We’re Debt Free!

On January 2nd, 2013, Will and I screamed “We’re debt free!” on the Dave Ramsey radio show. The 5-year story leading up to that point consisted of so much sacrifice, so many tears, so much learning… too much to be captured in just a few short minutes on air in a brief interview. I look forward to sharing the rest of that story here, with you.

Listen to our call:

The minute we pulled into the building with the sign “Financial Peace Plaza” out front, butterflies fluttered in my stomach. We’re actually doing this. 

We parked the car. Will was driving, I was next to him, and my sweet mom was in the back seat. We decided to read through our notes one last time, to make sure we had all our facts right.  I proceeded to burst into tears as I read the following:

• $110,000 debt paid off in 32 months. (The house.)

• The hardest parts: putting back groceries at the checkout line when there wasn’t enough money in the envelope at the end of the month (this happened regularly); renting a tiny apartment with no AC, no dishwasher, no washer/dryer when we first got married; very limited spending money or “blow” money ($40/month each, which included eating out); making huge payments on the house when we could have gone on vacation/gone shopping/done a whole lotta things; staying content.

• The key to our success: living on a budget (and sticking to it); living on $50,000 budget when our income was over $100,000; leading Financial Peace University (motivation!); contentment.

• Did your friends make fun of you: A little, but most have been converted by now :]

• What are you looking forward to: Giving… to ministries, to families in need, to our church. More grocery money ! Traveling together. Living like no one else.

I couldn’t pull myself together in the car. When I thought about our journey getting to that point, it was honestly surreal that our goal had finally been achieved. No more mortgage payment, ever! It was hard to wrap my mind around it. My mom said a prayer of peace over us – to be calm, to soak in this day, that we would have the words to say. We were both in tears by the end of her prayer. After stuffing tissues in my pockets, we took a breath and stepped out of the car.

We walked inside and greeted Martha, the sweet director of guest relations who also runs a complimentary coffee shop & bakery in the lobby. (Yep, pretty awesome.) She asked about our story, our debt, and she immediately got so excited! She said she was so proud of us, and Dave was going to love our story. We walked around, and Will’s family shortly arrived after that: Liz (mom), Jess (sister), John (brother) & Sam (my bff/John’s wife). We waited, we watched Dave begin the show, and before we knew it, we were putting on our headsets and microphones.

I honestly don’t remember much after that – I heard Dave say our names, and the rest is a blur. I was so excited I didn’t know what to do! My nerves went away during the call, but I didn’t fully know how to express the impact he’d had on us. I was just giddy with excitement, and full of emotion! Will did an awesome job leading much of the conversation. The “questions” we were expecting Dave to ask me never got asked (What was the hardest part? What are you looking forward to?), and honestly Dave just got carried away with excitement! He ran some numbers, showed us how we could build wealth, and then freaked out a little. It was awesome!

•••

Dave: Have you guys even sat down and done any calculations? Because with no house payment, and with this manner of living, do you know how much wealth you can build? Because it will scare you!

Will:  We’ve talked about it a little bit, and we’ve been through Financial Peace, we’ve facilitated it a few times and we love it, but we have not actually let it hit us fully, but I know… it’s massive. It has the potential to be unbelievable.

Dave: Absolutely. So what was the house payment?

Will: About $850/month.

Dave: Okay, and that’s not there any more. So if we just took the house payment, or say, $1000/month, and you just did that from [age] 27 – 67, in a decent growth stock mutual fund, that’s like, 11 Million Dollars.

Nancy: Not bad!

Dave: So if I’m half wrong, you’re still in pretty good shape! THAT’S FREAKING AMAZING!

•••

That part blew my mind. We can absolutely change our family tree with that kind of wealth. We can save lives, pay for our grandkids’ educations, enhance ministries, travel the world, bless so many people, and spend our last days in a comfortable, beautiful paid for home. Unreal.

We finished the rest of the blurry conversation, and Dave said the final words…

“YOU GUYS ARE INCREDIBLE! Will and Nancy, Raleigh, North Carolina, $110,000 paid off but the best part of the whole thing is, they NEVER BORROWED MONEY since they got married except their house and they paid that off early! These guys are freakin’ financial studs! That’s what they are! They’re incredible! Count it down you guys, let’s do our first Debt Free Scream of 2013!”

 We screamed our guts out. Then, I proceeded to burst into tears again.

Will and I hugged and kissed, just enjoying that sweet moment that marked such an accomplishment for us. I then hugged everyone in the lobby, including Martha’s assistant to helped her bake cookies. I was overwhelmed.

Dave came out to greet us and gave us huge hugs. It was so great; I could tell he was so pumped!

After we sat and listened a bit longer to the show, we made our mark by signing “the wall.” Yes, I insisted on drawing a house. (They won’t actually let anyone sign the wall anymore, since the giant wall you see pictured won’t be there forever. They are instead doing small pieces of plexiglass that look pretty sweet, which they will display throughout their office building.)

