Real Life Story: From Debt to Freedom Part One

I hid in a corner on the playground and cried my eyes out. It was a harmless joke. I told myself that he didn't know for sure. But I knew in my heart it was true. We were on welfare. My family visited soup kitchens for the free meal. We lived in government housing. I remember using bar soap on my hair because we didn't have shampoo. People sometimes delivered food to us because they knew. I grew up on ramen and mac n' cheese. I couldn't stomach the stuff when I went to college.

I had my first job at 13. I hung a picture of a BMW in my locker. It was a goal to work toward. Someone told me I was smart and I clung to that like a life raft. I'm smart? I remember crying in the hallway when I got an 89 on a math test. I needed a 90 to get an "A" in the class. I worked 2 jobs in high school. I joined every club I could think of and took advanced classes. I was never home and I was headed to college.

Fast Forward

I was pregnant. My husband and I were browsing at a book store and I was flipping through baby name books. He saw a book about finance at the end of the aisle and started skimming through it. I settled my pregnant self nearby, mildly annoyed that he wasn't pouring over the baby name book with me.

He ended up buying the book and trying to get me to read it. I wasn't interested and he didn't push me. The ideas sounded a little extreme to me. You see, I grew up poor--on welfare, couldn't-afford Goodwill-poor. We got our clothes at the free place. I was finally on my own, had an entry level job, and had a little money. I wasn't interested in financial responsibility AT ALL.

But I was pregnant.

Feeling new life inside of you forces you to think of something other than yourself, to maybe look down that long tunnel of life and feel the heaviness of the future on your shoulders.

My husband was in his last year of college, working himself through, and I had graduated the year before with mounds of student loan debt. When he graduated, we found out I was pregnant. Money was tight that first year, but I look back and think about all the poor money choices we made. We flew home for Christmas! Why didn't we drive??

I ended up reading that financial book, and while I loved the idea of taking control of money, putting it into practice was another story. A few months went by and I was finally on board. I liked goals, it got me fired up. This was something to work toward and dream with my husband about. Dreaming with a spouse about the future when you are on the same page? Priceless. It made our marriage strong.

Oh, and that book? Dave Ramsey's The Total Money Makeover. It changed our family forever. We paid off about $50,000 in student loans, cars, credit cards, furniture, and medical bills in 5 years.

I don't owe a dime to anyone. By God's grace, we have a savings account. With money in it. We actually have 4 savings accounts. We fought for that.

God is good all the time, and all the time, God is good.

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