Yep. In about one year, we have paid off both of our vehicles (which both had about two more years on them), paid off and cut up all of our credit cards, and paid off one of my three student loans. We also paid off a lawn mower and my engagement ring. That is about $30,000 in debt that is GONE!
You know what’s even better? We had to be intentional and set a budget, BUT we still prioritized vacations and fun. I have never felt like our lives have suffered or that we missed out. During this time of paying off debt, we also paid for a vacation in the Cayman Islands and were able to stay at a beautiful resort, pay for spa appointments and fishing trips, and enjoy all the rum (even if at the expense of our well-being) the island had to offer. I get my nails done every other week without guilt or shame. We still go out to eat to save my sanity since I dread the kitchen. My point is, we were able to prioritize BOTH our debt-free goals and our desire to live a quality of life that is enjoyable to us.
The moment when our efforts really hit home for me was about a month ago. I have been on an Income Based Repayment plan for my student loans. (Fun fact: student loans are the only debt left!!) Long story short – Bradley and I filed our taxes jointly last year and it knocked me out of that repayment plan. My monthly payments will more than quadruple. When I got the notice, I immediately ran to my nurse’s office at work and started crying. (Cheers to Liz for not hugging me even when she really wanted to, because she knew it wasn’t the time. Having a crying pregnant gal in your office can’t be easy.) How were we going to fit this into our budget on top of daycare expenses on top of diaper expenses on top of all the other expenses I know nothing about that babies bring?? I felt deflated and needed to sit in my worry for a day or two.
But on day two, I did the math. And the math was magical. I added up the cost of daycare, estimated how much additional money we might need each month for baby stuff, and wrapped it up with my new monthly debt payments. And wouldn’t you know it was the exact amount that we were paying to our debts when we started this journey? All of those credit card payments, car payments, etc. equaled the exact monthly total that we are expecting to pay once Baby Lowe hits the scene. Y’all, my heart burst. Despite the changes, despite the increased loan payments, and despite the doubt…we will be just fine. We have been preparing for this moment without ever realizing it. We can raise a child comfortably, maintain our quality of life, and expect to pay off at least another $30,000 next year.
I don’t talk about my faith on social media often. Part of that is because I am a social worker, and I am constantly trying to make sure that my clients feel comfortable talking to me no matter what the issue is. Topics of religion can be very sensitive for many people, and I never want someone to not seek my help because they worry that our differences will cause me to judge them. The other reason why I don’t mention my faith often is because it is a constant work in progress. BUT on the day that I did the math and saw how perfectly the numbers worked out, I felt cared for. I felt like everything had happened in the past year so that my over-controlling, worry wart of a heart could feel peace. Some of you will call that luck or chance. Some will call it divine intervention. And some will say that we are simply reaping the benefits of our hard work. Whatever the reason, I am grateful. And I feel privileged to be able to enjoy this pregnancy without worrying about finances.
If you have any questions about the template we use for our budget or how we prioritized which debts to pay off first, please ask!! In the end, our plan may not work for you. I don’t believe that what we are doing is the only way to do it. But I do believe in identifying what is important to you and then figuring out a way to make it happen. We want a life that is free from debt payments so that we can fully utilize our income to build our wealth, establish a safety net for our family, and build our own R & R Farms here in Virginia. Those dreams felt so far away when we started working toward those goals.
They feel incredibly closer today.