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Journey to Debt Free

by Friday, March 7, 2014

I have literally started and stopped writing this blog post multiple times over the last 12 hours. I’m not entirely sure if it’s because I don’t know how to get the words out because my brain is moving so quickly or if it’s because I get so emotional that I have to stop before I cry crocodile tears every time. What I DO know is that I have worked very hard and dreamed of this moment for a long time and there was definitely a time where I thought there would be no end in sight.

One day, a few years ago, I was making banana yogurt muffins with my daughter when someone knocked on the door. It was a man from our electric company telling me that he was there to turn off our electricity because of our past due bill to the tune of $600. I was embarrassed, sick to my stomach, and helpless. I was able to get on the phone and do what no one wants to do, but agree to pay the full amount by credit card to keep from having our service discontinued, knowing full and well that we did not have the money to pay that $600 for the charge. This was a credit card that was looming with adrowning-in-debt

balance of $9,000 (also, the card that we previously took out a loan to pay off and had built up another outstanding balance). At this time, the only option that we had for paying for groceries or bills when they became too much to handle was the credit card. Every 17th of the month we would get multiple phone calls day in and day out, all day long, from the credit card company asking us to pay our minimum payment (which at the time was to the tune of $270 and barely touching the principle amount because the interest was insanely high). We didn’t have the money to pay the minimum payment, let alone even get close to paying any of it off. So the calls would continue….

I made a commitment to myself starting in 2013 that I would not allow us to continue living in credit card debt. We have plans and dreams of owning a new home, living without the constant phone calls, and the embarrassment of having to say “no sorry I can’t pay you today, maybe when it’s payday.” I needed to make sure that I had all of our ducks in a row and I couldn’t really begin making anymore than minimum payments on ANY credit cards (of which we had 3 that were either maxed out or very close to). In August of 2013 I calculated ALL of the debt that we had and our credit cards alone were a total of $15,831. One of the reasons that I hadn’t yet focused on paying off debt was because I was terrified to see that number. I knew that we were not in a great place, but I didn’t want to see the reality right in front of me. Now, let me say this before people get all up on top of me about it, YES I understand that there are people that have much higher outstanding credit card debt than we had, but this was really REALLY hard for me. Once I saw that number, I knew that we couldn’t continue living like this. How would we ever get ahead if I wasn’t ready to focus on the end result?

I began reading and listening to Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. The debt snowball portion made SO much sense to me. It was like a lightbulb just went off in my brain and I said OK this is it. However, I had a really hard problem with the “spend everything to 0” portion. I would get a paycheck and KNOW that I had an extra $1,000 that I could put towards the lowest card, but taking that $1,000 and actually DOING it caused me so much anxiety that I would cry and log out of the accounts (I am NOT joking). Finally, the day came when I hit that submit button and when I did, I felt a rush of relief, the anxiety was gone, the worry was gone, and it solidified the fact that I WOULD do this. By November I had paid off just under $5,000 of our debt.

Christmas and the New Year came and went and I was sitting still with a little under $9,000 in card debt. I began reviewing my goals and no longer was “debt free” a goal by the end of 2014, it was now a goal that would happen for us by June 2014. Yesterday, a portion of that goal became a reality. I hit submit on every last bit of credit card debt in our names. I cannot remotely put into words the feelings that I have. I cried SO much yesterday… I cried before I did it, I cried after I did it, I cried hours later thinking about what I did (and wouldn’t you know now I’m crying again LOL).

Giesau-110When that knock came on my door a few years ago, I never EVER imagined that we would be in a place where I can say that it is gone. That brick that just sits on your shoulders, that constant ringing of the phone, the dark cloud that just looms over you day in and day out… it’s all gone. I have heard people say throughout my adult life that no matter what you’re always going to live in debt and paying someone for something (now yes, I have a car lease and a mortgage but those don’t stress me out) and one day I told myself I refuse to live like that. My husband is an amazing supporter, and he’s constantly thanking me for everything that I’ve done and how I deserve the gratitude for it… however, my priority is and always will be my family, everything is for them. This is just a step closer to making our dreams become a reality. We still need to pay off my husband’s truck and that loan that we took out to pay off the credit card the FIRST time, but that will all be gone by my goal date in June, there’s no question about that. This has been the stepping stone that has literally changed my life in one small “click of the button”.

I wouldn’t be writing this if I hadn’t put my full faith and belief into my business, into meeting new people, changing my attitude and emotions about myself and others, and if I hadn’t allowed the small steps to become something so much greater than the “little things”. Dreams don’t become realities over night, but if we focus on light at the end of the tunnel and keep moving forward we always get there.

 

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