42 months ago, Dominic and I started a long journey.
It was October 2007 and we were newlyweds. We had just moved into our first apartment, put our honeymoon on my faithful(?) MasterCard and we were ready to live it up. We were DINKs (double income, no kids) and life was our oyster.
But, there was something wrong. You see, life can’t really be your oyster when you’re tied to debt. And let me tell you, we had our fair share …
- American Express
- Bank of America Visa
- 2 Chase Visas
- Gap card
- Macy’s card
- Target card
- Nordstrom card
- Gordon’s card
- Truck loan
- 2 Bachelors degrees
- 1 Masters degree
- 2 Family loans (due to a recent car repair and wedding ring)
Isn’t it crazy how things double when you get married?
Some of the cards didn’t have balances and we weren’t behind on any payments, but we were living in bondage. We had purchased things we couldn’t afford and that is not the kind of life we wanted to grow accustom to.
Realizing this and discovering Dave Ramsey began our journey towards financial freedom. Over the last 42 months we told our money where to go and paid off a little over $80,000. Most of our decisions were structured around Dave’s Baby Steps:
- $1,000 Emergency Fund
- Debt Snowball
- 3-6 Months Emergency Fund
- Invest 15% of Household Income
- College Savings
- Pay Off House Early
- Build Wealth and GIVE!
On April 24th (Easter) we hit “send” on our final student loan payment. Goodbye ACS Education Loans … you can stop sending us letters and emails.
WE ARE DEBT FREE!
Dominic and I have sacrificed many things (shoes, vacations, electronics, fancy cars, home ownership) while cash flowing many an unexpected expense over the last 42 months. When this journey began we never would have thought we would have been able to …
- Pay off our student loans in less time than it took for us to accrue them
- Fit in a vacation to Mexico
- Buy a computer
- Have a baby
- Cash flow $4,000 in birth expenses
- Cash flow a $5,000 family-size car
- Survive 4 months of unemployment (with no state unemployment benefits)
- Take advantage of 18 weeks of maternity leave (12 weeks at no pay)
- Put a 9 month pause on paying debt (while I was pregnant and we were saving for other expenses)
- Cash flow a nanny for Jemma
Things haven’t been easy. It takes quite a bit of dedication to attack debt as we have … and we haven’t always been perfect. We took a little longer route so that we could live a little in the meantime (hence the Mexico vacation and some other fun things we built into our budget). Organizing our finances has been a unifying experience. Dominic and I don’t fight about money because we have mutually decided on the financial goals for our family. Our first goal was to be debt free. Our next is to save up a 3-6 month emergency fund. Watch out dollars. Here. We. Come.
Our motivation in becoming financially secure isn’t influenced by becoming rich or having more things. Our goals are much more fulfilling. Becoming debt free and living within our means will allow us to happily live on a single income (my dream), fund Dominic’s financial coaching business without a small business loan (Dominic’s dream), possibly adopt a child (or two), save for a house, bless others with our time/resources and further the kingdom of God however He might lead. I’d give up some shopping money to see all these things come true … wouldn’t you?
As we progress through the Baby Steps we’ll eventually find ourselves living with minimal monthly expenses. This will allow us to retire early, invest in our family, create a legacy of financial security for our children and be open to wherever and whatever the Lord might call us to do. Think about all the possibilities when you don’t have a house payment. Don’t have to worry about retirement. Don’t allow money make your decisions for you.
I’m excited for the next step in our financial journey. Meeting this goal has given us a lot of fuel to continue on. Things are only getting better and it has been an extreme blessing to see money bring us closer and make our marriage stronger.
I might share more about our specific budget and such in the coming months. It’s a pretty big part of our life and I hope that our journey will be a dose of encouragement for others who are working their way towards financial freedom.
P.S. We’ll be screaming “We’re debt free!” live on Dave’s radio show on May 13th between 11 am and noon. Feel free to listen in if it suits your fancy :)
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