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Our Story: How We Paid Off Every Debt Including Our House in 5 Years

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Debt Free 3

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)

Baby Steps

GOAL

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!”

Debt Free 1

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!

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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!

Thanks to Wright-Patt Credit Union for making the day special!

CONTENTMENT

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.

GIVING

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

Our Home and the chart that tracked our progress

WHAT’S NEXT?

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.

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The Summer Continues

Summer Small-12

The last couple weeks we have been in full fledge summer mode!  It’s our Daisy’s first summer so we’re pretty giddy to take her everywhere and introduce her to some things we LOVE!  Daisy’s age is so much fun right now so we find ourselves staring at her for hours watching her every move.  Our events the past few weeks have included the Zoo, Pool Side Swimming, Kite Flying, Fireworks and a Balloon Glow!  Side Note: If you are local and have not experienced the Columbus Zoo it needs to be a must!

Enjoy a few summer pics so far!  As of now, we’re planning Daisy’s 1st birthday and awaiting the arrival of our next blessing, Scarlett!  More to come on the fun that lies ahead!

 

See Summer Festivities

See July 4th in the Land That I Love

Summer Festivities

Land That I Love

Snowy Days Make Warm Hearts

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As the blizzard continues to fall, we’re staying warm and cuddly – blessed to have a warm home.  Daisy’s amazement out of the back door made us get out her snowsuit and enjoy the giant falling flakes.  I’m not the biggest fan of winter, but today was a charming winter wonder world.  Snow angels and eskimo kisses describe this day.  We loved watching Daisy take it all in.

Snowy Days

Family – The Most Important Thing

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I couldn’t be more grateful for my family.  This time of the year makes you cherish them even more.  My parents have been a tremendous help since we have had Daisy and they love her so much.  I love watching them with her and seeing the smiles beam off Daisy’s face.    

We recently had our family picture taken by our good friend Jess Maslyn.  My family has not had a family picture since the Olan Mills days. Anyone remember those???  This was Daisy’s first photo shoot with my family and with her cousin Blake.  I love how much Blake loves our sweet girl already.  Not to mention we could not be more excited for our first Christmas with our Daisy Girl.  Soaking up every moment…

Enjoy these precious snaps of my dear family.  

Tis the Season for Family

Lakeside Maternity Shoot

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I am so excited to share the most special pictures we have ever taken!  These are by far my favorite pictures ever.  The fabulous Jess Maslyn shot these maternity pics for us, and we can say that she never disappoints.  I wanted to do a classic look, and a small little park around the corner was the perfect location!  I could not be happier with how they turned out.

As the due date draws closer, we are loving her more and more.  We are beginning to see our life with Daisy and all the adventures we have ahead with her.  We pray everyday that we can be the parents that will lead her in a fun-filled life knowing our Savior and exploring the world to see God’s great creation!

I’m excited to share these pics with our Daisy one day! Enjoy them all here.

True Love Week

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Last week our Church had a week of community service that we called “True Love Week

Drew and I were so blessed to be part of the planning team for this amazing event!  After 5 months of vision, planning, and lots of prayer, it all came together last week!  This week was full of showing pure love and showing our community a Love like Jesus!  We prayed with the broken, fed the homeless, served the needy, and repaired buildings and schools.

True Love Week was our way to show love to neighborhoods, schools, social organizations and non-profits to put our faith in action and say “thank you” for the work that they do in the Greater Cincinnati and Dayton area.

This week was the most rewarding week I have ever been a part of and I am so blessed to be a part of Solid Rock Church!

We have always heard anytime you help someone else in need, you feel even more blessed in return.  This is exactly what happened to our church last week!  Our volunteers went out intending to bless the community (and did just that), but in return God blesses back our volunteers even greater.  This serving and giving spirit became contagious as we served our very own local community morning, afternoon, and evening.

The week ended with a 5K Color Run with all the funds supporting St. Jude Children’s Hospital.  This run was incredible and it was so fun watching it all come together.

Enjoy some pictures from an incredible week of being the Hands and Feet of Christ.

Big Tree Plantation – Keller Style!

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Every year around Christmas its a tradition for my Keller family to do our annual family photo!  This year we went to the cutest tree farm in Morrow called Big Tree Plantation. The scenery was to die for and it was everything you imagined about a tree plantation and much much more! Of course the kids ran wild and the men grumble and ask why we have to do this every year?  But all in all we had a blast and so thankful to be with family.

It’s crazy to look at these and see my nieces and nephews growing up way too fast!  All of them are insanely gorgeous by the way!

We were blessed to have Jessie Seyersdahl take our pictures this year!  We have all known Jessie for a long time and was excited for her to shoot us.  She did a great job!  Be sure to book her for your next family shoot 🙂

See some photos from the shoot here.

Thankful for What He Is

Give Thanks

I look at Thanksgiving as more than just a day. Its a season, a year, a lifetime of thanks! What are you thankful for?

  • Today I am thankful for the JOY I have!
  • Today I am thankful for family that love me unconditionally!
  • Today I am thankful for friends that have been so perfectly placed in my life!
  • Today I am thankful for a dark haired man that wakes me up every morning and is the most giving man I know!
  • Today I am thankful for a warm house and warm clothes to dress in this freezing weather!
  • Today I am thankful for delicious food that I will gladly partake in 😉
  • Today I am thankful for spiritual leaders in my life!
  • Today I am thankful for my church!
  • Today I am thankful for a paycheck that allows me to sew into the Kingdom!
  • Today I am thankful for the future!

We could all go on and on about what were thankful for and never stop right?  But I have found that the one key element that has given me everything, and He owns everything, and He is the one person I am forever grateful for is JESUS CHRIST!

But I’m not simply thankful for the things He does for me.  I’m thankful for Who He is.  I’m thankful that He is a God of love.  I’m thankful that He is a God of truth.  I’m thankful that He is a God of justice.  I’m thankful that He is a God of mercy.  I’m thankful that He is holy.  I’m thankful that He is sovereign.  I’m thankful that He is worthy of worship.  I’m thankful that He is righteous.  I’m thankful that He is faithful.  I’m thankful that He is creative.  I’m thankful that He is infinite, never-changing.

Saving Babies One Day at a Time

CPC Banquet 2013 - 2

I always look forward to this time of the year because my mother in-law’s annual Pro-life banquet takes place.  My mother in-law is the director at the Community Pregnancy Center in our hometown.  I have always been astonished at what she does.  She never labors in vain and every day is making a difference.

It’s so exciting to know that I can tell my kids one day that their Grandma saved the lives of innocent unborn babies and showed their mommas the Love of Christ!  It’s always a special time for our family and an enjoyable event supporting a GREAT cause.  This year the Center was honored to have Sandi Patty sing and tell her personal story of adoption and God’s will in her life.  She was absolutely incredible by the way.  Enjoy some pics here.

Paddleboat Much?

Paddleboat - 7

Who said summer is over yet??  I think not! My husband was leaving town for a week so we took advantage of this gorgeous weather and went paddle boating.
Anything we do we have a ball and this was just that!  Enjoy some pics 🙂

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