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Tag: debt

Moving Off the Island

All Alone

Life on the island is not as great as you might think. Deciding to move off the island was the first step, but how do you make it happen? Because as sure as rain on your wedding day is not ironic, fear will chase after you and remind you again and again about how you’ll never make it off the island. Fear says it’s a dark and scary place out there, don’t go! Fear says you’ll never make if off the island anyway, so don’t bother! So how did we get away? How did we escape the island? Here’s our story.

You are not alone.

Understanding that we didn’t have to walk this journey alone was the first step. Logically, I knew we couldn’t possibly be the only people who were struggling with money issues. Surely there were others experiencing the same problems we were. And if others were facing the same problem, there were probably others that have overcome it. Our story off the island starts by seeking help from God’s people. For us, that was Susan Whited, who had taught a financial course at church several times. We couldn’t do the classes at church, so she sat down with us in her kitchen to begin the journey. We heard things we’d always known, things you’ve probably always known as well. Things like:

Our problem, however, was not the lack of knowledge, but behavior. We knew all this stuff, we just didn’t know how to practice it. Something had to change in our behaviors in order to create real change in our life. Our soon-to-be-born daughter provided the motivation, now we just needed the discipline and tools.

Live like no one else.

Our first step was to start tracking every dollar we spent. Every time we spent money, we wrote it down. Where did we spend it? What did we buy? This simple act reduced our spending because we could immediately see how much money we were spending on DVDs or eating out. We were doing OK, but we were just scratching the surface.

At the Catalyst Conference in 2008, I heard Dave Ramsey speak on leadership. He then spoke very briefly about money. I wandered over to his booth and found a flier about Financial Peace University. Not long after that conference, we decided to host our first FPU class at church. And it was FPU that really kicked the process into overdrive for us.

We really started gaining traction when we started doing the monthly budget. Dave says you have to decide “on paper, on purpose” at the beginning of every month how you are going to spend your money. You have to tell your dollars what to do, or else they wander off. The budget allowed us to finish the race to debt-free with gazelle intensity. The budget drove us to finish off our emergency fund. The budget drove us to save for car repairs, a new car, a paid-for-in-cash vacation, a new couch and so much more.

And sometimes life intrudes on our plan and the budget slips for a couple days or even a week. Those days—before the budget is finally done—are some of the worst of the month when that happens. It’s like a terrible flashback to life on the island, and all of the stress and anxiety that comes with it.

It’s moving time.

If you’re still living on that island, it’s time to get moving. Pray that God would lead you out. Ask Him to send others into your life to walk with you. Invite Him to shake up your life and transform you. It’s terrifying. I know—I used to live there. But God has a way out. (It might even be Financial Peace University… Click here to find a class in your area.)

The First Win

After just nine years and three months, we’ve paid off our first student loan as part of the debt snowball we started back in August, 2008. It took 13 months and almost $1,800 in extra payments to get it done. Check it out:

Sallie Mae Paid Off

So, now it’s on to my student loan since that’s the next lowest in principle.

Learning New Emotional Responses

Interesting experience today. A strut went out on my car. Long story short: it cost $900 to repair. I heard the number and immediately panicked. I panicked because that’s been my learned response to unexpected bills for about 10 years. How were we going to pay for this?

It was a silly response I guess. We actually have the money to pay for it with cash. It comes from our emergency fund, which we set up as part of our financial journey these last 8 months.

The problem is that for years this kind of thing overwhelmed me. It was as if the spirit of fear had come over me. It felt like three years ago when we would have had to pay for this on credit and not known what to do when that bill came due.

As we talked about it, Jaime said we might have to relearn our emotional responses to situations like this. We no longer have to be slaves to the spirit of fear because by the grace of God, we are living in a way that we don’t need to panic about these sudden expenses.

In Christ, we have the Spirit of Power, not the spirit of fear. Sometimes, though, it takes a while to let go of the learned “spirit of fear” response and trust in the Spirit of Power instead.

Last Call for DVDs

In case you missed it, I’m selling off DVDs to eliminate some of our student loans.  We’ll be posting the list on Craig’s List soon.  Let me know what you want and I’ll set it aside for you.  Most are $5, but check the original post linked above for exceptions.

DVDs that are available:


That’s how many DVDs we own.  It’s also how many days until our little one is expected to arrive (Nov 29, 2008).  (Longish story ahead, skip to the bullets for some good deals!)

Jaime and I are getting ready for the baby, and one of our family goals is for Jaime to stay home with baby.  We’ve never had to be extremely disciplined financially because we’ve been DINKs until now.  In order to go down to one income, we’re taking Sue Whited’s Good Sense Course.  She’s agreed to do it for us in a 1 on 2 setting since we can’t be at the class when it’s offered on Sunday mornings during the education hour (which, btw, you should take next time it’s offered).

One of the principles for good money management is to pay off all your debts as quick as possible.  They suggest living the Spartan lifestyle, spending as little as possible and even selling off possessions to help get out of debt faster.  It’s good advice.

Inspired by another Sue, we’ve decided to kill two birds with one stone.  We’re getting rid of around 90 DVDs.  Jaime got to pick 10 DVDs to save, I picked 50, and the baby picked 19 (that’s how many children’s DVDs we own).  That’s more than half the collection I’ve spent 10 years building.  The MSRP (which we didn’t even come close to paying) for the ones we’re getting rid of is $2,559.04.  That’s 12.86 iPhone 3Gs, but who’s counting… 

So here’s the deal: The 90 we’re getting rid of are available for purchase to blog readers until Sunday, June 22.  Some details:

  • I don’t endorse all of the movies as wholesome flix.  Some date back to my college years, when I was less discerning.  Others I deemed acceptable for me to watch, but don’t necessarily recommend for others.
  • All DVDs are in good condition to the best of my knowledge.  If it doesn’t play on your player, I’ll refund the money.
  • All DVDs cost $5 with a few exceptions:
    • Spider-Man 3, Shawshank Redemption, X-Men 3 — $10 each, unopened.
    • The Office, Season 1 — $20, unopened
    • Alias Seasons 1-3 — $25 each
    • Die Hard Ultimate Box (Movies 1-3) — $15
    • Seinfeld, Season 1-2 — $15
    • Jurassic Park 1 and 2 — $10, sold as a box-set.
  • First come, first served for purchasing DVDs.  Email me or leave it in the comments.
  • I’m not shipping movies.
  • I’ll deliver movies to Cleveland, Ohio around July 4 for anyone purchasing from that area.  It’s up to you to meet me somewhere convenient for the hand-off.
  • People in the Buffalo area can pick them up from First Trinity or by arrangement with me.
  • Movies not sold by June 22 will go on Craig’s List at $8/movie with the same exceptions as above.  You can still purchase them after that date at the blog rate if you identify yourself as a blog reader.
  • All the money we get (hopefully between $500-$750) will go towards eliminating one of our school loans, whichever is lower when we go to make the payment.

And now, the DVDs that are available:

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