WE'RE DEBT FREE
Today is a VERY VERY special day! Probably one of the most special days of our lives! Our payment for our last loan went through! Which means we're officially... DEBT FREE!!!! When Josh and I got engaged and went through premarital counseling one of the things our Pastor talked about was making decisions together and being on board with EVERYTHING together. We sat down and we decided that the first thing we want to do, above everything, whatever it takes, whatever sacrifices we have to do in order to reach our goal is to pay our loans off!
We both came from families that I think it's safe to say... lived paycheck to paycheck. And it caused arguments. Josh's side of the family was low class on the financial scale, whatever you want to call it. And my family I think was lower middle class. You know I applied for financial aid to pay for school and I was only ever able to get the usual stuff they offer to middle class families...A LOAN! Josh when he applied for financial aid he received grants because his family was straight up lower class. If that helps give an idea of our family financial situations were growing up.
I was talking about it with Josh and Josh's sister recently when she visited us, how it's funny that Josh and I grew up VERY similar in sense of I would always feel absolutely TERRIBLE asking my parents for money. I mean like I felt so bad. If I had to ask my parents for money I would borderline almost cry about it and I would pay them back immediately the next day. I paid for everything myself gas, cell phone bill, food, shopping, and going out with friends. The second I turned 16 I got a job. So when I had to ask my parents for them to cosign on my $10,000 school loan for UW Milwaukee, I remember I cried my eyes out all night over it. I couldn't believe it. The only thing going through my head that ENTIRE YEAR was, "I need to pay this loan back as soon as I can." And the sad part is, is that I thought for sure I knew the career I wanted at that time. I wanted to go to school for film and guess what I hated it about a month or two in. I go, "Yup this film degree is not for me" and got out of it the next semester, stuck with $10,000 in debt.
Josh's background is similar. He paid for everything himself. He also felt terrible asking his parents for money. I actually don't think he ever asked his parents for money. He worked jobs in order to pay for gas money, cellphone, clothes, car...everything.
You know if I had to do everything all over again, probably the best decision I should have done was just not go to college. Like looking back all, all college really did was put me in debt. I mean yeah I got a degree in massage therapy and did that for 1.5 years and it helped pay our loans off. But I really only went into that program because being a massage therapists paid more than a minimum wage job and the program is only a year long. But my first 2 years of college was really pointless, as bad as that sounds... In a sense of I didn't get a degree I just went into debt. I sound like I regret it all, but I don't regret any of it. Everything happens for a reason. I mean my best memories I've ever had have come from school. I made awesome friends, had a blast in college, loved every minute of college soccer, and heck I met my husband in college! Financially though I should have just skipped college, work and save the money.
This also mirrors what Josh went through when he was in college, his first 2 years at UConn he went to be an accountant. After those 2 years he realized it really wasn't making him happy. He just went into that program because there was okay money with being an accountant. But really it was just putting him debt year after year. Except Josh actually played his cards right after the 2 years at UConn. He took 2.5 years off of school to work and save up money and figure out what he actually wanted to do with his life. Like we always remind each other though, everything happens for a reason! I'm so incredibly happy everything happened the way it did! Otherwise I would have never met him!
Because of how bad this student debt crisis is getting, I have to say... Yes, I'm a huge advocate for not going to college. Especially if you don't know what you want to do in your life. DON'T GO TO SCHOOL THEN. Think about it, you're going to school paying thousands and thousands of dollars going into debt and you're not even sure what you want to do. Just go and work after high school then. Work and save up money and then go to a community college. I'm saying this because this is exactly what happened to me. If I learned one thing from college is... All it did was put me in debt HAHA. I got out of school drowning in student loans and not even doing the career I ended up getting a degree in. I went a completely different route. Honestly, I even advocate just skipping college all together. Unless you want to be a doctor, lawyer, computer programming or another profession, seriously just don't go to college. I listen to the Ken Coleman Podcast and he talks all the time about how there is more jobs in this world than there is people. So most companies now don't even want you to have a college degree. They'll train you on the spot, no degree necessary. I think that's such a huge step forward in getting rid of this student debt situation.
We both have been listening to the Dave Ramsey podcast the last 3-4 years. Josh has been listening to it for years way before I met him and I was listening to it for the past 3 years. We both like Dave Ramsey he really played a big role in our financial decisions and even just life decisions. He really helped us make the lifestyle change we wanted. We did research on it and saw the success rate of the Dave Ramsey Plan and Financial Peace University. Pretty much the conversation between Josh and I was quick because we both knew that paying our loans off was our first priority. Josh goes, "I think you have the same idea but I just want to check and make sure we're on the same page. I'm thinking the first step in our marriage is to pay off our loans right away using the Dave Ramsey Plan. What do you think?" I go, "Yup that is our first priority I want these loans gone as soon as possible." LOL that was it!
