“I don’t know how we’re going to make it,” my wife nervously said as we looked at the bill.
Those are the sweat inducing, stomach churning, “the sky is falling” words no one wants to speak or have spoken to them.
How in the world are we going to make it!
I was newly married. My new wife and I, in our early 20’s, had just paid for a wedding and a honeymoon ourselves (weddings are too expensive, but that’s a whole different story). Amazingly, on our first day back from our Alaskan honeymoon, we could happily declare that we were debt free.
We were broke, but we were debt free.
My wife and I barely earned enough to make rent for our small California apartment that had no A/C. But hey, that’s the romanticized life of newlyweds. You’re barely making it, but at least you’re doing it together.
What could go wrong?
Fast forward a few months.
It’s late November, and with it comes holiday bliss. Or, if you don’t have any money like we did, the anxiety of having to pay for Christmas gifts and dinners out.
At this point, we were already financially strapped since my wife’s work hours were down. Of course, that’s when things would go wrong.
Like a flash, my wife had a dental emergency – $2,000 later, dental emergency resolved.
Next, our phones needed to be replaced, so we thought, “we’ll just put it on the credit card and pay it off after.” There’s another $1,000.
Right after that, we discover that our car is on its last leg, the car my wife needs to get to work.
At this point, we had no other choice, we had to get a car loan.
Literally months after we had declared that we were debt free as newlyweds, we’re looking at $14,000+ of debt.
The month after the car problem, my wife was diagnosed with a rare stomach condition that’d require all sorts of doctors’ visits, expensive tests, pricier foods, and supplements.
We were barely making it before. That Christmas, we were drowning and that’s when the dreaded words were spoken.
We didn’t know how we were going to make it.
That’s where it started to change for us.
Once my wife and I came to the reality of where we were at financially, we knew what had to be done.
Staying in debt was not an option!
Throwing away money on extra interest was not an option!
Spending money we didn’t have was not an option!
The first thing we did was we set a goal.
Our big car loan was for 5 years. We wanted to be out of debt in 2 years.
Of course, what followed next was some intense budgeting and cutting back on expenses. Ultimately, we had to find an even cheaper place to live. We cut back on entertainment, food, and travel. We hunted for bargains and deals.
At first, we were happy to be able to pay the minimum payments on our debts… but as we became better budgeters, we were able to double, triple and even quadruple the minimum monthly payments on our car. It became a new game. A contest for how big of a payment we could make.
Our income didn’t really increase that much, even though I did some Uber driving in the evenings to bring in extra money and my wife would take on some extra jobs here and there. It felt like we’d be paying the debt off for a very long time at the rate we were going.
But… eventually we got there. It wasn’t through a dramatic new job where we brought in loads of money, it was through simple consistency. It was month after month, us choosing to make paying off our debt a top priority.
Was it hard? Heck yes!
Was it worth the feeling you have on the other side when your debt amount reaches $0.00? You bet!
While we weren’t rich on the day we finally became debt free, we had a different kind of wealth. We had a wealth of knowledge and experience that comes with overcoming a financial obstacle and coming through the other side stronger because of it.
If we could do it, you can do it too.