When most of us think about getting out of debt, we think it’s a clean-cut, by-the-numbers routine like Superman (who seemingly has no flaws). We make a budget, pay things off, and call Dave to scream on the radio. But the process doesn’t always work like that.
Many times there are second jobs when you are dead tired, an alternator that goes out when the budget is already stretched thin, and other things that prolong or (possibly) derail the process. The whole thing isn’t rosy like Superman. It’s best described by using other superheroes.
Peter Parker (Spiderman) was an awkward teenager. Bruce Wayne (Batman) always seemed to be in a bad mood. Steve Rogers (Captain America) was a 98-pound, sand-kicked-in-his-face weakling before his transformation. These guys are no less heroic; they’ve just had some struggles.
Which bring us to Christy and Keith, Dave Ramsey fans from Oklahoma. Paying off $76,684 in four years on a $90,000 salary wasn’t pretty, but oh, was it worth it!
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“We started the Financial Peace University course at our church in July 2008 just after our first child was born. It was our second time to take the class. We sort of failed our first attempt, but after our child was born we got serious about getting out of debt,” said Christy. “We said to ourselves that we have to do this [get out of debt] for our kids. Like people say on the radio show, we don’t like this debt thing anymore.”
That do-over was just the start of their challenges.
Keith and Christy thought debt-free was only two years away. Then they were blessed with a second child in May 2010, but there were complications. Their new daughter had a stroke while she was in the womb.
Here is where their debt-free quest becomes more Spiderman than Superman. They cash-flowed their daughter’s delivery and Christy’s maternity leave, but that financially slowed them from their goal. And, of course, there were the medical costs that the insurance didn’t cover. Their daughter is thankfully doing much better now, but that two-year timeframe was out the window.
Still, Christy and Keith were not deterred. Getting out of debt took double the time, but that just means it was doubly satisfying to pull off. “It was really hard, but we got through it and we’re so grateful. We’re never going through that again,” said Christy.
In addition to being grateful, she said, “Now we are in a great position to help our youngest daughter. We are going to be in a position to provide for her, whereas before we wouldn’t be able to. It would be really sad for her that we wouldn’t be able to do everything that she needs.”
Christy said that the hardest part of the journey was staying on top of the budget while everything else was going on, consuming so much of their time. That’s important to remember: There were tough days where watching the spending was the last thing they wanted to do, but the numbers still demanded attention.
That feeds into the advice she offers for other people who are struggling.
“They say if you fall down, get up and try again. I think that’s what we had to do. We had months that were out of control and we said, ‘We screwed up, but we’ll keep going.’ Try to stay in control if you can. It’s hard. It wasn’t fun, but it was exciting as we got toward the end. You can do it; don’t beat yourself up,” she said.
Way to go, Christy and Keith!