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He tells it better than I. Because, to be honest for a lot of this financial journey of ours I was along for the ride…kicking and screaming. Now I can proudly say I’m all in. So IN that earlier this year I committed our family, to something pretty crazy by the world’s standards. Here’s our story, as told by my other half:
I (Andrew) purchased one of his books, The Total Money Makeover. After reading the first chapter, I realized we were not okay. It was like the scales fell off my eyes. What started out as some normal feelings about new circumstances of life quickly turned into an emotional rollercoaster. Our financial behavior was completely out of control, and if we continued down the path we were on, we would have no savings when we retired, we wouldn’t be able to pay for our kid’s college, would continue to live paycheck to paycheck, and never be able to get any traction in our life financially speaking.
It all started the year I was due to get out of the Navy. We had plans to grow the CrossFit gym that we owned at the time and our photography business to support us by the time I was done with my service. It was also the year our daughter was born. With all the change we started to look a little more closely at our financial situation. And at first glance, we didn’t think anything was wrong…
We had just purchased a new house (bigger and better) but we quickly realized this was a huge mistake. Like many who buy into the “American Dream” we freaked out when we found out we were expecting and hastily decided that a 3 bedroom house was not big enough for us and our one kid…so we decided to upgrade to a 5 bedroom.
But soon we would lose my Navy salary.
We were in WAY over our heads with our now almost double mortgage payment. We had almost no retirement savings, no emergency fund, we had about $40,000 in debt on top of our mortgages, half of which was used to finance our gym startup.
The sad part is that we were completely blind to ALL of this. Sure, like most couples we had had money fights every now and then, but we had no clue where we were compared to where we should have been at our age. Or where we COULD’VE been. We only knew what we thought was right.
After being hit in the face with our sad dismal financial reality, I plowed through the rest of the book and attempted to learn quickly what we needed to do to get out of the hole and into prosperity. And not just financial prosperity but using money for God’s glory and His way instead of for our own selfish desires. Knowing the right thing to do is half the battle; I knew we needed to take action immediately if we had any hope of changing our lives and making a better future for our family.
Then the hard work began! We cut up our credit cards and started to create an actual budget. And let me tell you, boy oh boy was that PAINFUL! We were hemorrhaging money and for the first time we saw where it was coming from. Going back through our bank statements was eye-opening to say the least, and infuriating. How could we be so stupid? At one point we had been upwards of $800 a month on eating out alone! Not to mention weekly Target runs that averaged about $300 each. None of which included groceries…
We made a lot of major changes and simplified our lives. We started selling stuff we didn’t need to help pay down our debts. We worked like crazy to grow our business to create more income. We stopped eating out so much, we stopped buying stuff we didn’t need, we stopped arguing and started communicating with each other gracefully. Having a plan in place and being able to see the outcome of a healthier financial future helped us breathe a little easier. When we finally got control of our money, it was crazy how fast we ended up paying off our debt. It took less than a year!
We put our newly purchased house (after only 2 years of living in it) up for sale. After some low-cost apartment living, 8 months later we moved back into the home we purchased in our early 20s, the little three bedroom we had left in search of ‘bigger and better’. God showed us what we REALLY NEEDED was contentment and own up to the mistakes we made. It ended up costing us money to sell the 2,900 square foot corner lot but it was well worth it in the long run. Since then we have saved multitudes more than we lost and are loving our 1300 square foot home, perfect for our family of four, and will continue to be more than enough for our growing fam.
Debt paid off. Tianna is a full-time boudoir photographer and Andrew a stay at home homeschooling dad who occasionally does security contract work to supplement our income. Simple things have gotten even simpler. Ha so, of course, we decided to complicate it. What’s financial freedom? Completely debt free. What debt do we have left? Just our house.
We have a very unique opportunity and have organized our lives in such a way as to be able to pull this off. Some might not agree with what we are doing. But we are on a mission for freedom, to be completely out from under the weight of debt; to owe nothing to anyone except to have the liberty to love. For if we don’t have to pay the bank, we can choose to glorify God with our finances fully.
And this means work because to crush this debt monster as fast as possible, that means travel for Andrew. Every other month he will be gone, working to pay off the mortgage. And while we know some look at us and think we are crazy, “You left the military to voluntarily choose to be away?” We just keep thinking about the day when we will be able to have him home for good. And debt free. We have a two-year plan (1.5 years left) and God-willing, at the end of that time, we will have the victory we are seeking. Temporary time away from family for a lifetime of joy!
Are we saying the only way to get rid of debt is to make more money? Absolutely not. None of this would be possible if we didn’t learn contentment and the beauty of simplifying our lives. We know that our hearts are prone to spend, and normally making more money would have only led to more spending. It’s so MUCH MORE than that! We hope and pray our story is an encouragement to you; that if we, who had no financial intelligence whatsoever, can learn it and do it, you can too. This isn’t just a journey of the mind and will, it’s a journey of the heart. It hasn’t only affected the way we view money, but all of life. Now, living simpler, we can focus on what truly matters to us, Jesus, our family and friends, and loving others.
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