Proverbs 22:7 The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.
This post is about honesty: it details my debt free journey. Please enjoy the story, and use it for motivation. I want to let everyone know that this is attainable, and it’s a great way to live. Yes, you, too can be debt free!
See last week’s post for more on why you should become debt free.
Like a lot of folks, I wasn’t taught much about money or debt growing up. Blindly, I went to college, racking up student loan debt, to the tune of just over $40K! That was just for a Bachelor’s, with the first year being completely paid for with scholarship. And, I initially wanted to go on to vet school, but thank heavens-God was really looking out for me- I didn’t get in, and avoided a landmine of even more debt. So after college, I landed a decent job, and soon needed a new vehicle- my little cavalier was going caput. I financed it, true to my ignorant nature. About $11K added on to my $40K. Luckily for me, I had an amazing fiancee, and when we tied the knot in 2012, another 15K of student loan debt was piled on top, as well as a 35K house loan- his debt.
So all in all we had over $100K in the hole. And sadly, this is the most prevalent story for our youth. This is how most of us start our young lives, and most of us never even stop to question it, or take the time to think about it, much less do anything about it. We just go on in debt, adding more and more each time we “need” something, as this is the normal way to live.
Fortunately for us, my awesome friend Jess told me about Dave Ramsey. I started learning about his baby steps in 2010, when I had only my student loan and vehicle debt, or about 50K. So at that point I had enough money to pay off my truck and and still have the $1K baby emergency fund, so that’s what I did. It was so scary to dwindle all my savings down, but I did it anyway. (I still find that’s the scariest part of paying things off!)
Next were my student loans; what a mountain to tackle! Every extra penny went towards them. We cut out all unnecessary spending, and I also took on extra jobs: industrial cleaning and a little freelance writing. By the time we were married in 2012, they were half gone. By our first anniversary, they were totally gone, and we began to work on my husband’s student loan debt. Soon his were knocked out as well, and in October ’13, we were debt free besides the house.
During the process, we used my whole income towards debt, and lived on my husband’s income. Since we weren’t used to using my income, we managed to save a lot after everything was paid off. We bought our next vehicle with cash after our first baby was born, paid our medical bills from having a baby, -what a nightmare- and then decided to pay our entire house off! It was at a balance of 18K, and on Thanksgiving ’14, it went down to 0. Next month will be our 1 year anniversary of being completely debt free!
How do you do it?
- Learn about Dave Ramsey’s baby steps.
- Enlist the help of discipline.
- Focus on your end goal, and stay that way! Wants will come up, but always remember that your goal is more important than that new toy/trip.
We did not use a strict budget, sorry Dave!- more like just kept track of our spending after we did it. We are not big spenders so this worked fine for us. I am sure if you actually followed a budget (and I am sure you need to if you are a habitual spender.) you’d get there much, much, quicker.
This whole process was hard work, but has allowed me the freedom to be a stay-at-home mom and raise our kids ourselves, which is the best benefit imaginable to our family. If we were still toiling in student loan debt and racking up even more debt, like a normal family, I’d never have been able to leave my corporate job, and that would also mean an obligation to pay for daycare, disposable diapers, and probably formula, as it’s easier for me to go the natural route with cloth diapers and breastfeeding at home. It also allows us to be more generous- giving gifts isn’t such a calculated effort now. We can just give away freely! Dream about what your life will be like when you’re debt free, and that will help you stick with your goal.
Freedom from debt is attainable. And real people happily live debt free, and I want to thank my dear friend Jess for introducing me to Dave Ramsey, Dave Ramsey for teaching me not only about money, but about integrity in life, as well, and also thanks to my stunningly handsome husband for working through all this together! (Note: Although the words do ring true, the stunningly handsome description was mandated by my husband: when I asked his permission to share our debt free story, he said yes, but gave me a list of adjectives that had to precede his name. The list was a lot longer, but I stuck with the words I felt most appropriate for my blog.)
This post was linked to the Tell it to me Tuesday link party. Find all sorts of great posts from other bloggers there!