When we got engaged, Jacob and I decided to take a pre-marriage class to make sure we both had the tools we needed to have a good marriage. One of the lessons was about finances and featured a segment of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. We had both heard of Dave Ramsey before, but never really looked into his books or classes. What we heard in that lesson really sparked our interest and began us on a journey that really changed our lives.
We were both doing pretty well; we had good jobs, we knew how to save and we didn’t think we were in a great deal of debt. Jacob had just purchased a house that was very affordable and we planned to slowly fix it up and furnish it together. I had a car loan, a student loan, and a credit card with a small balance. Jacob also had a student loan and credit card.
After we were introduced to Dave Ramsey, we decided we wanted to live our lives free of debt and teach our children why that is so important. We recognized that if we had no debt and built up our savings, we would have more freedom to do what was really important to us. So we read all of Dave Ramsey’s books, borrowed the Financial Peace University DVDs from a friend, and started on our 7 baby steps. The first is a small emergency fund, the second is to pay off all debt but the house, and the third is to fully fund the emergency fund with 3-6 months of expenses. But we also had a wedding to pay for.
We started tackling our debt individually while saving for our wedding. We had nine months to save because we were determined to pay for all wedding expenses with cash. Jacob and I are both planners and like to use spreadsheets, so we created a budget and a plan. We started meal planning and being smarter with our grocery shopping, stopped eating out so much, and took our lunches to work every day. We had garage sales and sold things on Craigslist. We were being gazelle intense! By the time August came around, Jacob had paid off his credit card and we had saved $12,000 for our September wedding and honeymoon. It was a beautiful wedding and very relaxing honeymoon. But most importantly, we knew we were starting off our marriage on the right foot.
Now that we were married, we combined our finances and really started concentrating on our debt. Together we now had about $29,000 in debt, not counting the house. We really kicked it into gear. Jacob put in a lot of overtime at work, I got a part-time job for the holidays, and we rented out one of our rooms. We continued doing meal planning and I tried finding good deals wherever I could. Jacob kept driving his old truck, “Leaky Lou” which he owned for 11 years. He did as many repairs on his own as he could for both our vehicles.
One by one, we tackled each debt while setting money aside for car replacement/repairs and travel. Our goal was to be debt-free within a year, and then take a big vacation to celebrate our one year anniversary and being debt-free. By the time our anniversary came around, we had scheduled our last payment, we were on a fun vacation in Seoul, South Korea, and I was pregnant!