Someone once said, talking about debt is like showing someone your dirty laundry.
Well, maybe that’s true.
But I have never been someone to shy away from transparency. Because at the end of the day, it is our ‘honesty’ with ourself and others that drives us to our greatest potential. And if someone can learn from my mistakes, the better the world will be for it.
That’s why I want to take a minute and share with you our debt free journey. It directly impacts so much of our daily life that it would be a dis-service not to share. I would be lying if I said this was not an incredibly painful post for me to share, but it is an honest one. And I hope that means it can help someone.
So here’s a small glimpse of our “Dirty Laundry”.
A “Fortunate Accident” That Launched Our Debt Free Journey
From our first credit account at eighteen and through our young marriage and twenties we accepted debt as a part of life. Everyone had debt. It was completely normal and had lost all “taboo” from generations past.
Student loans, credit cards, car loans, furniture…it was all a means to an end to nurture our family unit. And other than the occasional discouragement from so many payments, we didn’t give it much thought. Despite my husband working three jobs, we just couldn’t get ahead.
Until one day, after buying a house and taking on major renovations, a snow plow collided into one of our vehicles that was parked outside. No one was hurt but our family van was totalled. When the insurance payment came in, I had the “wild” idea to buy a cheap used vehicle and put the rest of the money on debt. Lo and behold, the exhilaration from that payment was enough to spur some serious desire for freedom from debt.
The Most BASIC “How-To” Guide for Dumping Debt
I began researching books on Debt and finance and stumbled upon a winner. The Book was called, “Financial Peace” by Dave Ramsey. The book led to the YOUTUBE channel and our lives flipping upside down in an incredible way.
The author presented the simplest step-by-step plan (literally called “Baby Steps”) to getting debt free, whether you owe $2000 or $2,000,0000. He understood in a painfully personal way the chains of debt.
And his life testimony is what sparked BELIEF that it was possible for us to change our legacy too.
Dave Ramsey “ISH”
We began our journey sincerely, .
By October 2019 we had paid off around $24,000 and had only begun in April. But a part of the Ramsey plan was to cut off access to ALL debt. Something many people scoff at.
We did…except for ONE credit card. We would “just keep it in case of a major emergency.“
Even so, that was pretty radical for us, and Yvan and I felt the strain of perseverance even if our kids were not affected.
But deep down we knew we were doing the Dave Ramsey plan very “ISH”.
Well “ish” turned into a disaster.
After a series of very strenuous events that clustered the same season, some health issues and 2020 craziness, I turned to “credit therapy” to solve some problems I couldn’t fix.
How hard that is for me to admit after all the sacrifice and determination I had put in just months before. You don’t even know what a fail that was.
And the problem with being “comfortable with debt” is that it leads to more debt. After breaking down in our 20 year old “Debt Journey Beater” vehicle on a wooded road again, I got fed up. We had never gone extreme and bought a new car, but I reacted with emotion rather than wisdom and told Yvan I was “done”. I was done with being “weird” and paying off all our debt in our thirties. A very “normal” car payment sounded so good. So, we took a loan for a vehicle in the heat of frustration, for more than we had ever paid for a vehicle in our whole marriage.
Fixing Debt Mistakes
I wish I could say that those keys felt good in my hand. A huge part of me felt like they would.
But not one time driving that vehicle, did I feel a sense of “relief” even though we could MORE than afford the car payment.
The problem was we traded our goal. My husband and I actually have a pretty wonderful income, and unfortunately we made choices that kept our finances from working for US. I realize how personal that is, but I truly hope that helps someone hear it is NEVER too late to make a “U-Turn”.
Don’t get me wrong, our children always have plenty (too much actually) of everything any child could every need or want. But for too long we did not value the freedom we were gaining with eliminating our ‘payments’. And that changed BIG time.
This Fall, amongst many reflections, we realized how we were approaching our “Debt Free” Anniversary (except for a little left of our mortgage which Dave Ramsey does not include in “Debt Journeys”). That was the day we were supposed to be making our LAST payment. Instead we had abandoned our plan and had to face that mirror.
Around the same time I listened to an incredible Podcast by Rachel Cruze on her upcoming book called, “Know Yourself Know Your Money” where she addressed real issues that lead to our behaviour surrounding our money habits.
It was a slap in the face to learn what was behind my bad relationship with money. And exactly the wake-up call I needed.
Hindsight is Better than Foresight
Whatever 2020 was or wasn’t, it was exactly what it should have been in delivering some “2020 Vision” for our life.
Yv and I let go of the excuses and things distracting us and remembered what our goals are.
We have been hacking away at those goals ever since and are determined to finish strong this time.
Our beautiful vehicle is currently on the market and has been replaced by a more sensible “get out of debt” van.
We have a new “Debt-Free-versary” and we will be so happy to disclose all that we paid off when we reach it!
In the meantime, I will be sharing some of our tips and tricks for frugal living in the midst.
After all, isn’t that the purpose of homestead life?
Increasing QUALITY of living while DECREASING stress and obligations. It is purposefully choosing a “simpler” way of living.