Three short years ago, our kids were 9, 5, and 2. Wow. I can’t believe I just said that.
Three short years ago, we were also standing in the studio at Ramsey Solutions with headsets on, waiting to be broadcasted LIVE to an audience of millions! Aaaaahhhh!
We wanted to tell our story to the world, to let everyone know that if we did it, they could do it too! In the midst of all kinds of adversity, trials, and doubt, you CAN do it!
We wanted to do it big. We were super excited to share our hard work with the world, our family and friends watching, and making THIS the start of officially changing our family tree forever. On September 25, 2015 I couldn’t WAIT to press SEND on the last and final loan payment.
We did it! We sacrificed, we sold everything we could, we said NO to a lot of things, we got made fun of, and we kept on keeping on. We had two more babies and two miscarriages in the midst of it, endured a job layoff, car repairs, car purchases, sickness and medical bills… and miracles in between. Read that full story here.
On December 21, 2015, the man we’ve been waiting to meet for over 4 years announces our names on the radio as we’re standing there waiting to speak and tell our story of hard work and blessing.
“I’m sorry, what’s that?” Ernie asks.
Dave repeats himself.
Looking confused and feeling deaf, I also ask “What?” a few times.
We answered a few questions, surely and slow-ly, and flustered with my notes in my hand, I never even gave them a glance.
Poor Dave is looking pretty disturbed, and then I hear the people in the background who work the soundboards, “Maybe his ears were damaged working in the oilfield.” I almost laughed out loud.
What is going on here? Am I supposed to hear Dave clearly? Am I supposed to hear the soundboard people? A Christmas wreath is poking me in the back of the head. I want to look at my notes but I’m trying to hear Dave. Am I supposed to hear Ernie?
Ernie went to speak up and answer a question and as I talked over him (because I didn’t hear him like I should have), I could hear more background talk very clearly, “We know who wears the pants in that relationship! [Giggles]”
I tried not to giggle at the soundboard people, but I was also wondering if I was supposed to hear them in the first place. I’ve never been on live radio with headsets on and knowing how they’re supposed to work.
As we barely got to tell our story, Dave cut the interview short knowing something wasn’t right. We did our debt-free scream, and we got to meet Dave afterward!
We drove 11 hours with three small children to share our story with the world, and it failed. Even though it didn’t go as planned, we did what we went there for, and we had a lot of people cheering us on. I was sort of bummed about it for a few weeks after, but eventually you realize it doesn’t matter in light of everything.
That same day, we received an apology letter from their lead soundboard person, saying that she forgot to flip the switch! She really was sorry, and I could tell. I felt bad for her too.
All I can do now is laugh and shake my head. It’s life. Matter of fact, most people don’t even remember the “failure” part when we reminisce about it. They just remember our success. So when something bad happens, remember that.
Needless to say, it’s never a failure when you make an appearance on the Dave Ramsey Show – a worldly recognized show with now 10 million listeners! I’ll forever be grateful for the material that Dave and his team puts out there for us to learn, so that we can do bigger and better things with our life.
What’s happened in the last 3 years? And can you continue living happily debt-free?
Three months after the show, we bought our dream house on 7.5 acres.
That same year, Ernie took a job that didn’t require him to be away from our family on a regular basis (something we could have NEVER done before getting out of debt and managing our money better). We have a lot more family time that we didn’t have before, and now I can see how a life with debt really does take up a lot of your time. Not only does it affect your money, but it affects every single thing and every person around you.
How does it affect those around us? Without debt, we can be more present. Since Ernie doesn’t have to be gone for work as much, we can make more events together and just simply spend more time together. We also get to see more of people that mean a lot to us.
This new lifestyle gave us options. We have more freedom in our life, and we don’t feel tied down by invisible weights. There is less stress overall in our home, and we sleep better at night.
Ernie has taken his boys fishing and hunting more in the last year than he probably has in their whole lives.
You just can’t buy that.
Skepticism really does creep in at first and make you wonder if Dave and his debt-free mantra really works, or if he’s just trying to sell you something to make himself a millionaire…
And I’m here to tell you…
You really can live a life without debt and without an “emergency credit card” if you want to. We’ve had emergencies since we’ve paid off our debt, and we still don’t use debt. We’ve changed our health insurance policy to an HSA, which gives more freedom in your medical spending, and plus we don’t go to the doctor as often anymore.
