Debt Free Journey

On July 16, 2020 my husband and I became DEBT FREE! It took us 20 months – a lot of teamwork, sacrifices, communication, and hard work.

If you want to know how we did it – keep reading!!


Our story is one of learning sacrifices, saying NO to spontaneous (fun) things, and truly adopting a lifestyle and mindset of contentment. 

Our story is one of teamwork, intentional budgeting and spending, and open communication all along the way. 

Our story is but one of many people who have been sick and tired of being sick and tired. Enjoy!!


In November of 2018, my husband and I started Dave Ramsey’s Baby Step system – a system to help you start an emergency fund, get out of debt (except your mortgage, fully fund a real emergency fund, start funding kid’s college and retirement, and to start building wealth.

Ultimately we got tired of the hustle and bustle – of making money and watching it go out so quickly. I personally got so sick of feeling like I had no idea where my money went at the end of each pay period.

When you are sick and tired of being sick and tired about your finances, debt, and current situation that you’ll finally decide to change your ways.

We decided that we were ready to change the way we were living – we decided that we’d better get a handle on our finances now while our sons are little as opposed to sticking to the monthly grind of having money come in and watching it slip away.

We felt like we had been working so dang hard and had so little to show for it.

When we added up our debt, we were shocked to find out how much debt we had accumulated in the short amount of time since we got married. Our debt consisted of two cars, a credit card, a phone, and student loans. The most insane part to us (now) is that we thought we were normal! We were just chugging along and living what we thought was the typical life for two twenty-somethings with a family. We thought everyone lived this way and couldn’t even envision a life without payments – we had no idea people did that!

We decided that we were sick of being normal.

The following is the story of our DEBT FREE JOURNEY. I updated the journey alone the way with some small milestones along the way.

If you have any questions, please reach out to me! I’d love to help you get started or point you in the right direction!


We got on a budget

We made a list of all our bills, payments, and miscellaneous expenses throughout the month.

The biggest culprit for me was Target trips. I couldn’t believe how much I was spending on random trips to Target.

We’d tried budgeting before but nothing would last more than two weeks.

We decided to try this budgeting thing again. This time we would try the “Dave Ramsey Way” – a zero-based budget assigning every dollar in your paycheck to a certain category.

A month or two later we got a solid budget down and were able to truly see where our money was going.

We cut expenses along the way. Anything expense that we could live without or slim down on we did. It was tough but it was worth it.

We kept slimming down expenses as much as possible to get going on a debt snowball.

I sold my beloved SUV

Okay, it was just a car. But it was a car I loved, my beloved Chevy Traverse…my mommy-mobile with a 3rd row and tons of space for alllllll the things. Yes, I gave it up. Actually, I traded it in.

In December of 2018, just one month after starting this journey, we started to make some drastic changes (on top of slimming the budget down as much as we could).

I went from a big fancy SUV to a small and humble Sedan. The truth is, my SUV was simply too much car for me at this current phase in our life. And it just made sense while we work through these Dave Ramsey Baby Steps. My Chevy Malibu is perfect for us at this stage in our life and it saves us a ton on gas!

I have no shame in saying that my “new-to-me” car is three years older than the SUV I traded in. It’s a simple car, and fits into our financial goals. Cars are only things and I was sick of putting so much value in things.

I got a great value on my SUV and I even had quite a bit of equity in it – this helped me find a reliable Sedan that’s better on gas and more economical for us. I traded it in and got a small loan for $3,500. This immediately took $10K off our of debt total. It was a big jump but it helped get us motivated and kept us going in the right direction.

I was sad to see my SUV go but I was ready to make worldly sacrifices in order to accomplish our goals.

It’s funny how things start to happen once you make some small sacrifices. Once I started giving up my worldly luxuries and telling myself no, God started showing up in BIG ways.

Learning to be content with what you have is a humbling experience. However, you’ll find that once you learn to be be content with your life, you’ll no longer wish for more – because you start to see your life for what it truly is…blessed.


We took Financial Peace University

In January of 2019 we decided to take Financial Peace University (FPU) at a local church.

FPU is a 9-week course in which Dave Ramsey walks you through the Baby Steps and through various financial necessities like budgets, retirement plans, mutual funds, etc.

