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Thursday, June 6, 2019

A Beginner's Guide to Facing Debt: 3 Things to Do

Our whirlwind romance took us from dating to married in just over 4 months. In that short time, we talked about so many things: children, faith, retirement, and debt. Although we didn't have any facts to back this up, we heard that money problems are a leading cause of divorce and with a truckload of debt, we decided we needed to get on the same page if we wanted our marriage to have a chance.


These are the steps we took.

1. We got the facts down on paper
This was really scary for me. I honestly thought Josh would say "see ya" after he knew how much debt I had. Thankfully, in a weird way, he had his own fair share of debt, too. The final number was shocking to both of us. We had no idea how big of a hole we had dug ourselves into. We knew it was a lot but it was way more than we thought. Getting it down on paper gave us a jumping off place and allowed us to breathe. Over and over again, the unknown proves to be scarier than the truth. It felt good to live in the truth even though we knew it'd involve a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. Literally and figuratively.


2. We chose a method
This step isn't as scary as step 1 but it can be overwhelming nonetheless.  There are countless books, theories, influencers, and opinions out there. Honestly, they're probably all good as long as they don't encourage going into more debt. We started with Dave Ramsey's Baby Steps because we already had an idea of who he was and what he suggested. We just needed to get going. Perfection is impossible. Find a method and stick with it. I guarantee you'll see results. Following a set plan is a guidepost. When we feel lost or hopeless we know what steps to take to keep moving toward our goal.


3. We started where we were
Instead of spending time with what-ifs, we just tackled Dave Ramsey's Baby Step One. We told ourselves that we didn't get to start over or keep our heads in the sand when we made mistakes which we did and do a lot. Our reality was our reality. There was no way around it.


We follow these 3 steps every single month. We get the facts down on paper during our monthly budget meeting. And yes, we actually have at least one budget meeting every single month and we have since January 2015. That is one thing we have done perfectly. Sometimes we make mistakes with math or forgetting an expense, but we face our reality and set a plan for the month. These 3 simple steps get us on the same page and move us toward our goal. Our motivation wavers but our vision doesn't.

Here is a little snapshot of what our life on this debt-free journey looks like. Living on a budget can be beautiful. And we for sure do it imperfectly.
We use mostly cash envelopes to organize our budget categories, we frequent free places like the public library and farmer's market, we choose to keep events, like our wedding, small and/or budget-friendly, we look for inexpensive activities like the zoo, we split meals and keep receipts, we make homemade birthday cakes and DIY decor, we meal prep/plan, we choose inexpensive vacations like camping, and we play outside with things like bubbles and chalk. 

No matter how much debt you have, you can choose to take steps to improve your situation. Plus, minimizing is in... 

If you have the weight of debt on your shoulders or even on your relationship, try these steps. You will not regret it! And reach out for help. The #debtfreecommunity is strong. Check them out on your favorite social media platform. You can also shoot us an email through the envelope button at the top of this blog. We'd really and truly love to hear from you. 

If you're on this journey, what keeps you going? If you're not yet here, what is it that keeps you from facing your debt? 

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