10 of 10
BACK NEXT
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."

More galleries

Last updated June 18 2008: 1:55 PM ET
More Galleries
Most 'one percent' moments of 2014 This year was all about more money, more problems. Here's a look at the trials, tribulations and triumphs of the 1% over the last year. More
6 products to keep the skies friendly Plane travel can be stressful, especially during the holidays. These things can help keep the peace among travelers. More
2014: Helluva good year for stocks The bull market has been going for 2,115 days. If you put you're money in stocks, it's been a very happy year. More

Special Offer

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.