In 2016, Alan and I paid off $52,000 of debt. Balances on credit cards, car notes, cell phones, and school loans gone over the course of 12 long months.
When we tell our close family and friends about our progress, they seem shocked we would be able to pay off this much in one year. And, quite frankly, I think we are too. But, we are not surprised.
Before last year, there were many times when Alan and I said, “If only we could just live off one person’s salary and use the other to pay off debt…”
But, that was never possible on paper or in practice.
In 2016, we didn’t plan to live off one income. But we did. Actually, we lived off less than one income, paying off more debt each month than what I bring home.
How did we do this?
We were extraordinarily intentional.
We have amazing parents, family and friends who encourage our goals. They pray for us, love on us and cheer with us. Heck, they even buy clothes for our kids or send us hand-me-downs, treat us to coffee, and insist we don’t buy gifts for each other at Christmas. And if they all think we are crazy, they haven’t let on yet. Except for that one time I brought a generic Coke to the office…
We cut up all our credit cards and closed them out about a year ago, and have never had one single moment where we missed or needed them…or their cash back…or their points. What about your credit score?! Well, it went up.
We said “no” to a lot of wants or unnecessary purchases by practicing a lot of self-control. I say “practiced” because it’s not perfected. Wants and needs get entwined. It’s never fun differentiate the two or easy to push your own desires aside for the good of the end goal.
But, at the end of the day, we had the grace and strength to come this far because God gave it to us. When I think of how far we have come, loaves and fishes repeatedly comes to mind.
Over the course of the year we cut our grocery expenses by several hundred dollars, spending less than $500 per month on food and toiletries for a family of four. Yes, including diapers and wipes. Yet, we always had plenty to eat.
We stopped going out to dinner…for the most part, we still occasionally celebrate at Steak and Shake where the kids are free and our crew can eat for $30! Whoop whoop! Yet, we always found something fun to do together.
We stayed home more. Yet, we took more bike rides, played outdoors and grew ever closer to our sweet neighbors who have become some of our best friends.
We continued dreaming, but I stopped coveting…a bigger home, a designer bag, expensive clothes, fancy beauty products, lavish vacations. While we are working toward being able to truly afford this type of lifestyle, the lust for it has been taken away.
Yes, the adjustments have been hard. To be honest, sometimes they completely suck. But, Alan and I hold strong in that just because something is hard doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.
Once we are done paying off our debt, our spending habits will change. We will keep our cash envelopes, but hopefully they will become a little fatter.
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24