A couple of years ago I started to feel a huge conviction about the amount of debt we were carrying and how much money we were wasting trying to get ahead of it. The stress of just barely scraping by month after month was starting to pull me down physically. I didn’t know how much debt we really had because I just paid the bills without paying attention to the bottom line. Hubby was completely in the dark because I took care of all of the money (or lack there of).
I added up all the numbers in January of 2010 and brought them to hubby. We started to work on getting them down, after all we have bigger plans than spending the rest of our life feeling chained to our debt. In a few months, we paid off our van, medical debt from our older daughter’s ear surgery and made headway on our credit cards. We were succeeding! In June, we went on vacation (cash budget) and the last day I ended up in the ER with a 9mm kidney stone. They discharged me and we came home to another ER visit, a specialist and then outpatient surgery. It was 2 steps forward and 3 steps back as we were saddled with more medical debt.
We started keeping up with how much debt we had in August of 2010 and since that point we’ve paid off around 42% of our debt. I wish that we had kept up with the amount from day 1. We’ve paid off student loans, 2 trucks, 2 cars, 1 van, a cosigned personal loan, a couple of credit cards and many medical debts. Today we have 1 truck and 3 credit cards left to go.
We don’t follow any specific get out of debt program. We tend to follow our own version of Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps. We found a long time ago that following a program that didn’t fit our lives just left us feeling like failures.
Hubby works a full time job and spends the rest of his time growing our family farm so him getting another job even short term isn’t an option that works for us. We followed God’s leading when I quit my job to stay home with our kids and in our debt we have continued to follow His lead when I looked for job opportunities to help get us out of debt. Until recently when a part time (work mostly from home) position literally fell into my lap, God had closed every door when I tried to find job.
Instead of bringing in money to get us out of debt, I made it my job to save us the most money I could while we still had the things that were important to us. What has been important to us may seem trivial, silly and sometimes even shallow to others. That’s ok, we finally realized that on this journey we have to focus on our family and heading where God is leading us.
I still love my kids in really cute clothes and when I shop I try to (especially for the big girls) get the “good” names. I do it now without driving us further into debt.
I still adore portraits of the kids and for far longer than I’d care to admit I had professional pictures taken on a monthly basis and I wasn’t one of those $9.99 package customers either, nope hundreds of dollars every month. I still have beautiful pictures of the kids but they no longer come with a such a high cost for our family.
My amazing hubby works a very physically demanding job and when he isn’t working that job he is putting blood, sweat & tears into our family farm. He works until he drops on a daily basis and feels the pressure of a never-ending to do list even when he tries to relax. Hubby asks for very little but he still wants to be able to get away from it all at times. That means we still work to make vacations happen. This is definitely one of those areas that Dave Ramsey says “NO” and that is fine. We tried getting out of debt without taking vacations and it just made us feel like we were stuck and making a lot of sacrifices for nothing. Our vacations now are on a cash budget and they aren’t fancy but they give us the break from reality that we need.
We are nearly halfway to our freedom from debt and getting closer every month. We’ve felt like we were at a standstill in the last several months and that was one of the reasons I’ve started this blog now so I can be reminded how far we’ve come and where we want to go.