Noelle Johnson has a lengthy commute via bus and train to her job near Washington, D.C. She's been working toward her B.A. for nine years, and when she finally finishes, she says, she'll be able to afford to live closer to work. James Clark/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption James Clark/NPR

After two kids and her husband's bouts with cancer, Claire Shrout's family was wracked with debt. Instead of declaring bankruptcy, they worked themselves out of it and hope to be relatively debt free by spring. Courtesy of Claire Shrout hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Claire Shrout