Living debt free is absolutely possible for EVERYONE!!! I believe in dreams coming true and mine are coming true everyday. We have created a life with margin…margin of cash that is. Depending on the amount of debt you are living in, your journey may take more or less time than mine. You will also have to sacrifice more or less in the “now” than I might have. But let me just tell you, IT IS ABSOLUTELY WORTH IT IN THE END!
Our journey of debt begins with my completion of a master’s degree, a closet full of nice clothes, and a large house with a big mortgage. We were enjoying life for sure. But only paying the minimum on student loans while racking up debt on credit cards. I justified everything with, “I need it now, so I’ll just pay for it later.”
We are huge Dave Ramsey fans so I had read many of his books and sat through his Financial Peace University seminar. I know a lot about budgeting and living off of cash, but I didn’t apply too much at the time. Since I was in charge of the finances for my family, my husband trusted me and didn’t ask questions. Looking back now, that was part of the problem. I didn’t have accountability to my purchases and overspending.
Fast forward $11,000 in credit card debt and $25,000 in student loans. We were in over our heads. $36,000 later I decided to sit down with my husband and be honest about my spending habits. This was a hard conversation. But from my honesty came some decisions that helped mark big steps that led us down a path of paying off debt extremely fast.
Some would say our actions were extreme. What I say to that is, my debt was extreme and we needed out. We started by scraping unnecessary purchases out of our monthly budget. We downsized our cable package, changed utility companies, lowered our grocery and eating out amounts, and took out frivolous spending like manicures and pedicures. Yep, this hurt and I whined my way through it, but I understood the reason behind it all.
While this started to make a dent in our payments, we decided to look at extreme measures and priced out selling our home. When we realized we were in a sellers market season, we pulled the trigger and sold. The part that hurt was downsizing. Yes, we were making money off our home, but we were also buying a smaller home. It took some time for me to accept this change, but once again, I understood the purpose behind it.
We moved into an older home with intentions of remodeling it. However, this house was a distant drive for both of us to work and it made for long days. We were fortunate to be able to put this house on the market after only 6 months of living there and sold it. In order to address our needs of being closer to work, but living with a small mortgage, we decided to purchase a new townhouse. This was a fun process because we got to build it like we wanted which made it feel more like home.
Downsizing our home and driving older cars were some of the big decisions we made to get us to our debt free life. After saving for several months, I was able to buy myself a newer car for cash. My husband drives an older car that is paid off and we live in our townhouse with our family of 4.
I have big dreams of what our future holds, such as a dream house, my dream car, paying for our daughters to attend the school of their choice and the list goes on. But I know it all will come in time. For now, we live debt free, with a growing savings, and we are able to make decisions for our family and purchase most of what we want and anything we need with cash.
Unfortunately, our story is not too common for most Americans. Our dream is to get our story out there so people can see this is a possibility for anyone. We have been fortunate to have been recognized by CNBC and Student Loan Hero for our extreme decision making that brought us financial freedom.
I’ll be the first to tell you that dreams do come true, but it takes a lot of work and effort on your part. Don’t let the present decisions weigh you down. Mark your dreams and get busy with action steps to lead you there. Put your Red Dress on and be driven by your dreams!
Sign: Target, $3
Coat: Target, $30 (similar)