In April, 2013, I finally left a job I’d hated for years. But because I had followed Dave’s baby steps, I had retained a six-month emergency fund, paid off my house, and upped my investment focus, so a planned temporary period without income wasn’t a hardship. Unexpectedly, though, I have now been unemployed for 13 months, but I still have cash in the bank! I’m 59, am debt-free with no mortgage, and have a portfolio that could see me through many years. If I choose to work again, great, if not, “living like no one else” in the past has allowed me to now “live like no one else.” That’s WAY COOL!
Well, my friend told me of Dave back in 2009. I was only 21 years old & thought I was great with money and I didn’t need someone to tell me common sense. Then around October 2013, I noticed that I had 2 mortgages I couldn’t afford, a brand new car that was worth as much as my annual salary, consumer debt that I had ignored, and a job that I was thankful for, but was not allowing me to use my Bachelor’s Degree and full potential.
I googled something about being a better “Landlord” and Dave’s book popped up. I poked around his website and loved the idea of the baby steps. I needed direction. I then began obsessively listening to Dave all day, every day. I read all the books he recommends and the required reads for his employees, and completed FPU immediately. I still go back and watch them from time to time. My friends and I jokingly call him “Uncle Dave” – “Uncle Dave wouldn’t approve of that concert” etc. I had previously charged things such as cruises, a mattress, and even surgery for my dog.
The most important thing I did was find God. This transformed my life in more ways than just one. Cleaning up my finances encouraged me to clean up other areas of my life as well (I changed my diet, cut out alcohol, started going to therapy, & got on a plan with my Doctor).
I am only 7 months in and my life has changed drastically: After 14 job interviews, I landed a $4 raise with awesome benefits. I cut up 14 credit cards (and cancelled properly), I’ve paid off $2K in credit card debt and saved up my $1,000 emergency fund TWICE (making about $1,400/mo). I also sold my brand new vehicle, and I’m now driving a 20 year old truck. I am thankful everytime I start it and I don’t have to make that $315 payment for the next 7 years. I have about $12K debt left to pay off (including the $4K shortage I took on my selling my vehicle).
I started this process making $23K/year. I now make $35,000 with my rental income. I will continue to strive for better. Anything is possible, depending on how bad you want it. And I promise when you find God, blessings come pouring your way. Believe. Even though I have rental property that I probably shouldn’t have, and own property with my boyfriend (we bought a condo before we knew about Dave) those things will soon be resolved. Things are smooth sailing and I’m not giving up ever again! Credit cards aren’t freedom, CASH IS FREEDOM! Please don’t give up either, and thank you Dave for caring about the people so much.
We got married at 20. Both of us have worked hard the 29 years we have been married. House paid off at 45.Purchased our business at25.Paid off The loan in 6 years. Paid over 100k to send son to Belmont U. Today we paid 250k cash to purchase the land we have been renting for 23 years.
God has been faithful.
Kern & Stephanie.
We are in mid to early 50’s. We paid off 2 auto loans and the mortage ($30,000 total)in 2 years Partially By making extra principal payments on all loans plus selling some investment stocks. Being debt free is great….live like no-one else so later you can live like no-one else.
I’ve already written in once when we were a few months away from being debt-free except the mortgage. We are now officially there! The best thing was that my husband was originally skeptical about the whole Dave Ramsey thing. But I guess after we have paid off our debt he has turned around! Our dream was for me to stay home with the baby, but after running the numbers we realized that wouldn’t be possible, so I had to go back to work with about an hour commute that was killing me. Well, God has miraculously provided us with answers to hurdles that seemed unconquerable to me (like faith-based medi-share plan instead of insurance and pre-paid cell phone plans for our out-of-contract phone). We had everything set up for me to finally quit, including starting a garden so we could reduce our grocery expenses. We even saved for a “last” vacation before jumping my career ship, and were preparing for me to give notice after our trip to Hawaii this May. But I guess God had different plans. Literally over the weekend, I was sought-out on LinkedIn and offered a position that is four minutes away from my house (can we say savings on gas?!),a promotion, and a 20K bump for our income! Needless to say, we could take a hint and I accepted. The best part is that I will be taking my vacation right in between jobs, so I can TRULY rest and not think about anything! But the kicker to this whole story is that my husband, who is the spender in our scenario, decided that since we’ve already figured out how to live on his income anyways, we are going to be putting my new salary into a savings account associated with our mortgage, and paying off the house with it! If all goes well, we should have the 30 year mortgage we got last year paid off in 3.5 years! I can’t wait for another update when we will be finally able to report that we are ENTIRELY debt free, including the mortgage!
