Dumping Debt: Part 3

Three years ago my mom gave me Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University (FPU) kit for my birthday. While I was a little skeptical, at first, I read the book and listened to the CDs on my way to and from work…and I allowed Mr. Ramsey to change my perspective on how I handled money.

So, when my boyfriend (now hubby) and I were getting serious, we watched the DVDs together. I could tell he was a little skeptical, as well. However, he gave it a try. He saved up and purchased my engagement ring with cash, and when we got married, we did so, debt-free (you can read about that here); even our honeymoon was paid in cash! During our first 7 months of marriage we worked hard at paying down our debt, which included his car and my student loan.

In November, we discovered we were pregnant! Being just one payment shy of having the hubby’s car paid off, we went ahead and made the final payment, and then pushed pause on our debt-snowball; only making a minimum payment on my student loan each month. Then, we saved during the pregnancy. We did purchase a used car, with cash, when my car went out of commission earlier this year, but then we continued to save. After this mommy and baby came home from the hospital, we used the money we’d saved to pay off the hospital bills, and put a huge chunk down on my student loan.

And on October 31st, 2017, we made our LAST student loan payment, making us DEBT FREE at last!!

Now, we’re on to Step 3, and then on to what Dave calls Step 3B, which is a down payment for a house. And guess what! YOU can do it too! It takes hard work and self-discipline, yes, but it’s possible!

Have I mentioned that after baby girl came, I left my job!? I’m now a stay-at-home mom, because we made good financial decisions based on Dave Ramsey’s principles!

Do you have any dreams or goals that you continually push aside, because your finances prevent you from chasing them? Perhaps you should check out Dave Ramsey’s FPU. You won’t regret it.

7 Baby Steps

  • Step 1: Save $1000 Emergency Fund
  • Step 2: Debt Snowball
  • Step 3: Save 3-6 months of Expenses << This is where we are now!
  • Step 4: Invest 15% of Household Income
  • Step 5: College Funding for Children
  • Step 6: Pay off House Early
  • Step 7: Build Wealth & Give!
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Spending Less this Summer: 2016

My husband and I are currently working on paying off our combined debt; however, while we are on a budget, we also enjoy our weekend activities. Therefore, we’re always on the lookout for ways to spend time together outside our home, without spending a ton of money.

Since we only got married in May, the past 2 months we’ve just been learning how to live together, so we spend a lot of time grocery shopping together, cooking, or taking care of other household chores. Before we got married we used to eat out a lot, but we have tried to cut back on those expenses, now we try to meal prep and cook more at home. (It’s like playing tetris when we try to put our prepped items in the freezer, lol.)

Speaking of cooking…about a month into our wedding someone at work asked me if I was pregnant, lol. (That’s what happens when you have a husband that enjoys cooking and likes to feed you!) So, that same day I messaged my hubby to let him know I was ready to start working out. He’d been trying (unsuccessfully) to get me to go running with him, previously, so he was happy about my decision to join him. One way we save in this area, is by using the gym in our apartment complex instead of paying for a gym membership. We’re already paying for the amenity with our rent, so we might as well use it. It’s pretty basic–some treadmills, a stationary bike, ellipticals, free-weights, and a few machines. Yet, while it may not have all the fancy equipment found at a bigger gym, Pinterest, as we all know, is full of home workouts that we can ad to our routines. We’ve also walked/run along a 3-mile path that goes around our local city and along the river.

Earlier this summer, we also attended a free, local event along the river called “Rock the River FBXB.” There were local vendors, foods trucks, musicians, a beer garden, boat races, hikes, bike rides, foot races, and plenty of children’s activities. We spent most of our time chatting with friends, but the weather was great, dogs abounded, and the music was loud. We had fun! In our area, there are numerous free or low-cost summer concerts: First Friday concerts in downtown Market Square, Stafford Songfest Sundays at John Lee Pratt Memorial Park, and Celebrate Virginia Afterhours are just a few. We’ve been meaning to check out the concerts at Pratt Memorial Park and take along a picnic basket with us, but we haven’t had the opportunity, yet. Be sure to check your local area for similar events.

