About our company
If I started at the very beginning and told our company's story in complete transparency, I'd have to admit that 23 & Debt Free was not our vision from the beginning. (God gets the credit for that!) As you've probably already read, our family walked an intense 26-month debt-free journey that came to completion on March 1, 2017. Following that day, I then spent the next month grinning like an idiot, so full of joy that we were finally free of our debt! Any thoughts of pursuing the opportunity to further share our story (and share this hope) were pushed aside as we focused on raising our two toddlers and completing renovations in our home. Believe it or not, that kept us very busy! It wasn't until quite a few months later that I finally gave in to the incessant tugging at my heart - a tugging that was encouraging me to share this hope we had found with others.
So, in November 2017, I began a simple Facebook page. My idea was to create a page on which I would address the numerous financial questions we received from friends and family. I wanted to share tips, resources, and hope as others began their own financial journeys. However, the response from followers was phenomenal and this simple Facebook page quickly took off. And so, Logan and I began our business, 23 & Debt Free.
Our vision for 23 & Debt Free wasn't clear from the beginning. We knew we wanted to share all that we had learned regarding finances and inject hope into the lives of others. However, we weren't sure how this would best be done. We continued to read, take classes, and lead Financial Peace University, learning even more about finances. There were thousands of hours dedicated to financial coach training, book writing, and listening to the testimonies of our followers. And little-by-little our vision became more clear. Here it is...
23 & Debt Free is committed to teaching people, young and old, how to take control of their finances and set themselves financially free, through budgeting, cutting costs, and paying off debt fast, so they can cash flow their dreams.
Our company is committed to financial education. That education is carried out through three main avenues - keynote speaking, financial coaching, and our book. I've highlighted each of these areas in greater detail below.
From high school and college classrooms to community seminars, Keynote Speaker Annika is dedicated to financial education through speaking to groups of people young and old.
Providing expertise and accountability, and injecting hope and encouragement, Annika and Logan work one-on-one with clients to budget, pay off their debt, and cash flow their dreams.
Annika and Logan teamed up to write a book, Twenty Three and Debt Free, that encourages people to look at seemingly small daily choices that can cost them thousands over the course of a year.
Meet our team
Financial Coach, Author, & Keynote Speaker
W. Logan Caldwell
Financial Coach & Author
Since marrying her husband in 2014, Annika has enjoyed taking on the roles of wife and mom. Annika primarily spends her days as a stay-at-home mom, or domestic engineer as her husband calls her, caring for the couple's two little girls. She has been actively involved in their family's church, helping to coordinate Financial Peace University classes and corral a classroom full of Awana Cubbies. She also enjoys being involved as an alumnus at the University of Jamestown. In her free time, she can be found playing piano or getting creative in her craft room.
Annika began 23 & Debt Free in 2017 when she felt God nudging her to share their family's story of becoming debt-free. What began as a simple Facebook page to share tips has expanded to a growing business that continues to reach more people each day. From one-on-one financial coaching to serving as a keynote speaker, Annika feels passionate about sharing their story and teaching people, young and old, how to achieve financial freedom.
Our Story of Finding Financial Freedom
W. Logan Caldwell is a financial coach and advocate for debt-free living. He has dedicated his life to helping others and trying to satiate his eternal curiosity by learning all he can in many different areas.
He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Jamestown in Biology with a minor in French and a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. Although he has been working as a paramedic for the past decade, he is currently attending law school at the University of North Dakota where he will be graduating in 2021 with a Juris Doctorate degree.
Outside of coaching clients and reading Supreme Court opinions, Logan enjoys reading philosophy, coloring with his girls, and listening to podcasts. His recommendation is to live the plan! Living financially free is not a diet. It is a lifestyle choice.
In December 2014, my husband and I got married. When I married my husband, I also married into a variety of debt including student loans, credit cards, and furniture notes. Now, luckily, my husband had recently had a ‘come-to-Jesus moment’ of sorts, and knew just how deadly debt and money issues could be in a marriage. (Not-so-fun fact: Money arguments are the number two reason for divorce.)
That come-to-Jesus moment happened when he graduated as a fifth-year senior from the private university we both attended. When he saw his student loan summary upon his graduation, he realized why it is that so many people live on the verge of being broke. He also realized that he wanted a better life for his family, a life where we didn't have to live paycheck to paycheck. Thus, he took full responsibility for his debt and began to take steps to conquer his payments.
Taking full responsibility meant that, before we were even married, my husband had begun reading practically any solid financial book that he could find. In fact, our last unmarried summer, he even purchased a book (Smart Women Finish Rich by David Bach) for me that focused on budgeting and preparing for retirement specifically for women.
So, when we were married in December 2014, thanks to financial experts such as Larry Winget, David Bach, and Dave Ramsey, our journey to become debt free begun. When I use the term ‘debt-free,’ I am including all of our debts except our mortgage. If you follow Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps, you know that paying off your primary home comes in a later step than the rest of your debt, as it is not considered consumer debt.
