Yesterday I wrote a letter to my sweet husband to tell him some of the ways I love him. I did this to celebrate our “half-our-lives” anniversary but yesterday was a special day for another reason. One year ago yesterday we paid off our debt. All of it. (The figure is too high to want to write on here, but if you were to watch to the video of me talking to DR, you’d hear me say it.) I wrote a few posts over the past 18 months that document our getting-out-of-debt journey. Today, I will list a few of those as a way to remind myself of where we’ve been and how far we’ve come, as well as encourage anyone else on this journey that the hard work is worth it.
I’ve said so many times that there is no way to describe how great it feels to be on this side of the snowball. I knew it’d be great, but the peace we feel is amazing. Definitely better than I imagined it would be.
Since we paid off our debt last year, and Matt’s degrees finally became ours, we have been able to do these amazing things all paid for with cash:
- purchase my dream camera.
- purchase Matt’s dream guitar.
- take a trip to England, seeing Dover, Cambridge, Oxford, and of course, London.
- take a trip to Paris.
- take a trip to Prague.
- take a trip to Salzburg, Austria (Sound of Music GIRLS’ trip!!).
- take a trip to Ireland, seeing Wicklow, Glendalough, and of course, Dublin.
- buy a new (to us) Town & Country; the Silver Surfer.
- save money toward our fully-funded emergency fund.
And the best part of all of that is that those treats were all done guilt free! I could have purchased my camera or traveled to all of those places before we paid off our debt. Mastercard would have happily let me take that camera out of the store and we could have seen all of those amazing locations with our Visa Card. But the fact that I didn’t owe a dime on anything made the camera that much sweeter and the trips that much more fun. And, I can’t prove this, but I think it makes Matt’s guitar sound that much better.
This journey is worth it. One of my favorite ideas of Dave Ramsey’s is that if you’re considering getting out of debt, just try it. If you don’t like it once you get there, you could simply go back and get a credit card. Any of the companies out there would happily send you one or twelve.
Here I wrote about what I was feeling in November 2010, four months before we expected to be out of debt. I was worried that once we were out of debt that I’d forget the hard work we had put into cleaning up our mess. I wanted to really remember what the pain was like. Going back to read it now, 15 months after I wrote it, I’m very glad I did that. Some of the pain had been forgotten, though not to the point where I would consider getting a credit card, even if it did give me a percentage off my fried chicken. (Stupid Military Star Card.)
Here I wrote about when we got to call Dave Ramsey himself and scream, “We’re Debt Free!!” I was on Skype with my parents and they were listening to the radio live. My brother edited the soundtrack so you can hear my voice and Dave’s in the video I’ve added.
Please know that my reasons for sharing this are purely to offer encouragement. 5 years ago we were in such need. There were days we wondered how we were going to make it. I recall specifically one Sunday we were so low on gas that we didn’t know how we were going to get to church, which was 30 minutes away. We went to the on-post chapel that morning, 3 minutes away, and when we got home, I saw a $20 bill sticking out of my Bible. We knew immediately it was gas money and we got to go to church that night. I think I know who put that money there, and I am forever thankful. They’ve never mentioned it and I’ve never asked.
That memory remind me of just how tight things were when we decided to quit using credit cards. Sure, I could have filled up my tank by using my credit card. But we had determined NOT to do that. God provided, but we had to really decide what driving was worth it and what driving was excessive. Now, we are so far from that kind of existence that I can hardly believe that was us. Or maybe, I can’t believe that this is us. I fluctuate between the two unbeliefs. I beg you, give this a try!