Thursday, November 10, 2011

Debt free: Nine months later

Dave and me!

Well, it’s been nine months since we paid off our last debt. (Which was the US Department of Education – my student loans. Not sure if I ever told you that!)

It certainly has been nine months of living like no one else, in more ways than one. I know so many of you are fighting the good fight against your own debt, and I wanted to follow up on our story and continue to give you the motivation to KEEP GOING.

It is so incredibly, amazingly worth it.

Many of you have asked what made us decide to finally attack our debt. (Which was $125,000. Yes. Three zeros. Six digits.)

I try to be as transparent as possible on this blog, especially when it comes to our debt story. But money is probably one of the most sensitive of topics, so I try to walk the line of what to share and what not to share.

I’ll tell you we were sick and tired of making a decent living and having absolutely NOTHING to show for it but wallets full of credit cards. It was just ridiculous and sad and depressing. Month after month, half of our money went to a credit card. Or a student loan. Or a car payment.

We had money leftover, but not a ton. So when we wanted something and couldn’t afford it – what did we do? Charge it.

It wasn’t crazy or extravagant. It was just little bits, here and there. It was breaking one of my own golden rules:

definition of maturity

I had first heard that quote in college and it stuck with me. I would recite it to myself often. Obviously not often enough. ;)

And one day, something clicked. We finally got serious about changing our lives.

Because we got MAD. Madder than hell.

We wanted to keep our money. We worked hard for it (who doesn’t?) and dang it, we were finally spitting mad about passing it out to them and them and THEM and them every month.

financial peace

That’s what it takes to make it happen. You need to get ANGRY at the debt. You need to want it out of your life so bad it’s all you think about, dream about, focus on. GET FURIOUS.

So we got mad. :) And we attacked it.

I’ve mentioned before we didn’t follow the “plan” to a T – we didn’t always go after the smallest debt first. We had some credit cards with just insanely high interest rates, so we went after those first.

We didn’t eat rice and beans. Well…sometimes at the Mexican restaurant. ;) We did still eat out and treat ourselves occasionally.

But we did follow the Dave Ramsey plan otherwise. No, it’s not rocket science. Ramsey himself will tell you that. But when you’re drowning in debt (and when you finally take the time to add it all up and realize how much you are drowning), you feel completely hopeless.

I’ve had a few really sucky days in my 36 years and the day we added it all up was one of the worst.

Dave Ramsey gives you the HOPE. He gets you amped UP. Crazy intense.

dave ramsey studio

(When I took this picture I was as giddy as a grown woman teenage girl waiting to meet NKOTB. I went to take Dave’s picture and right when I took this he waved. AT ME!!! I was all bouncy and hyper and texting all my girlfriends. For reals.)

It felt like we’d never get there…we worked at it for years. When we were getting to where we could feel the finish line, we decided to take Financial Peace University at our church.

I have to tell you – that class was one of the most amazing experiences we’ve ever had. It bonded my husband and I and made us even more excited and determined. There were moments when my husband would reach out and squeeze my hand and we were SO in this together.

This process changed our lives and it changed our marriage.

We finished paying off our debt two months after our last class. The 125,000 pound monkey was off our backs and it was surreal.

(This couple was there the day I met Dave – I had to take their picture because they had paid off something like $400,000. Talk about inspiring and emotional!)

It took a while for it to sink in. There are still moments when I realize we don’t have car payments. How stinkin’ weird is THAT?!

And yes…we’ve been able to do some things we would have never done before. Well – we may have done them. But we would’ve been paying them off for the next five years.

Let me tell you – sitting out on our patio at night sure is sweeter when it’s completely paid for and all ours. :)

But I think it’s important to mention all the ways we live like no one else – just in ways you wouldn’t think.

live like no one else

Our paid for cars aren’t fancy – not at all. Hubby’s car is nine years old with something like 210,000 miles on it. Mine is seven years old with 110,000 on it with a stupid amount of dings and dents. (I’m a magnet.)

We NEVER go on vacation. We go on some fantastic trips but they are ALL for hubby’s work. Always. Our last three trips to NYC have been business-related. Even our RV vacation this past summer was planned because of a work commitment – I don’t know if we would have done it otherwise. (Now that we have, we’re doing it again next year for sure!) Other than a few weekends to New York here and there, I don’t think in all the years I’ve been with my husband we’ve gone on one vacation together.

I hardly ever get my hair cut, nails done, new clothes. I got my nails done yesterday and I think the last time I did that was about the time we paid off our debt. ;)

I use a box to color my hair (completely necessary –- the greys are out of control), my hubby doesn’t treat himself EVER (I try to get him to, but he just doesn’t), and we don’t buy name brand…well, of pretty much anything.

But saying it’s all worth it is a complete understatement. We have started a new course for our marriage and our kids and our family tree.

When you’re considering giving up the cards, paying off your debt or are in the middle of it – you NEED to hear that it can happen. And you need to hear that’s it’s as peaceful as you think it is.

It is. All of the above. :)

One evening while in our Financial Peace class I turned to hubby and told him I needed to help someone else get there that wanted or needed to be there. (It was that powerful.)

I approached my new friends at Financial Peace Plaza and they agreed to help me out. ;) I’m paying it forward and want to provide some of you with the chance to go through the class. I’m giving away three Financial Peace packets and the wonderful folks with Dave Ramsey are throwing in two more of them.

You will get everything you’ll need in a box – and if you are able to attend the class, I WANT YOU TO GO. Sorry I’m yelling. :) The class is so worthwhile. (Go here to find one near you. I’ll either have the packet sent to you or pay for it through the church where you’ll attend – just let me know.)

If you don’t have a class nearby, you can go through it with the info and CDs in the packet.  Either way, we want to help five (individuals or couples) kick start your own peace.

I also have three new copies of the Total Money Makeover book – it’s the one that we got hooked on and it’s the one they recommend to anyone thinking about taking the plunge.

Because debt is a private issue, I’m not going to ask you to leave a comment here to “win.” ;) If you’d like a chance to attend Financial Peace free of charge, or if you’d like a copy of the book, just send me a quick email. I don’t need anything else from you other than a brief hello. (thriftydecorchick at gmail dot com)

Title it “DEBT FREE!” and just let me know if you’re interested in Financial Peace or the book. That’s it. I hate to put a deadline on something like this, but I want to get you going as soon as possible if you win, so let’s say I’ll take emails till next Thursday, the 17th. (This giveaway is now closed.)

