We want to thank You Need A Budget for sponsoring this inspirational story!

Have you been financially strapped to the point of maxing out your credit card, finding yourself unable to pay for something in a time of need? One of our readers, J.C., found himself in this situation during a family vacation!

Our Broken Story

Pickup truck and camping trailer on the side of the road

Two years ago my wife and I had no freedom dream. We didn’t even have an emergency savings. What we did have was a broken down truck with a camper attached, and no way to get home.

We had just gone camping with our two teenage boys, on a vacation we had no business taking in the first place. We had been limping along the interstate and pulled over in a mall parking lot. I got out of the truck to find it pouring out power-steering fluid. Insistent that I could fix the problem, I began to investigate the source of the leak and determined it was the power-steering pump. I found a replacement and set about making repairs.

That’s when the Waltons appeared out of nowhere and offered their assistance. Remember The Waltons on TV? As a kid I always remember the Waltons taking in travelers and helping them in their time of need. Well, this couple was our modern day Waltons. They provided mechanical assistance, transportation, and entertainment in an attempt to get us heading once again towards home.

My attempts at fixing our truck failed. We were exhausted and decided to call it a night and get a hotel room. In the morning, the Waltons were there helping us. My mother and step-father even drove down to lend a hand!

I was determined to get the truck running again, but my second attempt failed. We had work in the morning and still no working vehicle. With no other options left, we called to have the truck and camper towed to a repair shop (they wouldn’t look at it until the next day) and proceeded to rent a car to get us home.

This should have been a simple transaction, but of course it wasn’t. We had funded our trip with money in our checking account and some of my wife’s savings. The car rental company wouldn’t take cash, check, debit, or first born child (just kidding). They needed a credit card payment and ours was maxed out. Thankfully, my parents were able to bail us out.

Needless to say, we drove back home on fumes…financially, physically, and mentally. I was absolutely horrified at what I had allowed to happen to my family. I felt singularly responsible for our financial situation in every regard. I never wanted to be in this situation again. We needed to repair our finances!

Repairing Our Financial Life

Two people plotting through finances

My wife had been on me for a while about our looming financial issues and creating a budget. Being the stubborn, hard headed person that I am, I dragged my feet on the whole thing. I guess you could say when our truck broke down, I realized that she was right.

Once the dust settled on that rolling disaster, my wife and I started to rethink our finances. We did a bunch of research, eventually landing on You Need a Budget (YNAB).

This became the glue that put our finances back together. We now account for every dollar and give each one a job. We know our true expenses and plan for them. We have a cushion in our accounts to roll with the punches and are able to make adjustments when needed. We are aging our money (this is part of the magic of YNAB) and finally feel in control of our finances.

Life is beyond different for us now. The financial stress we used to feel on a daily basis is gone. We have 5.4 months worth of emergency savings. Our mortgage is our only debt and we are making additional monthly principal payments. We are even starting to focus on additional savings and investing!

Let’s be clear though…this was not easy. It has required a lot of time, effort, and sacrifice. However, YNAB has been a huge part of the process. I can honestly say that there is not a day that goes by without YNAB being a part of our financial journey - from immediately entering transactions to planning for the future. YNAB allows us to financially see where we’ve been, where we are, and where we need/want to go.

Not only are my wife and I a financial team now, we are providing for our family in the way we had always wished, along with educating our boys for their financial futures. With the financial security we now have, we are also finally free to dream.

That’s right, we now have a freedom dream, working towards becoming financially independent and retiring early!!

Two years ago we couldn’t imagine feeling this blessed. We’ve made huge progress in just two years and I’m confident we are capable of so much more. When you set the stage for good things to happen it seems that even better things follow. My wife will graduate with a doctorate in nursing at the end of this year. We are creating side hustles, living a minimalist lifestyle, conquering consumerism, and developing a wealth building strategy!

Sure, there are always challenges, but life planning, keeping your eye on the ball, and moving in positive forward steps (every day) changes everything.

PS. As for the Waltons, they remain very good friends of ours. God bless them!!!

Thank you to J.C. for sharing his story! We are so excited that they found YNAB and it helped them take control of their financial future! We can’t wait to see what happens for them in another two years!

Do you have a freedom story you would like to share? We would love to hear from you! Submit your story here!