Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Debt Story: Part 12

I apologize for the lack of details in these last few pieces of our debt story. The truth of the matter is, once we had our momentum going to get the debt paid off, and once Simeon had been born and we'd sold almost everything, things settled down into a paycheck by paycheck process. The details of each of those weeks of waiting has been lost into the abyss everyday life and parenting four children; however, there are a few things I still remember during those last few months and those are what I've chosen to highlight here.

Working to pay off our debt had been an exhausting process. With every paycheck we paid our bills and put the rest toward our credit card. Watching the balance slowly melt away every month felt empowering and gave us the momentum we needed to keep moving forward. Even though the sacrifices were difficult, we felt rewarded at every turn. In a sour economy Mike was given raises. When people were watching their livelihoods fall apart, losing their homes and their belongings, we were feeling the freedom of financial fear slipping away. Seeing God bless us in a financial way was almost overwhelming and there were times we felt a kind of guilt for being blessed.
Between paying off our credit card and paying off our car there was really a lull in life. Each paycheck came in and the money went right back out. We were able to keep our emergency savings account at $1000 and somehow managed to live well below our means.
We preached getting out of debt as if our lives depended on it. We sold so much people were afraid to give us anything. Once, Mike's brother complained that he was worried to lend Mike a t-shirt for fear that we would try to sell it on Craigslist. Our own children cried and begged us not sell our television when my brother-in-law (who was working for the cable company at that time) came over to help Mike with some internet issues. We feared we would scar them for life. My mother even felt inclined to remind me that "salvation is not in [your] finances."

Admittedly, we were obnoxious to be around.

When we began to tire of the process, when I wanted to go out for dinner, when Mike wanted to buy something for the house, when I grew tired of carrying a calculatter around the grocery store we reminded each other of where we'd been. We remembered not being able to buy groceries without using the credit card, we remembered Mike having to work overtime just to pay the bills ... when we remembered where we had been and the goal that lay ahead, our energy became renewed and our resolve was refreshed and we were able to keep going.

In the beginning of our journey, when we decided we were not able to tithe and would have to give from any excess, we were surprised to see there was always excess for us to tithe from. Our lawn turned brown, the gravel in the driveway became spotty and I spent a lot of time at home with the children but one day ... one day we made a payment and our credit card was paid off. It had taken us less than 6 months to pay off over $12,000. In an unbelievable fit of happiness and joy I made our final payment and Mike called to cancel the card forever. And then we began working on paying off the car.

Making the final credit card payment..I can't help but remember selling this computer cabinet to help pay off the car!

First it was an additional $570...then another $430... every once in awhile we made a payment of $20 or less towards the principle balance. I remember wondering where all the money was coming from? How is that we could live so many years depending on a credit card to get us through, and now money was pouring in above and beyond what we needed. Literally so much more money that we were going to pay off our credit card AND our car within less than one year of each other?

On July 20, 2009, two days before Mike's birthday...we made the final payment on our car. We were able to make a payment of $1013.20 and we were out of debt completely. I felt completely overwhelmed with emotion and unable to process what we had just accomplished. My heart felt light and happy and I could not stop smiling. Mike was working that day but the kids and I kept yelling "We're debt free!". I felt like I was walking taller and was a feeling I find very difficult to describe.

Two years earlier we'd gone to Outback for Mike's birthday dinner. We'd invited some friends to come with us and decided we should pick up the tab - we, of course, had no money so we'd put everything on our credit card. After dinner I took Mike by Best Buy for him to pick out the iPod he'd had his eye on. Again, we put the purchase on our credit card.

Now, after having made a payment of over $1000, we went back to the Outback to celebrate again ...

We paid cash. And regardless of paying on credit or with cash...the food there still stinks.

To be continued...


CM said...

Oh my goodness, that was totally adorable!

Congrats on all your success! And yes, the food at Outback is so not worth the price!

Jessica Benson said...

We just hit $31,000 (paid off)! We will be out of debt by next year. :) It was YOU that told me about Dave Ramsey! You can take credit for our success as well. :)

The Seasonal Family said...

I just came across your site today and I have to say that I was instantly drawn to this tab, I briefly read through your story (first post, middle post, end post) and it was so touching and inspiring. Your little girl is adorable too. I feel motivated to do this now for our family. We do not have tremendous amounts of debt but we do still owe and I know the feeling of seeing our money go towards bills, bills and more bills.

Again, thank you for sharing this!!!!

jeana said...

I just read through your whole series. I was so inspiring! I have gone through all the emotions you did I but I'm not pregnant...yeah. We have paid about $14000 off this past year, but have not had as much intensity as you did. We still owe about $3500, and you have inspired me to just get it done! I loved watching how God faithfully blessed your obedience. Oh and your RING! That made me tear up. The same thing happened to me last year, though mine was only gone a month, my husband found it in the backyard. Congratulations!!