our journey to becoming debt-free {part two}

if you’re just joining in on the story, you can read part one here

After almost five years of being in debt, we were excited to get started on Dave Ramsey’s list of baby steps to becoming debt-free.

The first baby step was to build an emergency fund. We had a fairly good income, so this was just a matter of more carefully watching our money. It took us a while to build it up, but it was very exciting to see money actually accumulate in our account!

We slowly started on step two- the debt snowball, which is basically using all of your free money each month to put toward paying off your lowest balance. We stopped contributing to our 401k and used that money for our snowball. We started praying in earnest that God might be merciful, even though we had been in the wrong, and provide us with ways to make additional income to put on our snowball.

Amazingly, God provided in miraculous ways. We started with $40k in debt {between a school loan, a car, and credit cards}, and 19.5 months later, on a middle class income, we had zero debt other than our mortgage. We sold our nice car at a huge loss and paid for a used nine-year-old van with cash, and God provided as many side jobs as my husband could do in his free hours.

During that time, we also had our third baby, and by another miracle of God, three days before she was born, we were given employee health insurance that saved us thousands of dollars.

It was not an easy 19 months- we worked hard and lived on a tight budget. I carefully watched every dollar that came in and went out. I went to my first garage sale, bought and sold things on eBay, and used Craigslist to buy almost everything we needed. We ate at restaurants a lot less, though we still allowed ourselves to eat out on occasion since it's one thing we loved to do as a family. I played the drugstore game at CVS, saving a ton of money each month on toiletries. Oh, all that and I practically never saw my husband during that year and a half; I listened to Dave Ramsey's podcast and blogged at night when he was away working!

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Within a few months, we started to see our balances drop rapidly with addition of the side income and the money from our car payment. We paid off balance after balance, and with great joy called each credit card company and cancelled our account. The reps were a little more than confused when we started to tell them about Dave over the phone!

I’d have to say the sweetest moment in the whole process was writing the check to pay off our last consumer debt- a school loan. It was an amazing feeling, like a huge weight was lifted off of our shoulders. It was freedom, and there's just no feeling in the world like it!

Right now, there is still one last check we have left to write- the one to pay off our home. And that will be even more exciting!

Being debt-free has allowed us the freedom to buy our foreclosed home, allowed us to take sweet vacations, and even take a pay cut last year without worry of the future.

I definitely wish we hadn't made the mistakes that we did- we'd be so far ahead of where we are now. But even with all of those hard years, I'm not sure I'd take it back, because through our experience I can say this with certainty: financial freedom is even sweeter when it's fought for.

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Are you working on the “baby steps,” or have you recently become debt-free? I’d love to hear your story! Please tell! :)

16 comments

Shari said...

I found your blog tonight and how encouraging it is! My hubby and I are literally drowning in debt and are beginning to follow Dave's principles as much as we can. We don't make much...my hubby is disabled with MS and progressive lung cancer. I am self-employed, yet it's a slow time right now. Therefore, we do not have the income neede. We are working with my brother-in-law who is our financial advisor...I don't know how we're going to get out of debt...it seems hopeless. I am now having to look for a job...I am trying to keep house, homeschool, be involved with church events, work on my business (I am a ventriloquist)...and the list goes on. Sorry for going on...sometimes, I just need to put it 'out' there...it helps. Thank you for a wonderful blog!

Shari

Kelli- AdventurezNchildRearing said...

at one time we had 2 years of income put away and little to no debt- the economy has changed that- I made so many bad decisions thinking it would "turn around" - long story, but now it seems hopeless. I know that with God- nothing is actually hopeless- I am walking on faith each day and homeschooling our 3 boys- my husband is doing all he can do yet- there does not seem to be an end in sight. we are praying our way through it - thank you for the encouragement!

mandyBH said...

Yay! Dave is the best! I'm so excited for you! :D

mandyBH said...

Yay!! I love Dave, and I think you will too, Ed! He's really wise, and no matter where you are financially, I think his info is super helpful. Thanks for reading along with me! :)

Jamiethespunkysister said...

I just started following you today and was reading through your posts and found this one! I just read Dave Ramseys book after being puttting it off for months, and am also on my way to being debt free, so glad to hear its working for you, cant wait til i can also say I am debt free!

Ed F said...

What a very inspiring post Mandy. While we are not struggling with debt, we do live a lifestyle that requires two incomes. I would love to able to have my wife be a stay at home mom it doesn't seem possible to me at the moment. I also think that we could spend our money more wisely. I'll pick up Dave's book and see if I can pick up some wisdom from him. Thanks for posting.

mandyBH said...

I know, once you get past the debt snowball it seems like you need some off time before you hit the next one! We were tired and went on vacation after we got done! :) I'm so ready for 7 too!! :D

mandyBH said...

Yay!! Rejoicing with you! How much fun to hear about others on the way to being DEBT FREE! wohoo!

mandyBH said...

Wow! That's awesome!! You guys are getting down to business! I love it! Do you listen to the podcasts too? I find them hilarious!

rachieannie said...

My husband took a new job in ND that payed way more than his previous job so that we can face off on our debt in a big way. It means we live in a camper part time and travel 10 hours home on our time off, but we know that there is a future in what we are doing. By sacrificing now, we'll have a better future. We just spent our last road trip listening to Financial Peace University so we're excited to get started!

Stephanie said...

Good for you and praise God!! My husband and I are in the process of step #2 and hopfully will be in the same situation with just our home left!! Keep up the great work!

April said...

I love hearing "Ramsey" stories! My husband and I took a class at our church. We were able to quickly build our emergency fund, then we got stuck in the Debt Snowball. I have to say to those still in the debt snowball, "don't loose hope, keep a truckin'!, when you write those checks with your final payments, it is so rewarding! We are currently on Baby Step 3, and how I long to be on Step 7! One day, God willing!

Danzorig said...

Dear Mandy,
I am going through hard time financially speaking...and today I found your blog. It is a miracle and I would like to give the Glory to God.. I have been praying for direction and answers to my financial situation but did not think that I would find it on a website or blog but here you are...after reading your story about debt free and Dave Ramsey I feel relieved and know for certain that I will be debt free soon!!! Thank you so much and God Bless!!!

mandyBH said...

Disqus generic email templateOh, I’m so, so glad! God is awesome- I’m so glad He’s encouraging your heart and that you found what you were looking for!! Praise the Lord! :D

Jessica said...

I am a FPU coordinator at our church. We are debt free and love teaching Dave's baby steps. I have been following your blog for a few months and just came across this post. I love reading about the success of others. Congratulations and keep up the good work!

adamamyparker said...

Thank you for sharing your story! My husband and I are digging out of our debt~I have started a blog and YouTube channel to keep me motivated and this way on days I am struggling I can go back and see how far we have come. I use to be a very shy person that didn't want anyone to know the "ugly" parts of my life so it took a while for me to open up to others. In the last 6 months I have had countless friends come beside me thanking me for my courage to share and say that I have inspired them to get their finances right with God. If you are interested you can read my story here~ http://parker5kickindebt.com/about/
Thanks again for sharing!