My husband and I are finally 100% DEBT FREE! We paid off $268,000 in 3.5 years. That included 1 credit card, a car loan, master’s degree loan and a house that we kept as rental because we were underwater and forced to move for better jobs. (No, we did not sell the rental, we paid it off and now it’s making us money)
This 3.5 year journey has a been a huge learning experience for both of us. My husband (free spirit) and myself (saver) had completely opposite ideas of money when we got married. He came with all the debt and I came with all the savings. It was really tough initially to learn that it was all “ours” regardless of who brought what money or lack of into the marriage.
The budget was a lifesaver! It allowed us to compromise on our spending (for the free spirit) and pay off our debt (for the saver). It took time to get a budget we could both agree on and that was actually realistic for our life. We cut out all frivolous expenditures (cable tv, wine clubs, dinners out with friends, lunches out at work, gifts for every event/holiday). Eventually we realized we didn’t even miss those things. The longer we stuck with it, the more we realized we could cut. It became fun to see how much we could throw at our debt and boy did that snowball get big in the end.
After we paid off the credit card, car loan and student loan we decided that we wanted to tackle the mortgage on the rental property. Well what’s the best way to get a bigger shovel…. get a 2nd job! So both of us started working part time jobs in the evenings (consulting and teaching). Boy did that decision pay off big time!
When we got married 3.5 years ago and looked at our debt, we thought it would take 5-6 years to get through it all. We have worked extremely hard, have had major job promotions and taken on 2nd jobs to dig ourselves out of the mess we were in. Now we are so excited for our future, saving to replace our cars (no more car loans) and be able to pay cash for a house.
My advice to those still working through it to understand that a budget is always evolving depending on the season you are in. Give yourself lots of grace, but never give up. Also, give yourself small rewards if you have a long journey like we did. Every time we paid something off, we would go spend $40 on a dinner out. When we paid off all of our consumer debt (minus the house) we took a vacation with cash. It’s a way to refresh your outlook and keep on chuggin!
You all can do it!
Free spirit (34) & Saver (30)
We took FPU 17 months ago and we flew through paying off the debt. The wind was totally at our back. The first month, while we were in the class I happened to win $500 in a drawing! And even though there were actually several months that we couldn’t pay anything due to unexpected events/visitors/etc. Other months we could pay way more – and started getting more bonuses at the office. Somehow it all worked! We were able to pay off the remainder of my husband’s and my student loans. Our income was 70,000 the first year and 94,000 the second. After taking the class and doing the budget it felt as if we got a raise each month, just because we knew where every dime was going! FPU is extremely motivating! I recommend it to everyone I know! The only regret is that we didn’t start it sooner! If we had we could have paid off our student loans years ago, and if we kept the pace up could have bought our house with cash! Please do FPU, you will not regret it! And if you are in the midst of your debt snowball – KEEP GOING!!!! It is so worth it!
Despite working two jobs all summer to help pay my way through college, I managed to escape with just about 30k in student loan debt. I had a graduation party to celebrate, and as I was going through the cards of congratulations, I noticed that my grandma did not give me a card with $20 like the others…instead I ended up with a book by you. What a lousy gift I thought – I finally break free from school and assigned reading, and there I found myself with your face sitting on my nightstand night after night. My parents were also following your guidance and forced us to listen to your talk radio show for multiple years (which went under-appreciated for a long time, as I preferred the local country station myself), but I wasn’t really sure what the point of it all was. I read the book from my grandma anyway, and I’ll tell you, it was the best thing I could have done for myself.
I was fortunate to have secured a great job out of college, starting just a few short months after graduation. We got a great signing bonus too, which was really exciting after having been absolutely broke and in school for quite a few years. Some of my coworkers bought new furniture for their swanky Chicago apartments, while others bought new cars. Prior to reading your book, a brand new car was the first thing on my list…but now knowing better, I “suffered” through not buying a new car and continued to drive around in the same car I got on my 16th birthday. I took my entire signing bonus and made the first of what would become many student loan payments. It stung a bit at first, but after coming to the realization that I have lived college-poor for the past 5 years, another year or two wouldn’t hurt me. The stinging loan payments were rough at first, but the thought of the amount of interest I was paying daily to have that borrowed money sickened me. Soon it turned into a game for me…and didn’t sting anymore. I made a budget and stuck to it, and shockingly, it worked. My friends and coworkers, some also in debt, some not, took great vacations while I forced myself to live vicariously through their tweets and facebook posts, all from the less-than-swanky basement apartment that I was living in, thanks to a great find on Craigslist.
It wasn’t easy, but grandma kept asking me if I had taken any of the baby steps every time I chatted with her. I told her I didn’t need the $1,000 emergency fund, but reluctantly opened a savings account and started to stock it anyway. 2 weeks after finishing funding that $1,000, my car transmission went out and I had to wipe out the entire fund, plus some. Per usual, grandma was right, I was broke, and found myself starting over on step 1, but this time I knew I could do it.
2.5 years later, too many months of living in less than ideal city apartments, and one too many packets of ramen for dinner later, I AM DEBT FREE.
