In April of 2005, I had an ‘ah ha’ moment. As I sat staring at the paltry amount of money in my checking account, it occurred to me that I had been working for more than half of my life, and yet, I was broke, in debt, and I had no plan for my financial future. I had less than $1000 to my name. I had worked, hard, for more than fifteen years, and yet I had no savings, no emergency fund, and no idea for how I could ever retire or pay for my kids’ college.
Scared, and more than a little frustrated, I made up my mind, then and there, to do SOMETHING about my situation. I took out a piece of paper – actually, the back of an envelope – and I began to list my creditors. I then went online and found out just how much money I owed. The total? I owed a little more than $11,500. Now, since that time, I’ve met a number of people who owe much more and and a number who owe much less than $11,500, but, three years ago,$11,500 was a LOT of money. Remember, I had never lived on a budget, I had always depended on credit cards to get by, and I was used to living paycheck-to-paycheck.
Now, in 2008, my life is completely different. I am debt free. I have a fully-funded emergency fund, and I’m working hard, along with my wife, to ensure that we adequately fund our retirement and education savings accounts.
I didn’t type the above paragraphs so that I could “toot my own horn.” After writing about debt reduction for more than three years, I’ve met people who’s stories make mine pale in comparison. No, I shared my story for one reason:
You can get out of debt. You can save for your future. You can live on a budget. You can retire with security. You can live a more peaceful life. You can be and do and see and know more than you ever thought possible.
Three years ago, I had the back of an envelope, a desire to get out of debt, a borrowed copy of one of Dave Ramsey’s books, and a silly little blog – but, I also had two more things – the two most important things. I had determination and I had a plan.
I lined my debts up on another piece of paper – a proper sheet of college ruled, if memory serves – and I began to plan. I narrowed my focus, I stopped worrying about what other people thought, and I began to work as hard as I could to rid myself of debt. Even when my son got sick, and was hospitalized for a week, and we used up our entire emergency fund, I would not give up. Even when my original goal date zoomed by and I was still in debt, I would not give up. For some reason, whatever fire that was lit in April of 2005 refused to go out, no matter what the situation and no matter what the setback.
I don’t know anything about you. When you read this article, you might find it inspiring, or corny, or even off putting. I can’t do anything about your reaction. All I know is, I’m looking around at a world filled with people who look like they’ve lost hope. My goal, and it has become the singular goal of my site, is to let people know: If a dude like me can, anyone can. I’m serious. There’s nothing special about me. I’m the most average guy on the planet. I want my kids to grow up and be happy and healthy. I want to spend a long, blessed life with my wife. And, I want to be able to leave a little behind when I pass on.
What is special, however, is what happens when you couple your plan with your determination. So, if you are where I was, and you’re feeling discouraged or down or depressed, maybe this post will serve as a “pick-me-up”.
Now, go to your kitchen table and sort though that stack of bills. Take out an old envelope, flip it over, and get to work. Tomorrow, you change your life.