Thanks again for your support and love throughout our journey – it has meant the world to us. Your encouragement and celebration made the process even more worthwhile. :)

**You can learn more about our debt story here. And read how awesome it is to be weird here.

**All pics are from last winter when I visited FPP with a bunch of bloggers. We had a blast!!

136 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing your story!! My husband and I don't have debt (apart from our mortgage), but we work VERY HARD to make sure that's the case. We too have old cars and go without many "normal" things like eating out regularly and salon treatments, so it's nice to hear someone else speaking openly about it, instead of constantly feeling like everyone else is keeping up with "the Jones'" but you. And as you say, nothing is better than knowing the monkey is off (or never was on) your back, and that you're not beholden to anyone. Way to go!! =) Keep bucking the trend and living within your means - someday maybe we'll be the majority! =D

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  2. Thank you for sharing! ;) I have been a Dave follower for a while... Following his plan is how we bought our FIRST house last Sept. We paid off all of our consumer debt (except for the van) and were able to purchase our dream starter home (if you call 3400 sq feet starter, lol). We need to get gazelle again, though - this post was a perfect kick in the pants!!

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  3. So inspiring!! How do I email you? :)

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  4. Thank you for the update! I was just talking to my hubby the other night about you and yours being debt free, and now you post....huh?? We are still on our journey with FP. We took the class last year this time and are STILL working at it. It's hard, but so worth it. I can't wait until the day comes when we can make that call to Dave that we are free of debt. Did you make the call to him 9 months ago?
    I also can't wait to give more to others. Thanks for sharing such an awesome story with us and for being an example for some many to look up to..Paying it forward, Amen!

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  5. I have been following your blog for a while now, I am from Vancouver, B.C. Canada and we do not get Dave Ramsey on any of our local stations, I found him and I download his free podcasts. I just want to say that you story and the pictures of Financial Peace University really made me want to recommit myself to the Dave Ramsey process. Thank you so much for sharing your story on your blog :o)

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  6. I love this post! Everything about it. I couldn't agree more about going to a class. Thank you.

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  7. Being debt free is AWESOME!!!!!! We have been doing Dave Ramsey for almost 2 years now...we just had to buy a van b/c we are expecting #3 in Feb & my paid for 07 Murano wouldn't hold 3 carseats. Well, after trade & everything we walked out of there with a used/new to us paid for van that was 1 year newer than my Murano. Such a relief with the baby coming, we planned & didn't move backwards! We are on step #6 now & feel so accomplished!

    I think it is wonderful you are paying it forward! Helping someone else get to this sense of relief & freedom! Love your story!

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  8. well done - a moment you can be very proud of - best le xox

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  9. We didn't do Dave Ramsey's course, but did pay off all debt but our mortgages when we first got married, before having kids. My thought is, the man should run for President and turn this crazy country's debt around!

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  10. I am still so happy for you guys! And way to pay it forward-you are very inspiring Miss Decor!

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  11. Thank you for this and all your other posts about Dave Ramsey! I just love that guy. Financial Peace changed my life. I'm so happy for whoever wins the giveaway! My husband and I will have our credit cards paid off in February after one year on the plan! Then it's onto paying down the student loas the second I finish student teaching. I can't wait to be free!

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  12. You guys are so inspiring! We are on a changed course because our income outlook is different than it was a few months ago. We are still tackling it, it'll be a little slower and a little longer, but we'll get there. Congratulations! Can't wait to be weird like you!!!!

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  13. Congratulations!! My hubby and I didn't do the Dave Ramsey course, but we did pay off all our debt (except a new mortgage that we will have paid off in 8 years) a couple of years ago. We purchased a new (older) truck last year and paid cash! What a feeling that is!! This is a process, a journey, and you have to keep at it, but it is SOOOO worth it!! :=D

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  14. I LOVE this post! Thank you for being open about your story. We have $2,500 left to go on the Dave Ramsey plan. We started with $75,000+ 3 years ago. I can't wait to make a trip to TN to announce our debt freeness!

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  15. Such an inspiring story...thank you so much for sharing. We having been living debt free for almost 3 years and it feels amazing. No more fighting over money or dreading the Visa bills. We are like you we have 2 older but PAID off cars, but who cares what you look like going there as long as you make it right?

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  16. Congratulations on paying off your debt! I'm just wondering, is your house paid off too? We rent, so we don't have house debt yet, our cars are paid for & no credit card debt but we do have my husband's med school loans to pay for. Boo! We do plan on eventually buying a house with a mortgage, but other than that... I literally don't even have a credit card. I like it like that :)

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  17. I emailed you, but I forgot to say THANK YOU for sharing your story and for doing the giveaway.

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  18. THANK YOU for sharing and thank you for the update! Both are so inspiring. Giving away the gift of Dave Ramsey's course is just wonderful! We've been living debt free for awhile and it's an amazing feeling.

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  19. Our cars are paid for. One a 1999, the other a 2002. We paid them off early just to save the interest, and we always make our house payments early and pay additional each month.. saving on interest there too. We are VERY near to retirement and slam all the money we can into retirement funds that we have. Only pay cash and never use the credit card unless we are certain we can pay it off the next month. I used to be a huge spender prior to meeting my husband. He taught me a better way to live. Your message and the Dave Ramsey message is so important this time of the year when so many rack up their credit cards simply for the sake of a Holiday. Thanks for being there for those who need to hear this message! AND, congratulations for paying off YOUR debt. I think that's awesome!!

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  20. Thanks for the push to get back on track with Dave...it can be done!!!
    ~Julie

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  21. Thank you for sharing your story. Very inspirational! I thought you might like to know that several "Lampo Ladies" (ladies who work for Dave and wives of guys who work for Dave) follow your blog. :) My hubs has been there for 6.5 years now and it has literally turned our lives completely around. The point where we got ticked off was when we were so broke (due to waaaay too much house for our income and buckets of credit card debt) that we were charging baby formula and diapers for our son. One missed paycheck away from losing everything. We are on the other side of 65K of loans and credit cards now. Awww yea! It CAN be done!!

    Congrats in changing your family tree! And bless you for sharing a message of HOPE with others!!!!!

