Debt Story, Goals

How We Changed Our Family’s Financial Future

My wife and I have been debt free for more than three years.  Here’s how we turned our lives around and changed our family’s financial future.

We began to spend less than we earned.

Brilliant, no?  It sounds so simple, but the reality is, many Americans spend more each month than they earn.

We put our credit cards in our wallets – and just left them there.

We stopped using our credit cards.  We didn’t cut them up or freeze them in a bowl of water – we simply made a decision to stop using them.  This might have been the single most important thing we have ever done.

We began to live on a budget.

Following a zero-based budget, we were able to control our spending and maximize our savings.

We began to dream of a debt-free future.

Within the first week of our financial turn-around, we were already convinced that, one day, we would be debt free.  This confidence, though tested by circumstances, never changed.

We created a system for organizing our financial documents.

Organization is so important.  In the past, we might forget to pay a bill or we might lose an important document.  Now, we have a system for organizing our documents, scheduling payments, and balancing our accounts.

We worked together.

I am the nerd and I like spreadsheets and calculations.  My wife is practical and she specializes in household management.  We combined our strengths, encouraged one another, and refused to argue, ever again, about money.

We created a specific goal.

Our first goal?  We wanted to be debt-free.  Having this specific goal, something to aim for, really motivated us.  We gave ourselves a specific goal, and a specific date to achieve it.  Surprisingly, even though we missed our original goal date, instead of being discouraged, we were further motivated.  The goal itself, the dream of being debt free, really kept us going.

We began to think long-term.

This was key.  Instead of living month-to-month, we decided that we wanted to live decade-to-decade.  Making the decision to be forward-thinking, we were able to give up temporary wants, and focus on long-term plans.  We matured, you might say.

We read.

We read, and continue to read, all that we can about personal finance.  Inspired by the success of others, we press forward.  We are not where we want to be, but we are confident that we are headed in the right direction.  Even surrounded by the negative news of the day, we have great hope for our future.

10 thoughts on “How We Changed Our Family’s Financial Future

  1. @Dawn… Well, is we REALLY wanted to do something, we built it into our budget… and, we kept our budget realistic enough that we had a little “wiggle” room… Also, it helped to have a VERY specific goal, and to keep that in mind when we wanted to splurge… great question… (and, not to appear as if we have “everything” figured out… we STILL struggle w/ the balance of needs/wants…)

  2. I’ve missed your posts! We both recently dodged layoff’s and this served as an extra incentive to accelerate and refocus on our goal to payoff our home. We have put our cards in our wallets, have a plan to pay off the house by the end of 2013 by living on less than we make and skipping a lot of stuff we don’t need to achieve our exciting goal! Watch our progress on our NCN chart HomeFree.

  3. It sounds simple, but it works when you stick to it! I think that this post will be quite a testimony to readers. It was to me!!

    I bet it wasn’t easy at the time, but now it’s worth it 🙂

  4. I’m with you. I hate bills and credit cards are EVIL! I decided that I would buy anything I don’t need but I had to drive to work every day and decided I couldn’t put off having a phone so I shopped around first.

    I thought prepaid phones might be funky but did some shopping and found out that I could still get a good, no-frills phone for around 20-30 dollars and didn’t have to sign a contract or even have a credit card or credit check.

    It turned out that I got a phone from net10 and I’m VERY happy with it and can really control my costs.

    I don’t give the number out to everyone and that helps too,

    But the peace of mind I get (and my husband, too) is worth it… and saving money!

  5. Ahh, it sounds so simple……AND IT IS!

    But it starts with individuals like yourselves taking personal responsibility for your own well-being and your futures and doing the SIMPLE things necessary to make it happen.

    Well done!

  6. Amazingly simple yet most people cant handle it.
    The one I am currently having trouble with is ‘working together’
    My wife is not always on board with my frugal ways, she feels the inconvenience in some things outweighs the benefits.

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