How we got here

November 28, 2009

My wife and I did not start out in our marriage desiring to live out in the country. Early in our marriage we even seriously contemplated buying a condo in a high rise. We liked the idea of being urban, walking to shows or what have you. But something changed in the past five years that we’ve been together.

I think the first step was the realization very early in our marriage that we needed to get out of debt. We were 23, had two car loans, student loans, credit card debt and a store credit card or two. All total, our debt was a staggering $83,000. Now, some would argue that most of that was student loan debt, and that “doesn’t count”, and that next far biggest part was car payments, and you just “always have those.” It would have been easy to rationalize that we weren’t in too bad of a shape, and we were making good money, so it wasn’t a problem.

But we felt like it was a problem.

What caused our realization? We were definitely inspired by Dave Ramsey’s book The Total Money Makeover, but we were headed in that direction. We started reading that book because I found it while looking for books on debt reduction. The realization looking at our student loan statements that the loans were for 30 year terms was a wake-up call–we had not been alive yet for 30 years. I couldn’t picture making payments on my education for that long.

So we made some drastic changes. We sold one of our cars, and replaced it with a 10 year old model. One payment and a chunk of debt gone. We posted our running debt total on our fridge so that every time we got something to eat would see the numbers. We made a budget every month with mid-month “budget meetings” where we would check up on our monthly progress. I had a job change that had a shorter commute, so we sold the other newer car and replaced it with a 20 year old model. (all Volkswagens, though.)

And, slowly but surely, we made serious progress. We started summer of 2005 and in October 2008, we were officially debt free.

And now, a year later, we are homeowners. Through out our debt reduction time, we realized that living on a busy street in south Minneapolis was not where we wanted to be. We had great friends and a wonderful church, but we both realized we would like something simpler. Something quieter. Something…slower. We wanted to be able to grow our own food and know where it came from. My wife has got a green thumb and dreamed of a larger plot than the little 4-foot square in our backyard.

We started lightly looking for places last Thanksgiving. We rolled our former monthly debt payments into our online savings account and started a down payment.

And, lo and behold, here we are. Oh, yeah, there was the whole having a baby thing, too. That was in there somewhere.


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