Have you ever felt your financial future seemed hopeless, that you were destined to struggle? Bailey felt that way, but she was determined to change her future! Here’s how she did it!
My Financial Family Tree
As I looked towards my financial future, I felt hopeless. I came from a family that had made poor financial choices for generations and I felt myself slipping down that same path. At just 21 years old, I was $25,000 in debt due to student loans, a car loan, a personal loan, and one maxed-out credit card. Would I be stuck in debt, following in my family’s poor financial footsteps as well?
I didn’t want financial hardship to shape my story or continue to be a branch in my family tree. I dreamed of getting married someday, of meeting my person, and creating an amazing life together. I didn’t want to bring “financial baggage” into that life. I wanted to change my family’s story, eliminate my debt, and create a new path for a brighter future.
My dream gave me hope and a vision. It gave me the motivation I needed to work towards eliminating my debt, but it wasn’t easy.
My first full-time job in Human Resources barely paid above minimum wage. There was no way I would be able to get out of debt, let alone pay my rent at my current income. I knew that if I wanted to change my financial future I needed to change my circumstances. So I set out to change course!
I gave up a lot in order to pay off my loans:
- My Independence: I moved in with my mom to save on rent.
- My Fun: I cut out extras like entertainment and travel.
- My Time: I took on a part-time job working at a bookstore on evenings and weekends.
It was hard - super hard. I was working a total of 55-65 hours a week and found myself completely exhausted. I remember arriving home from a 12 hour day in tears from pure exhaustion. The only thing that kept me going was reminding myself that it would all be worth it when I was debt-free.
I wasn’t perfect about being frugal (it’s not easy) either. Some months I would get distracted from my goal and go over budget. This would cause setbacks. I could have beat myself up over it, but I accepted that I wasn’t perfect and gave myself the grace I needed to move forward in paying off my debts.
Each month I was able to pay off my debt little by little. After a year of this I had paid off $14,000! I was making progress towards my debt freedom dream. I figured it would take me another year to rid myself of this baggage and then I would then be ready for the next phase of my life!
Gaining A Partner
Plans never go the way you expect - the way you plan them to go. I had wanted to become financially successful on my own, before meeting my future husband, and definitely before getting married. But that wasn’t God’s plan for me. I started this journey on my own, but I was meant to continue down this path with a partner.
Andy entered my life a year and a half into my debt freedom journey. We clicked perfectly and planned to say “I DO” a year after we met! I wasn’t going to be debt-free by June 2016, but we were ready to start our life together.
Beyond still having debt, we didn’t have the cash for our wedding and decided to take out a loan for our big day. I don’t recommend this and I agree that this isn’t a good financial decision, but we were considering a lot of other factors than finances (namely, Andy’s military career.) As we became husband and wife, we walked into more debt, but we were going to tackle it as a team.
We worked hard together. Since I struggled with finding full-time, professional employment after our wedding, I worked two part-time jobs for 4 months. At times, I worked as many as 80 hours per week. (Talk about exhausting!) In addition to his busy work schedule with the military, my husband took care of things on the homefront so that I could focus solely on work. Our teamwork paid off, literally - haha. Less than eighteen months into married life, we made our last debt payment in November 2017.
My New Family Branch
When I started this journey, I felt hopeless in following my family tree in financial struggles. It took a total of three and a half years to change my branch in the tree, but the journey has been totally worth it. I sleep better at night, no longer worrying about bills or debt. Andy and I are living in a lovely little cottage in Iowa with our dog and cat. We are building up a six month emergency savings fund, have the financial freedom to freely give to those in need, and start traveling - things I never imagined possible!
No longer do I feel hopeless or destined for financial distress. Andy and I have created a new family branch together. One that is bright and full of hope. We are currently dreaming of taking an international trip to Europe or the Caribbean (we haven’t quite decided yet where we’ll travel). And who knows what will be next for us! All I do know is that debt no longer has a hold on me, my future, or my family tree. There is hope, there is light, and there is success in this branch!
Thank you to Bailey for sharing her story! We love that she she persevered through the tears and that her and her husband were able to take on their debt as a team and create a brighter future for their family! We can’t wait to see what they pick - Europe or Caribbean?!
Do you have a freedom story you would like to share? We would love to hear from you! Submit your story here!