Are you wondering how to live a debt-free life? Maybe your debt management plan is failing you. Do people really pay off debt with young kids? Here is our story of how we paid off our college loans, car loans, and credit card bills while starting our family, layoffs and more.
Six years ago we were nervous and exhausted waiting for the church service to begin. Our three-month-old baby was finally away from us, in the nursery. Attending church on Sunday was our ‘date” for the week. We were sitting in a section we didn’t normally sit in, and I love routine and it felt a little uncomfortable. Worship was moving in a way I didn’t expect and my soul was refreshed in a way I didn’t know I needed.
My heart opened to everything after. A short video played by a guy named Dave Ramsey. I had never heard of him. I didn’t even know that paying off debt was a thing or that it should be a thing.
It was one of the few moments when I knew God was saying, “Pay attention.”
My husband and I looked at each other at the end of the video our souls intertwined agreeing we wanted that.
We needed this and we were determined.
More than $55,000 in debt was dangling on our shoulders.
THE FIRST STEP TO OUR DEBT FREE JOURNEY
That was the first step. We committed to this thing together. We both had no idea about any of it. It’s funny to think neither one of our parents taught us to live debt free. It wasn’t something that was talked about. Credit cards are the norm.
If you and your partner aren’t on the same terms, the journey will be much harder. Strive to get on the same page. Decide together you want to get rid of debt.
We didn’t take Financial Peace University or anything. We are pretty motivated on our own. If you need an extra push I recommend taking Financial Peace University. It’s offered in many local churches. Search for one here.
Instead, my husband took the lead and boy did I need him to. I was knee-deep in dirty diapers, dog hair and staring at a computer screen for hours upon hours searching for deals to make pennies. I didn’t have the awesome How to Start a Blog guide.
He has anywhere from a 45 minute to an hour and a half drive EACH way to his job. He listened to Dave’s radio show for months. He would come home and share everything he learned with me.
The first thing that stuck out to me was – We need more money.
Listen though, more money wasn’t so we could spend more, it was to pay off debt quicker.
My family is a 12-hour drive from us and my husband’s family is over an hour. Of course, my in-laws were willing to help but still at an hour away, it wasn’t convenient.
Daycare was our only option if I was to return to work.
It was a mess. I’m sure there is something similar in your life.
We started to look at the cost of daycare and other expenses if I went back to work. I wasn’t in an amazing career I loved, I wasn’t making great money, $25,000/year in fact. If I stayed home it would actually save us money.
I knew I had to cut back on any and everything I could.
THE EMOTIONS OF GETTING OUT OF DEBT
I felt bitter at first. I wasn’t content with who God said I was. I wasn’t quite sure I believed he was who he said he is.
I wanted to be debt free. I felt my soul skipping in tune with my husbands when we would sit down and talk about how we needed to pay off our student loans.
I felt sick when I thought about the student loan payments I had to make. Especially when I was staying home to feed a baby that wouldn’t sleep.
Who was I?
Those days we didn’t have extra money to spend on date nights.
We couldn’t go anywhere. We couldn’t buy anything new.
We couldn’t watch cable. We couldn’t have a smartphone.
Notice a pattern there? My thoughts were consumed with couldn’t.
The truth is, we could. If we wanted to go into debt for a silly pleasure.
We cut cable because it wasn’t a need. We didn’t upgrade phones because it wasn’t a need. We stuck to prepaid plans for under $50/month.
We got the cheapest internet plan for $15/month and I still use it even with running my business.
We spent no more than $40 a week on groceries, toiletries, and household items.
I made every single snack or food item I could from scratch.
I added more veggies to my garden and only bought organic seeds when they were BOGO.
I saved seeds so I didn’t have to buy some the next year. I canned and preserved our food from the garden.
My husband even gave up drinking beer for six months.
We planned date nights at home after the kids were in bed.
That doesn’t mean it was easy, and that it will be easy for you. It was hard. It was painful but it was rewarding and today I’m so thankful.
If you want to get serious about living a debt free life you have to be all in- and all in until the job is complete.
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH HELPFUL PEOPLE
You need to surround yourself with people who have already walked this journey. Or who are walking it and committed.
You need to keep the end goal in sight and remember THIS IS NOT YOUR LIFE FOREVER. In our culture we overshare everything. We have instant access to get others feedback. When you are starting to work towards a lifestyle change that leads you to a debt-free life- you need to be cautious.
