Too much truck and an unsuccessful business venture are what put us upside down. From day one, we decided that we would pay our debts off as fast as we could. We both had jobs, two incomes and no kids, and we were only responsible for ourselves.
wedding weekend May 2006
But six months in we were going nowhere, only having paid off a couple hundred dollars here and there. Our debt remained, we had only reduced our balance by less than 10% .
And then one day Stephen recommended that I start listening to the Dave Ramsey show. I immediately got hooked to his common sense approach to finances. Plus, I think he's so funny and entertaining.
Every afternoon when I wasn't working, I listened to the show. Almost overnight we started adopting and implementing Dave's advice. We started the baby steps.
Insanely inspired, we wrote out a budget and lit our plan on fire. Instead of paying minimum payments every month, we paid thousands - as much as we could afford.
One evening Stephen brought home a plain, black ledger because I liked to do my accounting the old fashion way. Daily I would punch the numbers and watch our progress.
We literally cut up our credit cards. We stopped going out to eat. I learned how to grocery shop with a plan and not blow money at the store. I stopped buying clothes. We canceled our cable. We did nothing but work and make dinner at home.
WE GOT CONTROL OF OURSELVES AND STOPPED WASTING OUR MONEY.
In eight months we were completely DEBT FREE - and we have been ever since, everything but the house. That's three (new to us) vehicles, a new air conditioning unit, three babies, and two major reconstructive hand surgeries that we have cash flowed thanks to the lessons we learned that first year of marriage.
Looking back, in many ways those were the best of times. We were living in Warner Robbins, Georgia, and we only had one friend (eventually we made others). We were newly married, and we loved being together and after years of long distance dating. We loved little apartment.
The lessons we learned about money that year were totally worth the 30k in stupid tax. We learned what it meant to be content, to be wise about the future, to stay out of debt, and to be intentional with our money! That year gave me a real love of frugality. It made me realize that financial peace is so much better than the stuff I think I want. I learned to appreciate simple things and small, affordable luxuries. I learned to make do.
The biggest lesson I took away from the experience was to 'have a plan' and write it down. You will never get anywhere without a plan. We piddled our time away for the first 6 months and were only able to get some momentum going once had some real goals and guidelines laid out.
Also, we learned that we could live on one income in a two income world. This later proved to be a great test for when babies came and I wanted to quit my job and stay home.
I share this story in hopes to encourage anyone who needs encouragement. Don't worry about the Jonses (they are probably in debt up to their eyeballs). Be a steward of what God has given YOU.
Live like no one else, so later you can live like no one else. - Dave Ramsey
Take care of your financial affairs and you will have peace.
Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hunter's hand
And like a bird from the hand of the fowler. Pvbs 6:5
I hope to write about personal finance on a regular basis here at Somehow We Manage. It is truly one of my favorite topics and an area where there is always room for improvement. Please feel free to e-mail questions (firstname.lastname@example.org) or leave them in the comments if you feel led. I don't have all the answers, but maybe we can figure it out together! I love finding new, realistic way to save money and be smart.