Regina & Joshua Martinez
Regina & Joshua Martinez
Married: Nov. 4, 2011
Debt at marriage: $55,000
Debt now: $33,000

Regina and Joshua Martinez started their marriage $55,000 in the hole last year, thanks to a mortgage on a condo and student loans.

Right away, they knew they wanted to dig out of their debt before it started weighing on their new marriage.

"We saw people we were close to that were going through foreclosure and other financial problems because of debt and we didn't want to be a slave to debt too, so we decided we were going to tackle it and be debt-free as soon as possible," said Regina.

Since neither of them have very high-paying jobs -- Regina, 24, works as a professional clown and Joshua, 22, is a kitchen manager at a local restaurant -- they knew their goal would take a lot of restraint.

To save money, they haven't bought a TV or a dining table. They also limit nice dates to once a month and have cut back on eating out.

As a result, they've managed to pay off $17,000 in student loan debt and to build a $6,000 emergency fund since getting hitched in November.

And now they are starting to make a dent on their mortgage -- paying off $5,000 so far. To make the process a little more fun, they printed out a floor-plan of their condo and divided it into squares -- with each block representing $1,000. Once they pay back $1,000, they will cross off a square.

When they cross off a fourth of the condo, they will treat themselves to a brand new banjo -- ringing in at about $1,000. When half of the condo is paid off, they're going to take a trip to Europe. They're still deciding what to treat themselves to once they pay off the entire place -- which they estimate will take about a year and a half.

"Tackling debt has been fun for us," said Regina. "Both of us are very like-minded so it hasn't been too stressful, but I do think that once we finally get everything paid off we'll feel more freedom and it will strengthen our relationship."

By Blake Ellis @CNNMoney - Last updated June 21 2012: 3:17 PM ET
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