I don’t feel like I missed out on much; quite the opposite actually. I feel like I conquered something. FINALLY, I was able to take that great backpacking trip overseas that I was dying to do(which I had saved cash for of course), and now I have checked off that fully stocked emergency fund and my 15% investments. I’m not married and I don’t have any kids, so before I think about starting step 5, I’m in the process of saving up to finally buying that new car I want, and of course, LIVING LIKE NO ONE ELSE!
To all of the other recent grads swimming in student loan debt – if I can do it, you can do it! Create a budget, stick to it, and reap the benefits for the hard work. Don’t forget to reward yourself!
Thanks again for the advice in the book from grandma (and sorry for judging it as a lousy graduation gift, I really did think she was losing it for a while there).
We are debt free!!!!!! I am so grateful to you and your ministry and I would like to share why. My husband, Brandon and I got married in 2003. Brandon had filed for bankruptcy before I met him due to medical bills and a short struggle with gambling. When we got married, he had one debt (approx. $10,000) to his dad that he was in the process of paying back. After we got married, we did what most newly married folks do (or so we thought), we bought a new car ($20,000) and acquired about $20,000 in credit card debt (don???t ask, it is a long stupid story)- we were young and dumb! We also took on the responsibility of raising 2 teens that weren???t ours. A few years into our marriage it was easy to see that I was the nerd and Brandon was the free-spirit. I was ready to get out of debt quickly, and he was fine living with it (in his mind ???everyone had debt???). About this time he started a new job and was in the car most of the day. He began listening to your radio program, and for Christmas that year I bought him the Total Money Makeover CD???s. I can still remember our drive to Nebraska (from TX) with our 2 two teens rolling their eyes while we listened to every word you read. It was also about that time that I got pregnant with our first child. After we had our first son, I somehow convinced Brandon to take the Financial Peace classes at our church (Josh Lawson was our teacher). In the fall of 2008, we sat through the classes together and began to apply the principals you laid out (FINALLY!). We had 1 car, I worked part time teaching, Brandon worked at a private school teaching and coaching, and we had no cell phones! We started a monthly budget meeting and fought every time we met. We ate dinner at home most evenings, shopped for clothes at Target, Wal-Mart, and Ross (if we bought clothes), walked to lots of places we wanted to go, and every time we had extra money we applied it towards our debt. Finally, in the fall of 2010 we were totally debt free and had $20,000 to put down on our new home (Brandon had found us a ???Teacher Next Door??? home in 2007 and we were able to sell it for double what we paid for it).
In the midst of all this, our 2nd son was still-born. Our hearts were totally broken, but Brandon insisted we all get life insurance and wills. We had been putting it off, but our little Isaac???s death made the possibility of death more real to us. I am so deeply thankful that Brandon insisted on this because just 18 months later, he tragically died. I had gotten pregnant with our third son, so right after his death I gave birth to our little James. After Brandon???s death many, many people gave money and gifts to us (at least $20,000!)- just a testimony of the life he lived of service and kindness towards others that was repaid in so many ways. After his death our only debt was our home. I wasn???t sure what to do with the life-insurance money and was trying to figure out how to sustain our simple lifestyle without having to work full time. I met with Josh Lawson and he recommended Charles McCulloch from CCF. After Charles met with me the first time, he consulted with a few other wise men and prayed about how to advise me. The second time we met, he presented me with 2 different options he felt were best for me and my little family. He educated me about each option and answered every question I had. I decided after consulting with him (and a few other trusted people in my life) to pay off our home and invest the rest of the money to live off of. Our lifestyle is still fairly simple by most people???s standards but it is actually better because I have more spending money and NO DEBT hanging over my head. I am also able to stay at home with my 2 living sons (the teens are now in their 20???s and on their own), except for the 10 hours/week that I work for a ministry in town. Obviously, the last few years have been very painful for our family. Brandon and I had a great loving marriage and lived a simple, yet meaningful life together. I miss him EVERY SINGLE DAY, but I am so grateful for him. I am so grateful that almost 10 years ago the Lord led him to your radio program. I am so grateful that I get to share with our sons the story of their daddy who made sure we would be okay without him. Thank you Dave Ramsey, Josh Lawson, and Charles McCulloch! I am grateful to the Lord for you!!!
We started the baby steps 10 months ago and have paid off over 55k in just that short amount of time. We have been blown away by the progress we’ve been able to make as a result of keeping and following a written budget and using the envelope system. We received our biggest tax bill ever this last week, and an amazing thing happened… We were not stressed and were able to write a check. Sure, it slowed our debt snowball but the peace we have from knowing where every dollar is going and that we can take care of the bill quickly is priceless! If we had received a bill like that and weren’t living on a plan, we would be stressed out of our minds and at eachother’s throats. God is good, and we are blessed. Thanks to Dave, we are on the right track and truly are experiencing Financial Peace!!