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  22. Thanks for the follow-up and the encouragement. We are in gazelle intensity right now and it is HARD going into the holidays! My kids are on board, I've been selling things on Ebay and Craigslist, and we are MAD at our debt. Our first big milestone will be paying our first big debt $33k off in February, then we'll go after the student loans. I see the light at the end of the tunnel and just need to keep at it!

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  23. That's it. I'm inspired. I'm mad, just like you said. I'm making a change today as soon as I get home from work. These students loans MUST go away! Thank you for the push and the inspiration I needed. :)

    Dana
    3rd Grade Gridiron

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  24. Good for you!!! I am always working to do with what I have and be creative with it.
    Hugs,
    Lisa

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  25. What an interesting post. Congratulations on being debt free! I know it's so hard and you've obviously made the sacrifices and put forth the effort needed. I just started reading your blog about a month ago. My husband and I started reading Dave Ramsey this past spring and were excited to start...my husband is two years out of dental school so our debt is about TWICE what yours was - yes, well over $200,000. But that's the only way to get through dental school. What was very disheartening, though, was when my husband called Dave on his radio program and Dave didn't listen to him at all but rather called him an "idiot doctor" - he went off on doctors and dentists and their huge loans. He never stopped to find out that we have four kids and we're trying our very hardest each month to put as much as we can towards our student loans. Anyway, it was discouraging. I wish more people would be understanding of what a struggle it is for doctors and dentists to get through school and then turn around and pay humongous loans. Nonetheless, we are applying some of his principles and just paid off our first (of about 8) student loans-the smallest one with highest interest rate first.

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  26. I have only been reading for a few months and hadn't realized that you and your family paid off so much debt so recently! I think that is awesome! I have also been debt free since April (except the mortgage) and it does feel great! I had my car paid off a year earlier, and it is weird to think I have no car payment (especially when most of my friends are moving on to their 2nd or 3rd cars and the payments that go along with them and I'm still on number 1)

    I think it is great that you are giving away these Financial Peace Packets and Dave Ramsey books. Personally I have never read any of his stuff, but I have read all over the web how he has helped a lot of people get out of debt. I know these are going to help a lot of people out!

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  27. I have been reading your blog for a while but never commented. I just have to tell you how awesome you are. A few weeks ago my sister and I were talking about the different blogs we read and I mentioned yours and she said she read it too. Then, she said that the way you talk and your style of writing reminds her of me! (Best. Compliment. Ever. :) You're so silly and funny! Congratulations to you and your husband!

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  28. You're right debt is often a private issue. Not sure why? If we are all struggling we should share with one another so that we can encourage one another. Anyway, I appreciate you sharing your story with all of us. We are working our debt snowball and only have one car left!! It's very exciting. Congrats to your family!

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  29. I applaude the fact that you're getting this message out there. People need to hear this and know that it can be done. The hardest thing is to learn to delay gratification, but once you master this, it's no big deal. You get used to it. You find gratification in the things that really matter instead. We're debt free too. Yes, we drive old cars, yes I shop at thrift stores, yes, we don't go on fancy vacations, yes, I don't buy fancy brand names, but we SLEEP WELL at night.

    Good for you for paying it forward.

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  30. Congrats on such a huge accomplishment! Dave Ramsey and FPU are the reason I can be a stay-at-home mom to our (almost) five kids, whom we comfortably support on a public school teacher's salary. I so appreciate your post this morning...a reminder, like someone else posted, that it's time to "get rowdy" again! Just the new house to pay off, then it'll be time to yell "FREEEEEDOMMMMM!!"

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  31. Good for you guys! That is one amazing accomplishment. Putting it out there for others who haven't quite come to terms with their debt situation is a great service to your readers.

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  32. I love reading your story, Sarah!! You should be so proud of yourself. We've never been on a family vacation either, unless you count two really fancy trips we got to go on together b/c of his work.

    It is very, verrry hard to look around at my friends and not be jealous of all their new clothes, their fancy cars, their brand-new and furnished homes. BUT, as my husband reminds me, some of them are most likely swimming in debt to look like that.

    We paid off my car this summer and the next month his grandmother gave us her minivan. With the money we made selling my car, we were able to pay off our credit cards. It was such a burden. It wasn't a lot of money, but we don't have a lot extra these days and it was very stressful to see those 2 bills come in.

    One of our cards still gets charged each month for a gym membership that we're not using. We pay it off each month, but I'm going to cancel the membership...it seems so wasteful now that I know how great it is to see that balance at 0!!!

    Thanks for sharing your story...sorry for the novel comment. :)

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  33. Hi Sarah, Thanks for sharing your story with your followers. I follow Dave Ramsey as well, I enjoyed reading the success stories on his website. My husband and I would love to have these CD's because he works long hours and attending a class is not in his schedule right now. Your story along with Dave's advice has been a true inspiration to me.

    Mashan

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  34. Thanks for sharing the update, Sarah! I second your encouragement to anyone who is thinking about taking the plunge. It is by far one of the most transformational, rewarding, and beneficial things you can do for your family. My husband and I paid off $48,000 in 11 months and we are NEVER going back to "normal". As DR says, "Normal is broke!!!"

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  35. Hi, I'm kind of new to your blog, but I'm very familiary with Dave Ramsey. (If I could say I love another man aside from my husband, it would be DR.) I had kind of wondered what your inspiration was for your blog, and now I think I know. We have already paid off a lot of debt, but have found ourselves in a holding pattern -- maybe even sliding backward a bit -- due to my recently diagnosed physical conditions which prevent me from working full time. Your blog was so honest, it made me realize I need to forgive myself for needing some time to heal, and now we just need to re-focus on the game plan (getting rid of my monster student loans, ugh!) so we can finally afford a house. Thanks again! Blessings to you!

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  36. My husband and I went through this class last year and are happily debt free! It was life changing for us. I linked your giveaway on my FB page. Thanks for this wonderful opportunity to change my friends' lives too!

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  37. Thanks for this post! We our so close to being debt free (going the Dave Ramsey route) that we can almost taste it! This is a super motivating post and I am emailing my husband the link now to read it! Thanks! Your AWESOME!!!

