WE PAID OFF OUR HOUSE!
WE’RE DEBT FREE!!! We paid off our house completely, meaning we will no longer have any debt forever. And I mean FOREVER!
Gosh, where do I begin? I debated to even share this post. I believe it’s important and I hope to encourage you.
First off, I am screaming for joy on the inside and I’m also screaming for you to understand my heart while you are reading this post. I know times are tight right now for a lot of people, and it would hurt my heart if you think I am boasting. We want to share our story with you to try to enlighten how anyone can achieve this. The purpose of this post is NOT to be haughty or boastful, and if you assume that, then you must not know Drew or I personally. Hear me as you read – we are so thankful and God has blessed us. We have spent years sacrificing to reach this goal, and I know you can do it too! It’s hard and a lot of sacrifice but if you take small steps you can do it too! (Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps)
Our goal was to pay off all debt, including the house, by the time we were age 30! “Debt Free and Thir-tee” was our goal! (Drew loves to rhyme) We beat that by 2 years! (Drew is 28 right now).
TOTAL DEBT PAID OFF – $200,000
- Kia Soul $17,000
- Kia Spectra $4,500
- Student Loans $37,000
- Mortgage $133,500
- Small credit cards and interest on the above debts $8,000
December 2010 to 23 April 2016
We started this journey in December 2010 with Baby Step 1. On April 23, 2016 we find ourselves here at the bank paying off our very last payment on the mortgage. We looked at each other with tears in our eyes and said, “We did it!”
HOW WE DID IT
So how did we get completely debt free in 5 years, before we even turned 30? No, we don’t make six figure salaries. No, we didn’t receive a big gift from somebody. A few key things to answer how we did it…
We found jobs and interests we love and learned how to make money on it. While God blessed us with 8-to-5 jobs for the Department of Defense that was the biggest staple, we had some other doors that God opened up for us… Drew ran a website company and worked live event productions on the side. These were not just any “side jobs”, it’s fun and working with people that he has grown to love. More about that later… We also started a toddler t-shirt company. When our littles went to bed, we made t-shirts! When we sold the first shirt online we cried like a baby, and now 1 year later it’s boomed and a fun hobby has turned into a successful side income.
We made a budget and stuck to it! My husband is an excel freak.
We bought well below our means – When we got approved for our home the bank said Drew qualified for $500k. I don’t know what banks are thinking, approving people for things that stretch them to their max. If you haven’t bought a house yet – then DO NOT get excited if the bank gives you permission to spend a ton of money. No big fancy house it worth stressing over.
We had shared goals. We always knew when we got married that we wanted kids. We also knew we wanted to fully be in their lives and stay home with them part time. We knew we had to pay off our house to do this. See those little girlies – those were our tiny motivators!
We lived on one income. While both of us worked full-time, we built a zero-based-budget that would ensure we paid our expenses with one income, and the other income went fully towards the debt snowball (Baby Step 2) and then later on the mortgage (Baby Step 6).
We sold everything! If we weren’t using it, it’s going on Craigs List or the sell groups on Facebook. (random memory – Drew found a bicycle in the trash and sold it on Craigslist for $15)
We shared meals. We didn’t eat out unless we had a BOGO. We ate leftovers all the time. And dinner (specifically spaghetti) always tastes better the next day anyways.
We packed lunches. We learned how to eat semi-healthy and cheap. We went out to lunch about once a week.
We paid cash for everything. Everything extra that we could scrounge up went to the debt snowball or the mortgage. $50 bucks here, $25 there really adds up!
We cut cable, got cheaper cell phone plans and internet packages, and whatever else that could save us $5 a month. We also never signed up for new things, memberships, etc that would increase the monthly expenses on our budget sheet. Because the core of Ramsey is a zero-based-budget, if either one of us was going to sign up to something monthly (like Netflix), we would have to add it to the budget sheet and that would require us to decide if X was really worth the additional expenses every month.
