As most of you know, did our Debt-Free Scream on the radio with Dave Ramsey about 2 weeks ago.  Nancy and I are posting about our whole story over the next little while.

nancyray-debtfreescream-1003While we were very pleased with how the call went (and thankful for the chance), there’s always some things you wish you would have said.

In preparation, we thought up all of the things that Dave normally asks debt-free callers, and prepared answers to those questions.  But they didn’t all get asked.  Some of these I think were really valuable to understanding our whole story, so I thought I’d share a few:

What was the hardest part of this whole process?

The hardest part for me, personally, was trying to keep us on track, when unexpected expenses would come up that didn’t qualify as “emergencies.”  They weren’t “emergencies,” so we couldn’t dip into our “emergency fund.”  We’d sit down, look at the budget, and there just wasn’t any extra money if we wanted to stay on track.  Finding creative ways to fund or work around those expenses was quite a challenge.

For Nancy, the hardest thing was going to the grocery store near the end of the month, going to check out, and not having enough money in the food envelope to get everything.  She would have to tell the cashier that she couldn’t get this or that item to get our expenses under budget for the month.  Wow.  Talk about discipline.

It goes without saying, but the sacrifice was a really hard part for both of us.  Not going out to eat.  Starting our lives out in a 500-square-foot apartment with no AC, no dishwasher, and coin laundry next door.  Eating everything in the house.  A weak social life.  The list goes on…


A bad picture of our old apartment. Three of the four rooms are visible. Living room, kitchen, and guest room.

How did you do it?  What would you tell people is the key to getting out of debt?

The mechanics of how we did it is this:  Live on less than you make.  Simple as that.  No matter where our income went, we lived on about $40,000/year.  When our income went to $60,000, $80,000, and over $100,000, we still lived on about $40,000-45,000 each year.  The rest went to some retirement savings and paying down on the debt.

The key to help you do that?  The Budget.  It kept us on track, helped us see progress, and kept our spending habits to a minimum.  This is a non-negotiable if you really want to see progress in your financial goals.

Did anyone make fun of you during this time?

Yeah, we got some comments here and there, but most people have been converted by now… :-)

Now what? What are you going to do now that you don’t have any payments?

We’re going to Disney World!  No, not really.  Maybe some day.  We do hope to:
Give like no one else – We want to be game-changers for ministries, organizations, and individuals.  We want to have the ability to say “yes” in a big way whenever we feel God calling us to give.
Get more blow money – “Blow money” is our separate spending money that each of us can do whatever we want with; it’s for going out, Starbucks, incidental expenses, funsies, etc.  My sweet wife has been living on $40 of spending money each month.  We have increased that significantly.
Travel – We really love to travel, and hope to do some more this year and in the years to come.

There you have it, a little more of our story on how we did this.  I’ll be devoting some more posts to getting debt-free, and how YOU can do it too.

Question: What is/would be the hardest thing for you to sacrifice to get out of debt and make financial progress?