Saturday, May 24, 2014

We're Debt-Free!!!

We made it! On May 20, 2014, we paid off our last student loan payment and we have no more debt. Chris and I took the day off and spent the day together just hanging out at some of our favorite places. That evening we took Ethan out for some debt-free fun. Such a simple day for us, but exactly what we wanted to do. Now all of our excess will start rolling into areas we WANT to spend money.
Cue California vacation fund!

Part of our countdown was to read The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. We read chapter 40 together the morning of our debt-free day.

We wanted to pay off our last debt somewhere other than our living room. So we went to the run-down apartment we lived in when we first took the Financial Peace University class.  We submitted our last payment outside that building. (Kind of surprised the building is still there!) Chris committed to run/bike/walk 40 miles in the last 40 days, so he rode his final mile on our debt-free morning. Pictured is his mileage check off sheet. Also, one of the biggest helps to the process was paying most things with cash. That brown wallet has envelopes in it that we divide our cash into different categories. We know it was one of the tools we used to becoming debt-free.

 When we opened our front door that morning this was displayed for all to see! We have some great encouragers that helped us big time along the way! The rest of this collage is Ethan's evening with us. He got to buy a toy at the mall...he picked the villain from Toy Story 2, Zerg. Out of all the toys in the world...he was the winner! Haha! He got to pick out what he wanted to eat for dinner- one big slice of pepperoni pizza. Then we rode the carousel. The best part was when we passed Chris we yelled "WE'RE DEBT-FREE!!!" Ethan doesn't really know what that means, but he loves to yell it!

2014 Debt Pay-Off: $5,461.25

Total Debt Pay-Off: $61,334.95

Amount Left to Pay-Off: $0.00!!!!

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Countdown Begins!

I had to stop in and start the debt-free countdown! ONLY 8 DAYS LEFT!!! Here is a quick recap of our debt-free journey:

  • January 2009: (broke and seriously needing a financial mediator) we took the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University Class (Get more info here)
  • January 2009: we totaled our debt and realized we were dropping over $800/month in debt payments to feed our $61,000 debt monster. 
  • 2009-2011: we worked the FPU plan and paid off $24,000 of debt in the first 3 years and added a family member, Ethan, aka: Hulk. 
  • January 2012: we started blogging about our debt-free journey and created a motivational system to kick our debt pay-off into a higher gear. (Click here to read our first debt pay-off post) **this helped us pay-off on average over $1,300/month over the last 28 months. 
  • 2012: we paid off $13,000 of debt! 
  • 2013: we paid off over $16,000 of debt!
  • April 11, 2014: we began a 40 day countdown to our debt-free date. Chris committed to run/bike/walk 40 miles in these 40 days and we both committed to reading the Purpose Driven Life (40 chapters) to remind ourselves the purpose of our lives and why being debt-free is part of that purpose. (Get the Purpose Driven Life book at Rock Brook Church for free when you visit or on amazon here)
This should be my last post until we make our final debt payment! Thank you for reading and encouraging us along the way. We are excited to rename our blog soon and share what debt-free looks like for us- stay tuned!! 

2014 YTD Debt Pay-Off: $4,552.07

Total Debt Pay-Off: $60,425.77

Amount Left: $911.12

Debt-Free Date: May 20, 2014

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Speed Bumps

So many posts combined in this one. We have experienced some major speed bumps over the last few months and I started to write about one and another one happened! So here are the last few months abbreviated.

We began the year in full force! We came off of Christmas with the motivation to make even more budget cuts right off the bat to help our debt-free cause. We live pretty tightly already, so deeper cuts were hard work.

January Budget Cuts

  • No BAM (that's what we call our blow money)
  • No Date Night Money (we saved a gift card to suffice)
  • No Clothes Money
  • We cut our Grocery Budget by $100 

We planned this month well before Christmas and knew these cuts were coming. The best part was seeing how interested God was in our finances! A couple in our church gave us a Christmas card with a $50 Walmart gift card in it. Little did they know what kind of impact that had on our month to come! We are so grateful for times like these that show us we aren't doing this big task alone!

February Speed Bumps

So much to record, here are a few big ones-

  • Our Honda's transmission went out
  • Sold Honda and bought a SUV from my parents
  • Our Chevy started overheating 
  • Replaced Water Pump in Chevy
  • Sold Chevy (we have put over $1000 into that car this year…we were ready to say goodbye!)
  • Bought another Honda 
  • Paid for Taxes and Tags for both vehicles

March Non-Madness

So far this month has been a typical one- so very thankful for that! After the drama of February, we had to sit down and re-evaluate our debt-free date. We initially planned on being debt-free in the middle of April. After those big bumps in the road, we are planning on a debt-free celebration around the middle of May. One month behind after all of that February craziness- I'll take it! 

2014 YTD Debt Pay-Off: $2,569.93

Total Debt Pay-Off: $57,392.58

Amount Left: $3,916.59

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Our Last Christmas debt. What a great thought! We are making this Christmas special although it's on a limited budget. We know that within a few months we will be debt-free and have decided to cut our spending now so we can make it to that goal sooner. Here are a few things that we did to keep our Christmas spending under control.

