11/5/13

Our Getting Out of Debt Story

When we were first married we had approximately $30,000 in debt. I was 23, Stephen was 25.

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 (sbspooner@gmail.com) 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.

13 comments:

  1. Yes! This is definitely something I would love to hear more about!

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  2. Loving these posts!! We have mutual friends (Liza Sorgenfrei and Lane Connerly) and I found your blog a long time ago but can't seem to remember how :). I've always related to your posts on family life (our children are similar ages) and simplicity. We currently live overseas and are in a graduate school season of life as my husband gets a PhD. All that to say, I'm looking forward to gleaning more of your financial wisdom and how to be content without just being anxious for more things :) So, thanks for these posts!!

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  3. So now that y'all are debt free, do you save your receipts? Only use cash? How do you manage weekly? I think I will start to go to the ATM at the beginning of each week. Thoughts?

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    1. I sorta save receipts - only if they are helpful to me for keeping the books. I use cash only for groceries and I operate on a monthly basis for everything.

      I used to do weekly, but it got to be too much. Monthly is so much easier in my opinion.

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  4. I would love to hear about the hands on "how to" of having a written plan. I struggle with setting this up!! And struggle with sticking to it when "life" happens.

    Love you new blog, but please don't forget to post about your sweet family and the daily-ness of it. That is what I love the most!

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  5. Dave Ramsey for president! Seriously.

    We do a modified version of the envelope system, and it's life-changing. When the cash is gone, you gotta stop spending. Nothing more burdensome than being a slave to your lender. Your newlywed story is SO familiar---having 2 incomes, yet living on 1. We did the same, and after 9 months of putting my entire paycheck towards debt, we had a baby AND solidified that I could stay home with baby. Those tough days ended up being a huge gift.

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  6. Like Emily, I struggle with setting up a plan. I tracked our spending for 2 months a while back, just as a start, but it was so time consuming.:( It did help me see I spend too much on food( when I compare with friends) so is love to get tips on budget grocery shopping, if you shop week to week...etc.

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  7. Love this post and am so, so proud and in awe of your and Grande. I was much older than you before I figured out how that being financially free is much better than stuff!

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  8. Dave helped us get out of debt years ago, and it was the best, most life-changing decision ever. I, like you, am in some ways totally thankful for the stupid tax of those pre-marriage and early marriage years. I could go on and on about the stuff you wrote about, and also Dave and his wisdom. I still listen to him as much as possible just to glean additional wisdom. Also, I cry every single Friday. Tears streaming down my face when people call in with their lives changed.
    But, the absolute BEST part, is baby step 7! We love love love being able to give. We love being able to send money to people who are currently working the steps, or just give to people that God puts in our paths and on our hearts.
    Have you taken the class? The last video you watch is the most life changing thing I have ever seen. You HAVE to watch it if you haven't. He basically talks about how if we are doing all this, and then not giving, we have missed the point.
    Should we start a Dave fan club already?! Sorry to hijack the comments! Love the new blog!

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    1. Amen, Lexie. It's all about having a generous heart! Love your reminder.

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  9. What a happy and inspiring and encouraging story. Good for you!

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  10. You are the 3rd person in 1 weeks time that somehow Dave Ramsey comes into conversation. We ordered his special online last week and just got it in the mail. I am starting on the first book now, Total Money Makeover and then starting on watching his DVDs and plans. I am so scared and so excited to start this! Thanks for sharing your successful story, motivates me more!! Loving you new blog :)

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  11. Amen! We use cash for about 5 or 6 areas of our budget, and it has helped tremendously cut down on spending. Like you guys, the house is our only debt and has been for a while. It is a great feeling. Planning is the big key because last month I never made a real meal plan and it was BAD! I felt likei was in the store every other day. Love the new blog, but then again, I loved the old one :)

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