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“I was eight months pregnant, dragging around a bag of dog poop, and crying,” says Amber of Kalamazoo, MI. “It was horrible.”
Amber’s describing the moment she finally broke down. She was sick and tired of making debt payments. And with a baby on the way, she was ready to make a change.
Up until this point, she and her husband, Mike, financed just about everything they owned—from cars to TVs to couches. “We had no connection to the fact that we had to pay it back,” says Mike.
Their debt didn’t feel real. That is, until they were about to have a baby.
So they started “budgeting.” But instead of planning what they were going to spend, they simply listed out what they had already spent. Yeah, that didn’t help.
"It was more rearview mirror than windshield,” Mike says. They soon realized their mistake and tried something different.
This time, they picked up a copy of The Total Money Makeover. Amber was inspired by the success stories scattered throughout the book. In fact, she skipped ahead and read all those before anything else.
"You can give me all these formulas and you can tell me what to do, but I need to know people have done it,” she says. Reading about real families winning was just what she needed to make a plan that would change her own family.
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Afterward, they found a Financial Peace University (FPU) class at a local church and started following in the footsteps of the debt-free people in The Total Money Makeover.
As an added benefit of joining the class, they also found a new church family they loved. “FPU changed our lives in the financial sense but it also changed our relationships with God,” she says. “We found a church, and it’s just changed everything.”
Now they’re out of debt and leading classes of their own! All in all, the pair paid off $104,000 in four years.
The hardest part, they say, was changing their mindset and letting go of impulse purchases. They didn’t have to spend to feel good anymore. They could feel good about what they had and save for what they wanted.
They’re happy because they’re content. And “money emergencies” aren’t as dramatic anymore. Recently, one of their cars needed to be replaced, and, since they’d already saved for it, it was no big deal. They just bought another one.
Because they were debt-free and stress-free. Even with three kids.
“We don’t really care about keeping up with the Joneses anymore,” says Amber. “We do our own thing, and we’re happy about it.”
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