Finding Peace in More Than Just Finances – Guest Post

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This is a guest post from my sweet friend René 

3 years ago my husband and I realized we had a problem. We were living paycheck to paycheck and barely making ends meet. It was a cycle that we had repeated throughout our marriage. Our first year of marriage we were both working, had a small amount of savings and just spent whatever we wanted whenever we wanted. A month after our first anniversary our daughter was born and I decided to stay at home with her. Even though our income was cut in half, we didn’t really change our spending and that first year at home we burned through everything we made and all of our savings.

With no idea how to budget or any real financial know-how we decided the only thing we could do to fix our problem was to make more money, so I went back to work. My going back to work solved our problems for awhile, but with our second child on the way we soon realized that my small paycheck couldn’t cover the cost of paying for childcare for 2 children. A week before my son was born I quit my job to stay at home once again and trust that somehow we could make it. It was a scary time. 

Thankfully, my husband was able to land a great job when our son was just 2 months old that more than doubled his previous income. We were elated. But just like before, with no plan and no budget we soon managed to spend everything we made. A bigger car, a small personal loan, credit cards, student loans, and medical debt (our son had health issues when he was a baby) all started to pile up. I started babysitting to supplement our income, but with our 3rd child already on the way and more medical debt looming in the future we started to reach our crisis point.

We heard about Dave Ramsey through some relatives who had been very successful on his plan.  Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University sounded like the solution we were looking for. When our youngest son was 5 months old we found out about a class in our town and signed up immediately. I remember very clearly driving to that first class and having to fill up with gas. We had $100 in our name and I used more than half of that to fill up our SUV. That was 3 years ago. When we started this journey we had less than $50 to our name and more than $45,000 in debt (not counting our home). Today, as I’m writing this we are debt free!

Armed with the knowledge of how to budget we set up a plan to pay off our debts, smallest to largest. There was no wiggle-room in our budget to even get started so we had a garage sale and made enough to pay-off our first credit card. I will never forget how excited we were to cut up that first card. From there we paid off, cut up and cancelled our Master Card & our Visa. Next was the personal loan, the medical debt, and by December of that following year we paid off our SUV. It took another year and a half to pay off our student loans. It was not easy. We had our ups and downs. We had to make some hard choices, like staying in our little 1000 sq. ft. house with its little mortgage instead of moving to something bigger. We didn’t do everything perfectly, but we were persistent and it paid off. In April of this year, just a week before our youngest son turned 3, we sent our last payment to Sallie Mae. 

I’m not going to lie, being debt free is great, but the best part of this process has not been the financial reward. Learning to live intentionally in one area of our life has changed our lives in ways we never could have imagined when we started this process. We started thinking about other aspects of our lives where we could be intentional. We started to take our spiritual lives more seriously and started growing in our faith. My husband and I started exercising more and eating better and he was able to loose 25lbs. Best of all? Learning to communicate and work together to achieve a goal has had a tremendously positive effect on our marriage. Financial Peace has truly changed our lives. If you are overwhelmed – looking at a mountain of debt and wondering what to do, keep checking for tips here at Thrifty Texas Penny and look for an FPU class in your area.  

René has been a dear friend of mine for most of my married life.  She sets a great example for me as a wife and mother. Without her influence I highly doubt I’d have felt I could make the move to Texas and be a stay at home mom!   She was also the person who first told me about Dave Ramsey and introduced me to frugal blogs :-) 

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