Bottom line is, if we don’t have the money to pay for the whole thing, we don’t buy it. – not even for a vehicle. We still do not finance vehicles, and don’t ever plan on it.
But how? It’s simple. Save up and pay for the whole thing. It doesn’t have to be brand new. We’ve been driving older vehicles ever since, and one day we’ll get something a little newer, but never brand new again. But what about repairs, doesn’t that cost? Read that post here.
I didn’t say it was easy at first. I said it was simple.
We’re seriously not going back into debt.
Like ever. Like ever ever. Like ever ever ever.
We don’t want anything bad enough anymore to continue paying for it after we get it. Nothing.
I think we hate debt as much as we hate Satan himself. No. No. No, thank you.
The only debt reasonable is an affordable home that you live in – one that you can pay off in 15 years or less – then you have a reliable investment. Real estate has an average of 10-12% return on investment, even with the falling and rising of the market over time. Therefore when you own a home, you also own an investment. We learned to stop tying up over half of our money into things that go down in value. If it has an engine, wheels, or a trailer hitch on it, it goes down in value.
Our goal was to work our tails off for a short time in order to pay off big dividends later. Nothing wrong with working hard, but if Ernie was working 60-80 hours a week, gone from our family all the time missing half of our life, all for lots of money just to have more stuff to pay for, it creates a never-ending cycle. We got caught up in the cycle of making more money in order to keep a certain standard of lifestyle.
But while he’s working all those hours so we could keep that lifestyle, we weren’t really living. We were basically working hard just to stay above water.
Living on less than we make changed our lives forever. Because we chose this life of less, we can do more than we’ve ever imagined. We’ve been saving up to do something really special soon, and I can’t wait for you to see how God is working through us to bring His desires to life!
So how does life look when you live on less than you make, have an emergency fund, and have no debt?
You don’t work a job because you have to; you work a job because you want to. Taking off of work isn’t a burden to your finances anymore, so you can miss work to attend important things with your family and not be worried about making less money this week (since you’re already living on less than you make anyway). You get to be more flexible and enjoy more family time.
You’re more relaxed about life in general.
You’re on the same page with your spouse, so there’s less money fights. Your kids learn to wait for things that they don’t have money for. When something bad happens, there’s no extra burden of debt to pay when things are already tough. You have the freedom to set aside funds for blessing someone in need.
Is it perfect? Absolutely not.
Freedom from debt really does give you freedom in so many other areas in life, and the reason is because money literally touches almost everything. Whether we want to believe that or not, it touches so many things that we don’t even realize – relationships, kids, health, etc.
This freedom has nothing to do with having more money, but everything to do with have less burden.
It’s something no one wants to talk about, especially in the Christian world. We’re supposed to feel unburdened because Jesus set us free. We’re supposed to look good on the outside even when we feel heavily suppressed on the inside. Everyone feels the weight of it but thinks it’s just part of life. Well, it doesn’t have to be.
Even the Bible talks about debt as being a burden. There’s nothing good about it, really:
…the borrower is slave to the lender.
The wicked borrows but does not pay back,
but the righteous is generous and gives.
The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance,
but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.
Be not one of those who give pledges,
who put up security for debts.
We no longer wanted to be a slave, we wanted to be able to give more, and I was tired of always buying things with debt (being hasty) instead of waiting until we had the money to buy it. It kept us suppressed, and it kept us burdened.
Although nothing ever goes as planned, I want to give you some encouragement and insight to show you that it can be done, even when you go through adversity and tough times. We’re proof.
You really can live the rest of your life without the burden of debt.
Want to know more about how we got out of debt and get some encouraging emails from me? Take my Free eCourse, 5 Days to Creating a Less-Worried Life: Better with Money! I’d love for you to join my email list so we can keep in touch 🙂
Want to cut to the chase? I created a course for that: Frenzy to Freedom with Finances. It’s the exact budgeting method that helped get us where we are today. It’s everything you need to know about a zero-based budget, with growing tools and continuous contact with me to help you on your journey.