Sherrie and I met at Clemson University in 2002 and after dating for 4 years we were married in May 2006. While we were madly in love, we figured out very quickly that we were also madly in debt. After the honeymoon was over, we sat down and realized that we had started our life journey together with over $60,000 of combined student loan and credit card debt between the two of us. We knew that we had a big challenge before us that we had to tackle together. We quickly made plans and a goal to get out of this debt as soon as possible. Over the next 7 years we made a lot of sacrifices and began to dig ourselves out of this financial hole. Sherrie took every extra income opportunity she could at the schools where she worked and worked through almost every summer to make extra money. She even started a tutoring service "Brookie's Braniacs" on the side to help bring in more income. I started my side web development business "Austin Brookie Web Design, LLC" and began doing web design and web application development part time for small businesses and organizations to make extra money. Despite putting ourselves both through grad school and going through very expensive fertility treatments to have our first child Charlie, we finally reached our goal to have all of our credit card and student loan debt PAID IN FULL in late 2013.
During this 7 year process, we felt God's blessing on our lives. Everytime that we thought we might fail or weren't making progress, God would show up in a big way in our lives and open another door to make our path easier. We both knew that God was preparing us for something bigger - a bigger purpose and a bigger goal in mind.
On April 15th, 2015 Sherrie and I came up with what started as a crazy idea. The idea was to set before us another ultra-ambitious financial goal that we knew would take a lot of discipline and faith to achieve. After prayerful consideration, we decided to move forward with a goal to try pay off our entire home mortgage in just 5 years in order to become completely debt free.
Initially we thought that this goal to be mortgage free and completely debt free was too ambitious and didn’t seem possible. At the time, we had 24 long years remaining on our 30 year mortgage and the climb just seemed too steep. Despite these doubts, we both felt God's encouragment and blessing to move foward. And so we began by putting together a very detailed 5-year financial plan to try and reach this goal. Over the next 5 years we worked a little more, we vacationed a little less, and we cut down on excess spending everywhere that we could. We told some of our family and friends about our 5 year plan in an attempt to try and keep ourselves accountable and help us to stay the course. Most importantly, during this process, we learned to lean on our faith and depend on God more. Even though a larger and larger portion of our income was going to pay off the house, we continued to trust God and continued our financial commitment to the church.
On April 15th, 2020, five years after we started the “Paid in Full” journey, we were ecstatic and blessed to say that our dream was now a reality. The Brookies were now completely debt free and our house was now PAID IN FULL!
Reaching this goal was not the end for us, it was just the beginning. We wanted to use this newfound financial independence and our own personal story to ultimately share God’s love and blessings to others. And so in April 2020 we decided to launch “The Paid in Full Project” - a project that was inspired by God blessing us in our journey to have our home PAID IN FULL. We hope that The Paid in Full Project is something that will enable us to bless and encourage others just as God has done for us.