Independence Day weekend we went camping with my family in Shenandoah National Park. While we did have to pick up some new camping gear–a tent & sleeping bag, for two–the campsites were decently priced! If you already have the gear, or can find a really good deal on equipment, tenting is always an option for a weekend getaway.IMG_3650

Lastly, one of the activities we’ve been attempting to participate in each month (since January 2016, actually) is what we call our First Friday Karoake Night. Every Friday night, beginning around 9:30-10, our local Applebees hosts a karaoke night. They also have half-priced appitizers afer 9, so that doesn’t hurt, either. 😉 We usually text all our friends to join us on the first Friday of each month, but whether it’s just the two of us, or a crowd, we usually enjoy ourselves. Check to see if any of your local restaurants host karaoke nights, if this is something your interested in.

Well, that’s it for this year’s low-budget summer activity list! Let me know below how you’ve been filling up your summer, or what upcoming plans you already have.

Birthday Confessions

Carrot Cake B-day Cake

Mmm…Carrot Cake, my fave!

I don’t know about you, but it seems that about twice a year—around my birthday and the new year—I find myself taking inventory of where I am in life and where I would like to be. With my birthday just a day away, I’ve been thinking a lot about career decisions, where I want to be in five years, what my goals are, and what it’s going to take to get there. For those who’ve been following my blog so far, you know that I’m currently on the Dave Ramsey plan and have been trying to pay my student loan off as quickly as possible. I’ve actually started looking into getting a second job to work in the evenings and on the weekends, in addition to my full-time job, just so I can have some extra money to get my loan paid off quicker.

However, these last few days, I’ve been reminded that I shouldn’t become so preoccupied with paying off this student loan that my relationships with God or other people suffer. As much as I want a second job, I also want to continue serving in my church, whether on the worship team; working with the children’s, homeless, or young adult ministries; or teaching a Wednesday night Bible study (like I planned to do in the fall); I want to serve. Not to mention the fact that I currently have the freedom to meet a friend after work to study the Word on Monday evenings, attend a ladies Bible study at my friend Cori’s house on Friday nights, and spend some quality time with my boyfriend on the weekends. 😉

Now, will I continue to look for other ways to increase my income? Absolutely! But I still want to be able to serve, minister, and foster the relationships that God has placed in my life, as well. This just means that I have to trust that God will open a door and make this a reality. Trust and patience have always been difficult for control freak me. I want to devise my own plans and create my own way, but God says it’s His job to direct my steps (Proverbs 16:9).

Whatever you’re doing, wherever you’re going or planning, or even if you’re like me–working on your debt snowball–don’t forget that all this is for His glory and we’re to honor Him in all that we do. Nothing is more important than Him and the calling He’s placed on each of our lives to point the world towards Him. Don’t let any other goals, people, or objects distract you from Him.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. (Hebrews 12:1-2a, NLT)

Dumping Debt: Part 2

It’s been a while, since I’ve posted anything, much less regarding how my debt-free journey is going. I’d been slowly chipping away at my credit card and student loan debt, but what really made a huge dent thus far is that I received a refund earlier in the year (primarily because I’ve been paying interest towards my student loans) and my mom graciously surprised me with some money she’d been saving for me.

These two unexpected gifts allowed me to completely pay off my credit card (woohoo!) and the smallest of my 3 student loans. Most of the second to smallest student loan has also been paid off (it should be gone by the end of this month), leaving just the largest of the 3 loans. This means that I’ve paid off $3270.20 in credit card debt and $4011.72 in student loan debt within the last year!

That’s a lot of money! I could only imagine what I could have done with this $7281.92 if I didn’t have these debts.

Goals

For me, this journey to becoming debt free is important because I want to be in a place where I can give freely and generously. There has been many a time when I’ve wanted to help someone or bless a cause, financially, and have been unable to do so because of debt. One day, I want to be able to offer services to aid and bless those around me. With this goal in mind, it’s easier for me to give up the things I want now, so that I can be in a better position to serve later.

What goals do you have for your future? Can being debt-free help you reach those goals?

Whatever you do, be sure to create a plan! Like Zig Ziglar says, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” Be intentional with your finances and your time.

7 Baby Steps

  • Step 1: Save $1000 Emergency Fund
  • Step 2: Debt Snowball << This is where I am!
  • Step 3: Save 3-6 months of Expenses
  • Step 4: Invest 15% of Household Income
  • Step 5: College Funding for Children
  • Step 6: Pay off House Early
  • Step 7: Build Wealth & Give!

And remember, the 7 Baby Steps really begin when you create a budget (and stick to it)!  Two great applications that I personally use to help me create a budget are the new Dave Ramsey application Every Dollar and Mvelopes. I can’t use Every Dollar on my phone, since it’s only available for iPhones, so I use the Mvelopes app for my Android. Be sure to check them out and tell me what you think!