Even though we had already been working through a budget and debt payments (basically we already knew everything we needed to do), we decided to take the class because it was important for us to be within a community of people that had the same goals as us.

From January to March we went to class each Sunday evening with amazing FPU coordinators (Amanda and Karl) and we learned so much stuff and we also met so many nice people that wanted nothing but the best for us!

FPU is an investment in yourself and your future. And it comes with so many other services that come in handy as well! I highly recommend FPU for anyone and everyone no matter what situation you are in! It is an investment and you do pay for the course materials, but you are also investing your time each week to work through the programs. I seriously wish we did this prior to getting married.


We paid off that car 3 months later

That car we got when we traded in my Traverse? A 2014 Chevy Malibu…yeah, we paid it off!

By March of 2019, we had that small car loan paid off!

We were totally not expecting to pay it off so early. In fact, we thought we wouldn’t be able to pay it off until the end of 2019. It was all during a time when I was working a lot of extra days at my office to help cover another hygienist’s schedule – so it was a huge financial blessing to have that extra income!

No more car payment for me, however, we still have another car to pay off (the one my husband drives), and student loans.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Amazing things will happen when you start to make some small sacrifices!


We paid off three groups of student loans…

Most student loans are grouped. This is how the loans from my husband’s undergrad are. When we started this journey, we had groups A-G. Note: it’s from his undergrad, but it’s our debt.

So for us, that was seven loans to the tune of just over $24K (it was much larger when he first graduated but we’d been making the regular payments so by the time we started The Baby Steps, it was just over $24K).

In May, June, and July we were able to pay off Groups E, F and G. In total, it was over $9K that we were able to pay off! We still have about $15K to go on the student loans but are working by group with the loans lined up smallest to largest, just like Dave Ramsey recommends.

We are currently working on another loan within the group of loans. It feels so good to see progress on these student loans because when we first graduated it seemed like these loans would be living with us for the next ten years!

But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Just because you’re on a ten-year payment program, doesn’t mean you have to live with these payments for ten years.

In about 9 months, our debt total has gone from $55K to $29K!


Half-Way Update!

We recently hit a YEAR of doing Baby Step 2 (use the debt snowball to pay off your debts, smallest to largest).

Since embarking on this journey a year ago, we made tremendous progress and communication within our marriage has improved. When you learn to be a good steward of God’s money, it truly does transform every other aspect of your life!

Here are some numbers for you so you can see what we were able to do in one year!

November 2018: $55, 616 (one credit card, one phone, two cars, and student loans A-G)

November 2019: $26, 816 (student loans A-D and one car)

That means we’ve paid off over half of our debt. It hasn’t necessarily been fun or easy to make lifestyle changes and to squeeze our budget so much, but it’s been worth it.

You can do this stuff!

You can make a budget.

You can live on less than you make.

You can live like no one else…so that later you can live and give like no one else!


Bye Bye Student Loans!

We paid off the rest of our student loans! What a relief!

When we graduated and got married almost five years ago, we had a little over $30K in student loans from my husband’s undergrad. The second we said, “I do,” those student loans became mine because that’s just how it works!

Coincidentally, the payment cleared exactly FIVE years after my husband’s graduation! When we graduated five years ago, we honestly thought we’d be carrying these student loans around for 10 years (the standard 10 year repayment program)…but God had others plans!

It was such a relief to have these student loans GONE forever!

We’ve got one more debt left in the snowball – a car loan.

3…2…1…WE’RE DEBT FREE!

On July 16th, 2020 my husband and I submitted the last payment to our very last debt in our Debt Free Journey!

We paid off that final car loan we had and wow what an amazing feeling!

It truly is an incredibly freeing feeling – it is such a relief to have that debt stop following us!

Looking back at this journey, our story is just one of many.

Our story is one of learning sacrifices, saying NO to spontaneous (fun) things, and truly adopting a lifestyle and mindset of contentment. 

Our story is one of teamwork, intentional budgeting and spending, and communicating. 

Our story is but one of many people who have been sick and tired of being sick and tired. We had enough and embarked on a Debt Free Journey that has been incredibly fruitful along the way. 

We are ready to attack Baby Step 3 – set up a fully funded emergency fund of 3-6 months of expenses. We hope to have Baby Step 3 done by December of this year!

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