work, and a little luck, the Poletta family finally got out of debt.

Through planning, hard work, and a little luck, the Poletta family finally got out of debt.
(Poletta family (Fox News))

The Polettas are currently in “what is called Step 3B,” he said.

“Change Your Family Tree Forever”

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

“I drove a whole winter without a heater in my car because I couldn’t afford to fix it.”

He also detailed the tough times he’s been going through in the recent past trying to make ends meet and paying off a large chunk of his debt.

“I donated plasma twice a week,” Poletta said, making about $70 to $120 each time, he said. “I also drove an entire winter without a heater in my car because I couldn’t afford to fix it.”

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

The Poletta family during a final winter.  Dave Ramsey described the pair as

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

He also said that he and his wife “ate plain pasta because we couldn’t afford groceries. I would save money [on] Lunch to prepare last minute groceries, never eaten out, sold a vehicle so we could share a vehicle – and kept our heating at 60 degrees in the winter.

Dave Ramsey, personal finance expert, host of The Ramsey Show and author of eight bestsellers, told Fox News Digital of the Polettas, “Courtney and Josiah are an incredible couple. They are people of integrity who work hard for their families — and sadly, they were two of 45 million Americans who fell into the student loan debt trap.”

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He added, “I’m so proud of them for committing to The Baby Steps, getting 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 debts “in large chunks”.

The Poletta family told Fox News Digital

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

He said their income fluctuates a bit, and whenever they have extra money at the end of the month, “we throw everything on the lowest debt,” he said, in addition to paying a normal monthly amount.

He also said that “budgeting saved us – and debt service got us out of the hole.”

“Personally, I’ve decided it’s time for me to pay off these loans. I don’t really think the government should bail me out for that.”

The couple had been aggressive about paying off their debts for about two and a half years, he said. He admits he had help to pay off all his debts. 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.

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

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

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