We started our debt free journey in November of 2011. My Husband is an insurance adjuster and had just come back after working a catastrophic storm and so we had some big checks rolling in. A few months prior to this I was going over our financial position. We were struggling and I was gathering all of the paperwork to (hopefully) apply for some financial assistance through the state. I looked at how much we had made every month and how much we had to pay out in bills and had that “why are we struggling so much?!?” thought. I knew what the expenses totaled and what we needed for our variable expenses (gas and food etc). When we had the “budgeting discussion” before it went something like this:
DH “We need a budget”
Me “Budget what? What will we have coming in?” (Since his income is variable depending upon how many claims he gets and how big they are)
Or when I wanted to do a budget I would get all of the numbers together with the debt payments, regular bills, and a bare bones budget show them to DH and his response was always “I can’t make that much money every month!”
Well, while Clay was gone on that most recent storm run I discovered the Total Money Makeover and Dave Ramsey. I got all of the info for a budget together but this time I also had the info (pulled from bank statements for the entire year) of how much we made for 2011 and averaged it. We DID make that much money and I had proof! We knew we had about $18,000 on a credit card that we really wanted to pay off with the storm money. DH read the Total Money Makeover after he got back from the storm run and was on board. It really hurt not to send all of the money on to the credit card, but I knew the only way we were going to succeed on a budget with a variable income was to make next month’s budget with the money earned the month before (Yay for budgeting a month ahead!). We started to finally pay attention and tell our money where to go. We had a plan for future income that was “extra” now too! We had an awesome income tax return that Feb. and we were able to start a debt avalanche with it towards the credit card! It was finally paid off in August 2012. Now, onto the Car loan.

With as much as my DH drives for work he insisted that he needed a car that gets good gas mileage and since he drives literally all over the country he didn’t want one with a lot of mileage on it already. I VERY RELUCTANTLY agreed to let him finance a new 2012 Ford Focus the Summer of 2011 (before this Debt free journey). We had purchased our last 4 vehicles with cash so this really irritated me, but I knew he needed a good car. After we started our debt free trek we tried to sell it a few different times and would have had anyone actually wanted to buy it. We knew we would have it paid off with in 18 months so it was borderline as to weather we wanted to sell it or keep it. We originally bought it for $21K and financed $18,500 of it. After knocking out the credit card it was time to destroy Chase Auto finance debt. We were able to make a little more than minimum payments with the credit card done, but variable income sometimes is not fun. Not much work and a variable income meant the budget was bare bones again. Then Super Storm Sandy hit the East coast at the end of October. DH was off to Staten Island , NY for another catastrophic storm run. This was a long one and he was gone for almost 7 weeks. He had never been gone that long and as a Mom to 5 kids (DS 12, DD 11, DD 9, DS 7, and DD 5) being a temporary single parent is tough! We just kept telling ourselves “no debt payments” and “we’re gonna be debt free!” often. Halloween, Thanksgiving, our youngest daughter’s 5th birthday, DH 38th birthday and our oldest daughter’s 11th birthday later he was able to make it back home just a few days before Christmas!! Best Christmas gift ever! Even with the catastrophic storms DH is still paid by the claim and the company he works for doesn’t cover living expenses on top of that. We were able to cash flow all of his expenses for the trip and stay in NY! Then he gets paid weekly as the claims are closed back at the home office. The Ford was paid off Jan 3 after that week’s paycheck! Then the very next week we were able to pay off the Business line of credit of $14,252.59! This had been hanging around for about 5 years on an interest only loan. We had purchased rental property and this was used to fix it up to be able to rent the property out (man we were normal!).

After that we had one final personal debt to repay to a friend of $3,500. Looking like all of the storm pay was almost at an end we weren’t sure that this was going to get paid with this storm run. The check came in the next week and we decided to make sure February was financed first. Then we knew that the next check would be quite small and not be quite enough to pay our friend back. Crunching some numbers and looking at what we had we were able to make up the difference from what was paid and what we owed and as of today (1/25/13) we have mailed off our last debt check EVER! We are so excited and feel so extremely blessed to be in this position of debt freedom! What a difference it makes to just pay attention and have a plan. God our Father really does bless our efforts when our goals align with His for us!
Debt free and smiling in Montana ,
Katie, Clay, Zak, Kaylie, Miriam, Ammon and Rachel