Today, we’re joined by my friend, Laura Harris. She and her husband paid off $22,000 of debt in 22 months and shared their story with us last year. She knows a thing or two about getting out of debt, and I’m so honored to have her share her wisdom with us again!
Think back to the lessons your parents taught (or didn’t teach) you about money.
I bet some of those lessons shaped the financial habits you use to this day.
Can the same be said for debt?
For example, I can still remember going to the grocery store with my mom and begging her for extra goodies from the candy aisle. The answer was always the same. She pulled out her allotted grocery cash along with a running tally of what was on the shopping list and told me we couldn’t afford it. Her logic was irrefutable. I grew up having a firm knowledge of what it took to stay on a tight grocery budget.
That doesn’t mean I followed in her footsteps right away.
I got my first credit card when I was 19. It was like going from sturdy ground to a slip and slide. It wasn’t until many years later that my husband and I cut up the credit cards and pushed our way out of $22,000 worth of debt.
What we learned on our debt-free journey is that it was about so much more than us. We are still feeling the effects of that experience three years (and two children) later.
Here is a list of the biggest areas your debt-free journey will affect:
I didn’t know how to talk about money with my spouse when we got engaged. That caused some anxiety. After taking Financial Peace University together, we started to figure out how this whole communication thing worked.
Getting out of debt won’t happen accidentally. It takes intentionality. Imagine what a year or two of working as a team to pay off debt would do to a marriage.
For example, I did cheerleading my freshman year of high school. Since I was the smallest on the squad, I was the flyer. I loved being tossed into the air, but only when my team worked together. One day in practice, my teammates didn’t communicate well. I was launched into the air and dropped, nearly breaking my coccyx. Nothing beats hobbling around the halls at school like an 85-year-old woman.
Your teamwork and communication will make a huge impact on your spouse during this journey. Not only does it grow your marriage, but by telling your husband or wife that you want to be debt-free tells him or her that you value your future together. That certainly can’t hurt.
What lessons are you learning about finances? Patience? Contentment?
Would you say when you saved up cash for something instead of buying it with credit is a great story to tell your children?
I’ll answer that for you – YES!
You are shaping and molding their view of finances as we speak.
Living on less today means they also must live on less. Sharing a brighter future tomorrow with more traveling, less stress, etc. will directly affect your children – long after they’ve moved out and started families of their own.
Your entire family line can be impacted by your choice to live debt-free. You cannot control their choices, but you will have an impact.
The members of your own house will be the most directly affected by your journey, but your community will too.
This could be your online community, your church, your work, your relatives, or your neighborhood. If they’re in your life, they are observing you, just as you’re observing them.
It could show up subtly, like when you share an exciting story about how much garage sale money you were able to put toward debt.
It could happen more directly. I’m humbled every time a friend emails me directly with questions regarding our debt-free process. I’m not saying we did anything remarkable. We just stuck to our plan, messed up, tried again, and became debt-free.
That freedom is contagious.
Is Hawaii on the agenda for an upcoming anniversary? Would you like it to be? It’s on mine! I’ve already alluded to the opportunities you’ll have with a life free of debt, but it goes much deeper than that.
Honestly, debt isn’t the ultimate problem. Debt isn’t ultimately what caused four million foreclosures over the last three years.
The decisions people make about debt cause foreclosures, bankruptcies, and money fights.
Monica does such a great job of reiterating this fact in her own stories about her and her husband paying off their mortgage before they turn 40.
Once debt is out of the picture, you can put all that extra money toward other opportunities. You can buy an RV and travel the world. You can sign up for kickboxing lessons. You can send your children to college. I once heard about a wealthy couple that paid for a struggling single mom’s light bill for a year.
What awesome opportunities await your family?
Your Future Self
I am a different person than I was five years ago. That person had no plan, no savings, no budget, and a wonderful credit score.
It’s ironic, isn’t it?
Not everyone with a great credit score is bad with budgeting, but I was. After Financial Peace University, my husband and I learned how to communicate, live on less, use a budget, get out of debt, and plan for the future.
By taking one step closer to paying off debt today, you’re giving your future self a priceless gift.
Going into debt benefits you in the short-term.
Getting out of debt benefits you for generations to come.
When it comes to this journey, the long-term gains are always worth the short-term pains.
Now I’d love to hear from you!
What is one thing you want to do as a family once you’re out of debt? Please share in the comments below.