Happy New Year! Hope you all had a truly beautiful Christmas with those you love the most...
I realized at the end of the last month, as I was working on our finances, that's it's been forever since I've done a check-up on our road toward Financial Freedom. The last time I did a check-up, it was last February, and we were just 6 months into all of this. Now, we're starting off our 16th month... 16 months! It's time to let you all know how we've been doing.
First off, this journey has gotten easier since we started in September 2011. It has been easier to "do without" some things in order to stay focused on our goal of living without debt. Joel and I are much better accountability partners in this area of our lives than we've ever been. And that's been a vital part - to have your spouse continually remind you of your mutual goals and cheer each other on as your debt shrinks.
At this point, we are rounding the corner. I'm hoping in the next several months, I'll be able to share a post with you that says we're debt free - that we did it! We still have a little ways to go, but as I tally our debt pay-off each month, that number inspires both Joel and I to work harder and to finish this whole adventure strong.
So, here's the exciting part... Over the last 16 months of Joel working two jobs, us living on a budget (mostly but not perfectly) and us saying "no" to things that aren't necessary to survival, this military family of four has paid off $19,686.00!
If you've followed our story here on my blog or know us personally, you know that this has taken a lot of sacrifice - a lot of time with Joel away from us (for a short while) in order to help secure financial peace (long term). Our thought the entire time is that we we're going to jump in with both feet until we were out of debt so we no longer had to live barely making it each month, hardly being able to save, with a large debt-number hanging above us. We've made some bad choices that has gotten us here - we have bought too much, gone out too frequently, saved too little when we could have saved a lot and did not start our marriage with complete financial honesty and transparency. It is because of several bad decisions, that we had to wake-up and drastically change the way we were living.
We realized 16 months ago, that in many ways, our children were going to have to deal with the consequences of our bad financial decisions. We knew, if we continued to live with too much, that we wouldn't be able to move to a larger home, afford vacations, have a sizable savings for life-happenings and be able to save for college. I'm not saying those are necessary for a happy childhood. But I'm simply trying to say that our poor financial decisions was not only having a negative impact on the two of us, but the four of us. Through this process, we've been able to teach Grace about savings, working hard and handling the money God has given us with wisdom. I know she's only 6, but she can tell you why we're doing all of this. And she's learned the importance of saying "no" today so we can say "yes" in the future.
If you're sick of living month-to-month, of living with anxiety about what's in your bank account and what you're financial future may look like, all I can say if we can do it, so can you! Dave Ramsey has some great tools on his website, including this great budget tool. On his site, you can look at the steps toward becoming debt free. We didn't follow his 7 Baby Steps completely - we did follow his basic principle of living with the bare minimum and how he suggest you snowball debt.
Feel free to contact me with any questions! We have really enjoyed sharing this journey - I've been so encouraged by the stories of others who have made this decision to live radically now so you can live freely later.