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For Scott and Kathy, working the debt snowball proved a lot tougher than they imagined.
Following Dave’s plan, they attacked their debt, reducing it from $98,000 to $11,700. Unfortunately, after three-and-a-half years on Baby Step 2, life’s ups and downs took a toll on their motivation. With a varying household income and the news that Scott had renal cancer, becoming debt-free seemed just beyond their reach. Though the cancer was treatable, it felt like being kicked while they were already down.
Determined not to give up, Scott called The Dave Ramsey Show for some much-needed inspiration.
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Dave encouraged them, “You have moved the needle. You really are at the end of the race. If you’re running a 13.1-mile half-marathon, you’re in mile 12. You really are making progress. Lean in one more time and push through.”
Just nine months later, Scott was cancer-free—and he and Kathy were debt-free! They made the trip from Sarasota, Florida, to share the good news with Dave. Before Scott and Kathy screamed, “We’re debt-free!” from the lobby, Dave asked a few questions about their experience paying off almost $100,000 debt in four years.
What was your household income during that time?
Scott: The average was about $80,000, but we had a second baby during that time, so Kathy stayed home. It kind of slowed us down a great deal—to a crawl actually.
I’m just thinking about the day you called me ready to quit. Were you guys out of emotional energy before the cancer hit, or did the cancer knock your feet out from under you?
Scott: We were already pretty down about [our debt snowball]. It was taking us way longer than we wanted having Kathy stay at home. Then we got the news about the cancer.
There are a lot of people that hit the wall at some point in their race. What do you tell them to keep them moving?
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Scott: Just stick with it and stay motivated. There’s no going back once you start. When you know the plan, you can’t just give up, or you’ll go back into debt. There’s no turning back. Once you’re on the plan and you know it, you’re not gonna go out and get credit cards and go into more debt.
Despite facing hurdles along the way, Scott and Kathy finished the race!
It’s not about how fast or slow you run—it’s about finishing. For many people, the hardest part of a race is the last little stretch. Don’t give up! Your blood, sweat and tears are not in vain!
As you approach the finish line, look for the oasis in front of you. It’s not a mirage—it’s Baby Step 3, where you stockpile 3–6 months of expenses in savings. With this cushion in place, you’ll be able to save for retirement and your kids’ college, pay of the house early, and give a whole bunch of money away.
How’s that for finishing strong?
Tell us how you're working toward Financial Peace and staying strong along the course.