We shopped second hand. Most of our clothes are from second hand stores and Gabriel Brothers – which is our favorite store. When our girls arrived, we bought all their clothes from second hand stores. You can always find the most unique clothes, and mix and match outfits. I always say, put a fun accessory with the same outfit you have had for years and it’s a brand new outfit.
We rarely bought things for our home. We moved furniture around a lot! Every time we did that, we felt like we were living in a fresh new home! When we did projects on our home, we cash flowed them and always paid cash. If we didn’t have the money, the project would wait. Patience was key. The biggest improvement to our home was new carpet (right before Daisy was born). We saved for 5 months to have enough cash. When it was finished, it was like walking on heaven. You love it even more when you pay with cash and have some patience built in.
We had fun! Every time we paid off another debt or 10K on our house – we celebrated with a big dinner or sometimes a mini vaca. Every time we would celebrate or do a vacation (or a 3 week trip to Europe) we saved and cash-flowed the entire purchase (which makes it all the more rewarding). Towards the end of the mortgage – we would get so giddy and say we’re in the 80’s, 70’s. 60’s, 40’s, 20’s…. and then one day we fainted and said “we’re in the TEENS!”
JOY & PEACE
The peace of playing blocks and babies with our littles in their cozy little teepee, the joy of giving small amounts and large amounts of cash to the single mom in need, the joy of staying home part-time with my girls, not missing every adventure, the peace of knowing that you can do anything you want for the rest of your life… That is what has made these sacrifices entirely worth it.
Thanks to Wright-Patt Credit Union for making the day special!
The word “contentment” means the world to us. Everything we’ve done is important, but contentment is the most important – it’s a matter of the heart. We have learned to be content in all we have and it has forever changed our world. Now that we’re debt free, nothing much will change in our lifestyle. I’m still just as happy eating peanut butter sandwiches, clipping BOGO coupons, and watching my toddler twirl around in her second hand Princess dress. Being content is not about how much you have. You may be thinking that you will be content once you have a newer car or a bigger house or whatever it is you think you need (or even being debt free). Those things would be nice, but being content isn’t circumstantial – if you can’t be content with a little, then you will never be content with a lot.
We definitely had a few struggles along this journey. We were gazelle intense in a lot of areas and getting out of debt is AMAZING and it matters, but we had to keep a constant check on WHY we are doing this and make sure our hearts were in the right place at all times. The best thing we found to do through this entire journey was to continue to GIVE in the process. Even if it didn’t make sense, we still gave. We gave financially through tithing to our church, and to missions work, and local orgs we believe in. We also gave much of our time volunteering for faith-based causes. Giving was the best prescription from becoming someone consumed with greed and anti-debt hatred with their fists locked tight on money and losing focus of what’s really important… God called us to love HIM and to love his people so giving was a constant reminder of WHY we’re on this journey.
THE ULTIMATE GOAL
Our main goal is to manage Gods Blessings, God way for Gods Glory. (quote Chris Brown) Having long-term freedom and do what God wants us to do without being tied down by a mortgage and debt, to make choices. Giving freely without being constrained by constant bills. The Giving has and will continue to be a huge part of our entire life. Drew and I have already made our next-month budget that will increase our giving to foreign missions work. We believe being able to give more freely since we have paid off our mortgage will be one of the most amazing blessings of our entire life.
Our debt-free decision has changed our life in a lot of unexpected ways. It’s paid dividends in our marriage and throughout our friends and family. We love who God has molded us into throughout this journey.
Our Home and the chart that tracked our progress
We’re going on the radio! After 5 years… we’re finally Debt Free and we’re going to celebrate! Dave Ramsey has a radio show where you can go to his studio and scream “WE’RE DEBT FREEEEE!” so we’re going to Nashville on May 19, 2016. Look for us!
More to come on this adventure because it is just beginning as we create a legacy for our girls and future generations.