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The following story is a feature from one of the new Turning Point video series.
Within three years, Justin and Kelly got married, had a baby, and paid off all their debt. They were pretty happy. But behind this sweet family was a painful past—one that changed the course of their future.
"I was married before I met Kelly and unfortunately we went our separate ways," Justin says. "We would argue about things that didn’t have dollar signs attached to them but were totally connected to our finances. The turning point for me was going through that divorce and hitting rock bottom. I knew right then and there that was not how I wanted to do things. If God would give me the opportunity to do it again, I knew that I wanted something to change."
When Kelly met Justin a few years later, it was love at first sight: "I knew after our first date that he was the one," she says.
During their engagement, Justin already knew he wanted to do things differently this time. So for Christmas, he asked Kelly for an unconventional gift—a copy of The Total Money Makeover. And he asked her to read it with him.
"We decided that we wanted to make progress in our finances from the get-go because, ultimately, we wanted to have a family and I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom," Kelly says. "But we needed to make a plan so I could do that."
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At the time, Justin’s credit cards were maxed out and Kelly had student loans and a car loan. They began working on their debts separately then teamed up to attack them together once they were married.
A year after their son was born, they were debt-free! But it didn’t last long.
"Pretty soon after we were debt-free, we found ourselves with a child in the hospital," Justin says. "So we went from debt-free to back into debt."
Thankfully everything was okay with their son. But they had to claw their way out of debt again. It was a slower process this time, but they made it work. They knew how to accomplish their goal with a solid budget.
"There were things we wanted to spend money on—we have those desires just like everybody else," Justin says. "But we had a piece of paper that told us no. And sometimes it’s nice having a piece of paper tell you no versus having to tell your spouse no."
Today, Justin and Kelly are out of debt and working on Baby Step 3 (building their three- to six-month emergency fund). Eight years into their marriage, life is better than they ever imagined. And they have three adorable little boys to chase around!
Plus, they’re getting to do fun stuff like teach Financial Peace University classes together and give generously to people around them.
"Being able to give unexpectedly and watch someone’s reaction is one of the most fun things we’ve ever done with money," Justin says.
Kelly agrees: "In our marriage, our dream has always been to give. And we’re really starting to be able to dream about how we can give and bless others the way we have been blessed through our journey."
For more inspiring stories, find out how you can watch or listen to The Dave Ramsey Show here.