Friday, February 10, 2012


Yeah baby, it's all about FREEDOM!! Hard to believe it, but we are HERE!!!

September 2008:

March 2012:
Zero, ZIP, NONE!!!

Yes, it took us 42 months, but we are finally debt free! The inner nerd in me just noticed that is almost $1000/month going straight to debt. We didn't actually pay it off that way, but if you spread it out on average, that's pretty amazing. Wowza!! And on a more exciting note, it's like we both just got a mid-year raise at work...YES!

As I was online making a payment to my student loan account, I decided to poke around the website a bit and see what kind of interesting data I could find, because let's face it, I'm kind of a nerd when it comes to these things.

I didn't even really pay much attention as I was signing the papers for my student loans, and as I look at my account statement, I am absolutely horrified that I signed on the dotted line for a $16,522.15 chunk of change to be paid back over 178 months (yes, 14yrs!). My last scheduled payment was June 24, 2022, over TEN YEARS from today. What the world was I thinking? Clearly, I wasn't thinking!

We could have probably done this sooner if we had been more aggressive, but we had a lot of "life" catch us up in the past 3.5yrs that we have been working towards this. The 2 big things that have slowed us down:

1. Vehicles
We had a vehicle totaled, the replacement vehicle required 2 transmissions to be replaced, and now we're driving our 3rd minivan. We've paid cash for all vehicles and all vehicle repairs associated with them. That number I dare not add up because it will just depress me.

2. Braces
Nate went in for a routine dental cleaning and we got the "wow, you need to see an orthodontist STAT" conversation. We were super creative in covering the $5500. Some of the money came from my pre-tax flex spending account and we also did a cash payment plan with our orthodontist (interest free for a year). I am so thankful for Dr. Hannapel's office that worked so well with us and made this possible without pushing any of the funky credit plans on us.

Phillipians 4:19 (NIV)
And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

God has provided for ALL of our needs, in abundance, since we started on this journey in September 2008. We made the very intentional decision to go from being $20 in the plate to giving a full tithe to our church. We made the choice to reduce our income by 10% and put our faith in God that he would provide for everything we needed, which is significantly different than what we want. We have been able to not only support our church, but we've also been able to support other charities and organizations we've felt led to. We've been able to take a couple of small family vacations by being very frugal and planning ahead. Our kids all have plenty of clothes, we are all very well fed, we have a very stable housing situation, and we've both been blessed with full-time employment.

Now that we've met this amazing milestone, we are ready to do so much more! Time to beef up the emergency fund so that when we have that next car disaster, we're ready to buy a reliable vehicle, focusing on contributing to our retirement funds, maybe taking a vacation, maybe going on a missions trip....

I'm ready to start having some fun!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Thrift Store - SCORE!!

I know a lot of people are totally grossed out by the idea of going into a thrift store, and the idea of actually buying something makes them dizzy, but there is definitely a segment of the population that enjoys it. Growing up, I always thought of thrift stores for poor people and was horrified when I was on the receiving end of something from one. Now that I'm an adult, my perspective has definitely changed.

When I pull into the parking lot at a thrift store, I am always amazed when I look at the cars. You don't see many broken down, beat up, old junkers. Look next time you drive by (or the next time you shop), people who shop at thrift stores usually drive pretty nice cars! By extension, I would guess that most of the people driving those cars are doing pretty decent financially.

Yes, lots of times thrift stores are just full of junk. But by knowing your neighborhood and knowing the stores, you can come across some true gems in the midst! It takes a bit of time, and sometimes a bit of digging, but if you are a person who thrives on the thrill of a good find, it's so worth it!

Last year I started running and I thought to myself, "hey this is gonna be cheap, all I need is a pair of running shoes." Oy! I was wrong! Even worse, it turns out I like running so I wanted to slowly build up my running wardrobe and accessories so that I wasn't running in old t-shirts and cotton shorts. Those are great to get started in, but once I started running longer distances, the comfort level in those clothes drastically reduced.

In my thrift store travels I've managed to come up with a Pantagonia jacket and a Merrell pull-over hooded shirt. Both items would have easily been close to $100 each, and both of them were in excellent condition and have years of wear left in them. I've also come across some higher end things like Under Armour clothes, but unfortunately not in my size. I'll keep looking though! (Note: I would not encourage the purchase of used shoes, especially if you are using them for any sort of exercise. It's worth it for so many reasons to really buy a good pair of shoes)

One other thing that we tend to buy quite a bit from thrift stores is books. Nate is really reading like crazy and we could go broke just buying him new books. Plus, he has really taken to some older books that are much easier to find at a thrift store or yard sale. He's always excited to come across the older "Choose Your Own Adventure" books and even "Goosebumps".