Our Debt Free Story

My life has changed drastically in the last few years. From dating, to getting married, to finding out I was pregnant, to having a baby. All in the time span of three years. Yes, you read that right! Yet somehow my husband and I managed to pay off $80,000 worth of debt. It’s truly all a blur, but we managed it. It was all thanks to Dave Ramsey’s principles.

When my husband and I started dating, we discussed finances many times. If you read my other blog post here, you will know that we were not the beating-around-the-bush type. My husband is very numbers-minded and frugal, whereas I am a shopaholic and a free spirit. We both had to learn how to work together, and we did that with Dave Ramsey. I watched his videos every spare minute I could get – I was fired up and wanted to become debt free with “gazelle intensity” like Dave puts it. After we got engaged, we sat down and looked at our finances. We looked at each of the baby steps and figured out our timeline and goals. We set a budget for the wedding, and created a plan for our money after we were married. I brought two credit cards and a car loan, he brought a car loan and student loans.

I didn’t think it was possible to cash flow the wedding of my dreams, but we did it! I scoured Pinterest and found easy DIY ideas for creating decorations for less. We enlisted friend’s expertise, and hunted for the best deals throughout the months of our engagement. It was truly perfect. (We even cash flowed a week at Disney World for our honeymoon – another win!) And with that, we were finally married. Oh, did I mention that I also paid off both of my credit cards during this time?

“Even though we talked this through beforehand, it was a wakeup call for me. I was not a child anymore. So I had to stop acting like a child in a candy store with my….wait, with OUR…money.” 

I thought budgeting would come easy, but for someone who never budgeted and just spent money willy-nilly, IT WAS HARD. I wasn’t on my own anymore. I had to consider another person in the mix. It was also the first time I lived away from my parents. Payments I never had to worry about came flooding in during the first month – insurance, gas, electric, rent, more insurance, internet, etc. Even though we talked this through beforehand, it was a wakeup call for me. I was not a child anymore. So I had to stop acting like a child in a candy store with my….wait, with OUR…money.

I know that I am a visual learner. So with the first few months of budgeting, the EveryDollar app really helped! It’s also free! It took us a while to get the hang of it – they say that it takes about three months to figure out one’s budget. I’ll tell you what. It took us longer than that. However, we did get the hang of it. Cue another life change.

Four months after being married, I found out I was pregnant. We were in shock. Our debt free plan did not include having a baby. “They are expensive!” “How are we going to afford this?” “How much is a crib?” “How much do diapers cost every month? How will we know how many we need?” The questions went on and on. Mainly coming from my husband.  Although we knew a baby was going to change our entire world (and our finances), being a nanny for years helped me figure out an estimate on what to spend monthly. I sought out advice from other mom’s and my employers past and present. I knew I wanted to be a stay at home mom, and that meant our income was going down significantly. Yet when you have a plan, it’s not as scary.

Having a baby changes you. Your decisions, your wants, the need for sleep; everything. The idea of getting out of debt became more of a requirement than a want.

As per Dave Ramsey’s advice, we paused our debt snowball and saved every penny we could. It was disheartening after only just getting started, but we knew it was for the best. However, to keep the momentum going, we paid off the remaining balance on my car loan! Fast forward nine months (little babe wanted to stay in for a few extra days) and we had our beautiful baby girl.

Having a baby changes you. Your decisions, your wants, the need for sleep; everything. The idea of getting out of debt became more of a requirement than a want. We moved into my parent’s basement to get rid of rent payments. We pinched and scraped. Slowly but surely we paid off my husband’s car loan. Then his private student loans bit the dust. We were making great headway! Then the coronavirus hit America.

COVID-19 seemed like a curse, but it was a blessing in disguise in some aspects. I’m not trying to downplay the seriousness of the disease, but financially it relieved some burdens. We were hardly driving, so our gas budget went down significantly (yet more cooking at home meant more groceries, so it balanced out). Thankfully my husband did not lose his job, but our income took a hit when his salary went down twenty-five percent. I will admit, it was a scary time. I was fearful of staying in this debt trap forever. Not able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We were so close to becoming debt free!

God had everything under control. Little blessings would come up when we least expected them. The government’s stimulus check, our government loans going into forbearance so the interest was gone, etc. We even sold my car. With rigorous saving and penny pinching, along with those unexpected chunks of change, we hit submit and paid off $21,000 in the span of three months. Our next goal now is to save for a down payment for a house! Wondering how we did this? I am going to be writing more about our budgeting tips and tricks – specifically my mommy tips on budgeting for a baby and meal planning. Talk to you soon!

“And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!”

Luke 12:22-24

With love,

Emily

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