Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Debt Free Post

I tell you the following story not to brag or to make you feel bad, but only to inspire. We have needed inspiration many times along the way and I pray that you find the same for your family. If we can be that inspiration you need, then it’s worth putting our story out there.

As of 9:00 this morning, our family became DEBT FREE!!!!!! We have officially closed the door on Baby Step 2, where all debts except for the mortgage are paid in full.

I made a promise to my readers that I would disclose our amount of our original debt once we became debt free. The debt we were facing in the summer of 2007 was almost $80,000. The debt was spread out so it didn’t seem that bad, until we added it all up. Here was our breakdown:

My car $12,000
Husband’s truck $9,000
Mower $3,000
Saxophone $1,500
Line of Credit Loan $44,000
Misc credit/store cards $10,000

A man named Dave walked into our lives and scared the heck out of us. He told us we were a normal American family, but normal families are broke. We had a good income and plenty of savings in the bank, but when you compared our income to the amount of money we were spending each month, we were broke. The more money we made, the more we spent. Does this sound like your family?

How we did it
Once the sense was knocked into us, we started selling stuff. Our brand new, shiny red zero-turn 2-month-old lawn mower was loaded up and hauled back to the dealer. The new saxophone we were making payments on for our son was returned to the store and we found a better quality used one on Craiglist. Those are some examples of the big things. Many, many little things were sold.

We wrote down our debts from smallest to largest. We paid them off one at a time and were finally able to start tackling the line of credit loan in February 2008. This one was going to be hard due to the large amount, so we dove into it with fierce intensity. We avoided restaurants, shopping, some entertainment, and cut back our spending tremendously. Every single extra penny went toward this debt. I was at the bank every Saturday morning having them count change I had come across that week and putting it directly toward principal. Since February 2008, we have made 121 payments toward our HELOC. Most of those were principal only payments. The smallest principal payment was a measly $4.00!

I’m going to be honest – it was difficult. There were arguments between my and my husband. There were times when we wanted to give up. Many shopping trips and nights out on the town were cancelled. The kids would yell, “I hate Dave Ramsey!” as they were told that our family doesn’t do this or that. Many relatives and friends made fun of us. We were told quite often, “You still have to have fun in life!” But who will be having fun now?

After today, we get to keep our paychecks. I can’t even imagine what that will feel like. Our lives have been changed, but most importantly the lives of our boys have been changed. They have been active participants in this project and are very aware of how loans and credit cards work (or I should say, don’t work). We will never borrow money again.

If our story inspires you and you want advice for getting on the right track, please contact us. We really do feel called to be of service to others in regards to family finances and are getting prepared to teach Financial Peace University in our community. We want other families to feel exactly the same way we do today.

More about our story can be found here.