March 19, 2019
Today, I’m so excited to share our journey to becoming debt free! In 2013, we decided we wanted to be debt free by the year of Clint’s 30th birthday. We accomplished that goal in August 2017 and a few months later we found ourselves traveling to London for a dream year abroad. We NEVER would have been able to live in London like we did if we were still in debt. We’ve experienced how limiting debt can be so we’re passionate about sharing our story and pointing others to the methods that helped us! Keep reading to find out how we did it!
Do you ever stop to think about why you do things the way that you do them? Most of the time, the patterns we live our lives in weren’t something we made up but rather something we learned to do. We do things a certain way because that’s how we’ve always done it – maybe even for generations. Or we do things a certain way simply for convenience. We rarely consider doing things differently because the way we’re doing it now is just fine. It’s how everyone who came before us did it, it’s how everyone we know around us is doing it so we’re going to do it that way too.
This is the attitude I had towards debt.
I specifically remember a conversation with one of my best friends (who was a senior in high school at the time) and she told me she wanted to graduate from college in three years. I thought she was crazy! Why would you want to deny yourself of one more year of fun, and late night memories, and delaying the mundane parts of adulthood?! (My priorities might have been slightly out of order!) But her answer was simple: the debt!
However to me, as a then-17 year old, debt was just part of life. I knew my parents had had student loans that took years and years to pay off, I had heard of lots of other adults talking about their college debt, car debt, their mortgage, credit card debt, etc. and I had come to the wise conclusion that debt is…just the way it is. I obviously had no clue (I was 17!) at how crippling debt could be; how much debt limits you from…everything!
In the summer of 2013 while Clint and I were still dating, God put a dream in Clint’s heart and began to direct him towards a new ministry venture. As we began to dream about the future we were particularly interested in spending a short time in Europe but knew there was no way to make that happen unless we were debt free. The average student has $37,000 in student debt when they graduate. Clint and I were no exception to this. Together, we had around $80,000 in student debt, car debt, and credit card debt. The majority of it being student debt. We decided that whether we were called to serve in Europe or not, we wanted to be debt free so that whatever God might ask us to do in the future, our debt would not be something that would hold us back. So a few months later we enrolled in Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace Class and got serious about attacking our debt.
By the time I had finished the 9 week course I had paid off my first student loan that had a balance of over $2100. I had been paying on my loans for a year and a half and had yet to pay one off. Putting what I learned in that class to practice made all the difference and I was hooked! What I remember the most about paying that first loan off was my expected payoff date…July 2022! I paid it off 9 years early!
Dave has a saying in his books and his FPU program that says “Debt is Normal. Be Weird” and that became our mantra. It helped us in times when we wanted to give up or accrue even more debt because we wanted things our friends or family were getting like new cars, houses, and furniture. But we knew that a little pain and sacrifice for a short time would be so beneficial for the long term. Here are some of the things we did to help us meet our goal:
Our final year of paying off debt was the same year God began to give us a little peek into our future. That dream to serve in Europe? It became a reality. One that we didn’t really go looking for. God placed it in our laps at just the right time. Our start date? Four months after we would make our last loan payment.
Those vacations we said no to? We rewarded ourselves with a two week vacation to Europe which we paid for with cash.
Most importantly, we now have the tools we need to set us up for a secure financial future no matter how much or how little we’ll find ourselves making.
Our journey to becoming debt free was not an overnight fix. It took discipline, hard work, and determination as we worked our way towards our goal. But it was so worth all of the sacrifices. We “lived like no one else so that later we could live like no one else.” And we believe you can do it too!
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