Wipe out debt.
You’ve read the tales of huge amounts of debt being wiped out. Everyone loves these stories.
The sacrifice and dedication it takes to pay off debt, amazes us.
Ruth Soukup’s mega popular blog, Living Well Spending Less, was birthed out of a desire to pay off debt after getting fed up with her own overspending!
People work multiple jobs. They live humbly, scale back, buckle down, and dig in!
Our debt story includes all of those things and in that way it is the same.
However, It is different from all the rest.
My husband and I entered our marriage in debt. Most couples do, right? We each had a car payment. Bought a house that was more than we needed. We started our life together without a budget, without a goal and without a clue!
Less than a year into our marriage, my mother died. With her painful death, brought our first opportunity to change our spending habits. We used my (very) modest inheritance to pay off a small car loan and purchase a few things for the house. It should have been easy at this point to tackle the rest of our debt and snowball to freedom in a short time. But no…
Within a couple years we were back to one reasonable car loan, a larger-than-we-should-have car loan, house payment, and had now added credit card debt to boot.
It was then that I got pregnant with our oldest child.
My husband also went back to school at this point. He was working about 32 hours a week, and I the same. To say we did not have enough money, for pretty much anything, would be an understatement.
I had no choice. I had to work.
We knew I would have to continue working at least until he was done with school and making enough money to compensate both our incomes.
So as my pregnancy progressed I began looking at child care options for our baby. I would go visit day cares. In home day care. Big fancy-pants day care. Day care with cameras and online monitoring. Day care with sweet grandma’s taking care of babies. It didn’t matter what the day care was like, each and every single time I walked out after a visit and got in my car, I felt sick. Physical ill. Going to throw up, sick!
I would cry every day on the way to work. Grieving what was to come.
My whole heart, mind, body and soul wanted to be at home, all day long with this baby. I came home sobbing uncontrollably one day. I told my husband that I didn’t know how we would do it, but I knew that if I didn’t stay at home to care for my baby, I would end up an empty shell of a person, who was miserable every. single. day.
Stay at home mom.
Being a stay at home mom was at the very core of who I was.
Being the loving and supportive husband that he is, he said, OK. Whatever we needed to do, we would figure it out. With that, as though someone had taken a thousand pound gorilla off my back, I felt relief! What we ate, what we drove, what we wore, where we lived… none of it mattered! I would be home with my baby.
Here we land at our second chance at being debt free. When I quit my job, I pulled out ALL my retirement. Yes, yes, I know, all of you financial savvy folks are yelling, “NO” at your computer. Pulling from retirement is rarely a good idea. We DID take a giant hit in penalties and I surely could have a nice little nest egg from that by now. At the time however, we were financially ignorant and it seemed like the only way.
We used the money to pay off all remaining debt. My husband was still going to school, still working just 32 hours a week, and we had NOTHING. No decent clothes, no new shoes, no hobbies, and a car that my husband had to climb in and out of the passenger door to get in!
We were happy.
Two years later… yup you guessed it. Back in debt!
My husband felt changes were coming to his career and wanting yet another chance to live debt free, we sold our home. By this time we had our second child. So the four of us moved into a tiny two bedroom apartment. We used all the profit off the sale of our home to pay off our debt.
This time, it only took TWO MONTHS to rack up credit card debt… again. You’ve got to be kidding me, right?! Our thought process was, “we don’t have a big house payment and hubby got a promotion, so now we can have the things we want, right?”
Turmoil at work led my husband to resign.
Within a year of selling our house, we had baby #3 on the way, debt and no source of income.
My husband was able to find work, and get us into a humble home. We loved each other and our children brought abundant amounts of joy. Outside of those two things, tension and anxiety were everywhere.
My husband was not operating in his full potential at work. He had knowledge and skills that were not being used to benefit us.
Which brings us to why our debt story is different than all the rest.
One day, I made an actual list of all the things we wanted to believe God for; in our family, in hubby’s career and for the legacy we wanted to create. I sent my husband’s resume out all across the country, along with a cover letter stating exactly what we were expecting. Never in a million years would I have guessed that we’d end up in Kansas City, MO.
We moved out there, taking all of our debt with us. We were unable to sell the house, so we rented it out (proving to be a blessing later on.)
Once there, hubby flourished at work, we planted ourselves in a church, made friends and dug in as though we’d be there forever. We did not however tackle our debt problem right away.
One night about a year and a half later, hubby and I were chatting when I said, “are we ever going to get serious about this debt thing?” We loved the stories of people living debt free. We used a budget. Our hearts, however, had not been in the right place. The problem was the thought process that, working hard and being good people entitled us to stuff.
There’s the word. The one word that, in my opinion, is the root of why so many people struggle with debt, entitlement.
I was done. Finished. Over it.
Hubby agreed. It was at this moment that we decide it would not be another windfall that got us out of debt, it would be us that got us out of debt.
We made a plan: Sell hubby’s car. Throw our income tax return toward debt. Make a lean budget. Get a second job. And make a list of all the debt we had. All of it. Including money I had borrowed from my dad before I was married.
Our goal? Every penny of debt would be paid off and we would not stop until it was.
Only this time, we had none of the pressures we were use to back home. No expectations placed upon us.
He prepared the way.
All the while, God had been working on our behalf. He prepared the way.
We had made friends with some fantastic people who had an encouraging debt story of their own. This was something we’d never had before. Supporters. These people understood why we didn’t have money for things. We were not uncomfortable to say no to things. They cheered us on. We only had to move 568 miles away to find them.
My husband worked his 8-5, Monday-Friday; came home, slept for a couple hours, then worked 16-20 hours on Friday and Saturday night, came home Sunday morning, slept until Monday morning and did it all over again. Week after week.
$20,000 in 14 months.
We paid off roughly 20,000 worth of debt in about 14 months.
The most precious thing we experienced through this time was seeing God work in such tangible ways. Favor was around every corner.
We paid the last $20 dollars toward our debt, by taking our kids to the bank, paying in person and then celebrating in the parking lot. We jumped, we danced, we shouted!
My husbands former workplace was now asking him to come back. (Remember the previously mentioned resignation?) A great healing took place and a professional relationship was born that has blessed us ever since. We moved back to our humble Tennessee home, that now felt like a castle. Our hearts were now in a position of gratitude. We remained steadfast.
So how is it that we are able to not slide back into debt now?
We remember the monumental sacrifices we all made. The time and distance.
When things come and go easy, like paying off debt quickly, say with a windfall, it’s just as easy to slip right back into it. However, when you sweat and toil and work your tail off for something, you hold on to it.
We had to move far away from everything we knew in order to grow enough to accomplish something so great. Strangers who turned into dear friends inspired us and we learned that things worth doing, don’t come easy nor fast.
You however, can do it today, right where you are.
The most valuable resource to help you get started right away, right where you are is still Dave Ramsey. This program is known in households throughout the world because it works. That simple. Dave knows his stuff. It’s not rocket science. The only thing you really need to accomplish financial peace is the resolve to do it. click here to start your own debt free story. click here for more Dave Ramsey resources.