We answered some questions from Family Balance Sheet this month to share our Debt Free Journey. This blog is special to us because it focuses on the intersection of finance, family, and life. Some really cool resources out here, and we love that the author is a fellow Ramseyer! Take a look at some cool new questions they asked us that we hadn’t really shared anywhere else yet.
Thanks to Kristia for doing such a great job sharing the Ramsey Gospel and spreading this hope of financial freedom!
Drew and Farrah realized that they were headed in the wrong direction financially, and they decided to change their situation for the better. They became so focused on their goals that they were able to become completely debt free, and paid off their house in just 5 years.
We were interviewed on June 24th, 2016 by Talaat and Tai of His & Her Money Show. We LOVE this show because of their great mixture of money, marriage, faith, and family.
Here is the episode from their iTunes and YouTube, and then below is a link to the article that they wrote about us. Thanks to Talaat & Tai for doing such a great job and spreading this hope of financial freedom!
Podcast Episode & Article on His & Her Money Show
Income is a shovel and debt is a hole that you are down in. Some people have bigger incomes and bigger shovels and some people have bigger debts and a bigger hole. The point is don’t look at the size of your shovel or the hole that you are down in, just start digging
We were interviewed on June 6th, 2016 by Rachel Murray of WHIO TV. Channel 7 has a segment on consumer reports and shopping, etc… Well Rachel got wind of our crazy story and decided to share it with our local city of Dayton, OH.
Here is the segment that aired on TV, and then below is a link to the article that she wrote about us. Thanks to Rachel Murray for doing such a great job and spreading this hope of financial freedom!
On May 19th, 2016 we were on the Dave Ramsey Show to do our Debt Free Scream live from Nashville!!! If you know us well, you know this is a huge moment for us! Thanks for all your kind words, love, and support on this journey.
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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.
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.
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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Legacy Journey has begun in the Keller house! This has been an amazing time to reflect on the things we do and why we do it. As we have been gathering our legacy documents and organizing them in our Legacy Box, we were asked to make a personal mission statement that related to just us and represented our Passions and Values.
I wanted to take a short moment and document this special time in our life as God prepares us for more.
Keller Family Personal Mission Statement
We are designed by God to magnify His name, manage His resources with purpose, enrich our family and relationships, and effectively evangelize the world for His glory through planning, creative design, and serving in ministry. We do all of this because God owns it all – our time, talents, relationships and resources.
In the last year God has opened a lot of doors and answered many prayers for my husband and I. This Sunday, September 29th, starts one of those very things we’ve been praying for! Financial Peace University is coming to our church and we are more than honored to help teach this class! We are passionate about saving money, living debt free and giving. Of course the credit is due to God, and the teachings of Dave Ramsey.
We are excited to lead others to financial freedom as well as take the class all over again (it never gets old)!
Come and join us at Solid Rock South this Sunday as we become Debt Free together! There is still time to sign up! Email us if you’re interested or show up to the class on Sunday at 8:45am!
We are not made to be servants to the lender! We are Gods servants.
This is a big day for us! We have successfully completed the Debt Snowball! The Debt Snowball is paying off all your debts (excluding the house) starting with the smallest balance first. If anyone knows us then they know that we are insane Dave Ramsey followers. What is so rewarding about living this way is knowing that this is the exact way God intended us to live and it’s spelled out all over in his Word. In this process we have found that God puts opportunities in our path to serve Him with our resources. We LOVE being able to help those that need it, and talk about the fun ministries we want to support, and then actually DO IT! We began the journey for financial peace about 4 years ago (Yes, we weren’t even married yet). This has most definitely been a disciplined journey but extremely fulfilling. Everyone has their own definition of what “weird” means. To us, it means having some—or actually a lot—of money, because so many people are broke! If you could keep hundreds of extra dollars a month instead of paying credit card bills, car payments, student loans or whatever it may be for you then you would want to be weird too. “Normal is Broke. Be weird!” – Dave Ramsey This is the part of being “weird” but it has actually become addicting to pay off debt! We would get crazy highs to send in a large chunk of money to pay off our student loans and car payments etc. We are now on the road to paying our house off. The goal is to be completely DEBT FREE BY AGE 30!
Why live like no one else?
Have you ever imagined yourself debt free? What do you think of?
- Starting your own business?
- Giving to a ministry?
- Adopting a child?
- Buying Groceries for a single Mom?
- Yearly Mission Trips
- Paying Cash for your House?
- Spending more time with your babies?
