WE’RE DEBT FREE!!!!!!
Today, I am making the final payment on my school loans! I am so fired up about that! Laura and I have been celebrating this, but I wanted to share with you how we did it. If you’re in debt, I hope this post will encourage you. I hope it will give you a vision for getting out of debt and a passion for developing a plan that actually gets you out of debt!
Our Debt – Our debt was student loans and a car loan. While I’m not sure I’d buy a brand new car again, I don’t think either of these payments in and of themselves is horrible, but for us, we don’t want any debt with the exception of when we buy a home. We don’t plan to go into debt for anything else.
Here is how we did it:
GOD! – None of this would be possible without God. Matthew 6:33 says if you’ll FIRST the Kingdom, ALL these things will be added unto you. God’s been so good to us. Everything you’re about to read is a result of God. God gave us the wisdom, the resources, the council, etc. to get out of debt. God taught us a lot through this journey and we hope to share a little of what He taught us with you in this post.
We Followed Dave Ramey’s Baby Steps: Dave Ramsey is one of my heroes. I went through his Financial Peace class when I was 19 and it changed the way I viewed money. If you have not been through Financial Peace, I couldn’t encourage you enough to go through it. It will change your life! The first step in his plan is to create an emergency fund and get it funded with $1,000 in case you have an emergency. Once you have that, the plan is to get out of debt as fast as possible using the debt snowball method (I talk about this in the next step). That is the step we just completed!
We Met with Financial Advisors and got a Plan: I am not naturally good with numbers or finances! Seriously. I need MAJOR help in this area. If I have a plan, I’m great at following the plan, but if it’s up to me to create the plan by myself . . . well… it’s going to take a lot longer to get from A to B. Because Laura and I realized this isn’t an area of strength for us, we met with financial advisors. A lot of people say they “can’t afford” financial advisors. Most advisors will be willing to meet with you and help you for free. Yes, they may want you to invest in products eventually, but if they are helping you and you trust them, then you should think about what they’re asking you to do and see if it works for you. The key is finding someone you trust and knows is looking out for your best interest.
I am so grateful for Poe Oster and others who sat down with us and gave us a plan! They looked over all of our finances, asked us when we wanted to get out of debt, and then gave us a plan to do that. I would have never figured that out on my own! Meet with experts! They will help you get further, faster!
We have a Budget – Laura handles our budget… we’re not perfect with it, but I would say that we know where all of our money is going ahead of time 95-97% of the time…. We like to be a little spontaneous once in a while! If you’re not good at budgeting, find someone who is and ask them to help you!
We Tithed – I can’t tell you how we got out of debt without telling you how we steward our finances! I started tithing (giving 10% of my income to the church/God) when I was 18. For Laura and I, tithing isn’t an option! In fact, we get more excited about tithing and giving than we do anything else.
I have never met anyone who tithes who has not seen their life and their financial life change as a result of tithing. When you’re faithful with what God gives you, He blesses you in ways you can’t even imagine! Throughout my journey of being in debt, I’ve seen God do some incredible things in our financial lives! I do not believe Laura and I would be in the financial situation we’re in if we were not good stewards of what’s God’s (the tithe).
We Chose to Never Have Any Credit Card Debt – While Dave Ramsey doesn’t encourage this, we do use a credit card. However, we pay off the entire balance every month. The only debt we had that we paid off was school loans and a car loan.
We Sacrificed the Short Term for the Long Term – With the exception of investing in retirement and putting a small amount of money away in our emergency fund each paycheck, we did not save any money while we were paying off debt. Our other savings goal is to double our down-payment for a house. We put that goal on hold until we paid off all of our debt. I know some people would argue against that, but for us, getting out of debt was 1st priority and worth all the sacrifices made in the short-term.
We Attacked Debt with Gazelle Like Intensity! – We were $23k in debt when we got married. We used a lot of the money we got for our wedding, bonuses, raises, and presents to pay off debt. When we sat down with Poe, it was March of 2013. The plan he put together was to get us out of debt by May of 2014 (which was pretty ambitious to begin with.) We followed his plan and did put as much extra as we could to get out of debt as fast as we could. Because of this, we are debt free 5 months ahead of schedule! Again, we made this top priority and we stuck with it until we paid off everything!
We Have a Plan for Life After Debt – Now that we’re debt free, we have money available that we didn’t have before. However, we already have a plan for all of that money. We know exactly what we’re going to do with it. I think this is important because if you don’t have a plan, you can waste a ton of money and never reach any new goals!
If you’re in debt, there is hope for you! You may not be able to see yourself ever getting out of debt, but if you’ll start to educate yourself, surround yourself with experts, budget, be a wise steward of your money, make the sacrifices necessary, and determine to pay off your debt as soon as possible, then one day you will get debt free.
Take one day, one dollar, and one step at a time. It may take longer than you want it to, but when it’s over, you’ll be so glad you made the effort.
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