We started our debt free journey basically when we got engaged. We knew we wanted a small wedding to save money. I mean we were 2 broke college kids, I was working part time studying for my finals. Josh was living off of the money he got on his internship from the summer before and also studying for his finals. From what I mentioned before we both grew up hating asking for money so our goal was to save as much as possible and pay for the wedding ourselves. We wanted to assume that family wasn't going to help us with the wedding. I think that's rude when people just expect family to help pay for things especially when you're engaged/married. That's not how people should go around living life, expecting the world to help them out with money. So we started planning the wedding budgeting for things, looking for ways to save money here and there. And something we learned on this journey, which Dave Ramsey talks about also. Is people that spend thousands and thousands of dollars or take a loan out to pay for a wedding are fricken psycho. You don't NEED to spend that crazy amount on a lavish wedding there are definitely ways to penny pinch on weddings if you want to get married. If you have that money to spend on a wedding then go for it, but if you don't have the money don't spend money you don't have! It's crazy I looked up on average how much money people spend on weddings and the number was insane I couldn't believe it. $27,000 in 2017 and then raised to $44,000 in 2018 LOL NO FRICKEN WAY!!! It's insane people go into debt FROM THEIR wedding!
We didn't ask any family members to help pay for our wedding. If they offered to pay for something we even told them, "No, it's fine we can pay for it." Actually, it almost started a fight with my mom. She offered to pay for the food and I told her no we can take care of it and she was getting mad. She started saying, "No we're the parents of the bride and traditionally we would pay for the wedding." Josh and I talked and decided with how often family is offering to help with the wedding if they want to help let them help. Like if my mom is offering to pay for food and it's about to turn into an argument... I'm not going to let it turn into an argument so I'm not going to say no. Plus, no one can say for their wedding that their family has never offered to help. We really are so blessed to have such an incredible family, which out of pure kindness, helps out! We did a lot of delegating with family offering to help out. I can easily say, including adding up what family paid for, our wedding was no more that $6,000 at MOST. Anyone that complains about how expensive weddings get need a reality check. It isn't something you need to go into debt over. Set a budget at the beginning of the process and stick to it.
So after the wedding and the move to North Carolina our official first payment on our loans was August 2017. We of course got money from the wedding and put that towards the move and towards our loans. We started with a grand total of $118,262.46, which was all student loans. We thought it was going to take roughly 3 years to pay all of our loans off, but it ended up on only taking 2 years. Thanks to Amazon for offering Josh an incredible job! Each month we were averaging about $4,500.00 we were paying on the loans. Some of the biggest advice we suggest to people is LIVE BELOW YOUR MEANS. Dave Ramsey talks about that all the time. Don't buy the nicest cars, you don't need to live in the nicest apartment, have the newest phones, etc. Josh and I had our beater car that was $2,000 and even when it broke down we bought another beater car that is still kickin. Everyone out of college seems to rent out the nicest apartments or take a loan out on a brand new car. We found the cheapest apartment in North Carolina. We literally lived like college kids after we graduated college, all to save money. All of our furniture was either free or bought at a second hand store. Our car broke SO MANY times over the course of this process and we fixed it each time. If I got a nickel for every time someone told me to just buy a new one I would be rich. Everyone does know that taking a loan out on a brand new car is about the biggest waste of money right? Like you actually spend significantly more money on a car that way. Rather than just getting the car fixed you save a lot of money. Unless of course it’s the engine or something like that. Everyone else after they graduate seem to go wild and spend all their money. Because they have "an adult job" now. That's not an excuse to go crazy and go into debt after... The official day that we paid all of our loans off was September 4 2019, so took about 26 months total to pay everything. Which is way earlier than we expected, so proud of ourselves! One of the biggest accomplishments we have ever done!
Something that drives Josh and I up the wall. I'm sure I'll get a lot of crap for this and people won't agree with me, but I don't care. It's more of we don't get it, is what I mostly mean. Josh and I had these little milestone celebrations throughout this debt free journey. For example; when we had $50,000 left to pay we treated ourselves to a nice dinner. A dinner that we would never have normally, we would get all nicely dressed up, pick out a fancy place, order more food than we normally would. Just splurge and spend more money on this dinner cause we're celebrating. I post about it on social media, any milestone celebration we had, I would take a picture and make captions. And we would get so much crap about it. I don't get it? Why is it that my husband and I can't celebrate a significant point in our life. First off it's my social media I can do/say whatever I want on it. Secondly, why can't people just be happy like we paid off ALL OF OUR LOANS.
