Sunday, October 3, 2010

Stupid Tax

Stupid Tax.

That's what good old Mister Dave Ramsey calls it. And man have we paid our fair share. $40,000 to be exact.

After years of immature spending, failure to budget, and just plain stupidity, Seth and I came into our marriage with a butt load of debt. Most of it on credit cards. A smaller portion in loans. But it was debt all the same.

As part of our marriage we decided that we were sick of being poor and in debt. It wasn't fun. It was stressful. And it was holding us back from doing so many things we wanted to do. So we decided to stop the craziness and start over.

We both read Dave Ramsey's "Financial Peace Revisited" and then listened to the lectures from "Financial Peace University" (thanks Dad!). We cut up the credit cards and promised not to use them EVER. Then we started with the 'baby steps.'

Seth naturally moved into the position of financial guru. He created a debt pay-off spreadsheet and updated it regularly with bill payments and such. He made weekly lump payments to whichever credit card we were trying to pay off. We both talked about what was and wasn't ok to spend money on. We set limits for gifts and vacations. I planned meals and cooked at home. 
Today I'm happy to say that in 20 months, Seth and I have paid off $37,000 in debt (not including interest!) and we're now completely free of credit card debt. My car will be paid off in another month and we will then have no car payments. Then we can begin to do what we've wanted to do for so long... buy a house. It's been a long time coming.

Truthfully, I didn't think I'd ever be free of credit card debt. There was a long period of time when I would pay the bills and have $50 left for the week to buy groceries, gas and whatever else I needed. And this was only paying the minimums. It seemed like a black hole and I was getting sucked into it faster and faster as the days went on. I worried about it all the time. And the problem was, I continued with my bad habits... partly because getting out seemed so impossible and partly because I was scared to change my lifestyle. I didn't want to get rid of my cute car or live in an apartment. I wanted the biggest and the best! I wanted to eat out at fancy restaurants!

The change started out slowly. First I sold my cute little car. To my surprise I felt a huge sense of relief instead of sadness. Then, I cooked at home. And I didn't miss going to restaurants! In fact when I did go to restaurants I was usually disappointed that the food wasn't as good as I'd remembered and felt sort of ripped off! I started buying all the cheap store brands of food and didn't notice a difference in the taste. I was saving more money and felt like I was living better. Needless to say I was shocked.

I can't tell you how much happier I am today after making this change. And honestly? I don't know if I ever would have or could have done it without Seth. So many of the changes I made and stuck to were because I had him in mind. I didn't ever want to come home and have Seth be disappointed in how I'd spent our money. I'd go to reach for something and ask myself, "If Seth were here, would I buy this?" That alone has helped me curb my spending a lot! Plus Seth was basically the orchestrator of the whole operation. He was (and still is) the mastermind behind our financial future and I'm glad I have him to keep me on the right path. So thank you Seth for everything you've done. Our Stupid Tax has now been paid and I know we'll never have to pay it again!


Scott said...

Seriously awesome. Getting your financial house back in order after being in so much debt must have taken an amazing amount of discipline and cooperation. What a great accomplishment, and such a good position to be in for the future. EPIC WIN.

thebluemuse said...

Congratulations!! Such commitment and persistence on both of your parts is inspiring. Thank you for sharing!

Seth said...

Yay! The Stupid Tax is almost paid! It is embarrassing to admit that we were ever so foolish and stupid with our money but maybe this will at least give other financially retarded people out there some hope. Being that deep in debt is awful and suffocating and just one of the worst feelings in the world. Being out of debt feels great... like I can breathe again. I also have to give a lot of credit to Dave Ramsey for inspiring us to get on the path to financial freedom and I'm sure we'll continue to look to him for guidance as we move into a brave new world of no consumer debt. So thanks to Dave but also a big thanks to Karen because maybe she couldn't have done it without me but I couldn't have done it without her either. She was a good sport and a great partner throughout the whole process and I love her all the more for it. :-)

heidi said...

Oh, Kay, I don't even have words for how happy and pleased and touched and proud I am, for you guys! I know exactly what you mean, too, about being in a certain lifestyle and not seeing how it'd even be POSSIBLE to climb out. As a young adult I was so accustomed to being continuously in debt that I seriously couldn't even imagine any other way. (But, like you, my hubbie was my inspiration! I gave it a shot, because of him, and we are so much the better for it. I feel SO grateful to be able to save, and such.)

But, just, the awesomest thing is the love that pours out in this post! I think it's one of my favorites of all time.

And, I'll start perusing the Homes for Sale in the Boise area for you! :D


Rachel said...

Hooray hooray! And I'm with Heidi....the love makes me a little teary. I'm so happy you two are together.

Nick Wheeler said...

Though my debt is much smaller, I've recently recommitted to get out of debt sooner rather than later. I'm so inspired by your story! You guys are great.

Budsly said...

YAHOOOOO!!! Went it seems so big and daunting it makes it a lot harder to even start, but i'm so proud of you, and admire you for all that hard work. The freedom you feel when you make that last payment is awesome. Now, go out and CELEBRATE!!!!Love ya.

It's Me said...

Yeah! I'm very, very impressed. A great lesson in will power! It does help a lot knowing that you are accountable to someone else. I know that J.R. helped me learn some great money lessons after we got married...and he did it in a loving and logical way. I'm sure it feels great to be out of debt, but to also know that you accomplished something very hard.

By the way, speaking of spending wisely...there are some great deals on homes in Arizona right now....hint hint! Come's a perfect time to change things up a bit. Just think, no ice to scrape off your window, no snow to shovel, sitting by the pool sipping lemonade (or Dr. Pepper). It'd be sweet! Think about it.

Rindlisbach Family said...

Way to go guys!! That is so awesome!

Karen said...

Wow thank you all so much for your support! I still can't believe all the positive comments and encouragement. It definitely helps to make all of this worth while!

Holly said...

I am very impressed! Congrats to you and Seth on a job well done!