becoming debt free

{my graduation: april 2009}

We look liked babies six years ago. And look at Mya--my round-faced ball of goodness! She was barely six months old when I graduated from Brigham Young University. 

I have severe anxiety about money and debt. I remember panicking a couple of months before Tim and I got married because I had no idea how we were going to survive. I told Tim we shouldn't get married because we couldn't afford it. He told me I was crazy; he said we'd be okay. I knew we would be managers at an apartment complex, which would luckily subsidize most of our housing costs, but I didn't know how we would live on my measly $7.50/hr job, especially when I was only allowed to work 20 hours a week. Thankfully, Tim got a job that also allowed him to work 20 hours, and I started to breathe easier. That lasted about four months until we learned we were pregnant with Mya. I'd wake up sweating and scared about how we could possibly bring a child into this world when we barely made $900 a month. Tim reminded me things would be okay, and they were. It was an incredibly hard time for us, but we did it. We worked as much overtime as we could, and we earned enough money to survive until I graduated. We both assumed I'd find a teaching job, and life would be easy breezy, but that was not the case. No one was hiring, and I was forced to take a job outside my field at $13/hr. (I am still forever grateful for that job.)

It took me a couple of months to find that job, and I remember lying in bed awake at night, worrying about how we were going to pay all of our bills, especially my student loan bill. I could not have gone to college if it weren't for student loans; however, when I first started college, I had no idea what I was doing and took out way too much, and it took me a more than a year to figure out finances, and I quickly realized how bad it was to borrow a large amount of money. I remember the night I told Tim about my student loan debt. We were dating, or perhaps we were engaged (I can't remember), and when I told him, his mouth dropped open as wide as I have ever seen it go. After graduation, he was reminded of my large debt sum, and we both agonized about how long we would be stuck with the debt. Once I found that job, which paid me $13/hr, I felt a little better knowing that I could at least afford the minimum payment, but we knew we didn't want to just pay the minimum payment. 

Tim devised a budget, albeit a really bad one; we just didn't know any better at the time, and we started paying double on my student loans. It was really hard some months. Whenever we could, we tried to throw any extra money towards the loans. We used tax returns and bonuses to pay down the large sum. Tim luckily escaped BYU with minimal debt so adding his small loan to my loans hardly made us blink. We just kept plugging away at the debt, month after month, year after year. 

This year, after learning of our tax return and bonus, we decided to put all the extra money toward our student loans, medical bills, and credit cards. Miraculously, we were able to pay off every last cent this morning. I nearly cried when I pushed submit on the student loan website. I sorta hoped an extra window would pop up congratulating me on the pay off, but no, I sat in my kitchen, silently doing a happy dance in my chair. We now only owe on the van, the house, and the normal house bills.  

It has always been a goal of ours to live debt free. It's incredibly hard to do when you have four kids, an extremely large dog, a house, and two cars, but it's doable. Tim and I have been on a tight budget since we lived in California. We pay for everything in cash, and although it is hard, we try and make the cash last all month. We are going to be readjusting the budget soon because our grocery bill has gone up considerably since we moved here. I suppose it's due to all the growing mouths we feed. ;) I believe in budgets. And I definitely believe in sacrificing whatever is necessary to stick to the budget. 

I have two more goals that I haven't even mentioned to Tim yet because we haven't had a spare moment to talk all day (it's 10:49pm people!!), but I would like to have a giving fund that we can use to help people/families who might need an extra $20 here or there. And I would like to have enough savings to keep us afloat for two months if anything were to happen to Tim's job or our health. 

Here's to accomplishing mammoth goals--goals that seem almost impossible to achieve when first inked on paper. I'm so proud of us, and I hope we can use our example to motivate the girls someday. 


  1. Congratulations! It must feel so amazing to be done paying off all of your debts. My husband and I are currently chipping away at ours. We are hoping to be completely debt free (excluding our house) in the next two years. We read a Dave Ramsey book about 18 months ago and we have been hooked ever since. It feels so good to get something paid off. If you haven't read any of Dave's stuff I highly suggest it. Once again, good work! Oh and let me just say I LOVE, LOVE to read your blog. Your words suck me in every time.


  2. Good job! Isn't it a huge weight off your shoulders?!

  3. You guys are amazing. And you force me recognize and be immensely more grateful than I ever was (although I should have been) that Byron and I both made it through college without any student loans. I never realized how unique a situation that is and it's high time I write my parents a big fat thank you card for all their sacrifices. It certainly gave us a huge leg up for the rest of our lives. I admire you SO much.

  4. Congratulations on finally paying that last cent off! It's very motivating to hear about the success of your struggle with debt, Janine. I'm so happy to hear that you have successfully overcome that obstacle. I'm also glad that you're willing to share the lessons you learned from that experience with others. Thanks for sharing that! All the best to you and your family! :)

    Naomi Cruz @ 4 Pillars


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