|our last payment!!|
Last week I mentioned that we had another early Christmas present come our way this year. I didn't want to keep you waiting too long so here it is! WE ARE DEBT FREE!!! We sent off our last check on Sunday and our college is officially paid off! I can't even begin to tell you how good that feels! It still seems quite surreal actually! It's been four and a half years since we started, a couple job changes for Matt, and the addition of Piper to our family but we made it!
When we got married in 09 our total consumer debt (we only had school loans but this would include cars, credit cards, etc. excluding the mortgage) was $78,000. Thankfully shortly after we tied the knot we were introduced to Dave Ramsey and his Financial Peace University program. We originally borrowed the CD's of the classes from a friend but when our church offered the class the following year we decided to take it. Best decision ever! We both came from families who taught us how to handle money however, this class gave us the tools and an action plan to get us to where we wanted to be.
How did we do it?
#1 reason we are debt free is because we are on a budget.
-After taking Dave's class we put in place a budget and have been using one ever since, this is largely the reason we have been able to pay of $78,000 in 4.5 years. If we hadn't been keeping track of what was coming in and going out there is no way we would have been able to finish it off this quickly. (note: this is not a once and done thing, we adjust our budget as needed to suit the different events that happen each month. It takes work but its totally worth it!)
#2 We cut unnecessary expenses.
-We don't have cable, haven't had it since we got married. It was just an added expense we didn't need and we don't miss it. Well, except for football season, but then we just have an added excuse to hang out with friends!
- We keep eating out to a minimum. We still do here and there, however this was drastically cut back from what we used to do, and when we do its a part of our budget. Eating out is expensive and it adds up quick! Its one of those things that will bite you in the butt if you don't keep track of it! Believe me, we know!
- We don't go shopping. Honestly unless we really need a certain piece of clothing, the only time we do shopping is after Christmas when we have money to spend from presents we got, and on our birthdays. This year is actually the first year that Matt and I are buying Christmas presents for each other since we started this process. We decided we wouldn't do that until we were out of debt, and save the extra money we would have spent to pay down our debt.
- We haven't taken any huge trips since our honeymoon. No big anniversary getaways, no huge summer vacations, no trips to Europe or out west. It has been hard but definitely a part of the journey. Now that we are debt free we have our 5th anniversary coming up and we might actually do something, especially before baby #2 comes along!
#3 We drive older paid for vehicles
-Matt has been fortunate enough to be able drive a work vehicle which means we only actually own one car. Early on we had a VW passat that I loved but it was getting up in miles and we knew older passat's can cost a lot of money to maintain, so when a great deal came along we bought my Nissan Sentra for cash and put the extra money we made from the sale right toward debt. My car is not the prettiest thing around and doesn't even have power locks for that matter. But it's cost us basically nothing to run and has been overall a great car.
#4 We had a plan to tackle our debt
-Funny thing, if you don't have a plan nothing will happen. We followed Dave Ramsey debt snowball theory and tackled our smallest debt first and worked toward our largest. It was great to get those small debts paid off quickly and have the sense of victory and added enthusiasm to tackle the big one. It was slow going, but in the end the tortoise wins the race!
At first our pile of debt seemed insurmountable. Some months we totally blew our budget and had hardly anything left over to put towards debt, other months we had money seemingly come out of nowhere and were able to pay off large amounts. Slowly but surely the amount, decreased and decreased. Its not been an easy road. Both of us have gotten off track during the process and we've had to remind ourselves of the end goal, and try to muster up some motivation to continue when it seemed nothing was going right, but we kept putting one foot in front of the other and look at where we are now.
If you want to see other posts I did along the way check them out, here and here!
This year it certainly is a MERRY Christmas at our house, with MUCH to be thankful for! Thanks for those of you who encouraged us along the way, and those of you who contributed to the effort! We couldn't have done it without you, we are eternally grateful!
If you are on a similar journey I would love to hear about it! If you have any other questions feel free to ask we are an open book!