We took a normal family trip, or what we thought would be normal. We visited some great friends in the D.C. area and just through normal everyday conversation those people changed our lives.
At that time, Greg and I were living paycheck to paycheck. Our paychecks were going towards our credit cards every month. We would have anywhere between $5,000 to $10,000 dollars in credit card debt at one time. We also had some medical bills, car payments, loans on 401K. We had so much debt.
When we visited our friends, they had no idea. They simply let us in on a piece of their lives. They simply shared that they follow a budget and they follow the Dave Ramsey “Total Money Makeover” plan. I had heard about Dave Ramsey, but had never read any of his books but for some reason this conversation peaked my interest.
We learned more about the plan and I felt like this was my wake up call from God that we could live life differently. Greg and I never wanted to live a life in debt, but for some reason we got caught up in the social pressures of life and we let that dictate where we were at financially. I felt as if that trip was supposed to propel us into a very different future…and I was right.
Let me tell you what happened after that trip. As soon as we got home, I rushed to the local library and borrowed the book our friends recommended. I read the “Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey and hit the ground running. I shared a lot about the book to Greg and I will never forget the look on his face when I told him what I wanted to do. We had a 2012 white, very nice Acadia and I told him I wanted to sell it and buy a car with cash or finance only a small amount of money for the car.
I swear his jaw dropped and he turned white. I also told him that I wanted to start selling some of our stuff to pay off some of our debt. Dave Ramsey calls it the “Debt Snowball” and I can tell you first hand it works. When you get momentum to start paying off bills and debt and you get this fire and passion behind your decision, you are unstoppable.
My husband saw the fire in my eyes and understood my “why” (although it did take a couple days for him to fully understand). I started naming off items in our house that we weren’t using and started taking pictures of things to sell. He panicked a little at this point, but after I explained what I was doing and how we could use the money, he let me go with it. At this point, he even joined in critiquing my photographs…LOL.
I ended up selling some furniture and other items (clothing I didn’t wear, a portable DVD system for the car and various other items) and made over $2500 to put towards our debt. My husband’s jaw dropped again…but this time in a “I can’t believe we just sold stuff and made money kind of way.” He started to see it was working and by this time, we both shared the same mindset and developed tremendous momentum. He is very good with numbers so he went to work on a budget that we later sat down and reviewed.
Let me tell you, we are human and we have gotten off track with our budget at times, but we always sit down and refocus. We do the best we can and that is all we can do. I will tell you this though, God has provided for us in HUGE ways. We have paid off so much debt and in the process we have become a stronger couple. (As an aside, we ended up selling our 2012 Acadia trading it in for a 2004 blue Durango. It is paid off and so is Greg’s car, a 2011 Toyota Corolla.)
So on to the other part of our story. If you read the “About Me” section, I spoke about our real estate ventures. You may be thinking that it is kind of crazy to incur more debt with buying investment properties and trying to go completely debt free. I totally understand and I agree (by the way, Dave Ramsey would not agree with how we are going about this and that’s ok with me).
BUT…I feel that God wants us to have the freedom in our lives that we desire. We pray about every property and have goals to keep going with our business as we believe this is the journey God has in store for us. We intend to purchase these properties and use the debt snowball system to pay them off as well. I truly feel this is supposed to be part of our story. I feel like God wants us to be financially free from debt and financially independent.
In fact, I believe we were supposed to be at this point in our business because I lost my job in July 2015 and I didn’t start a new job until October and you know what… we were ok financially. Our financial goals took a hit, but we didn’t struggle financially during this time. God had our backs.
Risk taking is scary business. I was so scared to take a risk into real estate investing. There are so many what ifs, but after doing it for a few years and having some pretty “bad” stuff happen… we still made it through each and every obstacle.
Not only do I want to encourage you to be intentional about your finances, but be intentional about your future. What do you see for your future? What are you good at? Is there a certain passion you have that you want to pursue? Don’t wait. Start making a plan to achieve this goal. Be intentional about each step. Don’t just let it happen. I hope you will keep following. I have lots more to share…
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