What does that mean? Basically, I am on a quest to post every single day this month. Perhaps overzealous. Perhaps over the top for other reasons - one being I've been struggling with a case of "writer's block" for a couple of weeks now - another being that I'm not sure anyone really wants to read that much of what I have to say. Regardless, I'm embarking...today.
You might think that with 30 days of blogging on my calendar, I'd start off with a short post and save the one subject I have on the tip of my brain for another day. But if you thought that, well, you don't know me at all.
Each of us has a long list of blessings, whether we recognize them or not. Today, I'm choosing to commemorate the end of a burden as one of my most recognizable blessings this year.
In October of 2009, Sam and I (but mostly Sam) decided it was time to get serious, very serious about our finances. He had found a radio show on XM Radio's Talk Radio station earlier that summer and got hooked. He suggested to me that I listen at work. So I tuned in.
According to the host of the show, "Debt is dumb, cash is king, and the paid off home mortgage has taken the place of the BMW as the status symbol of choice."
The man's name is Dave Ramsey.
I would recommend his book, The Total Money Makeover, to anyone who needs advice with their finances. He doesn't mince words or beat around the bush. If you make a mistake, he calls you on it. His financial advice is rooted in the Word. It's simple, really. Don't buy it if you can't afford it. We are not entitled to nice things. Working hard does not mean we "deserve" frivolities. He recommends getting out of debt the same way you learn to walk: baby steps. You can read all about them here.
Not everyone who enlists the help of Dave Ramsey is in debt. Some are just working to more effectively build their wealth. We fell into the former category. The in-debt one. (You know...I like to be transparent.)
I'm happy to report, that in 24 months time, I am able to call Dave up on a Debt-free Friday and shout into the phone, "We're debt free!!!!" You know, if I were a phone person. Instead, I'll "shout" it on this blog. We have no more student loans, no second mortgage, no car payments, no credit card balance transfers to pay off. (Like Dave says, paid-for vehicles drive a whole lot better.) We refinanced to a 15-year mortgage last year, on which we've paid down a significant amount of principal since that time.
We haven't been perfect, but we've done really well. It was about a lifestyle change. We don't pay full price. For anything. We've gone on trips at a fraction of the cost (paid for in cash) thanks to internet deals, coupons, and off-season rates. We have started cooking at home regularly and not defaulting to a quick meal at a restaurant on nights we just don't feel like standing at the stove. We buy nice things at thrift store prices by shopping at outlets, with coupons and gift cards. Clearance racks are my best friend.
This time last year, I lost my job. We were out an entire income. Our first thought was "How is this going to affect us getting out of debt?" The coolest part? It didn't. I stayed home. We saved on daycare. My grocery trips became more efficient. Sam got a promotion in January of this year. And Sam, oh Sam. He was just our rock. We wouldn't have done it without him.
Through all of this mess, we were blessed. I think that's one of the coolest things about obedience. Now...we're free.
Today, November 1st, I am celebrating with my utmost thanks our ability to say "We're Debt Free!!!!"
And that's just the tip of the Thanksgiving iceberg.
P.S. - Just for some perspective on how big of a deal this is for us. The amount we paid off was more than two times my annual salary. Not too shabby.