Jonathan and I got married this past October. By November we read Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover and got pumped up about our finances! We even started listening to his podcasts every single morning while we get ready for the day. We were sick and tired of seeing so much of our paychecks go to student loans! Since we fundraise our entire income, working for FOCUS – Fellowship of Catholic University Students, we take every paycheck seriously. The money we live off of is the hard earned tithe to God from so many generous family and friends we’ve made through working in campus ministry. We owe financial responsibility not only to God and ourselves, but to these people who are donating to us, who desire Jesus Christ to be known in our world. It was time that our money started working for us and not some bank! I can think of a LOT of great ways to give & spend that money I see whisked off to Sallie Mae every month…now it’s time to kick the old woman out of our house!
After going through all the necessary changes from getting hitched – name, driver’s license, SSN, address, etc., we were ready to start our new financial journey in January. We had around $21,000 in student loans at that point and have been working the baby steps. We got our $1,000 in an emergency fund set aside and then began with gazelle-like-intensity to pay down our debt as soon as possible!!!! We have lived on next to nothing, literally. We chopped up the credit cards and started paying cash for our purchases. Every date night is spent playing board games at home and eating home cooked food. We took a “stay-cation” over Spring Break under our own roof instead of traveling to see family or go on a mission trip. We haven’t bought any clothes or anything non-essential. We’ve eaten beans and rice…a lot. I’ve been selling things so fast, I wonder if we will have anything left by June! We splurged once, to see The Hunger Games with friends, but it was in the budget 😉
Despite it seeming like we haven’t had much of a life in some people’s eyes, we are so HAPPY! Living frugally has forced us to come up with new ways to have fun, create a budget and stick to it every single month, to communicate about what we buy and why we value certain things, to dream about all the ways we desire to give and spend our money once we become debt-free, and to have a less distracted life by the fact that we don’t have “stuff” to distract us as often. Thankfully we have amazing and supportive friends who like to do free things together and working for FOCUS provides us with so many exciting adventures with college students built right into our daily lives. So we don’t feel like we miss out on too much since we are surrounded by a great community of joyful people.
So, we’ve got four months under our belts of our gazelle-like intensity and we have seen results!!! As I said earlier, we started out with close to $21,000 in debt. I am excited to say that today, we only have $10,461.09 left on those student loans. Our income fluctuates, but we’ve been paying 50-65% of our income towards debt each month. I don’t share those numbers to toot our own horns and to show how great Jonathan and I are…but to INSPIRE anyone reading this who wants to dump their debt too! If we can do this, anyone can!!! We are set to be debt-free sometime between August and September 2012. We originally thought we would need 12 months to pay it all off but once the ball got rolling, we got more and more excited to see our loans GONE, it truly became a snowball effect.
We aren’t at our final goal yet, but it’s close on the horizon and we are already talking about how to celebrate being debt-free. We aren’t sure about what we’ll do but we’re certain we’ll be paying cash 🙂 You can bet we’ll be calling Dave to do our “debt-free scream!” Thanks be to God for the ministry of Dave Ramsey and his team of workers. Their hard work is truly paying off in the lives of so many people and we are just one of many. YOU CAN BE NEXT!!!! www.daveramsey.com