The year was 2007. My husband, Scott, and I were living a good life. Our marriage was strong, we had families that loved us and fulfilling careers in our chosen fields. And, like most Americans, we were in debt. We had student, auto, and a few other garden-variety loans, and a brand-new home with a shiny new 30-year mortgage to go with it. We managed to keep up with our payments, but there was little left at the end of each month. Where was it all going? We would soon find out.
One night in January, Scott was settling in to his dinner of filet mignon (grilled to a perfect medium-rare) and a glass of Rodney Strong cabernet sauvignon, when this middle-aged, balding man with wire-rimmed glasses reached through the television (yes, we eat in front of the TV- no judgement, please) and gave him a verbal smack down for living a gluttonous, debt-filled life. His rant went on about how grown men were acting like little boys, getting everything they want, regardless of their ability to afford it. And families were crumbling into financial ruin because of it. Each bite of Scott’s steak fell into the pit of his stomach like a ton of borrowed bricks. He didn’t finish his dinner that night. This was the day that the trajectory of our lives changed.
The man in the television was Dave Ramsey. He has helped many achieve financial peace and his book, The Total Money Makeover, lays a straight-forward plan for getting out of debt. Scott made quick work of reading the book and immediately pledged his commitment to the plan. His next challenge was to get me to sign off.
He knew that his best chance to win me over was to pitch the end game. Throwing out Dave’s famous catch phrase, he drawled in his best Bible belt accent, “We can live like no one else so, later, we can live like no one else.” Of course, I wanted to, later, live like no one else, but I wasn’t so sure I wanted to endure the front-end pain of living like no one else to get there. And I had so many questions. Will I still get to go shoe shopping? Can we still eat out? How about a vacation? Actually, I knew the answers, I just didn’t like them- yet. That would change.
On a cold, snowy Sunday in February, I read the book. Expecting a finance textbook with budget templates and monthly expense calculators, I found story after story of people, just like us, who had debt, just like us, who paid it all off. Just like we would. I have always believed that I can do anything I set my mind to and, after reading the book, I believed we could do this, too. After I finished the book, I handed it back to Scott and said, “Let’s make it happen.” And so we did.
In my coming posts, follow me as I walk through our experience of following (and straying from) Dave Ramsey’s plan. It was a long and winding road that taught us perseverance, to believe in ourselves and each other and led us to the best time of our lives.