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The Lees
Chris, 37, IT manager
Janina, 41, government contractor recruiter
Reston, Va.

The Moment: Two years ago, the Lees were $270,000 in debt. Then one day at a flea market they saw a sign that read, "Live Simply." They bought it, hung it inside above the front door of their house and decided to drastically change their lives.

They sold just about everything they owned - including their house - paid off all their debt and now have a net worth over $100,000. "We look at [the sign] as a reminder every time we leave the house," says Chris.

The Method: "We have pretty much stopped using cards for purchases. We use a cash-back card for every dime we spend," Chris says, and they pay off their bill in full each month. They also have a debit card, do online bill paying and rarely write checks or carry a big amount of cash.

Best Advice: The Lees hope to open their own business someday - maybe a music store or a cafe - so they want to keep a credit line. They hold about $45,000 worth of available credit on several no-fee cards that they keep in a fireproof safe in the basement. They use each of the cards for a few dollars once a year just to ensure the accounts don't get closed.

The New Life: "Once we only had utility bills, rent, and gas to pay for, we were literally flushed with money we didn't know what to do with," says Chris. "We have been able to save money like crazy and we can plan for any circumstance now. The best thing about having no debt is that it becomes so easy to save money and plan for the things you want to buy."

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Last updated June 18 2008: 1:55 PM ET
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