1. Make a budget and stick to it!!
In true Dave Ramsey fashion, we spent every Christmas dollar on paper before we spent it in real life. Chris and I sat down together and decided on how much we would spend on each other and how much we would spend on our extended family and friends. We also decided what we were going to buy before we went shopping. It was a great way to focus our spending and not buy things that weren't on the list!!

2. Get creative!
We looked for items on our Christmas list to go on sale. Because we knew exactly what we wanted to buy, we didn't have to buy unnecessary sale items- just the ones we had already budgeted for. 

We made gifts too! We made stovetop potpourri and cookies for our neighbors. We also made cookie jars and ornaments. We bought 30 yards of kraft paper for $5 to wrap presents. All these ideas and more came from…you guessed it -- Pinterest. 

I also did a "make and take" Christmas with 3 of my friends. Each of us picked a craft of some type and bought all the supplies for all 4 of us to make it. After that night, we walked away with some amazing quality time together and 4 handmade Christmas presents. I don't think any of us spent more than $15 total!

3. Practice Gratitude 
We have had such a thankful, stressless Christmas season so far because we are trying to keep our thoughts on how blessed we are. It's a choice, we aren't thankful naturally. We often jump to our default emotion of selfishness. It's a daily effort to change our thinking to being thankful for the ultimate gift of Jesus and how our giving should be a reflection of His gift.

4. Give More
The people we know have plenty…we have plenty. We don't need to keep adding more and more to our stockpile of stuff. We made sure to also budget money to spend on people who don't have plenty. We included Ethan in this practice too. He helped us pick out a gift to give to a child we don't know. We know this child is 18 months old and at that age, Ethan played endlessly with a drum that had shakers, a tambourine, bells, etc. We picked it out and Ethan was so excited about it. It did take a while for it to sink in that the drum wasn't for him though!! We found other reasons to give our money to people who are struggling to survive right now. We pray that they find the other side of the wilderness that they are in because they have found Jesus to lead them through. 

Merry Christmas!! 

2013 YTD Debt Pay-Off: $16,822.65

Total Debt Pay-Off: $54,822.65

Amount Left: $6,486.52

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Fall is Here!

It's our favorite season for the weather, the leaves changing, and our anniversary! We are going to celebrate 6 years of marriage soon. It's pretty wild to realize that we have been working to become debt-free for almost five years of that time. (less than 6 months left though!!!) 

Now that we're so close to being finished, we can start realistically dreaming about what we want to do with our money once it's not going to debt. We decided a few weeks ago our first debt-free endeavor is going to be a family vacation. We've been dreaming about being "vacation people" since we started this debt-free journey. We've taken trips but they have been short and in near-by locations. This time…we're packing our bags and going to Disneyland for a few days and then visiting San Deigo too. This summer we will be taking our first MAJOR family vacation!! It's the light at the end of the tunnel. It's what keeps us going when we've been doing something so "weird" for so long! 

Ethan just started pre-school yesterday and we are so excited for this new chapter in his life. 

2013 YTD Debt Pay-0ff: $16,050.63

Amount Left: $7,240.96

Total Debt Pay-Off: $54,050.63

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

On Furlough...

Well...just from blogging. Unlike the US government we are in complete agreement about our budget and are gaining ground on our debt-free journey. We aren't feeling a single pain from the shutdown that is going on in Washington and all over our nation, we are planning for our soon to be debt-free days!!

Some updates since my (forever ago) last post:

  • Ethan turned 3 and celebrated with some of his 3-4 yr old friends and then partied again with some church friends and family that night at Culvers.
  • Chris was offered a different position in his store that will help his chances of getting a promotion  sometime soon. He just finished training for his new job last week and will start as soon as he trains his replacement.
  • I have started my 9th year of teaching and things are in full swing now!

Here are the latest debt pay-off numbers:

2013 YTD Debt Pay-off: $14,957.03

Amount Left to Pay-off: $8,343.67

Total Debt Pay-off: $52,957.03

Coming October 18th...we should be opening another envelope!! :)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

$50,000 Richer

We made it to a HUGE milestone in our debt pay-off. We've officially paid off more than $50,000 of debt. With about $11,000 to go, we are well on our way to becoming debt-free. 

So if you are like us, when we started this whole Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University/Total Money Make-Over thing we just wanted to stop living pay check to pay check. We felt broke all the time. After we got ahold of our spending and stopped living strapped all the time, we realized we were so incredibly wasteful in our spending and we had nothing to show for it. That's when we started using our excess each month (never had excess before!) to pay our debt down. We thought we could do more if we had less going out in payments each month. 

After paying down some debt we realized how much of our money was going to interest. It increased our dislike and intensified our mission. Then that transformed into the realization that if something happened to our income or for some crazy reason all of our loans were called, we were in a heap of trouble! Those thoughts motivated us to high-tail it out of debt. We were under the illusion that if we can make the payment, we could afford it. The truth is, as hard as it is to admit, we couldn't afford anything we had debt on like furniture, a computer, a car, and STUDENT LOANS. Now our excess is a large sum of money each month and we are making big plans on how we want to spend that money once we are debt-free. That's my favorite part!!

2013 YTD Debt Pay-Off: $12,299.35

Amount Left to Pay-Off: $10,888.55

Total Debt Pay-Off: $50,299.35