I’d say 2013 is off to a pretty amazing start. If you commented on my Instagram / Twitter / Facebook, THANK YOU. You do not know how encouraging it was reading all of your comments!

In the next few weeks, I will be blogging a series on the rest of our story – the five years leading up to this point. Will is also going to be sharing his perspective (read his blogpost about our Debt-free-scream here), since our journey was different. (He’s a boy, I’m a girl. Different backgrounds, different spending habits, different views on money at the start.) Our hope is that this will help you and motivate you to set goals and stick with them, to get on the same page as your spouse, and to take financial responsibility for your life this year.

It will take self-discipline and sticking to a plan. And it IS possible.

We can’t wait to share the rest of our journey.

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  • Emily said:

    Congratulations, Nancy! Your story leaves me speechless and inspired. I am so happy for y'all and can't wait to hear more about how you made this dream come true!

  • Kristin said:

    This made me so happy! We were really strict with our budget when we fort got married and after moong this past year had gotten a bit relaxed with it. Now we are back on a cash budget and so excited to make progress. Such an I spittoon to see other young couples being so wise with their finances.

  • SO UNBELIEVABLY AWESOME. I'm literally in tears I'm so happy for you and Will. GOOD WORK RAYS!!

  • Ginna said:

    Wow, that is AWESOME! Way to go, you guys! You guys really are living like no one else. Congrats! :)

  • Meredith said:

    You guys are such an inspiration! I forwarded your blog to my husband to share what we can do... we are right where you were, with nothing but the house, working hard to pay it down. Thanks for sharing. I can't WAIT to hear about the rest of the journey!

  • A.J. said:

    So proud of you Nancy!!! Congratulations! You two set an amazing example, and I know will impact so many people with your story!

  • Valerie said:

    So excited and proud for y'all Nancy! I got chills reading this just thinking about what is was like for the culmination of 5 years of hard work to get to be celebrated in this way! Can't wait to be inspired by more of your story as me and my husband hope to do the same thing soon! : )

  • Anna said:

    Congratulations Nancy! Such an amazing accomplishment!!

  • Rachel said:

    Congratulations!!! How amazing. I can't wait to read more about your process, especially as a small business owner! That's amazing. You inspire me!

  • Mandy V said:

    Wow this is incredible and actually had me tearing up with excitement for you guys and what this means for your family! I am officially adding you to my blog reader as I cannot wait to read more about your story and how you made it happen. Thank you for this great post and the encouragement it provides!

  • megan said:

    we love you guys:) So stoked for yall!! xo-m&s

  • Nancy! I just left a comment on your Instagram! It was you!!!!!! Wow. I'm reading your story with tears in my eyes. I know the sacrifice you guys have made. We're currently doing it as well. Amazing!!!!!! Amazing!!! I was laughing at how excited Dave was and for calling you financial studs. Hilarious. Congrats!!!!

  • Stefanie said:

    TOTALLY just teared up AGAIN for you guys. AHHH! This is unreal, truly and the example in this is unbelievable. Can't wait to hear more about how you did it! xoxo

  • You. Are. A. Rock. Star. {so's your husband}. We were there last April to scream {$127K+ which unbelievably does NOT include our house}. I am so stinkin' envious of your gorgeous pictures! I wish we would have taken better ones. :) Congrats. Live like no one else, baby.

  • Your story is so inspiring and hopeful!!! I can't wait to read your series how you did it! I am a student in college (working and paying for it) and my goal is to be debt free too! I love how young you both are and how much you have accomplished with hard work. Your testimony has truly struck my heart!

  • So happy for you guys. Great pictures capturing the moment. Love it! The Wolfe Family, Colorado Springs, CO

  • Abby said:

    So excited for you both, congratulations! You all have really inspired me, I want to start with Dave Ramsey's plan. Such discipline and determination, it's fantastic. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Mary said:

    This is amazing! I can't wait to read the rest of your story!

  • denise said:

    Nancy, I cried when you and Will screamed! You guys are a real example to me! I want to start with Dave Ramsey's plan, too. It's so true how excited you get when you think of all the good that you can do for others with no debt. Way to go! God Bless!

  • Em said:

    So happy for you, friend! Loved the call, love these photos (especially the vertical of your backs with the headsets on!), and looking forward to reading more! xoxo

  • Brooke said:

    Wow! I originally followed your blog because I loved your work; however I havec

  • Brooke said:

    Oops...sorry about the fractured reply! I have come to be so inspired and challenged by your desire to honor the Lord in all aspects of your life. Thank you so much and congratulations!!!!

