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That’s how much debt Peter and Heidi Standhart had acquired before 2010. At the time, though, that was just a normal way of life. Everyone around them was piling up debt, and Peter and Heidi were no different.
Heidi says they lived in an area that was more about managing lifestyle than personal finance. When changes came in 2008, their lifestyle stayed the same.
“We were living in Connecticut and were relocated to Cincinnati. We had big eyes,” Heidi says. “The houses were big, so we bought a really big, beautiful house. It was 5,500 square feet.”
“We had four mortgages on two houses, four cars, and consumer credit card loans,” Peter adds. “We saw it all, and we wanted it all.”
But in 2010, Peter got laid off, their income took a major hit, and the cold reality of their debt problem set in. Peter finally realized how bad of a situation they were in.
“We could’ve continued, but the debt was way too high a percentage of our income,” Heidi said. “We were in a mess.”
Peter started listening to Dave Ramsey on the radio and, soon after, started attending a Financial Peace University class. “I had to completely rewire my thinking on how I valued myself,” he said.
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“Having all that debt is like having somebody hold you underwater. It’s an all-out panic fight. It’s messy. It’s ugly. It’s scary.”
The Standharts quickly got serious about dumping their debt—and once they made that decision, nothing could stop them. “Once we got going, we were committed. I didn’t care anymore,” Heidi says. “I didn’t care what the neighbors thought, or what anyone thought.”
So how did they dump nearly $1 million in debt?
“We were on a mission,” Peter adds. “We sold nearly everything. We had a garage sale. We sold Heidi’s BMW. We sold our Honda. Then we sold the house in Connecticut, followed by the house in Cincinnati.” They eventually became debt-free. After all that work, Peter was able to keep one “toy:” his 1966 Pontiac GTO.
“There’s a proven recipe for success,” Heidi says. “And you just stick to it. There’s definitely a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Peter says following the Baby Steps was a key to their success. “Winning in small steps. That’s the trick.” Not only that, but taking every day as an opportunity to make a small step in the right direction.
“Did you win financially this week? On Friday, can you look back and say this week was a success? If you can win this week and then do that four times in a row, you can win this month. And if you win this month on your diet, your workout program, your finances, or your relationships . . . once you do that 12 times, every month, you can win for the entire year.”
Their debt-free decision has changed their life in many unexpected ways. “It’s paid dividends in our relationship together and throughout our family,” she says.
“We just feel a weight gone. Life is so freeing now,” Heidi says.
“I feel free.”
This can be you! Watch and listen to more inspiring stories from The Dave Ramsey Show.