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Every once in a while, we all need a little inspiration to help us maintain our gazelle intensity while we work through the Baby Steps. We need to know that the goal we’re working toward is actually achievable—that people can and do live debt-free lives and are able to build enough wealth to live and give like no one else.
So we went in search of some of those success stories to share with anyone who needs a bit of a boost. Even those of you who are intense enough for a herd of gazelles will find these folks are living, breathing reminders of why you’re working so hard to take control of your money.
Fueled by a Passion for Missions
When Gina and Steve G. got married in 2011, they both had plenty of debt. He was already retired from his 20-year Navy career and was running his own home repair business. She worked for a finance company.
On a road trip a few months after their wedding, they listened to every Financial Peace University lesson on CD and immediately set a goal to pay off their debt. “We were both determined to get out of debt, because we had dreams to do mission work,” Gina explained.
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By January 2013, they’d paid off $45,000 in student loans and credit card debt! Now debt free, they realized they could both quit work and live off of Steve’s retirement income. “We decided to take advantage of God’s blessing to be able to retire at such an early age and decided to do full-time missionary work like we always dreamed,” Gina told us.
In January of this year, Gina, 33, and Steve, 43, moved from their home in Jacksonville, FL, to Uganda to work with Wells of Hope, an organization that ministers to prisoners and their families. “Our income from Steve’s retirement takes care of all our living expenses,” Gina said. “Any donations we receive are used in the ministry to buy prisoners and their families things like Bibles and hygiene items.”
Gina and Steve conduct Bible studies at four high-security prisons each month. They also teach Bible stories to 90 children of prisoners who attend Hope Academy, a free school where they receive education, food, clothes, medical care and counseling.
“Everything we get to experience here in Uganda would never have been possible had we not applied what Dave Ramsey teaches in FPU,” Gina said. “We give God all the glory for helping us learn how to be good stewards of His money. FPU is such a huge part of our testimony, and we continue to apply all the principles even as missionaries.”
Giving While Still Growing
You don’t have to wait until retirement—or early retirement—to start living generously. Ken and Karen R. from Hampstead, MD, have reached Baby Step 7, but they’re still investing for retirement and building a trust fund for their son, Daniel, who was born with cerebral palsy. But that doesn’t stop them from giving freely when they see a need.
Ken and Karen were already debt free except for their home when they began following Dave’s Baby Steps. “However, we purchased our first home with a VA loan with no money down,” Ken said. At nearly $170,000, it was a huge obstacle standing in the way of their wealth-building plans. They began making accelerated payments on their mortgage, and when they sold their home to move to Hampstead, they made sure the loan on their new home was no more than the amount that remained on their old home.
“In all, it took 17 years to pay off all our debt including the mortgage,” Ken said.
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That was six years ago. Now 50 years old, Ken, a senior data governance analyst for a bio-tech company, is stashing away 45% of his income in his 401(k) at work and Roth IRAs for himself and Karen, who stays home to care for their son. They’re also building up their health savings accounts to help cover their medical bills when they’re older and saving additional funds to support their son.
Their giving ranges from a large donation to help make up the budget deficit at their church to covering rent to help an acquaintance avoid eviction. “Having the ability to give without impacting our budget or strategic plan causes us to be more spiritually sensitive to the needs of people around us,” Ken said.
Even as they face large medical bills for their son’s ongoing care, Ken and Karen feel secure in their financial situation. “Having financial stability has given us the peace to rest in the Lord,” Ken said. “We are still debt free and are able to give to others who are not as fortunate.”
To Live the Dream, You’ve Got to Have a Plan!
Besides being debt free and motivated to make a difference, Gina, Steve, Ken and Karen have something else in common—a plan. They first had a plan to tackle their debt. Now they’re sticking to a plan that allows them to live and give like no one else. They know where they stand financially today, as well as what it will take to reach their future goals.
That’s the place we’d all like to be. Whether you’ve just started getting serious about building wealth or been working at it for years, you can find out what steps you must take to reach the point where you too can use your wealth to make a difference in people’s lives. An experienced investing advisor can help you crunch those numbers and put you on a path to living and giving more generously than you ever thought possible.
Let us put you in touch with an investing advisor in your area who has the heart of a teacher and has earned Dave’s recommendation today!