Surround yourself with people who will encourage you towards your goal. Share your struggles with others who have been there. If you don’t know anyone, email me. I would love to share your journey with you.
When people start to look at you and think you’re odd, that’s when Dave Ramsey says you are on the right path. If you could take a glimpse into your future and see that in just three years you would be debt free how would you feel? How would you feel about that Disney trip you waited to take and paid for in cash?
I would sit on our bed in receipts and notebooks writing out how much money was coming in and how much was going out. I would cry. I would ask God why?
Once we paid off one bill my tears of hopeless vanished. I started to believe God is who he says he is.
I started to feel like God saw me. Little old me and I am worthy. I started to believe that my marriage is meant for more.
Now we know that can’t be where the story ends. Of course, there were MANY more storms. I started extreme couponing to give us the extra room in our grocery budget and use that money to pay off debt. Any extra money we would get would to our debt.
That meant any of my husband’s overtime. Money from cashback apps like Ibotta and Checkout 51, any little penny went to our debt.
We sacrificed vacations, trips, eating out, etc. But guess what? Today we can do any of that, debt free, without stress of will we have enough?
Was it worth it? Again and again.
You can say that I got a little obsessed with couponing and getting an extreme deal on things. My husband and I decided together to be all in. Once I mastered extreme couponing I could never pay full price again for ANYTHING.
Our daughter was 15 months old and I had cut back expenses as much as I could. Heck, I was even digging in paper dumpsters for coupons. I was that determined to get everything free or cheap.
Personalities will play into effect here. My husband and I have never cared too much about how we look to others. Even know driving around my rusted up the car that is 17 years old, I choose it. Sure people may look at it and think we are poor, or don’t have enough money for a car. I know the truth. I know the value and my car is a good car. I’ll drive it until it can’t go anymore.
We all are self-conscious about certain things. Don’t let the opinion of others stop you from achieving your goal. Their opinion won’t save you from your debt.
This is a life-changing decision that will benefit your entire family. In ways, you couldn’t imagine.
WHEN ONE DOOR CLOSES- DEBT STILL LURKS
When my daughter was 16- months old we wanted our debt gone faster. I knew I couldn’t possibly cut anything else back. The only option left was for me to work part-time.
I also was ready at that point in my life to test the waters of my self-worth. I have always wanted a career and staying home without many friends or any of my family was lonely. It completely tested my faith.
I started the painful search of looking for a job.
I found one I felt like God had his hands all over. A week after I started I found out I was pregnant. How could this be? We were doing so good and I needed this money to pay off our debt.
I thought I was going to find my self-worth at work. Not as a mom.
I knew these were tests from God. Would I still believe he was faithful?
I did. I ended up returning back to work after 5 weeks off from maternity leave I loved the job so much and they needed me back. I’ll mention the job was a non-profit, not a super awesome wage. I made $13/hour.
For 18 months I worked this job and ended up paying off our debt except for the mortgage. We knew we were already used to living on my husband’s income. When I started working we just took the money from my check and put it right on our debt. We didn’t change our lifestyle because we had a little more money. We lived below our means to meet our end goal.
Then something happened. Things got chaotic and out of control. The job became overwhelming and I left it.
To stay home. I wasn’t sure what was happening.
I wanted to know Why God wanted me to stay home. I felt angry at times, but we all know anger is a just the start of a burning fire. It was through my second daughter’s birth I surrendered completely to Jesus.
God had a different plan in mind for me. One that I had to be home to do.
He stirred up starting a coupon blog in my heart. I remember thinking it sounds awesome but to follow through on it is a whole different story. I was so excited that we were paying off our debt and it all started because of couponing.
Then I saw a $20 class to teach you how to get started with a blog. I took that as my sign.
I won’t go into details here about my blogging journey- it’s quite a crazy one and one that only points to God.
My blogging money now is going to pay off our mortgage in less than 6 years. We desire and hope to bring my husband home so we can begin our next dream- a petting farm- or whatever God leads us to. The truth is we continue to learn that God’s plan fulfills our hearts desires, but it’s usually not in our time, but his perfect time.
We don’t know the timetable of all this of course. We know that God gives us the desires of our hearts. Yet, we have to trust and obey what he is telling us to do. We have to be ready to hear and then react.
We can’t miss out on opportunities God is calling us to because of fear.