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  38. That was a great word, Sarah! Everyone has their own story, and you shared yours with honesty and sensitivity. We, too, have been impacted by wise advice (including Dave Ramsey) in the $ dept. It is an ongoing battle to stay "clean." You are changing families by helping get this info into the hands of people who really need it! Blessings to you - Jennifer Scott

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  39. Well, you've already got a million bazillion comments on this, but hey, who doesn't love hearing that they're awesome?! Thank you for sharing your debt (-free!) story! Great job paying off those loans! My husband just (literally, JUST, like, 2 weeks ago) graduated from chiropractic school, putting us right at the bottom of an ugly little mountain of student loan debt. We came out of it better than most--we both worked while he was in school, which helped us avoid taking out extra loans to cover rent and cost of living, and we didn't have any student debt from either of our undergrad schooling, and no consumer debt--but it's still an ugly, 6-figure amount. Just yesterday I was having a little panic attack at the thought of owing SO MUCH MONEY, but my husband seems so confident that we can get it paid off relatively quickly, and we are both very motivated to get rid of this debt fast and KEEP our money! Reading about your new debt-free-ness is so motivational for me . . . thank you for sharing!

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  40. I have tears in my eyes because I am so thrilled for you!! My husband and I had $115,000 in debt (and we were/are renters, so that's NOT a house!) when we got married just over 2 years ago. We are feverishly paying it off, expecting our first child in January, and hope to be debt free sometime in late 2012... Being on the same page with my spouse about money has absolutely changed our family tree and helped us create a solid and peace-filled marriage. I cannot wait to go to FPP with our little one and scream that we are DEBT FREE!!! Congratulations!!!

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  41. I love your victory story! and I love Dave Ramsey! What a blessing it is for you to pay it forward. You are helping to change lives!

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  42. I'm not asking for the class as we are already (almost) debt free. Only our mortgage left and with a few changes that we made recently - that pay off is closer than we ever imagined!

    I just wanted to comment and say that it is nice to hear about your vacations, clothing, etc. In the 14 years my husband and I have been married, the only "vacations" we've taken have been to visit our family (they all live at least 4 states away). It may not be as fun as my BIL going to Jamaica but it's a lot more cost effective and we never have to fret about money like he does. I do my own nails, never shop (and never pay full price!), make a lot of my daughter's clothes, etc. etc. Both of our vehicles are paid for - yes, they are 11 and 9 years old but lucky for us both have less than 100,000 miles. When the time comes, my husband plans to put a new engine in his truck instead of buying a new vehicle. Yes, there are sacrifices but living without the stress of financial issues (and believe me, we've had our share of those) is monumental. Oh, and I forgot to mention the absolute best part - I quit my job five years ago when I was pregnant and we have more money now, than when I was working full time - go figure! LOL

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  43. I loved reading about this! As a current college student now, I often worry about the debt I'm accumluating but after seeing you go through it and wining, I know I can do! Very happy for you two!!!

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  44. LOVE THIS POST! I remember you posting about it way back when you became debt free. I think this is a wonderful giveaway you are offering people!

    My husband and I became debt free in 2008. Our debt included student loans, a furniture loan, a car payment, a small credit card debt, a hospital bill after having just had a baby, and a new house which was on an interest only loan. Yikes! My dad gave us Dave Ramsey's book that Christmas, and we got the ball rolling. It felt so good to pay everything off! (We still have the house, though.)

    I hope you are able to help someone find financial peace with this giveaway. It is an amazing gift!!

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  45. So glad you shared this topic again...it's so important! Dave is definitely intense and has helped a lot of people. My husband and I have been blessed that we both came from families that didn't have debt, other than a house payment, so we never knew to live any differently. We only had a car payment once many years ago, but that's been it. We've both been through Financial Peace at our church and our daughter took the class a few years ago in high school. It's so wonderful you are paying it forward and sending a few more to FPU. Haave a great weekend!

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  46. When you write about all things family & home, you "right" about all things family & home! It takes a firm foundation,determination, & consideration to recognize and tackle the debt monster. We are drowning in it due to our family construction/hazardous waste removal business(34 years in business) falling victim to the downturn in the economy. Over one hundred employees and my parents, my brother & family, and my family took a hit in 2008, and the personal recovery process is both slow and brutal. Enter making ends meet via the credit cards. Gas, groceries, essentials. Eating out, vacations, new clothes? No way. Do we miss it? No, what I miss is financial freedom & the peace of mind that comes with it. Things are looking up(husband in new engineering job) & faith and family are the gifts from God that help me through. Thanks, "weird" friend, for the inspirational post and kudos on paying it forward. Congratulations to you, your husband, and family. This is your proud,mature,and exemplary life moment!

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  47. Hi there! Been lurking for quite a while, but I really felt compelled to comment on this. I'm reading one of Dave's books myself in an attempt to wrangle my too-high-for-only-being-23 debt. Between credit cards, a car loan and a (albeit very very small) loan from college, I'm sick of using nearly half of my take-home pay to just manage my debt.

    Your post is so inspiring. If you guys can tackle debt that's much larger than what I'm facing, then I know I can do it as well! Thanks so much for sharing :)

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  48. Thanks for sharing your story! It is inspiring!

    About 18 months ago I met with the manager at my credit union to help me get rid of my $36k+ debt. He helped me immensely...mostly by a) not judging me by my debt and b) literally holding my hand through every step. We cut up the credit cards and called the companies. One company brought my interest rate down to 0%, which I never believed was possible (but it makes sense that they want their money just as much as we want to pay off our debt!). I was put on a 5-year plan, with hopes to be done in 3. Looking forward to the day the debt is gone!

    Kudos to you! =)

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  49. Looks like lots of folks are as ready as I am...

    This has been a tough year, we started our debt relief program based on a book I borrowed from the library then my dd got in a car accident, the engine in my hubs' car died, and my son's car ended up with lots of repairs. Talk about set back!

    Next, we got hit with some unexpected medical bills.

    Then our computer crashed and a new one was needed.

    I was beginning to think that it was useless to even try. Every time we get a little money saved and a little debt paid down, something goes wrong...

    And we're back to square one.

    Your story, and that of the couple you shared, is very inspirational. Thank you.

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  50. Congratulations!!
    It is a GREAT feeling!!!!!

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  51. Wow! Congratulations!! We started our journey about 3 years ago with Dave's plan and I am so happy to say that we are debt free! (but our house)and we are looking forward to have it paid off by the end of next year. We are so excited for that moment!

