Getting out of debt as a family. Living on a budget. Debt free living. The challenges we’ve faced and why we started. Our Get out of debt Journey.
The summer of 2013 is when I first came across the name Dave Ramsey. Our friends came to visit us while we were stationed in Hawaii as they were passing by to a new job. We had a fabulous visit but I noticed something weird.
They were very strictly sticking to a budget.
Not once were they pushy about their journey, but the more I was around them the more questions I had.
Debt is Normal! Everyone has it...right?
To be fair I don’t think I was very nice about it. Not mean, but I for sure questioned their sanity.
A car payment is NORMAL! A credit card (within reason) is NORMAL! Student loans are NORMAL! Politely they said I should look it up, and that I might be pleasantly surprised.
After saying our goodbyes at the airport and wishing them a safe flight, I looked over at my husband and said ‘They’re nuts’ in the most loving way possible.
Not once did I give the name Dave Ramsey another thought.
Until 5 years later.
Time for a new car
Before I came across that name again, we ran into the issue of needing a new car. Our family was growing and our dogs were big. So we started looking at mini vans.
If you had asked me before kids I would have made a face and a raspberry Pffft sound would have come from my lips.
However, on that small island, with tiny parking spaces, I wanted sliding doors.
Ok, not at first. At first I wanted one of those cool mom cars. A SUV that didn’t scream bake sales and PTA, but after shopping on the web I was having sticker shock.
People Pay How Much for a Car!
My husband tried to convince me that it was normal! That spending $500 in monthly payments was just something everyone does. I wasn’t buying it. Either they had fabulous jobs or they were struggling behind that smile.
We found a van with little milage that would be less than $300 a month, with a downpayment. Now that I could live with. That seemed more reasonable for our stage of life.
A year and a half later we moved off the island to our next duty station. At this point we had lived on base for 7 years and were tired of renting.
We wanted a home that we could paint the walls and not have to paint them back.
A home with a little commute so my husband didn’t always feel like he was always at work.
We bought a home at our new station, under budget. We wanted to account for electricity, water and any other utilities we needed. But after a year of settling in, most months we still felt a bit tight.
Hows my resume looking?
I decided maybe it was time to reenter the work force. I applied for a job and even though I didn’t get it, it made us look at the numbers. Full time daycare for our youngest, after school care for our oldest.
Missing different family members visiting, being the only one to call out when the kids got sick. My husband and I decided together that having a full time parent at home was an important part of our lives.
How to save a buck
I started to look up budgets and saving money, and there it was again! This Dave Ramsey guy. Five years after hearing his name I was finally ready to listen. I ordered his book and read it within two days.
Turns out he wasn’t as crazy as I thought.
The first point he made that resinated with me was the vehicles. Why people are spending so much on a car? I had questioned that two years back and didn’t fall into the – more car than I can afford- trap.
The second one was credit cards. We do have a couple credit cards but they are for emergencies! Not Starbucks. If I have to use a credit car for a coffee then I really can’t afford that coffee.
The Get out of Debt Journey
So the end of September 2018 we both decided to take on this challenge of getting out of debt.
I say both because money is not a weapon in a marriage. Its important that we both have the same goals. Otherwise this wouldn’t work.
Writing out the budget was brutal! Doing the math on paper I came out with a realistic 18-22 months to complete this challenge. I’m not going to lie, seeing that it could take almost 2 years to complete this almost made me want to give up from the start.
But if I had an open mind 5 years ago, we would be in year 3 of being debt free (besides the house)
We had to start off with our smallest debt, our phones. Now think about how much we are all willing to pay for a phone. Before even pushing that payment button I said ‘are you sure?’ The answer was yes and our phones were paid off.
After that we worked on our credit cards. Next up was our van loan and after 6 months of being on the journey (and a little help from tax returns) we did it! It felt amazing to see some real progress.
Priorities vs The Student Loan
The student loan hasn’t been easy. After the initial boost from the remaining tax return, we took a pause to complete a few DIY home projects.
However, instead of putting it on a credit card or taking out a loan, we saved up for it and are now enjoying our DIY projects debt free. (debt free from the projects anyway)
There is something extra sweet about sitting under our pergola having a family dinner, knowing its not on a credit card.
Why build a pergola while getting OUT of debt?
Because we’re human!
We knew that we had at least 4 years at this station and we wanted to enjoy our pergola as long as possible. We also wanted to create an outdoor space that we would WANT to spend time in and not feel the need to go out and do this or that.
We love our outdoor space! My husband and Father In Law worked so hard on that pergola project and we have enjoyed bbq’s and family dinners out there almost every day. Its our own paradise we never want to leave.
Getting back on Track
School has started for our oldest, along with a schedule. We may have side stepped a little bit but we both agree it was worth it. Being back on track we’ve been seeing progress. Just the other day I got a phone call from my husband. He called asking what the loan was.
For a second it threw me off, then he explained he was excited to hear what the countdown was at now. We still have a few big numbers to tackle but I’m hopeful that tax returns 2020 will be a big day for us.