Thursday, November 13, 2008

Financial Shape 2008

I was inspired by Crystal at Money Saving Mom to post about our financial goals and accomplishment from this year. I have to admit that the idea of actually writing this down and posting it on the internet for the whole world and our families to see was a little scary! But, I think it is really important to be authentic about what we have been through, and I hope that some of you are inspired to embark on your own debt free journey.

First, I have to give you some background so you can understand how far we have come. In 2002, my husband was working as a retail manager with a very large big box store. He was nearing 10 years with that company, and the lifestyle was brutal. My husband worked long hours, most every weekend, and all holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas were a time that he just worked harder, not a time to enjoy God's Blessings or family time. I had taken a job as a nurse-manager and received a small raise, so I suggested that my husband quit the retail job and go back to school to become a teacher. He graduated May 2005 and began his career--with a whopping $28K in student loan debt!

Well, we didn't really worry too much about that, because he went to work in a low-income school and his concentration was in a high need area (math and science), so he would qualify for student loan forgiveness if he stays at that school for five years. All good, right?

Meantime, we really hadn't adjusted our lifestyle to one income. Also, I was working crazy hard and crazy hours in my management job. As a result, we ran up credit card debt.

Then, we decided that my husband really needed to get his Master's degree to be the most successful in his career. How did we pay for that? You guessed it...more student loan debt. ($8K)

By December 2006, we had the following debts:

Credit cards $25,000
Student Loan #1 $28,000
Student Loan #2 $8,600

I was starting have nagging feelings of anxiety, but I would brush them away. Then, December 28, 2006 at about 4:40 in the afternoon, I received a panicked call from my husband. He and my daughter had been at the movies, and my daughter had a seizure. A pediatrician was in the theater and I could hear her trying to arouse my daughter while my husband talked to me on the phone. Paramedics arrive to get her to the hospital. I was trying desperately to get to them, but I work an hour away. That day, Atlanta traffic was horrible and it took 1 hour and 45 minutes. When I arrived at the hospital, my daughter was stable and about to be taken in for a CT scan. As a nurse, I had been thinking the worst the whole way there. We were about to find out if anything obvious in her brain had caused the seizure. Fortunately, we were allowed to be with her during the scan. We waited anxiously after the test, surrounded by family and church family praying. Good new--no tumor.

There is a lot more to that story...many specialist visits. After all the visits, my daughter was diagnosed with partial complex seizure disorder and she is well now and on meds.

By March 2007, the medical bills started rolling in, and I started to feel a real panic about our finances. I had been praying about what to do. I talked with Christian friends at work. I told my friends that many times I don't feel like I know when God is sending an answer to my prayers. I even said "I really wish God would just put a big billboard in front of me--Here Lisa, do this."

Not long after that, while sitting in Atlanta traffic, I noticed a billboard advertising a radio show new to Atlanta. The Dave Ramsey Show. The billboard said something about getting out of debt--I immediately tuned my radio to 640 WGST. I started listening to Dave everyday. It changed our lives! We started our Total Money Makover by April 2007, and we took Financial Peace University in the fall 2007.

I would like to say that it has been totally easy since starting our Total Money Makeover, but it hasn't. There have been a lot of sacrifices. Also, we had what Dave would call Murphy move in with us. I called it Satan, trying to derail our plans of following God's way with finances. Both my son and my husband had medical issues. My husband ended up having an emergency appendectomy one week after starting Financial Peace University. In fact, I was the only member in our family not to have a CT scan in 2007! We have a high deductible insurance plan, so we had more medical bills. We stayed on course and kept our Total Money Makeover going. We were able to cash flow all of those medical events because of the knowledge we gained from Dave Ramsey and God's way of dealing with money.

We were also able to cash flow all of my son's college tuition, books, and dorm expenses. In addition, we have had to purchase a new range, replace a dilapidated fence and repair a car.

Here is what we have paid off/cash-flowed since April 2007:

Credit cards $25,000
Medical bills $8,000 (includes braces for daughter)
College for son $15,000
Misc other: $3,000

Total paid approximately $51,000 in 18 months!

Plus, we have $3,400 in an emergency fund.

Here is the debt we have left:

Student loan #1 $24,000
Student loan #2 $8,200

Again, my husband is still working in the low-income school and should have the #1 loan forgiven May 2010. We are actually on target to pay off the small student loan by Feb, 2009.

We do have other goals beyond these, but we will write those down and I will do a post in December about all of our 2009 goals.

Hint: I really want to come home or at the very least only work part-time....

Check out Crystal's blog and see more on Financial Shape 2008.


Lorrie Briggs said...

Way to go! It sounds like you are really on a roll. I have been thinking about doing a post with my budget and debts, but I am not sure that would interest anyone. You are doing so well.

Monica said...

Wow!! What else is there to say than that?! Thanks for sharing your story. What an encouragement.

I also am an RN and my husband a math/science teacher. He says I work to support his teaching habit:)