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.)
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.