By Allie Warren
Our family’s journey to get out of debt really started the beginning of this year in January. I say “really started” because we’ve tried starting this journey a few times over the last few years and never followed through. To get out of debt is hard, as I’m sure anyone who has tried (or even thought about it) knows. I think when most people sit down and look at their debt, it overwhelms them and causes hopelessness. We were slightly overwhelmed but hopeful. We knew then it was possible because we had heard success stories through Dave Ramsey’s radio show. It was just a matter of putting our foot down and saying enough is enough. We wanted the financial freedom that all those other people had.
We started this year (2013) in debt, a little shy of $60,000. This included 11 student loans ($46,417.52) and 2 car payments ($12,859.47). The first thing my husband and I did was create a budget, accounting for every dollar. I think the word “budget” to the majority of the population has a negative connotation. “Budget” can be a dirty word and that’s exactly how it started out in our household. I used to try to avoid doing the finances with my husband. The same question would come up when we would attempt to talk about finances.
“What did you buy that you spent that much money?”
It would end with both us being upset, but for different reasons.
It wasn’t until we did our first monthly budget that we finally got a reality check on how much money was going to junk. Our first try was a little bit of a bust. We missed a few things we forgot we had to budget for, but it was a valuable learning experience. The next month, February 2013, was a lot better. And so were our attitudes.
I think one important thing that we have learned through this journey is that it requires sacrifice. It has been a hard year but I can say that, so far, it has been worth it. My husband had to give up his annual baseball trip and for me there was no spa weekend with my mom. It has been life changing, maybe a little different for me than for my husband because I do all the grocery shopping and basically any household buying.
I remember I used to drop $100+ at Target every trip, which I’m sure any woman can identify with. It wasn’t usually spent on anything important. I remember my first trip there on a budget. I started to pick up an item I didn’t need, and something clicked. I knew I didn’t need it and couldn’t afford, so I put it back. It has gotten easier as the months have gone by to say “no.” That's the magic word while staying true to your budget, “NO.”
My motivation: the fact that I am creating a better and secure future for my children. Plus, we are almost 11 months into our journey and we down to owing $24,175.51 of the $59,276.99!