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What were we going to do?
It hadn’t even been two months since my last day of work, and we saw that our savings we had built up to prepare for me to stay home was starting to disappear.
Our son was not quite two, and we had a baby on the way. The last thing I wanted to do was go back to work because we couldn’t control our spending.
Before I left my job, we had planned, and we had prepared. We had paid off our cars to reduce our monthly expenses, and we had built up our savings to give us some cushion.
But we were nervous that we wouldn’t be able to make it work.
Our wake up call was seeing our savings start to dip. We looked ahead and realized that if we continued on the path we were on, I would need to head back to work right around the time our daughter would be born.
And I was not about to let that happen.
But I also wasn’t about to let my desire to stay home with our two young kids become the source of financial stress for my family.
So I did what I had to do.
I pulled from my experiences working with my financial services clients. What would I have told them to do?
Create a detailed budget.
That would make sure that we would no longer blow the money that my husband worked so hard to bring home.
But then I got inspired.
I came across a story of a family that was very similar to ours (two young kids and living on a single income), and they had paid off all of their debt, including their mortgage, in ten years!
I imagined how freeing it would feel to not owe anyone anything. I thought about how quickly we could save for our kids’ college funds if we weren’t paying thousands of dollars toward debt every month. I realized that we could travel and spend money on whatever we wanted guilt-free once the debt was gone!
So I used their debt freedom success to challenge us.
If they could pay off all of their debt in ten years, then we could do it in eight — by the time we turn forty!
Financial freedom by forty has a nice ring to it, after all!
I couldn’t wait to talk to my husband about it.
When he came home that day, I was beaming with excitement, but I was also uncertain about how he would respond. What if he thought it was a ridiculous idea? What if he doubted whether or not we could do it?
As our son napped in his room, I nervously sat down with my husband on the couch and told him about the other family’s debt free story.
And then I told him my idea to pay off all of our debt, including our mortgage, by the time we turn forty.
That’s when I saw a huge grin come across his face.
He loved the idea!
And in that moment, we experienced financial freedom for the first time.
Sure, we had $320,000 of debt that we needed to conquer. We had a long road ahead.
But in that moment, we committed to becoming completely debt free.
I spent the next few days researching our spending and creating a detailed budget spreadsheet.
On August 1, 2013, we officially started our debt free journey.
By September 2013, we had paid off Mike’s $13,000 student loan, and by July 2014, we had paid off more than $65,000 of debt.
I’m happy to say that as of August 2015 (two years after starting our journey), we paid off a total of $120,000 of debt AND put $40,000 into savings.
And we’re not done yet!
We still have a long way to go before we achieve debt freedom by forty.
But each time we make an extra payment toward our debt and move closer to our goal, we experience the feeling of financial freedom.
Every month, I calculate our total debt that we’ve paid off since August 2013, and that keeps us motivated to continue moving forward. Even when the change is minimal from the previous month, we focus on the fact that we’re moving in the right direction.
Our journey out of debt began as a way to be more responsible with our finances while living on a single income, but it quickly turned into a pathway to freedom.
[bctt tweet=”Our journey out of debt quickly turned into a pathway to freedom. #TheRoad2016″ username=”MonicaRLouie”]
My husband and I aren’t extra special, and we don’t have an extraordinary income.
We’ve just maintained focus on our goal.
The truth is that anyone can do what we’ve done.
Your numbers will surely be different — everyone’s situation is unique. But if you’ve got a dream inside of you, you’re selling yourself short if you don’t try to make it a reality.
Achieving your dreams, whatever they are, comes down to three simple steps:
- Commit to change,
- Create a plan, and
- Take consistent action to make your dreams reality.
I believe that ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things when they follow these steps.
If there is something you want to do that feels impossible, I challenge you to give these steps a try. If you make progress each day, no matter how small, you’ll amaze yourself at what you can achieve.
Now I’d love to hear about you!
What is one of your dreams that feels impossible to accomplish? What are you doing to take action and make progress regardless? Please share in the comments below.
Have you joined our free private community on Facebook yet?
I invite you to join me in our private Facebook group called Your Debt Freedom Family, where I share more tips like this. We’ve got a fantastic community of people who are kicking debt to the curb so they can break free and live life on their terms.
I’d love to see you there!