  • ANNIE said:

    Wow! Congratulations Nancy and Will, you deserve every positive comment given your way! I am good with my money, but am always re-inspired when I hear fantastic stories like this. Know that your actions help so many others. Thank you x

  • Wow! Philip and I just listened to this call and we're SO thrilled for you guys. Not just thrilled, but inspired. Thank you for sharing your journey and I'm so excited to see what you two do next. You're amazing. p.s. have you ever heard Dave that excited? I listen a lot and I've never heard him that pumped, ok? ;)

  • April said:

    I have tears in my eyes reading this! I heard you guys on the radio the other day and I remembered you because you are in Raleigh, so are me and my husband. I loved your story and found you here b/c of Dave's tweets! I am so inspired, me and my husband have a lot of hard debt to overcome and most days it seems impossible. It is so good to hear these debt free stories, especially from people that are close in age to us! You guys rock! Congrats.

  • Carmen said:

    Hi Nancy! Your story is so amazing and inspiring!! I'm so happy I found your blog thru Southern Wedding Mag. Your story made me tear up of joy and hope!! I'm totally blown away by your testimony and your husband's!! I'm from raleigh and I would love to meet you one day, maybe this year ;-)
    I love your work too and how beautiful you are (inside-out) I pray the Lord continue to bless you both always!
    Hugs,
    Carmen

  • Julie said:

    Hi Nancy! I've been following your blog for awhile and have never commented before until now. Thanks so much for sharing your story with us. You and Will are an inspiration. My spending habits are not always great and I do have some debt but you have inspired me to focus, create budget and live like no one else so later I can live like no one else! Thanks Nancy!

  • Congrats again Nancy & Will! You guys are such an inspiration, and it's awesome to see God using you two as inspiration for others. On a fun side note, is it just me, or does Will look JUST LIKE a young Dave Ramsey (that still has hair!)?!! Seriously though...it's a little spooky! Congrats again, and Ashley and I hope to see you both soon!

  • Emily said:

    Congratulations Nancy!!!! This is incredible and SO very inspiring for a young person like myself. I love your motto of "living like no one else and giving like no one else."

    You're an amazing role model, keep the advice coming!

  • Jessica M. said:

    That is amazing! Congratulations to you & Will! I can't wait to hear the rest of your story.

  • Oh my gosh I want to cry happy tears for you all!!! That is AMAZING!!!

  • Willie & Lili said:

    My husband just sent me your blog link this morning. WHAT AN AWESOME TESTIMONY!!! I just need to let you know what a blessing your blog was to me this morning ( As I wipe the tears from my eyes) Please know that your testimony has touched our lives and is so reassuring! We are Dave Ramsey fans and have been following the plan for nearly 15 months now. We are half way to our DEBT FREEDOM scream :)

    Thank you for sharing your incredible story! Congratulations to you and your husband!

    <3 from New Jersey

  • Caroline said:

    What an incredible story! You have definitely inspired me to set a financial goal and do everything I can to meet it. I'm so proud of you for sharing this amazing story. Congratulations on accomplishing this huge step!

  • Nancy, that is awesome!!!!! Congratulations! God is good!

  • Emily N said:

    NANCY! Congratulations!! I can't even imaging how exciting this is for you guys. Thanks for being such a beautiful role model for how to be wise with money - I know you and Will's story will definitely keep me and B grounded as we handle finances at married people! God is changing so many people through this. I'm so excited for you guys!!

  • Nancy, you and Will are an inspiration. This post makes me so happy! Congratulations! I'm so looking forward to hearing the rest of your story!

  • Diana said:

    Will and Nancy, we love you. You guys are awesome and incredible examples to us all, yup, even us oldies....smile. Congrats!!

  • I teared up for you guys! I just purchased the book, I had been planning on it, but you just pushed me over the edge : ) Can't wait to get started.
    : ) THANK YOU NANCY

  • Rebecca said:

    I'm amazed!!! I'm so inspired to know that this can be done! Even with struggle, but dedication! You and Will are awesome!! I think my fiance' and I will have to get on board with this now! Thank you for sharing your story Nancy :]

  • NANCY!!!

    I have tears in my eyes. I am so inspired by this story. I just go married and we are living VERY SIMPLY and it is SO HARD. 400 sq. feet with 2 people and 3 pets is hard. BUT we are working toward financial freedom.

    My heart is filled with hope...THANK YOU!

  • Nancy. We met in Atlanta at love affair and I'm sure you've seen my name around here and there because I have been following you and your work ever since and am just a fan of you. I know the Lord has different plans for all of us, but I am continually BLOWN AWAY by you. How you do it. How you keep it all together. And then this. It made me cry. Seriously ... You and Will are amazing. My husband and I are just starting this, and although I feel as though we wasted years (we've been married for 5-1/2 years) We need to just start and I PRAY we'll be able to scream this like you did. And have a successful business and blog. And just know my path. You're so inspiring. Congrats again! xoxo

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  • Bumby G said:

    Oh Nancy this is wonderful! I have so much to catch up with your blog. Looks like I know what I am doing Saturday during coffee time. I am so happy for you two. This is truly inspirational. I cried as I was reading this. Gives me chills. Congratulations!!!

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  • Natasha said:

    CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! What a wonderful inspiring story! I'm looking forward to being debt-free too!

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