Now, when I began this story I listed the debts that I acquired upon marrying my husband. Unfortunately, the list of debts didn’t stop there. We acquired more debts and financial setbacks as a couple, including the following:
- Hospital bills. We did not have the savings to cash flow the birth of our first daughter, so we paid off our hospital bill over the course of a few months. We were smart and had savings in place by the birth of our second child.
- Contractor bills. My husband bought a 1950’s home just a couple months before we were married, and our home has required a few more major construction projects in the last three years. Needless-to-say, we have learned some good lessons regarding contracts and using contractors, which we will share later in this book.
- More student loans. During the first year and a half of our debt-free journey, my husband was attending school to earn his Master’s Degree in Business Administration, which he finished just before the birth of our second daughter. Dave Ramsey would definitely frown on us having acquired more student loan debt when we were already deep in debt. I will admit, we didn’t quite follow the plan there, and if we were to do it all over again, we would not have done it that way! That said, on the flip side, because he was earning this graduate-level degree, my husband was hired for a new position, his income increased, and he was home more often. Thus, it was a good decision for our family, but it cost us debt-free freedom for another year!
Our total debt, including all of the debts prior to our marriage and those acquired since our marriage, came in just under $97,000. It took us 26 months to pay off this debt. When we began our debt free journey, we had a household income of about $40,000, which increased to about $65,000 by the end of our journey. I say “household income” because, although I am a stay-at-home mom, I bring in some income by teaching piano and clarinet lessons, playing piano at a local church, and selling homemade items.
Now, I know you’re probably running some quick math and figuring that those numbers don’t quite add up. We had around $105,000 in earnings and $97,000 in debt. How does that work? Well, first of all, remember that it was slightly over two years, so it was a bit more than that quick total. Secondly, we sold so many items to free up more cash. There was one time, in a two-week period, that I made $1,000 selling items we no longer used on our community’s buy/sell Facebook page. Yes, $1,000 in just two weeks! Thirdly, we lived on just fifteen percent of our income. You heard me right, fifteen percent. We were able to do this – living on fifteen percent of our income and paying off our debt in just over two years – in large part thanks to Dave Ramsey, financial expert and talk show host of the Dave Ramsey radio show, a show dedicated to providing people with financial advice.
I don’t say all of this to brag about what we have accomplished. Instead, my intention is to show you that this is possible. You aren’t stuck, it’s not too late, and any excuse you have is a house of cards. As Dave says, “Leave the cave, kill something, and drag it home.” You can do this, too!
Thanks to Dave and his team, my husband and I learned about living on a budget, insurance of all types, taxes, buying/selling a home, retirement, college savings, and the list goes on. These were truly the lessons on “adulting” that we needed!
So, in January 2015, as newlyweds we sat down together and slowly began to figure out our finances – we began to build our budget together. I say ‘slowly’ because it really was a slow process! It took time for us to figure out how much we needed in each category of our budget – time to figure out where we needed more and where we could cut costs. This process took months to perfect, but now we can practically do it in our sleep.
Each of the financial principles and cost-cutting methods that we employed along the way took time, practice, and patience to implement. They often times involved much research and cost comparison as we considered whether each method would really save us money and if it was worth the time required to implement. They took dedication, diligence, and discipline. In order for our debt-free plan to work, we had to continually remind ourselves of our goals, and accept the sacrifice that it was going to take to get there.
With our debt-free goal constantly in the forefront of our minds, these (sometimes crazy and a bit excessive) cost-cutting methods seemed, to us, not so crazy and highly important. And, best of all, they worked! These cost cutting methods and financial principles got us out of debt!
On March 1, 2017 (the month that my husband would turn 26 and I would turn 24) we made our very last student loan payment and paid off the remainder of our debt! We did this one month earlier than our previously set goal and six months earlier than the original goal we set when we began this process.
That morning when we pushed the submit button together and watched the last of those student loans disappear, with our two beautiful daughters sitting in our laps, may have been one of the best days of our life together! We were done, and we were free. I can’t even put into words what a relief I felt. We were so invigorated by our financial success, knowing that we were free of all our debt, a lifestyle to which we vowed never to return.
I am not an expert on all financial matters. I am a stay-at-home mom, or as my husband prefers to call me (very proudly might I add), a ‘domestic engineer.’ What I know is how to cut costs and come up with a plan that works. Living on fifteen percent doesn’t work if you don’t pay attention to where your money is going. I know how to cut costs and how to aid your family in successfully accomplishing your financial goals. The goal of this page is to share with you tips for cutting costs, sticking to your budget, becoming debt free, and so much more. Join us on this adventure! Living debt free is amazing!
"We're debt freeeeeee!"
March 1, 2017 will always be a special day for our family. The decisions that led us to that day have forever changed our family's legacy. The picture to the left is our little family right after we pressed the submit button on our final student loan payment. This picture serves as a reminder of a challenging journey that defined how our family handles money and prepared us for all of life's adventures to come.
After we paid off our debt, we had a chance to do our Debt Free Scream on The Dave Ramsey Show. Talking with Dave and getting to reflect on our debt-free journey with the very man who inspired this journey was an awesome opportunity. To listen to our Debt Free Scream, press the play button below.