    PS. I love your blog!

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  52. I never expected this type of story here and I must say it was so inspiring and helpful. I have three adult sons with families of their own and debt is the biggest looming problem they all have. I will be sharing your story with them.
    Thank you for putting your own financial story out there for all to read. People are so hesitant to speak of their debt which leaves so many feeling alone, frightened and stressed. Talking about it can only help...so thank you.

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  53. Thanks for the inspiration =) My student loans began at $180,000! YEP. That is correct!! It makes me ill, but I have to pay them until I am 58 =( Perhaps I should re-evaluate and use you as a model! And that total doesn't include mortgages on 2 different properties. AHHHH. It would be blissful to be debtfree!

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  54. Thanks Sarah! It's so great to hear your story. We have a little bit of debt, but are planning to pay it off real quickly when my husband graduates and begins work. Anyway, I'm just so glad to hear you don't buy name brand or get your hair and nails done often and drive old cars... That's the way we live too, and it's just great to hear about other people doing that. Sometimes I get jealous about how other people live, but honestly, you just don't know their situation - they may well be living in piles of debt. I'm just so thankful for all the wonderful blessings in my life, and I'm glad to hear you are too. :)

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  55. I would love to get more info about the debt free book and packet. Courtpark2@aol.com.

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  56. I would love the debt free book for my daughter and son in law - they are in debt over their heads - both are smart and have good jobs but when it comes to money they are like children. Please they need help!!

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  57. Thanks for sharing your story! When my hubby and I were engaged, his brother (a pastor) did our marriage counseling. One of the things we had to do was read the Total Money Makeover book. We didn't read it then, oops, but we should have! We are thisclose to paying off all our debt! (We have read it now since we own it!)

    I also found the Financial Peace University box set at a thrift store in my town for $2.00! Can you believe it? I snatched that bad boy up before anyone could tell what it was! It motivated my hubby and me to keep going!

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  58. Wow that was awesome! I need to tell you...your blog was the first "design/decor" blog I came across a few years ago and it changed my life! Now I'm fully obsessed with the blog world and loving working on my house. And that started with your blog! And when you first wrote about Dave and your debt, I had never heard of him so I found out more about him and his plan and now my husband and I are hard core Dave lovers! We were already living similar principles but his plan has helped us plan more and live like no one else! And that too was thanks to you and your blog. Thanks for changing my life in more ways than one and congratulations!

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  59. Thank you for posting this...debt was one of the major factors in the failure of my marriage.

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  60. Hi Sarah, I don't know if you remember me from "Caferocks" but I have been following your Blog lately.... I'm so thrilled for you in so many ways!!! What an amazing thing to be debt free, and how awesome that you want to pay it forward.
    I love your blog! and am happy for your success. Patti(italianblonde)

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  61. Odd that you should post about this right now... we are currently going through FPU. We had been working on getting rid of debt for some time but it seemed like every time we were mostly debt free something would happen. And we just were not on the same page.... now we are FINALLY both in agreement and tackling this head on. My husband has been selling stuff on e-bay and one of our local consignment shops has been seeing a lot of me recently. Next up... Craigslist! I am so looking forward to the day that we are debt free (aside from one home loan as we own two properties..)... It does sadden me that there are a few steps we will never accomplish such as college accounts for our kids.. the eldest leaves in the fall. But thankfully due to VA benefits (in Indiana at this time) the only college bills will be for room and board plus books.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences and where you are today!

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  62. Oh how I would love to win the Financial Peace course. Thank you for such a generous and kind give away.
    Barbara

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  63. What an achievement! Congrats! You've been a good steward with your funds and God will surely bless you and your family for your responsible stewarship!

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  64. You are generous and kind. Your encouragement and gift to those who follow your blog are a manifold blessing. Just think: financial upheaval=stress=illness. As one person stated in her comment, debt was the cause for the end of her marriage. We all hope to love our families and our homes and lives, but without the peace that comes from the release from money worries, it is hard to get to that place of happiness. Thanks for passing it forward.

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  65. Wow Sarah, this is SO inspiring. I loooove Dave Ramsey! He seems like such an amazing guy and his advice is so common sense. A man after my own heart!

    Thank you for sharing your journey and story. My husband and I do not have any car or cc payments, but we do have a very big mortgage, which always makes me nervous. I a SAHM but luckily we do have a nice amount of savings. Anyway, I am still tempted to read his books sometimes because I'm always trying to figure out better ways to save money.

    Thanks again!

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  66. Yay! Thanks for the update!!
    ~RustiAnn
    www.borrowerisslavetothelender.blogspot.com

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  67. We have no debt because we feel G-d didn't put us on His earth to spend out time and efforts enriching BoA, City, etc. Very freeing to live this way.
    Glad you're debt free, staying that way, and helping others. congrats

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  68. I started reading this post today and had to come back just to review it! My husband and I took FPU last October and we have been on baby step 2 now for the past year. We are going strong (up and downs) and working on huge student loan debt too. SO inspiring and motivating to hear how sweet the other side is :) I am such a Ramsey fan, I'm trying to pay it forward with some friends right now too. It's unbelievable how it changes your marriage, your focus, your intentions with money. Thanks for a great post - really enjoying being a newbie in the blogosphere!

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  69. I'm definitely interested in learning more about Dave Ramsey. We don't have a ton of debt, but our money always manages to disappear.

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  70. Congratulations! That is so amazing and I feel inspired to make changes to our families spending habits!

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  71. Congratulations on being debt free! I have not gone through his program myself but I have friends who have taught me a lot about the program and have lived using those tips. Great for you!

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  72. How courageous you are to share such a personal issue with all of us.
    Your ability to be open and honest about who you are and where you've been, is inspiring.
    Thanks for your willingness to share such a personal struggle.
    Oh and super congratulations, your debt free!

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  73. I just happened upon your blog when I was looking for fall decorating ideas, and I'm SO glad I did! I'm so excited for you and your victory over your debt! My parents are working their way through their debt right now, and have taught several courses of FPU at our church. It's been amazing to me to see them go from being worried about their money to being at peace about it. I can't wait to read more about your story while I explore your blog! :)

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  74. Good for you! No, GREAT for you! Debt stinks plain and simple. And I'm with you: the freedom you feel when you realize you are debt-free makes you as giddy as a school girl.

