As I start this, I want to make it clear, that it is not by our self-efforts that made these things transpire. It was by the GRACE of God and through the power of Jesus Christ to whom I give glory for our accomplishments.
Michael and I have experienced so much over the last 3 years. The life of a 100% commission salesman definitely has its ups and downs, highs and lows. We both consider ourselves adventurous and impulsive, free spirits; which can be loads of fun, but also disastrous. Our first five years of marriage we were on a high. Michael was making great income. That didn’t stop us from making plenty of poor decisions. We bought an expensive home with a hefty mortgage, expensive SUV’s and pretty much purchased whatever we wanted. We justified it, because he was making great income. We didn’t save money; we just assumed Michael’s income would keep going up. We had lots of debt and were barely making it even with a great income.
We owned a house in IL with a large mortgage, a rental home in TX, and then the recession hit. Oh boy did we start to feel things. Our credit card debt went up to the double digits. Our anxieties went up. We put the house on the market. I was worried how long we could keep up. We realized things were going to have to change. I began praying with a friend in TX.I was afraid. I didn’t want to “let go” of our house in IL. I also didn’t want my credit score to get “dinged”.
I knew God was working in our lives. We made a decision after being a slave to debts and fears and putting it off for years. Once we really gave our situation to God, I experienced such freedom. I started to realize that all that I was holding onto wasn’t really THAT important. Our mentors, friends from AR and TX and my parents were a huge encouragement to us.
My father had recently purchased and himself accomplished Dave Ramsey’s Financial Freedom. We began reading Dave’s material and knew we wanted that change for our life. We didn’t want to be a slave to things anymore. We wanted peace and freedom. The first decision was drastic. We knew the only way we could survive without drastic consequences would be to move back to IL and live with my parents, as they offered for us to live rent-free. This was a big struggle for us. We had our pride, and didn’t like the idea of moving home when we loved TX and our independence. We swallowed our pride and were able to salvage our financial situation.
These are some of the sacrifices we made to get out of debt:
1. We lived rent free with our parents for six months. (Yes, even with four small children.
2. We immediately cut up all our credit cards.
3. We stopped going anywhere. We stopped eating out, stopped all activities for ourselves and our kids that cost any money. We didn’t have a vacation or have a gym membership or even pay for a Redbox rental. (We used the library!) We literally said “no” to just about everything. (This was the hardest sacrifice for us.)
4. We got rid of cable, internet and home phone line. (We only use cells)
5. We set a grocery budget and stick to it! It is five hundred a month. (Aldi is the only store in which our budget fits.)
6. We put our kids in public school and home school. We decided we could save money by not paying for preschool and Christian schools.
7. We drove only where necessary.
8. We turned off lights in rooms we weren’t using.
9. We keep our heat VERY low (61).
10. I don’t run dishwasher. I do dishes by hand. Save on the water bill.
11. We don’t subscribe to magazines, newspapers or anything at all.
12. I shop only on clearance or at Goodwill.
13. We sold lots of things (furniture, treadmill, big screen TV. to pay off debt)
14. We paid off Michael’s car and traded my expensive SUV with a hefty car payment for a less-expensive payment of a mini-van.
The biggest keys to accomplishing these things were:
1. PRAYER-Lots of people prayed for our family. And we prayed about these decisions.
2. COMMITMENT-We knew it would be really, really hard. But we were united and stayed focus on the goal.
Our income has gradually increased especially over the last few months. But we have learned and lived off of very limited income for many months. We have no debt and we now live on our own.
Here are some answers to prayer which God worked out for us!
1. We are no longer slaves to debt!!!!
2. We sold our home in IL with the expensive mortgage that we could no longer afford.
3. We now rent a beautiful home (with great next-door neighbors!) Our rent is unheard of low for this neighborhood.
4. We were able to lower a high car payment by trading in our car and not losing money.
5. We are in an excellent school district for our children.
6. We have lived one year with no credit cards and no debt.
7. We have been able to start saving money with one income.
8. We were able to avoid a foreclosure and bankruptcy.
9. We have learned continue to keep learning to trust the Lord and wait upon Him.
Although these lifestyle changes did create some dark and difficult times (with lots of tears), As we cross over to the other side, our lives are truly much more peaceful. We have learned hard lessons that we believe in, and know will bring us much deeper happiness.