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Transforming Your Financial Future :: Part I

Recently, Facebook reminded me that it had been 6 years since I marched into Bank of America to make the final payment on our credit card and became consumer debt free. 6 YEARS!!! I remember having such a feeling of accomplishment. I could have mailed in the payment, done it over the phone, or online, but what fun would that have been!?! For that life changing moment, I HAD to do it in person. The teller was not nearly as excited as I was, but in a society where consumerism is king, and having mounds of debt is considered the norm, who can really blame her.

If you would have asked me 7 years ago where I was financially, I probably couldn't or wouldn't have given you a straight answer. I didn't grow up in a home where finances were discussed regularly. I do remember my parents and grandparents having tons of credit cards, so when I turned 18, I started my collection. The only good thing that came of this, was that I had enough established credit to qualify for an ARM when I was 19 years old, and was able to purchase my first home with my then boyfriend, now husband, a month after I turned 20. For those of you that weren't around during the ARM Era, let me fill you in... They were bad. Very bad. If you want a little bit of an idea, watch the movie "The Big Short." Excellent depiction of what was going on during that time. But I digress... Financially, 7 years ago, my husband and I were buried under $72,000 in consumer debt.

$72,000!?!

That's a lot of debt. My husband was a Real Estate Agent at the time with no side jobs. Our decrease in income couldn't keep up with our spending habits. We were putting monthly bills on credit cards, along with groceries. We were in a very bad place financially. That's when we were introduced to the opportunity of taking Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey, through our church. It had never been offered before, and we hadn't really heard anything about it, but we figured we didn't have anything to lose. We began the class in March 2009. For Christmas 2009, we gave all of our friends and family a copy of this letter,



along with the book The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey. The books were on sale for $10.00 each. That was the least amount of money we had ever spent at Christmas. And as a gift giver, let me tell you, it hurt a little. But what I've learned over time is, the best gifts you can give, are ones that last a lifetime.

So, 7 years ago this month, we started Financial Peace University. 6 years ago, we made our final consumer debt payment. 5 years ago, we fully funded our 6 month emergency fund. And today, we are plugging away at our mortgage, retirement, and college fund. It has been such a journey. I could talk about it forever. So many good things came from taking this class, aside from just wiser financial decisions. We learned that we aren't the only ones that want all the cool stuff now. We learned to humble ourselves and ask for help. We learned that $20 jeans can fit and work just as well as $150 jeans. We learned that working as a husband and wife team toward a shared goal is super awesome. We learned that when you're honoring God with your financial decisions, He will open up some unbelievable opportunities for you to take advantage of. We learned that self-discipline can be tough, but the reward is FREEDOM.

If you are struggling financially, know that there is hope. Know that you are not alone. Know that there is a way out. If you are willing to put in the work, you too can have financial freedom.

** I will post some of the ways that we cut back our spending and saved money in a follow-up post, to hopefully encourage anyone that wants to join us on this journey to becoming financially "weird." **

There are affiliate links in this post. I only link back to things that I have personally used and stand behind.

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10 YEARS. 3,652 DAYS. 87,658 HOURS.

5,259,000 MINUTES. 315,600,000 SECONDS.  2 BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTERS.  COUNTLESS MEMORIES. MANY VACATIONS. HUGS & KISSES. GRIEF & JOY. GRUMPINESS & FUN. A WHOLE LOT OF LOVE.
24 more days, and all of those numbers are official. I am so incredibly thankful for the life that God has favored us with. 10 years. I truly am overjoyed to make it to this milestone. In a society that puts little value on a lasting marriage, we choose to celebrate marriage! We celebrated by recreating some of our wedding photos at Annie Wright School, where we tied the knot 10 years ago. And can I just tell you, it was incredibly fun, brought back so many memories, and gave me some warm fuzzies for my hubby all over again! Our original wedding photos are credited to the artistic work of Christy Pelland, and our recreated photos, plus bonus family photos, are credited to Miss Abby of Abby Joy Photography.
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