Pledging our allegiance to Dave Ramsey’s plan for getting out of debt sent us on one helluva ride. And I wanted to get off. From 2007 to 2011, we had lived as frugally as we could to pay off our debt (except the house) and something was about to give. So we took a break, kind of.
BABY STEP #3
Baby Step #3 is to save an emergency fund of 3-6 months of expenses, which we did, but we just sort of sat and spun there. For years. We maintained the 6-month emergency fund and were making larger payments on the mortgage, but we also decided to spend some of the excess. I swapped my late-model sedan for a late-model SUV. We turned our small, dark back yard into a spacious, sunny fenced-in yard, perfect for Easter egg hunts, grilling in the summer, and for our future dog to run around in. We also replaced the carpeting on both floors of our house, which I don’t recommend doing on the same day, by the way. Seriously, if this tip helps just one person to avoid having the ridiculous mess we had, well then, my job here is done.
BABY STEPS #4-6
With those projects out of the way, it was time to buckle down again and buckle down we did. We completed Baby Step #4 by investing 15% of our income to retirement. Since we don’t have children, Step #5 of saving for college was n/a. Baby Step #6 is to pay off the house. And that was a big elephant to eat. So, we did it as you do, one bite at a time.
Our miserly selves of the past had nothing on us now. We went nowhere and did nothing, except find more ways not to spend money. I was so stingy that I switched to bar soap instead of body wash. And every metaphorical body wash in my life was downgraded to the bar soap equivalent.
By 2015, we had a feeling this would be the year that we would pay off our house. However, we experienced a little setback in July when Mother Nature lost her mind and blew down almost every tree on our property. It took a crew working 3 full days to remove them all- and it was worth every penny.
WE’RE DEBT FREEEEE!
In October, we thought we could make our final house payment, but it would mean dipping into our 6-month emergency fund. Since it was technically supposed to be a 3-6 month emergency fund, we agreed that as long as we didn’t go below a 3-month emergency fund, we would dip into it and build it back up later. On October 13, Scott wanted to make the final payment, but I swiftly put the kibosh on that. Though I’m not a superstitious person, somehow the 13th day of any month feels unlucky and certainly the one in October (scary Halloween month!) felt extra unlucky to me. Yes, this really happened. The 14th of October felt like a perfectly fine day and was the day that we became DEBT FREE! It was very anti-climactic, however. Scott made the calls to arrange the final payment without getting so much as a single “attaboy” from anyone he spoke to. I was sitting in a meeting at work when I got a text that it was done. No balloons, no streamers.
What we did get was something that will live with us forever. While we still have our moments when we can’t remember if we’re savers or spenders, we’re in it together. We know that if we set our focus on dreams larger than we’ve ever dreamed, we can achieve them together.
And if you’re still reading this, know that you are supporting one of my dreams and I am eternally grateful for you.