Dave Ramsey

Dave Ramsey

Today is my 33rd birthday, so today has been a day of reflection for me.

I was thinking back on how hard my 20s were – I didn’t do a lot of crazy things. I guess you could say I didn’t do much at all.

At least I didn’t do much that gave me meaning. I leased a new car at about $700/mo when you counted insurance for a 21 year old and I spent about 2 years racking up $18,000 in credit card debt. I can tell you, I was medicating because of my lack of personal fulfillment. I wanted to do things I felt served God more directly, like full-time ministry, but instead got into software development, which was supposed to be a backup plan. Once I was in debt, I felt trapped and it turned into a vicious circle. I bought more because I felt trapped by the debt from my earlier purchases. What’s worse is I lost my job and worked through my credit card debts and a deficit from my repossessed car, and paid it off over 4 long years, and still managed to get back into more debt, because I was still compensating for my lack of fulfillment in life. I figured if I can buy nice things for me and Anna, it’s a good substitute.

That brings me to age 30. I read Wild At Heart the previous fall which started to wake some dead dreams up inside me. That year my wife and I started paying attention to our money again – we tried a couple things that didn’t end up working very well, because they all just focused on the mechanics of finance – the math part, if you will.

And then around the end of May 2008, I was on my way to Branson, Missouri, and heard Dave Ramsey interviewed on This American Life – I was listening to old episodes on my iPod, and here was this interview from 2003. This guy was different. This guy believed in getting out of debt, and he was so bluntly honest, and did it with so much energy and enthusiasm, I actually believed my wife and I could do his program. When I broke down in Branson and had to borrow a small amount of money from Anna’s parents because we were out of cash and my credit cards were maxed out, the deal was sealed. I came home and played the interview for Anna, then I bought The Total Money Makeover as soon as we had cash again, and we  started doing a budget and listening to the podcast daily. And life was good again.

Those are the facts from the outside. What happened inside was a revolution. Really, in a way I hadn’t experienced in adulthood, I had hope again. I had energy and I honestly felt like a real man for the first time in my adult life. I could see a way out of our current way of life and was free to dream again! On top of that, Anna and I agreed about money and for the first time in our lives, we were consistent givers at church, and have been since. Now, if it weren’t for the difficulty of a long drawn out adoption and a job loss in 2010, we would be out of debt right now, but as it is, we were able to pay off $40,000 of our $68,000 in non-mortgage debt, which has made dealing with the job loss much easier.

God willing, this is the year we get the rest of the way out, but in the meantime, I’m leading my 3rd FPU class starting this month and we’re moving in the right direction. I’m self employed now, and it came sooner than I intended so I wasn’t as ready as I would’ve liked to be, but it’s being run debt-free, and always will be.

Thanks, Dave Ramsey for saving my life!

Time to Start