Tag Archives: Falling Into Debt

How I Got Here From There (Beth’s Story)

I’m in my early thirties and have been out of college for 10 years. Wow, just writing that makes me realize how fast time flies. I grew up in a home where we were always on a pretty tight budget.

I didn’t know much about my parents’ finances as it wasn’t an open topic in my family, but I did gather that it was pretty tight for most of my childhood. I never lacked but also didn’t get everything I wanted either (which is probably why I turned out so good!). Finances were pretty hush hush so I grew up with the mindset of its better not to talk about them.

I remember opening my first checking account and receiving a checkbook in high school (wow…they didn’t even have debit cards back then) and the excitement that came with this newfound freedom. Quickly I realized that even with all my hard work, for some reason my checkbook would never balance at the end of every month. I honestly think I only got it to balance one time, which is what brought a lot of discouragement and fear of keeping track of my finances.

I continued on this path of worthless checkbook balancing until college, where I got a debit card instead. Having a debt card meant I didn’t have to keep track of my purchases, right? At least, that’s what it felt like. As long as I ‘felt’ like I was not overspending, it would work out ok. But, too bad your ‘feelings’ don’t keep you from over drafting. Over drafting was a word I became very familiar with as I nervously would check my bank statement to see how many I had each month. This is more than a word, it comes with interest behind it. I had more overdrafts than I would have liked. Mostly because the fear of knowing how much was in my checking account gripped me and I would rather live in the unknown, than the known. Somehow pushing off the reality felt better than living up to it, which usually meant giving up something I wanted.

I never went crazy; I wasn’t one of those people that would spend thousands at a time, or even hundreds. But what I did, was constantly live in a place where I was spending more than what I was making, where each month just a small amount (eating out or a new pair of shoes) had to go on the credit card. Those small, constant charges added up over time to create more than a larger debt, but a larger fear, a feeling of loss of control and no idea how to get out of it. Looking back, I see how it all started, and how I got to where I am today.

The home we grow up in and how our parents view finances has an effect on us. From there, we go through a life that creates either positive or negative experiences with our finances and therefore forms how we think, believe and act. I needed to be re-wired and have a fresh, new look on finances, and it has changed my life.

How have your experiences affected how you deal with and view money? We want to know – please leave us a comment below!

Committed to your success,

-Beth

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Our Journey of Financial Freedom – Part 2

Hold Onto The “Somehow”

(Continued from Part One)

Despite our circumstances, somehow we still had vision (you may say it was tunnel vision, because all we were focused on was the light at the end of the tunnel). We knew God’s promise that “those who seek the Lord lack no good thing” (Psalm 34). My wife and I would seek the Lord together, and we knew that somehow we were going to find a way out of the hole we had dug ourselves into.

In an act mixed with faith and a little desperation, I called up one of the managers whom I had worked for as an adjuster, just to see if there was any work, anywhere. To my surprise we were given an opportunity….but there was a catch. This “opportunity” involved relocating to another state.

The decision was easy. It was either, “move and work,” or, “stay and drown.” We moved. With only a few hundred dollars (thanks to a gift from our friends!), we packed up and hit the road. Just like in Houston, we actually went further into debt the first two months as it took a while for the paychecks to start coming in. But we had been given a great opportunity, and  Beth and I worked our tails off, harder than we’ve ever worked in our lives.

“We’re Debt Free!”

After 18 months of 60-70 hour work weeks, we finished paying off our debt. At its highest, we over $119,000 in consumer debt. This included $44,638 on five credit cards, $30,243 on a home equity loan, $37,242 in school loans, and $7,000 on a car loan.There were many times we wanted to quit and move back home, but in our hearts we had a vision of what our life could be without debt, and we reminded each other daily of that vision.

Our journey isn’t simply one of working hard and paying off debt. We had to let go of the mindsets that kept us in debt. We had to sever the spending habits that kept us broke. We had to learn to have financial margin in our lives.

It’s now March, 2011, and in just a few months, we’re having our first child. I’m thankful that Beth and I were able to close the chapter of debt in our lives before writing our chapter on family.

Our goal in writing this is to inspire you to go for it. To help you see that that debt is imprisoning your purpose, but that freedom is possible. Your purpose is worth it. Your marriage is worth it. Your future is worth it. If we can do it with six figures of debt surely you can as well.

If you haven’t signed up for our newsletter, do so now. You’ll also receive our special report detailing the first step you need to take to get out of debt that no one talks about. Stay connected with us and let us walk (or run!) beside you in your journey of financial freedom.

Committed to your success,

-Wesley

PS: We’d love to hear from you! Please add a comment below. How is your story similar to ours?

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Our Journey of Financial Freedom – Part 1

“At its highest, we were $119,123 in consumer debt.”

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re buried in debt but not sure how  to get out. They say that “hope is not a strategy,” and while that’s true, sometimes what we need the most is hope. We need to know that there is a light burning bright and clear at the end of our tunnel.

My wife and I want to share our story with you. Why? Because the tunnel we were in was very long and dark, yet if we could make it out, we have faith that, equipped with the right behaviors and beliefs, you can too. Let’s begin.

The Debt Snowball

After graduating college in 2000 with over $10,000 in debt, I worked at a youth ministry in Texas for several years, where the job was amazing but the pay was…well…not so much.

In 2006, I bought a foreclosed home which involved a major remodel. I took on a car loan for $9,000, since I “needed” a truck for the remodel work, which, due to my lack of experience, went over budget by $15,000 – all on credit cards.

I married my beautiful wife Beth in 2007, and we paid for our honeymoon ($4200) on credit cards, which seemed small compared to the $33,000 school loan my wife brought to the marriage. We also bought about $3000 of new furniture for the house on credit.

Reality Check

2008 brought with it stress and frustration. My wife and I knew that there was a deeper purpose to our lives, yet we felt like we were slaves to our debt. While we both enjoyed our jobs (mostly), each paycheck brought frustration as we were barely making the minimum payments on our debt.

At our current income level, we knew we would be spending years of our future to pay for our past.

 

So in 2008, Beth and I took a huge calculated risk and quit our jobs to take an opportunity to work as insurance adjusters in Houston after Hurricane Ike. We actually went further in debt as a result, as I had to purchase several items which had been provided by my job (laptop, cell phone, printer, etc.) Since we didn’t have any savings, guess who paid for it? Papa Visa.

In 2009, we made ends meet for the first few months of the year, living mostly off of the money we made in Houston. Knowing that we would soon run out of savings, I took a job as a door-to-door roof salesman, working on 100% commission. My wife is a trooper, and we were committed to make something happen. However, after knocking on over a hundred doors with zero sales, we knew we were in trouble.

To be continued in Part Two…

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