It was a big day at our house!!
My husband and I have been working hard these past 2 months, and I couldn't be more excited to say, "We paid off my student loans!!!"
In 2 months we were able to pay off just under $8000 of debt! That's pretty stinking exciting and a big deal.
So you're probably wondering HOW?!
First off we joined a class called Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. This is the 2nd time we have gone through this (the first time being 5 years ago). I love this class and what he teaches through it. Yes, it's extreme and many of the things he suggests are "weird," but we want to be a weird family.
The 2nd baby step in FPU is to pay off all your debt. That's where Jonathan and I are and might be for awhile. But that's ok. Like I said, $8000 in 2 months! And my husband is a preacher and I'm a stay at home mom. So how did we do this?
I would say the #1 most important thing is having a budget. Written down, before the month begins, every month. I know through years of experience if you don't tell your money where to go it will all disappear and quickly. Tell your money where to go and make it behave! Having a budget doesn't mean you can't have any fun. It means you allow so much money for what is important to you and that is what you are able to do that month.
Jonathan and I have been trying to be kind of "gazelle intense" and have said no to a lot of fun opportunities because right now what is a priority to us is getting out of debt. Or we may say something like this, "We won't be able to this month, but that sure does sound great. Let me add it to my budget next month and we would love to join you." Saying no is hard, and people look at you funny when you tell them it's not in your budget. But that is something we have decided we are ok with.
So because we wrote out a budget we were able to find some "extra" money to apply towards my school loan. But definitely not $8000 extra (since that's more than our income).
What else did we do besides having a budget? We sold stuff. So much stuff the kids were afraid they were next. And I have more to sell. Looking around our house we realized how much stuff we had. Nice stuff, but not stuff we needed. Some things we sold were the computer, iphones, name brand clothing and purses, a video game system, among other things. We put every dollar we got towards my loan. My in-laws weren't crazy about this because they wanted me to have fun with it, but even my birthday money went straight to my loan! I thought that was very fun
In November, we declared it was a "spending freeze" month! We didn't buy anything extra or go out to eat. We did take a 10 day vacation that was already planned, but stuck within the budget we had already set for it. We dug way back in our cabinets for dinner and lunches. Some nights were interesting, but it was amazing how we did not go hungry and had plenty of food in the freezer and cabinets without going grocery shopping. We were able to put so much more money towards the loan because we went on a spending freeze. This is definitely something I want to do every few months because it really got us focused and we made a lot of headway!
We stopped shopping... (so much). Retail therapy used to be my favorite and if I'm not careful I get caught up in my old ways. And with Christmas only 11 days away, I keep saying to myself, KEEP IT SIMPLE. KEEP IT SIMPLE.
Our family is learning CONTENTMENT.
We also had some money in savings that we decided we wanted to use to put towards our debt. (Which is in line with the Baby Steps FPU suggests.)
And of course we couldn't have done this without my husband working so hard at his amazing job. He's been the associate pastor at our church for almost 8 years and loves every moment of it. They have always been so good to us and have always believed in and supported Jonathan.
Now, why? Why do we want to do this? Why do we want to get out of debt instead of just paying our monthly minimums?
One of our biggest reasons is because we want to be able to be crazy givers. We want to be generous people. And it's hard to be generous when all your money is tied up in bills and payments. We believe God has put getting out of debt on our hearts and we are following his will for our lives by working at it.
It will probably take us another 2 or 3 years to pay off Jonathan's school loans and our van loan. We have to stay committed to this and remember our whys! It's hard work and sometimes not so fun.
But we are choosing to live like no one else, so later we can live like no one else.