(NNCNOW.com) --- Bearing the burden of debt is stressful and overwhelming.
One couple is now debt free after paying down nearly $20,000 in credit debt with the help of a Lutheran Social Service program.
Spending habits are hard to break.
"You're used to just going out and grabbing lunch,” Mike Aasen said. “You're used to going out to dinner. You're used to buying the latte."
Breaking out of debt is even harder.
"Take a deep breath, and face reality,” he said. “Quit being in denial. The longer you stay in denial, the worse things are going to get."
Mike and Carol Aasen knew they needed a plan to pay off more than $18,000 in debt.
They met with a Lutheran Social Service financial counselor and created a 4-year Debt Management Plan.
"The biggest thing is trying to figure out what is realistic for you and your family,” Elaina Johannessen, LSS Counselor Supervisor said. “We are going to give suggestions for you if your budget is really tight on what you can cut, but also what you shouldn't cut."
By picking up odd jobs, pinching pennies and following their debt management plan the Aasens got out of debt 14 months ahead of schedule.
"Oh my stars this has been the ride of a lifetime,” C. Aasen said. “It started out, as the hugest mountain you ever wanted to see."
Now debt free, they plan to start saving for retirement.
"We just want to take the same momentum, and keep the same kind of habits, the same kind of lifestyle, only get it going in a positive direction than just digging yourself out of a big hole," M. Aasen said.
If you are overwhelmed with piles of debt or unpaid bills, you can talk with a LSS financial counselor and start a Debt Management Plan.