My husband and I are inching towards retirement, he is 63 and I am 54 years old. We have been married for 29 years and have always carried some sort of debt. I came into the marriage with 5k in savings but he brought debt from allowing a prior girlfriend use his credit card. I did not know this until after we were married and started getting the collections calls! After our 2 older children were born we agreed that I would raise them by staying at home…very tight years financially as we live in the SF Bay Area and rent here, even in the 90’s was high. (now it is grotesque) When they got to be school age I went back to work as a teacher and life was cruzing along, we were paying down (but not off) our credit cards and living with more breathing room. Then LIFE happened and at the age of 42 and 51 we found ourselves expecting again. SURPRISE! Again I stayed home with the baby and during this time we really got in debt. We would charge AM EX for anything that my husband’s salary did not cover…everything from Christmas, to medical bills to orthodontist…everything. When the balance on the AM EX got too high I would sweep it over to another credit card via balance transfer. I thought this was brilliant.
By the time baby #3 was ready for school the economy was shot and everywhere teachers were being laid off, older teachers were not retiring, No Jobs. Yes I applied for many other things…I still have the list: funeral services, admin assist., anything that would fit my child’s schedule. At one point I found out that it was easier to get into Harvard then get a job at our local school district…hundreds of applications for one opening. It was discouraging. And we kept sweeping the balances over to credit cards…..
Finally in 2014 the pendulum swung back and I was hired for a 70 % teaching position! YAY! But for that first year we made no headway on the debt. It seemed we were paying for our older children’s college and paying off the monthly AM EX….that was it. In 2015 I was bumped up to 90% position. But I was so afraid I would lose it. In the district where I work, the first you are hired you are “temporary” the second year you are “probationary” and finally in the third year: permanent. Well, one day I was going to a meeting at 5:30 at night, (not because I had to but because I thought it would make me look good) and while in commute traffic tuned into the Ramsey show. Now that was BRILLIANT….I got a hold of a PLAN.
By that time, August 2015, we had $123,000 in debt! I must say that FEAR was a huge motivation for getting on this Debt Snowball thing. My Husband has been working since he was 18 and I really really would do ANYTHING to have him retire. Working out the numbers I figured he could do that at age 70, God willing we both keep our jobs and health.
Since August 2015, 18 months ago, we have cut that 123k down to 67k!!! Almost half way there! But man-o-man it is a SLOG…feels like it will never end! I am paid on the 30th of the month and by that afternoon all the money is GONE to debt. (3k a month not including min. payments) We took Mr. Ramseys advice and cashed out a stupid whole life insurance and paid off a car loan. Then we cashed out my husbands IRA (he was over 62 so it was ok) and paid off two smaller debts. No vacations, eating out, none of the extras that would make life more “fun”. My husband cuts my hair! With God’s blessing we are due to pay off our debts in another year. I LIVE for paydays and paying down the debt…and have 2 different “pay down” charts. Just started EveryDollar this year. What a relief not to have to print out the bank statements and then manually transfer to the budget spreadsheet. THANKS FOR THAT!
I WILL write again when we are done, for an update. Thanks, Mr. Ramsey.
(by the way we never owned a home and are still renting….this was all just credit cards, Parent Plus loan, and cars)