    Jeanine

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  75. You have inspired me! My husband and I took the class a few years ago. Since then we have had our first child who has had to have surgery and a few hospital stays. I have felt we are now drowning again in debt. The good thing is, and you just reminded me, I have all of the information I need to make a plan on how to get out of it! Thank you for sharing your story!

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  76. Thank you for sharing, and for your continued transparency. It is neat that FPU meant so much to you that you want to share it with others.

    Wow on the accomplishment of the adorable family you photographed!

    It's too bad you weren't given the benefit of a good financial example growing up, but the gift of the good example you are now able to give your family is priceless.

    Congratulations on your achievement, and for continuing to stay debt free.
    Chrissy

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  77. Your post made me smile b/c it reminded me of my own journey with Dave Ramsey's book. God bless you and your family :)

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  78. Debt free!

    manlycow@frontier.com

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  79. Thank you for this post. We just jumped on the Dave Ramsey wagon and your story is inspiring.

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  80. I am so inspired by your debt-free living that I've committed myself to being debt free as well!! I've never heard of Dave Ramsey but after reading your post I decided to check him out...and WOW! What an amazing resource he is! I've signed up for his Total Money Makeover and I'm conquering my debt head on. Thank you so much for being an inspiration to us all!

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  81. I'm a HUGE dave ramsey fan. However, i've never taken the class. I would LOVE to someday.

    Reading his book kept me from going into debt in the first place. All I owe is about a few thousand for school to my parents.
    I have never had a credit card and never will.
    Now I'm working so I can pay for school as I go to school, I don't want to graduate with any debt over my head.

    Since I'm pretty much debt free, I'll let someone else win. Theres probably a lot of people out there who could use it better than I.

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  82. Thank you so much for sharing your story!! We are about 2/3's of the way through our debt following Dave's plan. I've been slacking a bit but this gives me the motivation to push on.

    Congratulations on your new found freedom!!

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  83. I've been reading your blog for about six months and don't think I've ever commented before...but I had to jump in and tell you thank you for being so willing to share your story. This post was really inspiring! We haven't done the DR course but have read his book...sadly, we were once debt-free a few years ago (TOTALLY...no mortgage or anything) but with this tough economy, we've had to draw on the equity of our home to cover our expenses. Sigh. So I'm super thankful that we had that available to us...because if we had had a mortgage, we probably would have lost our home. But I'm still so sad that we are back in debt again.

    Anyway, all that to say, your posts like this really encourage me to get going on paying it all off and get back to being debt-free. Because is is SO FREEING!

    Thanks!!

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  84. SO happy for you....we are on our way too.

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  85. After hearing your initial story about using Dave Ramsey, I started checking out his podcasts and was inspired to say the least. I've always been ridiculously frugal, but with two summers of losing my job or having my hours cut back so drastically that I could barely pay gas, we have a bit of paying off to do. Not to mention my car is not paid off but breaks down constantly. If we didn't have so many issues with that stupid car then we would have it paid off already and would be in much better shape. Our goal is to have both our cars and any lingering credit card debt paid off by the end of next year then we will tackle our student loans. With kids on the horizon I want to be able to give them the kind of childhood I had where my parents were frugal, but debt-free and happy.

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  86. I really loved this post! You are great for paying it forward! Our church did a preview a few weeks ago. Me and my husband got inspired, who wouldnt! We got busy and forgot to attend the class, then I read your post. So I went to the website and purchased the materials! They offered a military discount, so that was a plus. Thanks again for sharing your story, you are going to change some lives for sure!

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  87. We are still working our our total money makeover. I can be so HARD to do Dave's plan but it's great to hear from someone who's done it other than on the radio.

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  88. Haha apparently I just agree with everyone else-THANK YOU for sharing your story and encouraging others in this journey! My husband and I finished paying off our debt (student loans, mostly) a year and a half ago, just in time to go on support as stateside missionaries, and I'm realizing how much people's debts hold them back from being a part of missions-so many people can't give, even when they want to, because they are drowning in their payments! It felt SO great to finish paying ours, after 2 1/2 years of living on one of our incomes and putting the other completely towards the debt. FREEDOM!!! :) Preach it, sista!

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  89. I get a tree and decorate in mid December. We kind of make a day of it - we get our tree from farmers and its fresh cut, then come home and break out the decor. We make cookies and cider and put on music.

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  90. Congratulations again! Just emailed you about the book. Need to get a handle on where everything goes and that's one reason why I love your blog....beauty on the cheap! LOL!

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  91. I have not pulled any Christmas out as of yet. But with it snowing today, I just may have to. I have gotten the outside lights out and ready to be put up. Just waiting for a clear day and hoping it will be before Thanksgiving. :)
    purplejenn at msn dot com

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  92. I love the staple gun! I am forever misplacing mine and I use it a lot!
    purplejenn at msn dot com

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  93. Love love love this post. Your story is so inspiring, and I love your pictures! Especially the one of him in the studio looking at you. :) My husband and I have listened to Dave for years (long car rides home from work!), and we were blessed to be able to pay off our student loans early in our marriage. I can't imagine what it would be like if we still had those loans on top of our new house payment and baby girl! Thanks for sharing your story, I hope it will inspire others to take the same route!

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  94. :)
    mary
    enonfl@yahoo.com

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  95. I'd love to be debt free as well! I have a ton of student loans and I want to start my life without debt.

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  96. WOW! Thanks again for sharing your story as an encouragement to me and others. When I first read about your journey, my hubby and I were drowning in our own debt and had ENOUGH. We worked hard and are debt FREE as of March 2011 (except mortgage)!! Yeah! We will never go back and we enjoy being WEIRD.

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  97. Thanks for sharing. I love Dave Ramsey. He has inspired us too. We have worked hard to pay off our credit cards, cars, and with the rate we're going, we plan to be out of student loan debt by October 2012 (135,000 of student loan debt). next up? The house. I feel like everytime we pay off something we just gave ourselves a whopping pay raise. love it.

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  98. CONGRATULATIONS!

    & what a sweet way to pay it forward. I don't blame you for being giddy meeting Dave, I would be!

