How it feels to finally be Debt Free!

a bumper sticker I dig

I’ll have to take you back to the beginning in 2008 when my mom encouraged made a deal with Jeremiah and I that if we took Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University for 12 weeks that she and my dad would help pay for Jeremiah’s seminary education. We knew she was serious and who wouldn’t take up that kind of offer? So, we enrolled in the class at a local church with $45,000 in Debt– credit cards, student loans, 2 car payments, and more. During our first class, we found out that our debt surprisingly lined up with the average American’s debt.

Throughout each week, Dave Ramsey’s principles blew our mind. We started to see where we had been foolish and honestly hadn’t been living by God’s word in the area of finances. We started with the lowest amount of debt first and worked our way up. We cut up our credit cards (scary but it felt great!), Put $1,000 in our emergency fund as Dave says to do and starting building our savings. Most importantly, we got on a budget/spending plan. Even though we failed at it at times (and still do), we had a target to shoot for and we finally had control of our finances, rather than our finances controlling us.

We ate out less, didn’t really buy clothes, had a grocery limit, sold stuff, held garage sells, sold a car, didn’t buy unnecessary stuff and before we knew it, we were chipping away at our debt incredibly fast. We even had a baby and didn’t go into debt doing it because we saved, saved, saved!

Now two years later, we are proud to say that we are DEBT FREE!

The feeling is surreal still because for so long we weren’t truly free in that area and it impacted our marriage. But now we are and it’s our desire to encourage others out there who feel like it’s impossible. So many people encouraged us along the way and most importantly, God gave us the grace we needed to persevere and follow his plan.

I wrote a few posts a while back about our journey here and here and here and several more under the Finance category on this blog if you’d like to check those out.

While we’ve actually been debt free for about 3 months now, I can say that managing finances will always be a battle and we will never arrive, but I’m so thankful that our eyes have been opened and that above all, we are learning to better steward what we’ve been given because all that we have is a gift from God in the first place.

Thank you for sharing in our joy today!

Finances, Debt, & Freedom

piggy20bank1It’s been far too long since I’ve posted on finances. Can you tell the very word makes me nervous? Maybe it does for you too especially in our economy’s present condition. Well the good thing is that for us, right now, things are going really well.

Jeremiah and I are down to $1,000 left on his school loan and around $10,000 towards our car. A year and a half ago, we were about 30-40K in debt. Now, we’re $11,000! Jeremiah has mentioned how simple it would be to pay the whole car off in a matter of months but with the season of life we’re in (with him in school, internship, ministry, etc.), it’s best to wait and chisel away at the debt as we can.

We would not be where we are without the help of Dave Ramsey and my Mom spurring us to take his 12 week class- Financial Peace University. Finances is just one of those things, like sex, that not too many people discuss and many families don’t talk about growing up. So the result: ignorance. And it’s bliss. I’ve been there.

I’ll never forget a few months ago when our community group at church sat down and we went through each couple’s budget- every detail from car maintenance to cosmetic allowances. I hadn’t done that with anyone, ever in my life. But something about it was so freeing. There was accountability there and we knew we had each other’s best interest in mind. Our goal was to steward whatever resources God had given us the best we knew how.

Even now, I admit the struggle to constantly be aware of what I’m spending. What I’m saving, etc. It’s not easy or always black and white to know what God would do in this or that situation. But I do know for sure, that plummeting away at this debt is bringing him glory. It’s getting us farther away from bondage and closer to freedom.

We can’t wait for the day to call Dave Ramsey’s radio show to say, “WE’RE DEBT FREE!”

Save, Save, Save

samanthakrieger.com

376-savings-jarI was in conversation with a girl my age this weekend about finances and the economy (as it seems to be the hotbutton of late!). I shared with her some of the research I had been doing about where certain people think we’re headed as a nation. I proceeded to say how much my family and I are really trying to save, save, save.

She looked at me in disgust: “Save? I’m not saving. I work hard. I’m going to spend what I want, when I want. As long as I’m being responsible, I’ll be fine. Who needs a savings account?”

Her expression and gestures kind of made me laugh under my breath. She didn’t care at all about what was going on in our economy. I am wondering if she’s even watching the news. But then I began to think more about her response and the fact I have had the same attitude before. In fact, growing up with a father who was extremely successful and not having to worry about finances, early on in our marriage I would spend like I was still under my dad’s roof. It was scary. My credit card proved it. So in essence I lived out her words in some way, shape or form.

