($x.xx) to $x.xx
These are some of my new favorite representations of being DEBT FREE!!! That's right you heard me, we are no longer slaves to our own foolishness. As Pa from 'Little House on the Prairie' says: “Only cash on the barrel.”
It has been quite a long and arduous journey for us to finally escape from the spending cycle that we got ourselves into. Many will remember the various extremes that we went through to escape, and there are so many friends and family who helped us along the way. Some helped with payments that had to be made on cars initially, others helped with showing us useful recipes to feed a large number of people. So many people were more that happy to help, when they realized that we were committed to a life of thrift. We really started making inroads to our debt when WE changed, and subsequently our spending desires changed as a result. Of course we still wanted to be able to go out and eat nice meals out in town, or buy some new clothes or games, but it took a diligent change of lifestyle to get the ball rolling.
We had already started on this journey when I read a friends copy of “Total Money Makeover” by D. Ramsey, and he mentioned something very pertinent to this subject. He discussed that money isn't just raw math where we pay off the highest interest rates first and move on down the line till we're done. This might be mathematically true, but its certainly not emotionally true, which, lets face it, is the crux of the matter when we are talking about making changes in the way we spend our money. We of course, didn't like our debt, and we had a budget that we followed...loosely...but we weren't committed in such a way that we were willing to make much more drastic changes to end the cycle of bad spending.
I am happy to report that we did start taking our budget much more seriously, and as we began making steps toward decreasing our debt we realized that this was in fact possible as we started claiming small victories. There were a few times where we felt the need to get fully committed, by taking such actions as: selling off all our “investments”, using our tax return towards our debt, and living in such simple conditions that we could be considered 'wacky' as we kept trudging along. Since 2008 we have paid $75,000 of principle! This includes the travel trailer that we purchased so that we could live at the RV park in Meridian. I don't know if I could figure out how much we paid in interest, but it still makes me sick to think about it.
There were various changes that we had to undergo as a family, and I believe that my wife's commitment to living under a budget was one of the most important aspects of our success. I will allow her the opportunity to share with you “How to live within your budget” so you can get her perspective As for me, I'm grateful that I could cast a vision for the goals of my family being debt free while remaining sensitive to their wants and needs. It's been a tremendous journey, and as we shared with the children, I pray they never go back to being slaves to lenders again!
Here is a link to the working spreadsheet, 'Debt Free Budget', that we used as an invaluable tool to help us set goals and allocate our living expenses while still aggressively paying off debt.
If there are questions about how to use it feel free to ask.
And when in time to come your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ you shall say to him, ‘By a strong hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, from the house of slavery. (Exodus 13:14 ESV)