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The Wake-Up Call That Led This Family Out of Debt

3 Minute ReadTopic: debt

In 2010, Ty and Nikki were dutifully doing their taxes when they realized something big. They had next-to-nothing to show for their hard-earned income that year.

Except for debt—they had loads of debt.

"A lot of money went in and a lot of money went out," Ty says. "It was pretty disappointing. And I thought to myself, If my grandmother knew what I made and that I had nothing to show for it, she would slap me. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back."

The Atlanta couple became laser-focused on another number after that: $147,000. That’s how much debt they had to get rid of.

Their debt was tied up in cars, student loans, credit cards, and more. You name it, they had it. "The stupidest thing we’ve ever done," says Ty, "was purchase two BMWs off the lot at the same time!"

This lavish lifestyle was causing grim repercussions: They couldn’t give extra at church. They couldn’t help family members in need. And they couldn’t do things their kids wanted to do. It was time for a change. That’s when someone at church gave Ty a copy of The Total Money Makeover. He was ready to get serious and get on a budget.

"In order to accomplish anything, you’ve got to have a plan." Ty says. "The Bible says, ’Write the vision and make it plain.’ And I believe that’s what we did over the last three years. We wrote a vision. We sat down and said, This is where we want to be and this is what we want to do. We lived by a budget—that was our plan. Before the money came in, we wrote it down and we told our money where to go instead of our money telling us where to go."

While they were working on their plan, Nikki says she learned to get creative with small amounts of money for birthday parties, Christmas gifts, and even new shoes. "I would take the money and make miracles happen," she says. "At first it was challenging to maneuver under those types of restrictions and restraints, but now it’s a way of life."

Nikki says the loan she was happiest to pay off was her student loan.

"I was of the mindset that I’m always going to have this student loan," Nikki says. "I thought I might even die with this loan! So when it was paid off, it was just a big weight off of me."

Now that they’re completely debt-free, Ty and Nikki are most excited about helping others dig out from under piles of debt hurting their families and their finances.

"For us, it’s not just about our family tree anymore," says Ty. "It’s about other people’s family trees. What God was able to do for me, He’s able to do for you. Anything we can do to influence and help others, that’s what this is about now."

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