It was January 2012. We had a 5 month old baby girl. I worked full-time as a teacher and since there was budget cuts coming through my school plus a deep desire to be home with my children, we had already decided this would be my last full-time year teaching for a while. My husband ran his own business, his entrepreneurial dreams coming true. We lived in a rented house in the middle of nowhere, hours away from family, and we had a mountain of student loan debt ($40,000).
And my husband hands me a book. “Read this,” he said to me. The last book he handed me I hadn’t read and I could see in his eyes what it meant to him that I read THIS book. So I said that I would. I didn’t know how I would do it, nursing a baby, working full time, and literally walking in the door as quickly as possible after school so I could take over the baby and household duties, but I said I would and I meant it. (Here’s a link to THE BOOK by Dave Ramsey)
I read the book all right. I would sit on the couch when I should have been folding laundry and I would say “Did you see this story? Can you believe what THEY did? Are these even real numbers? Why do people who make so much more money than us have so much debt? Could we even do this?” And on and on.
Until one day when I had finished the book, my husband looked at me and said “I need to know if you’re in. I’ve run all of the numbers. On our current path it will take us till 2016 to pay off student loans. Then we can save for a house. This is what we will have to make and this is what we can spend. Are you in?”
I didn’t have an answer. 2016 was so far away. We had a baby. By 2016 I was hoping to have a few more. And I’d be 30. Thirty years old, with kids, and not have a house of my own.
But I could see what it meant to my husband. I could see that THIS was a part of the adventure he had promised me when he proposed. I could see that it was going to be hard – a four-year uphill battle against our culture and ourselves to do this THING and get out of debt completely.
And so, I agreed. The Spirit inside me that had been teaching me more about respect and submission than I ever thought I could learn, nudged on my heart and I felt like THIS…this is IT. This is how he will know. This is what God has been preparing you for. Jump in with both feet.
When I told my husband that not only would I love to get out debt with him, but I would be all in (cash only, envelopes, the whole 9), to say he was shocked, is an understatement. I think at best he was hoping for passive indifference and a non-hindrance clause. I don’t think he was expecting me to be the cheerleader and driving force. That I would learn to be a penny-pincher. That I would make and stick to a budget. But I did.
My truest desire is to do life and be real with you. Approaching debt-free journey can look painful. Long. And extremely difficult. It can feel like swimming against a never-ending flow of people, culture, stuff, wants, and habits to get to where you want to be.
So, I’m going to share our debt-free journey with you. Numbers. The crazy things we were willing to do. Are doing. And how we saw hope during the process. I think this may be one of the most transformative and foundational things you can do to impact your marriage [after having a relationship with Jesus and learning what respect is and looks like to your husband].
Are you on a debt-free journey? Thinking about starting? Or are you already finished? Comment with where you are in the journey! I’d love to see where we are all at!
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Check out the rest of the series here.