But now things have changed. My whole mindset is radically different. While I’m still far from perfect, I really value saving more and spending less. Last year around this time, we were about $40,000 in debt. Thanks to the help of Dave Ramsey, we’re now $10,000 in debt with just a small student loan left and Jeremiah’s car. We’re so thankful that our mindset and behavior has changed. I know we can all admit as Americans that we love living above our means. I mean, who doesn’t love it? But the  better way is to be wise and to be content with what we have. I wish it was easier done than said.

God, My Mom, & Dave Ramsey

It’s been several months since we took the Financial Peace University class by Dave Ramsey. Looking back on the class, it couldn’t have been a more appropriate time for us to be in it. My mom is the one we have to thank because she “urged” us to. We had no idea we would get pregnant during that time either or even that the economy would look a little different six months later. God’s timing is always perfect.

We now have 3-6 months of income saved. Our savings account has never looked so big. It’s almost surreal. Our credit cards are gone and the only debt remaining is about $8,000 on student loans and a car payment. All that to say, we would not be where we are without God, My Mom, and Dave Ramsey! We are no way near perfect in the area of finances but we’re striving to keep growing.

The highlight for me this week was my first guilty feeling of purchasing a pumpkin spice chai frappucino for almost $4.00. Now, I love to splurge and treat myself (I don’t over-indulge too much at all). I’m a big fan of rewarding yourself. But something just clicked and I thought, this is definitely a lot for a drink that was gone in 2 minutes!  My husband agreed it was a huge step for me. I mean it’s Starbucks, come on.

Later on in the day I learned more about the condition of our economy. It’s pretty crazy what’s going on right now. I’m more encouraged now to be wise with the money God’s given us. It’s not always easy but so worth it.

Cutting Up My Credit Card

 I’ll never forget the day I cut up my credit card. I performed this plastectomy on my baby blue Wachovia card 2 months ago. It was the best feeling ever. Looking back, I don’t miss it one bit.

You see, I used that card as a “crutch.” When I couldn’t afford something at that moment, I would swipe it and always say “Oh it will get paid off.” In reality, the debt and interest just kept building on itself and before I knew it, I was in $1,000 or so of debt in just a blink of an eye. Perhaps you know the feeling.

Dave Ramsey inspired me to cut my card up. I did even before it was paid off and the temptation to swipe no longer exists. I buy only what I have in my account- in cash mainly. Sometimes on our debit card. My husband’s credit card will be paid off this weekend and we will be credit card debt free. We still have student loans and a car payment to go, but we are on our way to being debt free.

I can sum up credit cards in one word: bondage. Just like all debt.

 

Sex & Money- Taboo?

  Thoughts on Financial Peace University… I am in my twenties. I’ve talked to many wise people who are beyond my years who said that when they were growing up the two words never talked about were Sex & Money. In this category, I’m not going to talk about the sex part (I’ll save that one for later). But, it is interesting that many people are raised having never been taught how to handle money- let alone how to create a budget. They or their parents never made it a priority.

I know many people are in that category. I am one of them. I was handed many wonderful things growing up which I am so appreciative of, but I never had the desire to learn about money when my parents wanted to sit me down. I was stubborn. Besides we had everything so what was there for me to learn? I wasn’t looking into the future.

If you feel you’re in the same boat of never having learned much about finances. You are not alone. Don’t feel stupid or mad at yourself that you never took the initiative to learn. Learn from that careless decision and move on. It is never too late to start the journey now- no matter if you’re in your 50’s, 30’s, or 20’s.

Break the curse of money being taboo… and begin to talk about it with your friends and family.

On the Road to Financial Peace…

Jeremiah and I just graduated from Financial Peace University, Dave Ramsey’s 12 week financial course. Our lives have been changed forever from the course. Everything he speaks on regarding finances is so contrary to our culture today. Saving is a word people hate because it requires discipline and thinking ahead rather than just spending whatever in the here and now.

As a gradudate of the course, I feel it’s my duty to let others know how greatly it has impacted our life, marriage, peace, future, etc. We have paid off $8,000 in credit card debt in 12 weeks and we are on the road to becoming debt free by Christmas 2008 (including car payment and student loans).

In February, we found a little one is on the way. We feel so much peace towards that knowing that we’re on the path toward wisdom now, and not foolishness. We will be able to teach our baby that one day too. We have (for the first time ever) our $1,000 emergency fund and we’re continuing to build 3-6 months of income towards savings.

In this category on my blog, I will be writing sporadic posts about the 12 week journey and what I learned. Feel free to commment or ask any questions. We want you to be inspired to delve into this course so that your life can be radically changed- forever. As Dave says: “Live like no one else so that you can really live like no one else.”

Continuing on the road…

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