In May of 2012, Ruth from Prudence Debt-Free received a Dave Ramsey audio book from a friend. She listened while driving to and from work. At the time, she and her husband were recovering from his job loss and the financial upheaval it brought.
But they recovered. He started a new business and she worked as a full-time teacher. Things were normal again — spending money and carrying debt. But something was different.
“We were back on auto-pilot, relaxed and living the “normal” lifestyle that we missed,” says Ruth. “But something wasn’t quite right. “Normal” felt hazardous.” She found “the root of her uneasiness” while listening to the CDs.
“His words brought about a dramatic clearing of my brain’s financial fog,” remembers Ruth. “Debt was our problem. We needed to get out of debt!” She remembers shedding tears in her car as she envisioned a debt-free life.
That night, her husband stayed up and listened to the CDs and became equally psyched about paying off their debt and changing their lifestyle.
Journey Out of Debt
On June 1, 2012, they began their journey. Ruth told me they had a grand total of $257,000 in combined consumer, business and mortgage debt. She also said “Our enthusiasm got us through an awkward and sloppy start.”
Her husband always ran the finances and paid the bills. Ruth didn’t mind, it allowed her to “keep her head in the sand.” But things changed quickly. They became a financial team.
“My husband felt some relief in sharing the burden of our personal finances with me, and although I was eager to learn the ropes, there was tension and conflict when meeting our initial ‘budget dates’,” says Ruth.
Tension and conflict aside, they also changed their lifestyle and spending habits.
“With conscious intention to be more frugal, we stopped our cleaning service, didn’t travel, and just let our old furniture, carpets, and cars get older,” says Ruth. “More significantly, we painstakingly adopted the habits of tracking our expenses and preparing monthly budgets.”
That first year, she and her husband paid off $50,000 in debt. “Tracking and budgeting work! Following a plan works — even if it’s marked by conflict,” says Ruth. “We have not financed anything since 2012. When we spent $10,000 on a new roof in 2013, we payed it in full. Same with the $12,000 office renovations we did in 2015.”
Changing Your Money “Blueprint”
After reading a J. Money post regarding T. Harv Eker’s book Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, Ruth believed “the messages about money, spoken or unspoken, that we absorb in our growing years determine the way we will manage our finances as adults.”
She says her husband “realized when things were good, he made spending decisions that brought us back to anxiety. So, when it came to money matters, he gravitated toward a state of worry that required “control.”
Ruth realized her blueprint was a result of a childhood where money wasn’t discussed, even though her parents were excellent money managers. “I subverted all the good role-modelling of my parents… In rebellion against what I considered austerity, I enjoyed material purchases that I couldn’t afford.”
She says, “Carelessly in debt, I married a man who was always worried about money and anxiously wanting to control it. Mind you, he was in debt too. Eeeek!”
But Ruth and her husband worked toward controlling their money blueprint, and they’ve succeeded — and built a stable financial life and marriage. “By the end of 2017, after five and a half years of debt-reduction, we had paid off a grand total of $200,000, besides saving a full emergency fund,” says Ruth.
Their last mortgage payment will be made in September of 2018. I’ll leave this success story with Ruth’s words:
“For six years, we’ve been focused on the details – the weekly groceries, our monthly budget, careful consideration of each purchase. But as Ramsey says, ‘ . . . the grass will feel different under your feet when you own it.’ I look so forward to the day when we take our first barefoot steps in our backyard, mortgage-free. Debt-free!”