We have to pray and go to that place where our soul is exposed to contentment.
Are you ready to go there? Are you listening to what God has been saying to you? Sometimes I even find myself praying for God to give me an obvious sign. One that I can’t deny is him. It’s okay to ask for those things. It’s hard in the beginning to discern the voice of God or where he is leading us.
It wasn’t an easy journey to pay off our debt. It was the most rewarding one.
Thank you for sharing with such honesty and including your personal testimony. I too am a follower of Jesus and He is helping us get out of debt as well! He has led us through so many doors that has concluded to our dream of owning our farm and we are self employed thanks to His grace and favor. I’m also a stay at home mom to two girls and I have my own businesses on Etsy where I sell my art around the world. He is in sales for himself and we are completely reliant on His blessings. Bless you and your family, I’m so glad I found you years ago on Facebook, it’s rare to find a frugal, Christian mom who has similar interests as I do 💜💜
Wednesday 22nd of March 2023
You need to offer a class please for saving on everything
Wednesday 18th of December 2019
Love your journey. Mine is a little well different. After almost 25 years of marriage at the ripe old age of 50 my husband left me. Mind you I still had two in school, 1 in the Army, and one working. I had always loved to coupon and over the years managed to create an awesome stock pile. The kids and I lived off of this. I much like you cut cable. Cut all bills that we did not need or reduced them down. I decided to get a second job at McDonalds no shame in that. My other job is great however I too was not happy paying the man every time I got paid. I was off on Sunday PM and Wednesday's we went to church. Started going to speak to the Pastor on my lunch 3 times a week. This was what kept me grounded. God is so good and I just love how during this time he just kept a hold of me and my kids. The story around what happened is really odd to say the least. However after about a year and a half D my husband came back. Not sure if this is God's will but I know HE will show me what to do in HIS time not mine. When D came back he has no desire to pay his bills. Where we use to keep money together and pay bills we no longer do. He gives me very little. I know we will never be the way we use to be or maybe we will be apart. Only GOD knows! I never wrote all of this out before thanks for letting me vent.
Thursday 19th of December 2019
Sara, goosebumps. I love how God brings people together online. Technology today. No matter how our world shifts and changes he is the same. Always managing to be with us near us no matter what. I love hearing how you knew God was with you, is with you. You are giving him the glory. That's a beautiful thing. You are so right with HIS time not ours. And by you leaving this comment, you are helping me on my journey. As I contemplate should I bother sharing my own journey here on this blog, and it's a reminder from God, yes. It's all in HIS time not ours. Every time someone leaves such a heartfelt comment, I'm reminded of the love he has and how he knows exactly where we need to be.
Monday 15th of April 2019
Your journey is a beautiful story and reading your blog showed me how I should open up and share my story. I started my debt free journey back in 2014. It’s been a crazy five years and I have accomplished a lot. I started with $19000 of debt. I didn’t know where to start. I was angry I couldn’t spend time with my friends, mad I couldn’t stay home with my son. I missed on my sons first year of life because my ex left me. I was stressed to the max. I had to work two jobs. It’s a long story but your more than welcome to check out my page for more details. Now here we are 4-15-2019 and I have $7000 left to pay towards my car. I am buying a home this year hopefully by the end of this month or middle of next month. I been posting ads online through Craigslist to try to get others in a better place. I wish I would have known how great it feels to be on this side of the tracks. It was not easy there’s a lot you don’t know. But it was a long road it truly does test your faith with God. I questioned him so much. And there’s was times where I just didn’t even want to believe in him. But I know now without a doubt God has been leading me on this journey. I listen to Dave Ramsey on my way to work as I too travel 45min to work. It’s fun because some callers will call in and I will know how to answer the question just like Dave. I hope to be a financial coach and hopefully run a financial peace university course in my community. I don’t really know much about couponing. I have tried in the past to get into it. I even bought a binder and everything. I don’t know if you have this on another page. As this is my first post I am reading about you. I just started my blog. I hope you get a chance to check it out. How are you doing now?
Thursday 18th of April 2019
Thank you so much for sharing your story. What is the url of your blog?
Sunday 18th of March 2018
thanks for sharing your journey! I am so encouraged. We just have my student loans to pay off, and we don't own a house yet. But you've encouraged me that it's possible. :)
Tuesday 20th of March 2018
Oh June, be encouraged because you can do it. You just have to believe you can. :)