The sad part about it all is that if it was the other way around and someone I knew paid off all of their loans, I would be nothing but fricken ecstatic for them I would be so beyond happy for them. So it's honestly just sad that people are giving us shit saying mean things like we aren't allowed to celebrate milestones paying our loans off. Like before we got married we knew that about every $20,000 that we paid off we wanted something to look forward to. So we decided to make that a fancy dinner for every $20,000 that we paid off. But it seemed like every time we went to celebrate people just gave us shit about it. I don't know it's just sad, the only thing that makes sense in mind why this was happening is maybe people are jealous? I mean obviously we didn't care and posted about it every time anyway. Even Dave Ramsey said to have celebrations he encourages it! If you go back and look through my posts you can see the post. Like I said we're allowed to celebrate and it's my social media I can do what I want with it. But it was just annoying when it was happening. Like people that you thought would be supportive for you every step of the way turn on you and say what they're really thinking, it's just kind of a smack in the face.
At this point it doesn't matter though it never really mattered. We still kept doing what we needed to do. The goal before we even got married was to pay all of the loans off and that was what we were going to do. Another thing; I don't think people realized what Josh and I sacrificed to get to where we are now. I think people think we were living it up going out and celebrating everyday, throwing parties, vacationing, all of the that. NO dude, we NEVER went out and went drinking with friends. The only time we really vacationed was around Christmas like everyone does when they have off of work for the holidays. We NEVER asked off of work, in fact we worked just about every weekend. Our "fun money" what we call it, money that we give ourselves to spend on whatever we want for the month is $50. That's it. We never went over that $50 budget for ourselves. We had to say NO to so many things. Trust me we got invited on so many vacations and parties over the course of the 2 years, and we CHOSE to turn them all down all for the sake of saving money to pay our loans off. I mean for gosh sakes we even gave up our honeymoon!!! We wanted to save the money we got from our wedding and put it towards our move to North Carolina and our loans! Our attitude is that if we can give up these things for just 2-3 years and pay the loans off. Then after that we'll have the lifestyle we want. We'll fly people out, we can vacation whenever, have a bigger fun money budget for ourselves and not even blink an eye at it. We can just do those things and not have to worry about money. So everyone can stop assuming we had this lavish lifestyle the past couple of years, we gave up a lot and had to say no to a lot of things to pay these loans off. And guess what, I know that we are WAY ahead of most people that come out of college. Most people are financially in debt, at every age, and we aren't at all because of a simple sacrifice of living below our needs!
This whole debt free journey has been incredible! I'm so happy that we both wanted to do this from the start, paying all these loans off! It really makes me wonder why more people don't do this, like make debt a priority in their life. It's crazy talking to people and they just accept that they'll be in debt forever. It makes both of us concerned for the future on student debt. Like it's crazy how anyone can just sign for a loan. Like student debt hasn't been slowing down anytime soon. Everyone is still taking hundreds of thousands of dollars out on loans to pay for college. It's just scary to think what the future for student debt is, because right now it's not looking good. Like most people are in debt and just okay with that. They don't mind paying a monthly payment for loans like it's part of their life, that's sickening to me. Josh and I all we ever wanted was to NOT have a monthly payment that's been our drive is to never have to pay a monthly payment on a loan. And now that we're done we're NEVER taking a loan out again EVER. WE GET TO LIVE LIKE NO ELSE just like Dave Ramsey always says!
I know this blog post has been blunt and may have come across rude, but we really have gotten a ton of crap from people about our lifestyle and this whole debt free journey. Now that we're debt free we're looking at buying a house now and we're only 23 and 28, BUYING a house DEBT FREE, not many people can say that. We're planning our honeymoon, planning trips to Europe just for fun, planning friends and family to come visit just for them to visit, looking at charities and finding churches that we want to donate too. We’re so excited to finally live and give like no one else!!!
Our biggest drive for all of this besides being out of debt is also preparing for our kids making sure they're financially stable and being able to give back. Changing the family tree, we both really want to be the first in our families to be out of debt completely. Be able to not have to worry about our kids once we're gone and giving back. God talks about in the Bible how the borrower is slave to the lender, we knew we didn't want to be stuck in that for the rest of our lives. You have to make a lifestyle change and that's exactly what we did. The quotes below were ones that really resonated with us and kept driving us along this journey. We would be sitting in church or talking with our pastor or just in times of struggle/doubt we just constantly kept reminding each other at the end of all of this we can LIVE AND GIVE LIKE NO ONE ELSE!
"You can live and give like no one else! Keep building wealth and become insanely generous. Leave an inheritance for your kids and their kids. Now, that's what we call leaving a legacy!" -Dave Ramsey
"In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive." Acts 20:35
"The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender." Proverbs 22:7