A few months ago, I told my husband that I had the perfect idea for a new year’s resolution: getting out of debt. We were nearly maxed out on all our credit cards, we had two car payments to make, I had payments to make for student loans, and I had a few large medical bills from giving birth last June, plus my son’s doctor bills because my insurance had run out. We were thousands and thousands of dollars in debt and I just wanted out.
But I didn’t know how to get out. In fact, I was so scared to check the bank account sometimes for fear of seeing a dwindling number and payments that hadn’t gone through yet. I was afraid to open envelopes that contained hospital bills because the numbers were so high. I knew that we were in debt and I knew that I wanted a way out, but I was too scared to face it. Frankly, I was hoping that a lump sum of cash would happen upon me and I could pay it off in one sitting.
One night this past weekend, when my husband and son were sleeping, something reminded me of my new year’s resolution. I googled something quickly about getting out of debt, and happened to come upon Dave Ramsey’s Seven Baby Steps. I read it and other things on his site and I wondered if I could do that — he just made it sound so doable.
So, I prayed about it that night, admitting that I wanted to make a change about my financial habits and wanting to trust God with everything.
Here’s a little bit about me, to provide some background information for my debt. My husband and I are a young 20-something couple. We got married after my junior year of college and, although I know many would frown at that, “the plan” I had seemed foolproof. I was working part time. I had a full tuition scholarship to a state university that would get me to a master’s degree so long as I taught in the state for three years. So, that was five years of free education plus three years of a guaranteed job. We had some debt at that point, though not a lot. And “the plan” was that when I started working, my income would either all go to paying debts or saving money and, eventually, we’d have a baby when my three years of teaching were up. But, as I read in Proverbs 16:9, “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps” (ESV).
So, halfway through the first semester of my senior year, I got pregnant. It was a rough semester to begin with, but adding first trimester woes to it made it unbearable. I don’t know how others could do it. After talking it over, my husband and I decided that finishing school right away was not an option for me and that we would trust God to provide for us since He is the One who gave us this baby.
Fast forward to now, I am enrolled in online school as I stay home with our infant son, my husband works full time + over time, and I am about to get my real estate license. I thought many times about working part time to pay off debt, but in the end, my salary would be negated by the cost of childcare. Even though I live next door to my parents, I could not expect them to babysit for free, especially since they (and all my loved ones) had other pressing matters in their lives. The most cost effective option for us is for me to stay home with the baby.
So, for some time, I felt trapped. We were living off of one salary and were trying to get out of debt, but not managing it properly, so we only got further into debt. But February 1 begins our conquest for living debt-free. I don’t know if we’ll be debt free by the end of the year, but for the time being, I’m not focused on goals. I’m just focused on progress. I used to work at Starbucks and on really busy days, I would always tell myself to not look at the end of the line (which seemed to go on forever). Our debt seems a lot like those lines, so I’m just going to take it as it comes.
In the meantime, I will track my progress here in my new blog. And it won’t be sugarcoated.