There was a pivotal moment for us in our debt crushing journey. Not everyone has one, but we did, and we desperately needed it. This was the moment that we decided we were sick and tired of being in debt, and we were willing to do anything to pay it off as fast as possible.
It was April 2013, and Adam and I had just moved to Connecticut. We had been married for a little over three years and had very slowly chipped away at our debt of almost $90K, paying off a car and credit cards while we lived in Pittsburgh. We brought about $40K with us to our new life in CT.
We decided to live with my parents for six months until we could find an affordable home near our new church, where Adam had just accepted a position as the new worship pastor. Upon arrival in CT, we had planned to buy a home, just like we did in Pennsylvania. We had a few thousand dollars to our name, enough for a very small 3% down payment.
Money would be extremely tight for us, but we were determined to buy, reasoning that this is what we were *supposed* to do (because everyone our age was buying a home, right?). We believed the lie that renting for a season is a waste of money (we’ve since learned that renting is actually just patience while we wait to reach our next financial goals).
We found a foreclosure a few miles from our church that needed a little love. It was located right off the center of our quintessential New England town, with sidewalks on both sides of the road, and churches from the early 1800’s. We walked through the home a handful of times, and got pre-approved for a mortgage at the tippy-top of our budget.
It was perfect, and we fell in love quickly.
At the same time, I couldn’t shake the sick feeling in my gut that purchasing this home might be completely foolish with our poor financial situation. We still had a ton of debt, hardly any down payment, and no savings to make the necessary repairs and improvements that the home needed. Looking at the numbers I honestly don’t think we would have had enough money to buy oil to heat the home we so desperately wanted to buy.
We needed an outside opinion, so we sought the help of a financial advisor. I’ll never forget the conversation Adam and I had with this man on speaker phone when he lovingly (but firmly), told us that we were not in any position to consider buying a home at that point. Our best options were to live with my parents for a while and continue paying off our debt as fast as we could, or find a very inexpensive place to rent until we were debt free and had a significant down payment saved.
Our financial advisor totally burst our bubble, but his advice saved our butts. It was some of the best wisdom we’ve ever been given about money. He was right….we were in no position to be purchasing a home at that point.
From that point on we were angry at our debt.
It was holding us back, and we were sick and tired of it.
We wanted it gone, and we were willing to sacrifice to get there.
We knew we wanted to buy a home one day, but first we had to clean up our mess. That whole experience of finding a home, almost buying it, but then deciding it wasn’t time yet was major motivation to pay down our debt as fast as possible.
We were finally ready to change our financial situation for good.
We ended up living with my parents for six months, which allowed us to pay off a significant chunk of debt. At that point we moved into a tiny rental home about twenty minutes from our church.
Having our own living space was a gift for us during our get-angry-at-debt season, and we were so grateful for it. One of the reasons we were able to pay off our debt so quickly by living there was because the rent was so cheap. And, on a more sentimental note, both of our boys came to us there after a seemingly never-ending adoption process. There are a lot of special memories in our first Connecticut rental home.
At the same time, it was definitely a sacrifice to live there (at least to our standards). The rent was about $200/month lower than the average rental in our town (it was literally the only house we could afford), but the living conditions reflected that quite a bit: our basement regularly flooded destroying belongings we had stored down there, there was mold in the bathroom, no dishwasher (hand washing tiny baby bottle pieces almost killed me), it was on a loud and busy road, and there was an odd smell that permeated most rooms that I could never clean away or figure out what it was.
A little under two years after moving in, we finished paying off our final student loan and were able to celebrate being debt free. The sacrifice was worth it, and six months later we were able to afford a much more expensive (for us) rental home that has more space for our growing family, a dishwasher, exhaust fans in the bathroom, a dry basement, and lots of peace and quiet (something our family values highly)…..well, maybe just Adam and I.
We’re currently saving for a new car (one of ours is on its last leg), and then we will begin saving for a large down payment to eventually have the opportunity to purchase our own home. Patience is key for us, and we know the day is coming when we will be in fantastic position to buy…..no sick feeling in my gut because of the weight of debt hanging over us. I can’t wait!
I truly believe that in order to pay off your debt faster, you need to get sick and tired of having it.
Here’s my big takeaway for you:
What is debt holding you back from?
Is it buying a house for the first time?
Maybe investing in, or starting up, your business?
Is it having the flexibility to send your child to a private school, or daycare, without feeling crunched?
Maybe you want to give more to your church, or missions, but can barely pay the bills?
Whatever *IT* is, think about how much faster you could get there if you didn’t have monthly payments. Let that thought push you into a season of I’m-so-angry-at-my-debt-I-can’t-take-it-anymore! I promise, it will move you along faster than you think.
If you’re looking for a place to get started, sign-up for my free five-day Crush Your Debt mini-course. Crushing your debt is going to be a lot of hard work, and sacrifice, but I know it’s possible! We did it on one income while living in a super expensive state. I would love the opportunity to help you get on a plan and experience financial freedom just like our family has. It’s something i’m so passionate about and would love to cheer you on every step of the way.