Being a meteorologist, I obviously have a fascination with weather. But, over the past few years I've begun to develop a passion for personal finance; more specifically debt-elimination, budgeting, and marriage. This passion stems from my own story, so here it is.
My wife and I got married in May of 2007. We had just under $20k in debt, all of which was MINE. It was mostly made of student loans but also included her engagement/wedding rings.
Shortly after our wedding, settling down in Phoenix, AZ eager to begin our lives together we got REAL SERIOUS about paying off our debt and saving. For the first time, we got a written game-plan (budget).
Originally, we were going to pay everything off over the following year. One month into it, that was trimmed down to six months. After the following month, I said "let's knock this out NEXT MONTH!" And we did. Almost $20k in debt was paid off in about 3 1/2 months! Yeah, we got CRAZY-INTENSE!
Many people ask us how we did it. Well, we tracked every penny coming in and going out of our home, cut our life-style to nothing, my wonderful wife worked extra-shifts every week, and we constantly encouraged each other to hang in there because the end was near.
Once we were debt-free (December 2007), we actually down-sized, weird huh? We moved into a very modest condo in Phoenix, just good enough for what we needed, and relatively close to work for both of us (which we RENTED! Yes, renting is VERY SMART if done right...more to come on that subject). Over the following 3 years we saved, and saved we did.
After moving back to Minnesota in January of 2010 and starting at KARE11 we bought our first home. We had enough cash to put almost 50% DOWN, while still having an emergency fund in place. My goal is to pay off our home in 5 to 6 years max.
Some will say "well, you must make alot of money and that's why you're able to do that". The truth is yes, we were making good money at the time, but the key was getting out of debt, allowing our income to really get traction, and maintaining a low-cost way of life.
During those years in Arizona, we lived as if we were only making about $26k a year. So, even if we were making the national average home income ($48k/year) we'd still be saving almost half of our income.
The truth is that most people make PLENTY of money to be debt-free, have an emergency fund in place, save for retirement, and give, but very few people do.