- Ability to do whatever you want?
What does the bible says about debt and saving?
Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, and attend to your herds.
Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.
In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has.
The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.
Last month was truly an experience of a lifetime. I wanted to take this chance and write about what we learned, experienced and enjoyed the most about European Culture.
My husband referred to our Europe Trip as being on the “crib list” and I think I have to agree with him 😉 We have definitely always lived life to the fullest but the memories and adventures we created on this trip put the icing on the cake! Everyone thinks their husband is the most amazing man in the world but mine really is! I couldn’t have asked for a better traveling partner. He navigated us everywhere, was so patient and kind and A LOT OF FUN!
God helped us in so many ways. I will say that there was one, yes just one, meltdown on the trip. When you plan a trip like this by yourself (as opposed to a pre-planned tour) then most likely you will have some issues somewhere. Europe has an amazing train system called the Eurail and many trains you have to make reservations on. Well the one time we forgot to make a reservation was when the meltdown occurred. Amidst border police, angry train conductors, and sweaty Italians – let’s just say that God helped us out of this situation pretty miraculously.
Just some closing thoughts that you may want to know before traveling to Europe:
- You have to pay for water everywhere. Make sure you buy water at the grocery stores and not in restaurants (we learned this the hard way). Tap water is not offered either.
- Smoking is everywhere in every country and at young ages.
- Bathrooms are more commonly called “toilettes” and you have to pay to use public toilettes so we learned to use them in museums, restaurants and your hotel. Restaurants will not let you use the toilette unless you are a paying customer.
- Transportation on trains is cheap an easy. Trains are the way to go! Busses are cheap for local in-town travel.
- Students in Europe travel, whereas in the USA it seems like many get a job out of college immediately.
- You can identify Americans a mile away by their luggage, tacky clothing (quite funny)
- Many people are happy to help you – as long as you are polite and ask if they “Speak English?”
- Rural Italians have the best hospitality
- Cinque Terre, Italy– Let’s just say this should be on everyone’s bucket list!
- The Swiss love being outdoors and are all about extreme sports.
- No country has a big breakfast like Americans (They have a croissant and go on their way). British are a close second but eat beans and mushrooms in the morning?!?!
- There was interesting fashion but we didn’t buy much as we were backpacking and had limited space.
- Paris was dirty – very surprised! Always imagined it to be immaculate. Streets, subways, public areas – all needed a good bath and some soap.
- Europeans have no problem with walking (many walk miles to work, grocery stores etc.)
- Nutella is everywhere! Let me repeat EVERYWHERE! Conversely, we did not see one Peanut Butter product anywhere. We think its because they can’t grow peanuts there.
- Lots of bakeries on every corner. Fast food restaurants are very modern and classy! It’s sad to say that the nicest McDonald’s I’ve ever been in was in Munich, Germany.
- Portions are smaller which I loved! Food is very bland. Americans have a lot of sugars in our food. Pop is insanely expensive – probably because it is so bad for you and too sugary for their palettes.
- Everyone in Europe drinks strong coffee. Whipped cream, syrups, and toppings are either nonexistent, or unpopular so no one has it – even our beloved Starbucks had 1/5th the menu that we have here in the states.
- Soccer (football) is all the rage.
- Converse shoes were worn by everyone, even styles we’ve never seen in the USA.
The precious things we missed:
- Flavored coffee
- Our bed
- I got to admit we missed OUR FOOD!
- Basic understanding of signs and words
- Not communicating with people
- Family and friends
- Having a place to call home
- Our church
Things that we are glad we packed:
- iPole (if you’re wondering how we shot all of our pics, this was the secret, if you would like one contact me)
- Rick Steve’s – Europe Through the Back Door
- Backpacks – best thing we bought!
- Laundry detergent – did laundry in our rooms
- iPad Mini – maps, itinerary, tickets, movies, everything!
- MacBookAir – I love my air! It was so tiny and we were able to do everything we needed with it.
If you have always wanted to go to Europe, DO IT! Don’t think about it, kick it around, or underestimate it – start saving up money now and you’ll be glad you did down the road when it is time to start booking stuff. If you’re willing to do a little bit of research and planning ahead of time, then you will bring a wealth of travel and culture home with you!
We can certainly tell you that this trip to Europe won’t be the last. There is so much left to see that 20 of these trips could never cover it all!
I hope you all enjoyed our journey through Europe. This will probably be my last post about Europe; I apologize for dragging it out. There will be a few more videos to follow this soon!