WE'RE DEBT FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! except for the house, which is A-OK in the world of Dave Ramsey and our family!
I am so excited and so relieved that this has finally happened and I'd like to share our journey. Hopefully, it can be an inspiration to others who are saddled with debt, big or small. I can be a bit long-winded, so I'm going to split this up into installments.
When Chris & I met, he was a brand new JO in the Navy and I was working 50+ hours a week just to gross a whopping $14.500/year. Both of us had school loans & a car loan apiece and Chris had some credit card debt leftover from his college days. I won't go into detail about Chris's portion (he can feel free to talk about his on his own), but we split the total debt of just under $100,000 pretty evenly.
My school loans totaled a little over $30,000 and my car loan at that time was about $13,000. Because I made next to nothing in income, my loans were in deferment building up interest all along the way. Some of you know that I went to a small, private college for my undergraduate degree - well, I left Wesleyan without any debt. My school loans were for graduate school where I took out the living allowance. I mean, they offered it so I might as well take it, you know? 2 semesters later, I had a B+ in my sole completed course to show for it. $30,000+ for ONE class. Can you say, "stupid tax with zeros behind it?"
We moved to upstate New York for Chris to complete some Nuke training with the Navy a month after we got married. I got a job at a local daycare. Needless to say, it didn't take long for us to realize we were barely scraping by. I pretty much have a pathological fear of being broke and I could see us heading there rapidly. The very first step to debt freedom came out of basic necessity. We could barely afford our car payments. We had to make a decision: keep Chris's nice, new Explorer SportTrac and sell my car OR sell his Explorer and buy a less expensive, more gas-efficient car. Chris's favorite (hahahahaha) car entered our lives at this point - his champagne beige Pontiac Grand-Am. The granny-mobile (no offense to grannies, but Chris was mortified to have to drive this vehicle) became a VERY motivating factor for Chris to get out of debt.
At this point, thanks to the vehicle changes, we were making enough to live on and we were living cheaply, but we were not yet making the necessary decisions & sacrifices to actually get us out of debt. We had merely stabilized our situation, so at least things were no longer getting worse.