As of February 23, 2013 we have been out of debt! I recorded this on that day,
"Weston just told me he paid off my student loans today! We are out of debt!!! I am so thankful I married a frugal guy who is much better with money than me. Also I can't help remembering the night I told him about the debt (after we were engaged) and then the night I told him how much it was (on our honeymoon). I'm glad he still kept me."
We started out our marriage with student loans and we owed money to Weston's parents for a car. I remember walking down an aisle in Wal-mart thinking about the amount of money we owed and how it was incurring at least one dollar of interest a day. I seriously almost had a panic attack right there in Wal-mart as I felt my heart start to race and my vision become blurry. Somehow during that moment I felt peace suddenly overcome the fear. I was able to calm down and continue my grocery shopping thinking about other things.
Debt is not fun, it is very cage-like. I felt trapped and I never felt like I could buy anything that we didn't need such as new clothes, jewelry, eating out, and any extra expenses because that money needed to go to debt. It became so freeing to get out of debt!!! And I never want to return on purpose, except for a mortgage, and even then, I will need to feel very secure in our financial situation before that ever happens.
So, how did we get out of debt? While in debt my husband and I shared a cell phone. I thought it was pretty funny when I would tell people we shared one and they would ask me, "how do you do that?, how do you survive?, I don't think that's possible for us."
The reason why I thought that was so funny is because 5 years earlier everyone shared a phone, it was called a house phone. And actually it was a lot easier getting a hold of my husband sharing even a cell phone than only having a house phone, because I could text him from my email.
Another thing we did was pay cash for everything. If we didn't have the money, we didn't buy it. That includes our car, my wedding ring, trips, holidays, etc... In Fact our car was hit and totaled. I remember we went to look for cars and decided on our '99 Chevy Prism, also known as Vincint, and the car salesman was really surprised when we told him we were buying the car with cash. Which in turn kind of suprised us because was not very expensive, in fact it was the cheapest car at the lot, and in town.
So those things were more just cutting down expenses, but how did we really get out of debt? Have you ever heard of the book, "The Total Money Makeover" by Dave Ramsey? Someone introduced that to me after we had been married for a year or so and I checked it out from the library (since I obviously was going to turn to the cheapest route to get my hands on the book) and read it. It was so good and I told Weston all about it and we started to follow the steps. We had been trying to save 10% of everything we made to try and get a good savings going for our future. But Dave Ramsey says, "when you have debt, don't save more than $1000 dollars, instead take all your savings besides $1000 and put it toward your debt, paying off the smallest debts first and then once those are paid off start hitting the larger ones. He also talks about keeping your expenses down and putting as much money as you can to your debts, so we payed much much more than the minimum required payment. Then whenever we got extra money, such as taxes back or gift money we put it towards our debt. It still took a few years but I am so happy we did it! Because now I feel free! I feel financially free!! (To get better detail, check out the book from the library, borrow it from someone, or buy it!)
Since we have been out of debt, we now both have phones! We are saving money and it actually stays in our savings! I actually buy things for myself without feeling guilty! And we are enjoying some nicer things than before, such as family pictures and extra outings.
I do have to say we still have our limits because our income is small, but we aren't planning on returning to debt (on purpose)ever again. And if a financial crisis comes our way and sweeps out our savings, we will sure turn to Dave Ramsey again.
Love, Becky joy