    Be weird. ;)

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  99. My comment is a little different than most I have read here. My husband and I are older than most of you wonderfully creative "blogger" gals. We're newly past our 50's and yes, you will be here someday all too soon. I would like to tell you what living debt free means at our age. We have always been financially "weird"- 38 married years of "weirdness"! I am a clinical laboratory technologist and my husband is a public high school teacher so we aren't pulling in higher bracket earnings. We have always lived within a budget, not as regimented as Dave would like but a budget nonetheless. We have a credit card (please don't tell Dave) but we ALWAYS pay it off at month's end IF it was used. We have always paid cash for our cars and we keep them FOREVER. We began saving for our two children's educations when they were born and as result, both have college and post graduate degrees using scholarships and their college money - NO LOANS! When my daughter married, we cash flowed her wedding and dinner/reception for 200 people. We love to travel, almost always taking yearly vacations traveling the USA including Hawaii, throughout Europe and the UK. We contribute regularly to our 401k's, Roth IRA'S and give to our church above our pledged amount. Most recently we paid off our only debt - our home. We built our home 10 years ago and paid down a 20 year mortgage in 9 years. We have never attended FPU but decided to attack our home loan after hearing Dave Ramsey on the radio for the first time 4 years ago. I cannot tell you how good it feels to be 60 with no worry as to how or if we will be able to live out our senior years financially comfortable AND to know our children share and live our same money philosophy. Yes, we still work because we love our jobs and we are far too young to retire. We are proof that what Dave advises WORKS. You don't have to earn 6 figure incomes to acquire wealth. You just have to have some "cents". Thank you for sharing your journey, Thrifty Chic and for changing lives with your FPU giveaway!

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  100. My cousins and church have informed us many times of this path through the years. I think it's amazing to see the outcomes. We have the "normal" debt of 2 cars and a mortgage. I HATE the cars, and I'd have no idea how to defeat the house, but I'm sure its possible. Congrats to you guys, I'm glad to see you've succeeded so well. I'd love to learn more. We dont have cc. debt, we pay off each time we get a statement, but those car and house loans are our backaches. Thanks again for sharing!

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  101. oh my gosh but this post came at a perfect time for me! I have been getting discouraged lately thinking about our debt but this has energized me! THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  102. I have been a Dave follower for a while... Following his plan is how we bought our FIRST house last Sept. We paid off all of our consumer debt (except for the van) and were able to purchase our dream starter home (if you call 3400 sq feet starter, lol). We need to get gazelle again, though - this post was a perfect kick in the pants!!SSB coaching in delhi

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  103. My husband lost his job years ago and like an idiot I sunk us even deeper thinking he would find a job. Bad mistake. I don't know if I will ever see the light at the end of the tunnel. Thank you for the opportunity to win this gift. God bless you.

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  104. Have you finished BS3 yet? I do hope so. It's very important.

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  105. I would love help learning how to control my debt. It is so depressing to see my husband's checks and we have no money. If something breaks we are in big trouble if it wasn't for credit cards.

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  106. I'm a follower of you and a devotee of Dave Ramsey! I'm a broke college student living on rice and beans (literally) so I can finish school without incurring any more debt. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  107. OUTSTANDING!! I love, love, LOVE Dave Ramsey. While I have never had debt other than my mortgage, my husband (before he met me) never met a debt he didn't like. We are currently plowing through his debts, and I rely heavily on Dave Ramsey to keep me gazelle-intense.

    Thank you for paying it forward.

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  108. I wanted to put this on your most recent Christmas post, but it won't let me! I wanted to tell you that I saw cheap mini buckets for a knock-off PB advent calendar at my Dollar Tree this weekend! They were in the wedding section. I think they were in packs of two or maybe four, and white.

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  109. I'm little late to make a comment here, but the truth is: is never too late.
    First I want to congratulate you for your victory. Anything is better than make peace with our wallets and money...
    I almost cried reading your post. My husband and I just got tired of been mad at each other because our debts and decided get mad at the debts and fight back. It is being a challenge but every little debt paid off is like remove a stone of our path.
    Thank you for share your story.
    Take care.

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  110. I love your blog and I have to admit, our debt is something we're ashamed of and I sympathize with what you said about having nothing to show for our income. We make a great amount of money and have nothing to show for it! I'd love to win this package and get out of debt in the next year!
    Jazzmun

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  111. I know more & more people who are debt free. I think the younger generations are really learning from their parents mistakes too. DH & I have been mortgage free for 12 yrs & debt-free 8 yrs. We were very blessed though to have had dear mentors who sat us down before we were married & clearly explained how to pay our debts off quickly. It is so worth the sacrifices we made! We did have a head start though. We married with no school debt, wedding debt, cc debt, ect. We've never had any cc debt though we've used them for yrs.

    I love that when I face hard things my husband uses our success to encourage me. He'll say, 'How many women do your know that owned their own home free & clear by the time they were 33?!" Even better, our son was 6 yrs old when we paid off our mortgage & 10 when we became totally debt free. That gave us freedom to do some really awesome things with him through his teen yrs. & give him a great start financially as an adult.

    I know some who've paid their mortgage off at even younger ages than we did. I'm so thankful for people like Dave Ramsey & our mentors who pass on their knowledge. Thanks to you too, for generously helping more families find financial freedom. :o)

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  112. We took the Dave Ramsey class a few months after my husband had brain surgery and we had our first kid...let me tell you, this class gave us HOPE for the mountain of debt we were buried under. We payed off $20,000 the first year, with my husband working part-time and going to school, and me working full time. We are so close...we have about $14,000 left and plan on saving %10 for our first home purchase after that is gone! We've been through some VERY hard times, but everyone needs to know that it is totally possible, no matter what your "debt number" is, to get out from under it! We are 21 and 23 years old, and plan on being debt free (except for a house payment which we plan on knocking out quickly!) by 2013! Thank you for the encouragement...we needed it.

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  113. Thank you for this. My husband and I started this class this past September. We have our emergency fund and have only paid off about $1000 in debt. Unfortunately, our dog needed hip surgery so it knocked us back a bit, but we are now getting the intensity! I like reading stories from people who have beaten debt and it's nice to read yours. I think you guys still did little things while working on debt. We still have a (small) eat out budget. We can eat out, as a family, about once every 2 weeks. My husband gets some money to eat lunch out about once a week and we pay for my daughter to buy lunch (it is actually cheaper for her to buy than for us to pack). We do buy clothes because we haven't in YEARS! We have only bought the kids stuff here and there, but it is so nice to know if my daughter outgrows her pants, I can afford to buy her new ones. Thank you, again, for your story. It gave me more motivation!

