9 Minute Read
There’s one thing you should know about Edward and Debbie and Gomez: They’ve got grit. Do you know what people say about their home state of Texas? You can say the same thing about them: Don’t mess with the Gomez family.
Of course, they’re very nice people and they wouldn’t hurt a fly. But when it comes to their finances, this is a family that gets it. Through home owning, debt stomping and mortgage slaying, the Gomezes fought for their financial peace.
How did they do it? It all started with a life-changing event.
A House of Cards: Debt and Credit
When they married in 2000, Edward and Debbie had accepted debt as a lifestyle.
“We thought having debt and building credit was the best thing we could do for our family,” Debbie said. “But we couldn’t have been further from the truth.”
By 2008, they had a mortgage, personal debt and a car loan that all came to about $35,000. They were already hanging on by a thread when Edward lost his job.
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“I was scared,” he said. “I’ve been working since I was 14, and I’ve always had a job. We had the house and so much debt. At that point, I was the sole provider and we had just had our second kid.”
Debbie also felt the pressure. “It was like we were a house of cards falling down,” she said. “With Edward receiving unemployment for a few months and doing occasional side jobs, we were basically just meeting immediate needs. I will never forget having to pick out DVDs and CDs to sell at a pawn shop to help with groceries.”
Then that Christmas Eve, Debbie’s younger brother mentioned a service at a new church. They were reluctant to go at first, but they went.
And that night changed their lives.
Paying off $35,000
“The moment we stepped through those sanctuary doors, I immediately knew this was the place God was delivering us to,” Debbie said.
The church offered Financial Peace University—Dave’s nine-week course that teaches people how to master budgeting, save for emergencies, and pay off debt. Edward and Debbie signed up.
“After we learned about Dave, we decided we were going to get out of debt,” Debbie said. “A verse he uses stuck with me and my husband: ‘The rich rule over the poor and the borrower is slave to the lender.’ I remember thinking, God did not make us to be slaves of anyone. Debt felt like spiritual chains of slavery holding us down from our heavenly calling. And I wasn’t created to be a slave.”
Around that time, Edward found a new job, Debbie started working two jobs, and they began to pay down their debt. “I was so mad that this debt had me working outside the home and leaving my babies in someone else’s care," she said. “So we got aggressive with our goals. I would receive my $1,000 paycheck and use my lunch break to go to the bank. Then I’d pay down my $10,000 credit card debt.”
“I was so mad that this debt had me working outside the home and leaving my babies in someone else’s care. So we got aggressive with our goals."
In two years, they paid off all $35,000 of their debt!
“It felt like finishing a long race,” Debbie said. “After you cross the finish line, you feel tired, exhausted and drained. But, at the same time, you feel victorious. It’s like a huge weight is lifted off your shoulders.”
Unexpected Burglaries and Gunshots
Paying off their debt was a huge accomplishment, but it was only the start.
For 13 years, the Gomez family lived in a little corner house in East Dallas. It was a cute, two-bedroom home with white vinyl siding, a fenced-in backyard and a driveway no wider than a Volkswagen Beetle.
“Our next goal was to pay off our home,” Edward said. “We had about two years left.”
But they were outgrowing the small house. When they purchased it, they only had one child. When they became a family of five, it was time for an upgrade.
One day, Debbie heard about the Endorsed Local Provider (ELP) program through The Dave Ramsey Show. The Gomez family worked with a tax ELP and, after having a good experience, they decided to also use a real estate ELP.
“I contacted an ELP to get an estimate on our home value,” Debbie said. “She came to our home and helped answer questions, but we didn’t move forward with the sale. We were still unsure if this was the right move.”
But they couldn’t hesitate for long. Eventually, they began to fear for their safety.
“We used to have a Rottweiler named Champ,” Debbie said. “Unfortunately, he passed away, and not even two weeks later, we had our first break-in. They kicked open the back door [and] stole our TV, computer, laptop, jewelry and other personal belongings we had worked so hard for. It was an overwhelming feeling of violation, anger and fear.”
"They kicked open the back door [and] stole our TV, computer, laptop, jewelry and other personal belongings we had worked so hard for. It was an overwhelming feeling of violation, anger and fear.”
The Gomezes put an alarm system on the house, but even that didn’t work.
“About a year later, our home was broken into again,” Debbie said. “The TV and electronics were gone. It was the whole story again. And the alarm? Well, unfortunately, the police didn’t get there in time.”
Then, one night, Edward and Debbie awoke to the sound of gunshots. “We saw somebody wearing a hoodie at the corner of our yard,” Debbie said. “He was shooting his gun in the air. I mean, it was several rounds.”
With three kids sleeping in the bedroom beside theirs, Edward and Debbie knew they had to leave the neighborhood.
From 900 Square Feet to a Two-Story Home
Edward and Debbie contacted their real estate ELP, and she immediately jumped on their case.
“I was so surprised,” Edward said. “She told us she was one of the top five real estate agents in Dallas. I thought, My little house is 900 square feet, and she’s working with multimillion-dollar listings. There’s no way she’s going to help us.”
But she did.
“She fought for us,” Debbie said. “She paid attention to our needs and looked out for our best interests. For example, she suggested we do a home inspection and we ended up receiving $10,000 over the asking price.”
“She told us she was one of the top five real estate agents in Dallas. And I thought, my little house is 900 square feet...there’s no way she’s going to help us. She paid attention to our needs and looked out for our best interest.”
—Edward & Debbie
Their ELP also helped them price the home right. In fact, the price was so good, the Gomez family sold their house in one day.
“At first, we thought the price was a bit low,” Debbie said. “But our ELP was smart. The first day, we received eight offers and she ended up taking it off the market. Then people started raising their offers and eventually got into a bidding war. I was freaking out!”
But for the Gomezes, the scariest part wasn’t selling their house. It was finding a house they could buy. Debbie said they wound up staying in their old home for a month after they sold it.
“Within that time, we found our new home, bought it, and completely remodeled it within four weeks.”
Wait. What? Just four weeks?
“Yes, we were able to finish everything in four weeks,” she said. “When God has a place for you to go, he will move mountains and make it happen.”
On top of that, Churchill Mortgage didn’t waste any time in getting them the right mortgage. “Churchill Mortgage did a fantastic job,” Debbie said. “I would sometimes call them late weekend nights to request an approval letter, and they would send one immediately. They closed our new home in about two weeks! I seriously speak the truth when I say they have an incredible work ethic.”
Changing Their Family Tree
Today, the Gomezes live in a different corner house than they used to. This one has two stories, a nice brick façade and a driveway big enough for an SUV. They’re debt-free and living the dream.
“Selling our home helped us push forward to finally complete Baby Step 3, and now we are officially on Baby Step 4,” Debbie said. “With God’s help, we’re investing to change our family tree forever.”
“Selling our home helped us push forward to finally complete Baby Step 3, and now we are officially on Baby Step 4. With God’s help, we’re investing to change our family tree forever.”
—Edward & Debbie
But Debbie will never forget how much they’ve accomplished. “My husband comes from a small village in El Salvador where he had to fetch water from a well and walk to school, and I came from immigrant parents who came to America to work for a better future. We would’ve never ever thought we would accomplish something like this.”
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Click here to watch more of the Gomez's story of faith and grit.