Hannah Bunker »

Our Total Money Makeover

A few weeks ago I had a moment to myself where I was able to leave the house by myself and go grab lunch. I took my camera with me so I could vlog about something that has been on my heart to share; I wanted to express what 2017 has looked like so far for our family. But as soon as I turned my camera on, my battery died because of course it did. Face palm. Now, I have another (semi) quiet moment to sit down and articulate the incredible things we’ve witnessed so far in 2017.

At the beginning of the year, Aaron said he felt like this year would be the year of fruition. We had no idea what that would entail because it seemed a little far-fetched in my mind; We weren’t waiting on anything big like we were with infertility, or adoption, and I had already had brain surgery to heal my hydrocephalus. Those were the big things we’ve faced as a couple. But still, “fruition” felt like the right word for us to look forward to. We just didn’t know what it would look like.

It slowly started shining through.

We haven’t seen grand miracles, bawdy spectacles, or in-your-face changes. Everything we’ve experienced has been subtle revelations that have led to mind-shifts and lifestyle changes that have changed our lives.

It started at the beginning of the year when I felt a nudge to purge.

Seeing the mountain of stuff in our garage that we were giving away because it came into our home because of frivolous spending was heartbreaking. I simultaneously rejoiced and cried with each Goodwill drop-off. Rejoicing because I was free from another batch of clutter; crying because I was an irresponsible as a consumer – not only buying things that went to waste which were dollars wasted, but also potentially sending more junk into a landfill, creating destructive waste for the earth. I felt so guilty on so many levels.

Once we decluttered our house, we felt like we should put it on the market to try and pay off a chunk of debt. You can read all about it in this post. We always wanted to move and for the first time since buying our house, it made sense and we were peaceful about it. So we put it on the market.

The first week it was on the market, Aaron decided to get a jump start on packing and packed all of our books. He came across Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover book that we didn’t realize we had and decided to keep it out to read. I wish I could explain to you the “OMG THIS MAKES TOTAL SENSE WHY HAVEN’T WE BEEN DOING THIS?!?!” revelation that came from reading this book but it was just so “AHA” and deep that it’s hard to articulate. After the week of reading it, we immediately began implementing these principles into our lives. From redoing our budget (we use Every Dollar and it’s fabulous!), to doing the cash envelope system, to moving what retirement we have saved into mutual funds (and once we’re debt-free, into a ROTH IRA. It’s in the book.)…we became strictly serious about paying off debt because we were sick of carrying around the weight of it.

With redoing our budget with the goal of paying off debt, we realized that if we were strict with our money, we could pay off our debt in a WAAAAAAY shorter amount of time than we originally thought. I mean, we thought that we would spend our lives paying off debt! All of a sudden, paying off debt became doable because we learned the tools, made a plan, and vowed to stick to it.

And because we originally put our house on the market to use the equity we would make to pay off 50% of our debt, with our new debt-free plan, it no longer made sense to sell our house because we could pay off the debt on our own in a reasonable amount of time while still building equity into the house until we do decide to move again some day.

With that, it made sense to take our house off the market. So that’s what we did.

We were peaceful putting it on and we were peaceful taking it off.

And here we are, 3 months after finishing Total Money Makeover and we’ve already paid off 5 debts and continue to snowball into the next ones without looking back and without adding any more. Because now? We no longer look at debt as a means to move forward; we only see it as a weight holding us down. Plus, when you save and pay cash for something, you tend to think twice before you buy it and appreciate it so much more if you do.

I wonder if I would have never purged and seen how much junk I wasted our money on, if I wouldn’t have had the same determination to get out of debt as I do now. Or if I would have the same discipline now to keep my wallet closed when faced with a spending choice. Now, I think before I buy. I wait. I sit on it for at least 24 hours. And when I do, 99.9% of the time, I realize that the thing I thought I needed or wanted to buy isn’t something I really need.

This is just the beginning of the story…

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