How We Became Debt and Mortgage Free
...on a Single Income
This is not a how to, but simply our own story. I cannot claim that by following the same guidelines we did, automatic success will occur. I must first give praise to God, who kept us from financial disasters as surely as he gave us life. But wisdom and common sense have played a part and what we did was no miracle. It is quite possible, even probable, that financial freedom can be achieved in a few years.
For us, it took 7.
For our first few years of marriage, we lived on my husband's income of less than 20K per year. We rented a tiny run-down trailer from a kind, elderly lady for $360 a month. The roof leaked, there were mice and the dining room carpet was covered in tobacco spit. I spent my time scrubbing, filling holes with putty, and polishing everything, while my handy husband helped put up shelves, hang curtains and fix up the yard. The place was transformed. And the landlady's son-in-law cheerfully came with a tube of caulk whenever a new leak had sprung.
Early on we were blessed to stumble upon Dave Ramsey's radio program. We now had some sound financial advice to work with. We sat down and made a budget together, and quickly paid off leftover school debt and the small amount on our credit card. We never used a credit card again, kept driving the same old car (still going at 200,000+ miles), almost never bought anything unless we needed it and then only if we had the cash, and saved $100 a week. I also gave birth at home to our first daughter.
Two years later we found the spot of our dreams. 17 acres of mostly woodland, far off from the road, with a much larger, nicer trailer. But it was the land we wanted most- a place for our kids to roam free and where we could grow and raise our own food. We had saved up enough to make a down payment of 20% and were able to finance the rest through a local bank for a 15 year mortgage. We were determined to pay it off before them.
For the next 4 1/2 years we payed as much as we could on the mortgage. We made a few mistakes, sometimes we relaxed a bit and had some fun, but most of the time we maintained a strict budget. My husband's income doubled over the years as he remained at his job and put in lots and lots of hours, but we also had three more children. We already knew that happiness did not come from buying or owning things, we all had each other and that was all we needed. Even owning this place we love, though a practical goal, was mainly to reduce our reliance on the wage system, and not for the sake of having wealth.
Then, on June 26th, 2009, my 33rd birthday, we made the final payment and became completely debt free. Yes, the bills keep coming, and unexpected expenses still happen, but we are in a far better position to meet them when they do.