We are SO impressed at your journey to get out of debt! How does it feel to have one down?
It feels surreal! We’ve been on our debt-repayment journey since July 2016, and we’re finally at a point where we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. With each small debt we pay off, snowballing into the next debt gives us a tangible sense of momentum. It’s exciting!
Was there a particular moment when you decided to start the process of becoming debt-free?
Our story of pursuing financial freedom actually started in 2015 when our marriage almost fell apart. After 9 months of intensive counseling we realized that finances were among the top issues causing stress on our marriage. The 60-minutes of carved out time each week in our counselor's office gave us the space to communicate, hear one another, and most importantly, have a vision for our future. That was when we decided to step into the know of our financial picture. That’s the thing with finances. It’s so much more than dollars and cents. We realized that changing our legacy and that of our children was worth the short-term pain of discipline. It lit a fire in us that has kept us going through the past few years.
What is the hardest aspect of sticking to a budget?
Initially, doing the prep work and understanding where our money was going month to month was a tough pill to swallow. Our “fun” and impulsive buying decisions amounted to thousands of dollars spent. After we came to grips with that, learning to live on cash and not beating ourselves up for our previous decisions was probably the next hardest thing. We had to learn to get very comfortable with saying “no” and “later” and modifying our lifestyle in order to make progress. It's been a continuous lesson in discipline, patience, communication and teamwork.
What has been the biggest hurdle in getting out of debt?
The unexpected setbacks. Cars breakdown, utility bills come in significantly higher than budgeted for, or we’ve forget to budget categories altogether that had previously been mindless spending. Each month, we get better at this budgeting thing, but our biggest hurdle by far was when we were told our oldest son would need immediate open-heart surgery for a heart condition that had suddenly worsened in 2018. It rocked our world and amounted to thousands of dollars in medical bills. We leaned into our faith during this particularly tough season and knew that God would sustain us in all ways despite the bills and emotions surrounding this event. Our Daniel made a full and miraculous recovery, and our finances have been blessed in the months after, too. It’s neat when you can see how decisions from years earlier ultimately made us better prepared for the unexpected challenges down the road.
What’s next for your family?
We’ve set an “out of debt” deadline of January 2021. We’re believing that it will happen months sooner at the pace we’re going. We continue to be diligent with our finances and find creative ways to throw extra money at debt. In 2019, my husband deploys, Daniel starts Kindergarten, and our littlest, Zane, starts nursery school! It will be a year of exciting new beginnings and adventures. Each high and low season has knit our family a little closer together.
And finally, what does your letter board say right now?
“Moments of courage are the plot points of an exciting life.”
Last year's medical diagnosis for our son took a lot of courage as a mother to get through. Gearing up for life at home with my boys while my husband goes on his 6th deployment to a war zone takes a lot of courage. Owning a company and stepping up as a leader for my team while focusing on hitting big goals, takes a lot of courage. I choose to approach life with enthusiasm and a belief that I am equipped for all the “excitement” in my life. My letter board is just one more way to visually remind myself what I’m made of.
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