Today marks the start of my documenting our journey to financial freedom. We’ve actually been on this journey since the fall of 2011. My husband and I were both teachers here in Texas. For those of you who don’t know, people say that teachers don’t make a lot of money (which is true), but when you are a young married couple with hardly any expenses, a two-income teacher salary is prettttttttttty nice. The only problem is we had no idea where our money went. We paid all our bills, bought groceries, went out to eat frequently (but who doesn’t?), bought stuff, but still couldn’t actually pinpoint how we spent our money. Clearly we were very irresponsible. And clearly it was time for a change.
So in August of 2011 we attended Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University class that was offered at our church. Long story short, it has absolutely changed our lives. Over the course of that 12 week class (or however long it was…), we were able to accomplish Baby Step #1 ($1,000 emergency fund), plus get a head start on Baby Step #2 (pay all debts). As we continued to follow Dave Ramsey’s plan, we were all set to be completely debt free in May of 2013.
Of course, I’ve failed to mention thus far that we follow Jesus first. That is the absolute number one priority in our marriage: to love and obey Jesus. And when you do this, the plans you make sometimes have a way of changing… especially when you’ve surrendered the control you have over your own life to this crazy guy who promises life abundant if you just choose to trust him.
…back to my original story…
A lot happened between finishing FPU and finishing out that school year. I ended up resigning my position at the school I taught at, and trusting that another position that was made just for me would open up and all would be well again. But just in case, we skipped ahead to Baby Step #3 (3-6 months expenses into savings). As the summer progressed, I applied for… I don’t know… a hundred jobs? Just kidding. But it seemed like it. I had several interviews and after a few, I was certain I would be employed by the start of the next school year. Again, following Jesus. Again, plans changed. I never found a teaching job. I was thankful that we had saved 3-6 months of our expenses so that we could have a cushion, should the need arise.
And yes, the need arose. We found out in September of 2012 that I was pregnant. A complete surprise, but a welcome one! If you know me, you may be doing the math, thinking, “Wait she had her baby in September of 2013, why was she pregnant for a year?” Well, I wasn’t. The need for that 3-6 months of savings arose because I ended up having a miscarriage. We went to the emergency room, not having any idea what to do as this was happening to my body and to our baby. We spent several hours in the ER all for the doctor to tell us what we already knew was happening.
It kinda sucks to have to continue my story after that… But it is a part of our journey, and an important one. I laid around the house for a while, but on the 3rd day after this happened, I woke up and was overcome with a sense of peace. To this day I don’t understand how that happened, after only 3 days of grieving. But it did. Thank you Jesus.
As life started to move on, I found out I was pregnant again in January of 2013! Again a welcome surprise, but this time I was full of fear. We had drained our emergency fund, our 3-6 months of savings, I had no job, and my husband was exploring other options as far as his teaching career went. It was a scary time, and that brings us to the present.
As our journey has continued, we are still committed to becoming debt free, although we had to take a several month hiatus. Now I am a stay at home mom, and we are a family of three (or five, if you count the pups) living on one relatively-new teacher’s salary. We sold our house (and a lot of the stuff that was in it). We live a much simpler lifestyle now, which is why I have started this blog.
It sounds silly, but this is my passion… finding new ways to be frugal and get us closer to our goal of being debt free! I want to share our journey to financial freedom to inspire other families who may be doing the same thing.
I will be sharing how
- we’ve cut our budget
- we’ve saved money on groceries and other necessities
- we’ve managed to establish a savings again
- we make our own everything
- we continue to give to our church and other causes/individuals
- we continue to pay off debt on one modest income
- and how we live a much simpler, semi-urban lifestyle here in Waco, Texas.
Following Jesus first, and letting him establish our path to financial freedom.