Dear Dave,
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!!!