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Check out the latest debt-free story from our video series, Turning Point.
George and Liz were like most newlywed couples.
Young and in love, they looked forward to building a life together. About 18 months after they got married, Liz gave birth to their first child, a little girl. Another 18 months later, a baby sister came along. And two years later, a third girl joined the clan. The picture-perfect family.
And then their lives turned upside down.
Their third daughter became sick. A malignant tumor. She was just 12 months old at the time.
"To find out your daughter has cancer is just startling. It’s indescribable," Liz recalled.
The following six months were a blur. They went through six rounds of chemotherapy. They’d spend a week in the hospital followed by two weeks at home. Sometimes they took extra trips to the hospital to deal with complications. That was the "normal" routine.
"We were in survival mode. No more grocery planning . . . You had to feed the family. You just grabbed the food and put it on the table," Liz said.
They were just hanging on.
Fortunately, though, they were not alone. Their friends, family and community rallied around them. Gift cards arrived in the mail. Former coworkers offered help. Even strangers pitched in money to ease the financial burden. The outpouring of love and support overwhelmed the couple.
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That was the game changer.
"I felt responsible for making sure that we got in a position where we could do the same thing. That’s really when the turning point happened, where we said ’We need to get debt-free and get debt-free as soon as we can,’" George said.
They’d taken Financial Peace University shortly after they got married, but they didn’t totally buy in at the time. Because of that class, though, they knew what to do. They got on a budget. They stopped eating out as much. They looked for spots in the budget where they could put extra cash toward debt. They cancelled subscriptions and sold stuff they didn’t need.
And they used the envelope system, which was a big help.
"Switching to cash kept me accountable. When the envelopes were empty, we’d have what was in the cabinets. Often at the end of the month we’d have some interesting meals—if you can call them meals. I’m not sure sometimes," Liz admitted.
Now debt-free and with a 12-month-old boy added to the family, they’re hoping to be able to give to others with the same generosity they experienced.
"It’s not our money anyway. It’s God’s money. We need to seek His guidance in what we need to do with what we’ve been blessed with."
And with that perspective, they’ll be able to pay it forward for a long time.
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