This is the Part 2 of a series telling about how we came to the point in our lives where we were willing to sell half of our belongings, give up our lifestyle and move away from family and friends, including our 3 teenage daughters and move to the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia so my husband, Chad, could go to seminary. Part 1 is here.
The drastic change that needed to happen to get out of debt did not come all at once, but over the course of the next few years. At about this same time Chad was offered a promotion in a community 2 hours away from the one I had grown up in. While this was great for his career and with his promotion came a pay raise, it was hard not letting it go to my head and keep up with the “Jones’”. I knew I needed to get on a budget and not spend money we did not have. I was able to keep my spending in check, and while I did not add any to the debt I had accumulated over the years, the balance never seemed to get much smaller.
Things were not easy. Like I said before, marriage is work and there were so many things changing in our life and relationship. Not only was I trying to get a hold of my frivolous spending I had done in the past, I was also trying to be the wife that Chad deserved. I will be honest; I failed many, many times. (I still fail at times!) It was two steps forward and one step back. I still questioned God at times and sometime let silly annoyances balloon into bigger issues. Chad, too, was learning. He was learning to balance his career, church involvement, and family time. We were moving in the right direction.
By 2010 I had curbed my spending down drastically. I knew I needed to get with the program and knock out the debt, but the thought of going without scared me and I had no idea where to start. For years I had bought new, name brand clothes every season, not only for myself but also the kids. We drove very nice vehicles and went on a few expensive vacations. We ate out several times a week. We had a beautiful house in a very nice neighborhood. I knew we would have to do without many of the things I had been so accustomed to. But I was at the point where I knew “things” were not going to make my life happier. Even though things were going better for Chad and I, the heaviness of debt made me feel helpless. I wanted the freedom that came with being debt free, a freedom I had not experienced my whole adult life. After being laid up that year with a back injury (which bothers me to this day), I read Dave Ramsey’s book, The Total Money Makeover, followed by More Than Enough. I approached Chad with the idea to start Dave’s plan and he was thrilled! He had read the book in 2009 and had wanted to follow it, but was not sure if I would be on board. At that time he began to pray that I would be willing to do Dave’s plan together and here it was, a year later and I approached him about it! Together we buckled down, followed Dave’s instructions, and knocked out $20,000 of debt in a year and a half. By the time 2012 rolled around we were debt free except for our house!
Living frugally in order to pay off our debt opened up a whole new world to me. I found out there are inexpensive clothes that are cute and fashionable! I found that I do not need a vacation every year; a walk with our dog, a bike ride in the countryside, or a frugal get-away to a nearby town was enough to become relaxed and refreshed. I found a love for cooking and that my homemade food tastes better than eating out and that if I try, I can replicate almost every restaurant out there. I also found that driving my old paid for Suburban was better than having a car payment. It was amazing! And with this came the wonderful feeling of working together with my husband towards a goal.
So what were the exact steps we took? Next time I will go through each thing, great and small, that we did to reduce our debt.
For those of you struggling with debt, or even for those who are just starting out and want to do it right, I encourage you to check out Dave's website!