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  114. We are still paying off our debt. My husband owns his own business and makes a great salary, but there is business and personal debt that is looming over us. When you said that you guys make a pretty decent living yet have nothing to show for it, that was like a punch in the gut! That is exactly how we feel. We keep imagining how we would be living without our money going to debt payments every month.

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  115. I so agree. Dave has changed my life as well. I wish I could say that I am debt free. I am closer than ever though. When I took the class in 2008 my husband and I had almost $800,000 in debt between our personal home and business. The economy has deeply affected our business. But, I am proud to say that we are down to less than $325,000 to go. I can't wait to live like no one else. Congratulations!

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  116. I was so excited for you as I read through your post! I, too, can imagine that giddy feeling you had when Dave waved at you. Congratulations on your success with the plan. We will do a debt free scream one of these days, too. Can't wait!

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  117. First all congratulations!! That is one major accomplishment. Second, thank you for sharing your "debt story." I recently tallied my debt and it was a scary day in my household let me tell you. But I am only 25 years old and know that I need to start the rest of my life debt free or I am going to waste a lot of money and emotional sanity worrying about it. I am off to google Dave Ramsey! Thank you for talking about the monkey on your back, we all know that lots of people deal with debt but it is refreshing and encouraging to hear someone actually talking about it.

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  118. YES!!! Congratulations! Thanks for being bold and transparent in sharing your debt story and how you got financial peace...and FREEDOM!!! :-D What a great visual testimony! ...Change truly comes when you've had that 'I've had it!!!' moment. We are Dave Ramsey Fans and were blessed to be debt free and out from under our upside down house also. Such a great feeling! We now are patiently saving up for our dream house. ...So much less stress and a great feeling to live within our means. Keep up the great work inspiring & motivating us all in so many ways! The Truth always is freeing!

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  119. My husband and I are in Financial Peace University right now and I love it but my husband absolutely hates it. He does not have the same desire to be debt free that I do and we fight about money All THE TIME. I don't know what to do...I want to be debt free so bad, especially because my husband is self-employed, too, so our income varies greatly and I feel like we've got no security. We own a home we cannot afford and cannot sell, and I just don't know what to do!! Any advice?

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  120. It's amazing to hear about people getting out of high debt. Ya know, I think more people need to read your story! We're fortunate enough to not be drowning in debt. We have one credit card with a $6,000 balance on it. That's it. We have other cards, but pay them off each month. We just discovered that the one fuel card charges us interest each month even though there is never a carry over balance. Guess what? It's outta here! You have to watch those kinds of tricks now. I have been trying to convince my hubby to stop using the fuel card in the first place. We use them for travel only now. We just recently refinanced out home at a cheaper rate and cut the term down to 15 yrs. We've only been here for right at 9 yrs. We could still use advise from Dave, but we're doing OK and better than most, even if it doesn't "show."

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  121. Thank you for sharing. It's an encouragement to know that one can do it no matter how much you owe. WE are currently paying a caar loan of a missionary along with few of ours left. Would like to know how to get one of Dave Ramsey packet or more information.

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  122. Thanks for sharing your story. I wrote a comment but don't think I did it right....so we would LOVE to have a packet. We have 2 cars with payments, school loan and 3 small credit cards...we are in our 50's and I work a 2nd job 6 months out of the year and winter is my free time. We are looking for a class - let me know if you have a packet left. Shelly @ sgehrt@mchsi.com

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  123. What a wonderful testimony! With your story and great zeal, I recommend that you look into leadind an FPU Class or become a Counselor. My wife and I did and and are. Continuously on a high watching people break free! Georgedossett@att.net

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  124. Fellow Dave junkie and FPU graduate here! Thanks for your honesty and sharing your story. My husband and I volunteered at a Live Dave event a year ago in Raleigh, NC and it was one of the most rewarding days of our lives. If he's ever in your area and you have the opportunity, I strongly encourage you to volunteer. We met wonderful people and had a blast along the way!

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  125. My husband and I are about 3/4 through Financial Peace University at a local church, and to say that it's completely changed our lives and strengthened our marriage would still be an understatement! It opened our eyes and mad us mad. So mad! So very mad and we're on a great track to change everything - for the better. Now it's great to know that our six-month-old daughter will grow up in a debt-free home with parents who aren't already stressed about money. She learn very important lessons early on! We've been on a super tight budget since the class began, but suddenly feel like we have more than we ever have - what an awesome, freeing feeling.

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  126. Oh wow! I am a Dave Ramsey fan too. However, I haven't been doing good lately and need to be on track once again "to live like nobody else so we can live like nobody else in the future".

    ~Jane~

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  127. We took the class and loved it! We are debt free too. I am not entering in the giveaway, just lending my support and saying good work girl!

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  128. What an incredible gift to pass along to someone. Sadly I've missed this deadline but I do hope those that are on the receiving end will use your gifts wisely and joyously.
    TFS
    Helen -- Firenze Cards

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  129. As I read this, your story still sends tingles up my spine and I am so thrilled that I could share just a bit of your IRL moments with you. :)

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  130. We became debt free in March and it ROCKS!! I found your blog originally when Dave mentioned it on his Facebook. Taking his FPU class is life changing! Thanks for posting your update. Now if I could just become crafty, my world would be complete! :)

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  131. My husband and I start FPU on January 12. I looked into it after you posted about your experience.

    I'm so excited and so ready.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

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  132. Thank you for sharing! I know this post is several months old but I just stumbled across it today. We became DEBT FREE last Friday and are so, so proud & overjoyed...but in true type-A fashion I now find myself worried about whether the next step will be possible...or the next...or the next. It's ridiculous! Thank you for reminding me to calm down and look forward to my debt-free future, and to not over-analyze everything! :)

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  133. I was googling "Debt Free Inspiration" and came across this post years later. And it's funny, because I remember reading this blog post when it first happened and completely forgot about it up until now, when my husband and I are taking on Baby Step 2. All I can say is, Congratulations and for reminding me why my husband and I are going to live like no one else right now! :-)

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