Jayla Henry, a 26-year-old stay at home mom just surprised her husband with the best Christmas gift—paying off his student loan debt.
On TikTok and Instagram, Jayla posted the moment her husband, Tony, opened his present and learned he will walk into 2022 free of debt.
The video starts with Tony unwrapping a pair of shoes that read "debt free" across the top.
Jayla put text over the screen that read:
"Gave my husband gag gifts for Christmas leading up to his big surprise!"
Tony looked confused by the loafers and asked why it had "debt free" printed on them.
"Yeah, I wanted you walking around debt free."
That's when Jayla hands him her phone to play the recording of her conversation with a Sallie Mae representative.
The representative can be heard saying:
"Congratulations to him, he's one lucky guy."
Overwhelmed by the reality of paying off his debt, Tony covers his face like he might cry.
The two embrace and a photo from his account that says, "All student loans are paid in full," flashes on the screen.
Working hard to set our family up for a great future. Merry Christmas❤️ #debtfree #merrychristmas #bestgift #fyp #husbandgift #emotional
Jayla told Buzzfeed about that moment:
"I'm a big crier, so there were instant tears in my eyes."
"Seeing his appreciation was all I needed, but it also was so special to me that he cried too since he doesn't do it often."
"He knew how much of a sacrifice I had to make in order to pay them."
"After the video cuts, I received the biggest, longest hug, a million 'Thank yous,' and an 'I owe you the world now.'"
"I am just so happy we can close that chapter of debt!"
Supporters of the couple showered them with admiration on both TikTok and Instagram.
Student loan debt seems to be at the top of everyone's mind as President Biden has pushed back the student loan repayment date another 90 days to May 1, 2022.
So, how did Jayla and Tony do it?
Early on in 2021, the couple looked at their finances together and set their goals for eliminating their debt. However, the Henry's faced a huge obstacle.
Tony lost his job due to COVID. Thankfully, Jayla was able to continue growing her online presence and pay the bills through brand partnerships.
Jayla has roughly 232 thousand followers on Instagram and 227.4 thousand followers on TikTok.
Since becoming an influencer, Jayla had been setting aside her income in an emergency fund and kid fund, but secretly she also saved for Tony's student loan debt.
Jayla explained how she became inspired to do so:
"Before I became an influencer I was a stay-at-home mom bringing in zero income, but I wanted to be home with my baby."
"Not once was I led to feel bad about it – only appreciated for all I did at home and with our son!"
"That alone made me want to pay it back."
"I've never really been one to splurge on anything, let alone loans, but I knew to accomplish something like this I really needed to look at the bigger picture of my spending."
"Only buying what we needed, not what we wanted, accounting for any money coming in and out and how much I could afford to set aside from each paycheck..."
"My husband thankfully became employed in July and that was a huge help for bills and our savings."
Jayla and Tony first met at a college tailgate.
Upon meeting, Jayla told Tony with her arms wrapped around him:
"I just want to let you know, you're going to be my husband."
Four years later the couple are moving to Texas and pursuing their dream of Tony using his architecture degree and designing their home.
Now that they are free of student loan debt, that dream is looking more like a reality.