When Aaron and I married in March 2008, we started our new life together at 23 years old and with over $30,000 in student loan and medical debt. ($33,689 to be exact!) We both wanted to be financially responsible, so we set financial goals. Our primary goal was to pay off all of our debts before our 2nd wedding anniversary. We accomplished that goal in 2010, approximately 1 week before our 2nd anniversary. Here are some of the key principles that we feel contributed to our success.
1. We return 10% of our income to the local church–Faithfully, cheerfully, and with no exceptions or regrets. We recognize and believe that God is able to do far more with 90% than we ourselves could ever do with 100%. We give Him all the credit and glory for everything we have been able to accomplish in our lives.
Malachi 3:10 says, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour our so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”
2. We follow a written budget. We develop a budget using Every Dollar at the first of every month and then check back in periodically to make sure we’re still on track.
3. We implemented the “debt snowball” plan. We listed our debts smallest to largest, and paid minimum payments on everything but the smallest debt. We put every extra dollar we had toward paying off the smallest balance.
4. We have written goals. Our goals were originally focused on paying off the debt, then saving for a down payment for a house. Now that we’ve accomplished those goals, we have savings goals and look forward to paying off our house early.
5. Contentment. 1 Timothy 6:6 says “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” One of the major areas where we have practiced the principle of contentment is in our vehicles. Since becoming debt free, we’ve been able to purchase 2 SUVs with CASH. Although they are somewhat older vehicles, we are content with them and are thankful not to have car payments each month.
6. We increased our income. To speed up the process of paying off our debt, Aaron took on part-time work. We also sold household some items that we no longer used to generate extra cash flow to apply toward our debts. Since becoming debt free 6 years ago, our income has continued to increase year after year.
Our two year journey was not always easy. Even though we were following a strict plan, we were not exempt from hitting financial roadblocks. However, we were prepared with an emergency savings account when unexpected events took place. But more importantly, we had the peace of mind that God was still in control in every area of our lives.
1 Timothy 3:12 became a key verse in my life: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity.” We have both done our best to live out this verse. It is our sincere hope that our testimony will inspire you to trust in God to help you achieve whatever goals that you set for yourself!