This may be crazy to admit, but we haven’t told many of our friends, colleagues, and acquaintances about our debt free journey. In fact, our extended family members are not aware. There are folks that have found out about us, and our financial adventure, through our “debt free journey” social media accounts before we were able to explain ourselves in person. It was easier to share all our money details with strangers than with our friends.
This journey wasn’t intended to be a secret, but I wanted to be at a later stage in our debt free efforts before we “came out”. You see, I’m known to go through phases. I was vegan on and off for years, the longest stretch was 9 months; I started a blog and Facebook page about that, but since closed those accounts as I am no longer vegan. I’ve started and ended two fitness blogs – my health pursuits come in waves. We’ve started the Dave Ramsey plan in the past and fell of the wagon (both in 2015).
We’re approaching the 50% paid off mark – we expect that in the next 3 months, we will have paid off 50% off our total consumer debt. The 50% mark was the point in our journey that I was willing to come out to everyone publicly – through Jesse’s personal Facebook page, or maybe reactivating my personal Facebook page just for this coming out/life update announcement. However, at 40.5% of debt paid off, I think I’m ready now to share our story with all the people we see in real life.
I’ve composed a letter to our family and friends explaining how we got in our current financial state, what we’re doing to fix it, and our plans for our money in the future. With this, we’re hoping that we gain support and understanding from those near and dear to us. By sharing our tale of conquering debt, we hope to help others in starting their own journey.
Dear Family and Friends,
If you didn’t already know, we’re in debt – good ol’ “American dream” debt (aka “normal” debt).
For years, we have spent more than we made. We used credit cards for all purchases to get all those rewards and perks. We did not budget or keep track of what was coming in and what was going out.
Kate went to college using student loans. Jesse went to a technical/trade school on student loans.
We kept up with the Joneses. We lived like the “high-rollers” Kate works with.
We vacationed on credit without regard to how we would pay it back, because “we deserved it” and “YOLO” mentality.
We bought new car after new car with nothing down but negative equity.
We bought the mini-mansion, and other homes, without healthy down payments.
We did not know the difference between wants and needs.
We’re on a mission to change our financial ways. We’re getting back to the basics of only using cash (cut and closed all our credit cards), living on a written budget, saving, and working like crazy to get out of debt!
We’re currently on Baby Step 2 (BS2); paying off all debt except for the house. Currently, our consumer debt totals to $68,937.21 (as of 6/25/17), all debt except for our home. We started at $115,956.54 in debt! We estimate that we will be complete with BS2 in 24 months of our March 2017 start date, hopefully finished by March 2019 – a very aggressive goal.
During this process, there will be no vacations, no unplanned & unnecessary spending, and little to no eating out.
We will be declining invitations to restaurants, parties, and nights out. Please do not be offended. We are just laser focused.
We plan to live like no one else, so later we can live and give like no one else!
Please, don’t feel sorry for us. We are happy, healthy, and employed! Also, rich in love. We got into this situation on our own, and we will get out of this on our own.
We write this to advise everyone of what’s going on in our lives. And, to inform everyone as to why Kathleen has practically disappeared from social media (other than our debt free journey account(s): Facebook.com/smartsncents & on Instagram at @smartsncents) – to avoid comparison living and shopping temptations.
This lifestyle is not temporary. Our cutbacks, frugality, and intentionality with money will continue even after we pay off our consumer debt.
The next steps are to save 3-6 months worth of expenses in an emergency fund (Baby Step 3), invest 15% of our income for retirement (Baby Step 4), fund the kids’ college (Baby Step 5), pay off our home (Baby Step 6), and then build wealth and give (Baby Step 7).
Note: All cash vacations will come after Baby Step 3!
If you have any questions, we’re here!