Last week I read an article and got fired up, more on that later. Back in 2009 my wife and I were buried in debt. Pamela and I both came from very little so when we landed excellent elementary education teaching positions our future couldn’t have been brighter. But in New York teachers are required to have a Masters degree… and a couple of those in the State of New York do not come cheap, especially if you go to Nazareth like Pamela did at $768 per credit hour.
Add in undergraduate loans, a couple of car loans, a mortgage, home equity line of credit, personal loan and credit card and we were buried in over $200,000 in consumer debt. The cost of which was over $2,700 a month with more than 33% of that going to interest i.e. making the bank rich. Hardly the American dream… or was it?! Keep in mind I started teaching August 2001 and Pamela was hired in August 2004.
Bond 2009 monthly consumer debt
As you can imagine, over $200,000 in debt just after college is a difficult position to be in on a couple of teachers salaries. Being the competitor that I am… this monthly spreadsheet wore me down until I couldn’t take it anymore and I went looking for answers. It was at that time that my friend Nic introduced me to Dave Ramsey.
He suggested we start by reading the Total Money Makeover so we picked it up. I remember flying home from Florida that April and Pamela was reading the book on the plane when a gentlemen across the aisle leaned in and said, “Dave Ramsey, my wife and I completed his work… it was the best thing we ever did!” So Pamela and I set out on a mission… debt snowball and get to cash. I have to admit we were outside our comfort zone but I’m going to be honest… after reading another book by Dave Ramsey called Financial Peace we were sold.
Now listen, Dave’s one heck of a salesman… you read his books and you’ll see what I mean. But the guy flat out makes you want to get out of consumer debt. He makes you hate the banks… he’s like a professional Tyler Durden and man does that movie ever kick butt. Dave gets you so fired up you’re willing to change your lifestyle, location and even career to buck the trend. Honestly… it gives you a different way of looking at money and to be quite frank, I found it refreshing.
So my wife and I put our minds to it and after 2 long years of hard work we were 100% cash. Zero consumer debt and no open lines of credit. Our credit scores read N/A. This of course meant we couldn’t get a mortgage… everyone knows you must have an 800 credit score to get the best interest rates. So we rented a nice townhouse here in Fairport for the last two years. As you can imagine family and friends said we were throwing money down the drain but I knew better and focused on what was important… building a massive business to set us free.
After reading Dave’s material, I still laugh when people tell me having a mortgage isn’t the same as renting. They truly don’t think about the billions of dollars in advertising that went into making them think that way. But you can’t get a word in with these people… they are stuck unwilling to open their mind that the government actually wants you renting from the banks… and for 30 years at that or 40 if you read the article above. Did you know Japan has a 100 year mortgage? As Dave would say, “Do you really own your home? Try not making 3 mortgage payments and see who owns it!” I’m going to be honest, I’m not where I am today if Nic didn’t bring Dave Ramsey into my life.
Which brings me to my new house. Recently I wrote a check and bought my house cash. It’s not a big house… just a 3 bedroom colonial with 1 and 1/2 baths but at 35 years old I’ve completed the debt snowball and am building wealth for the first time in my life. If I can do this, you can do this. It was only 3 short years ago that I was buried in consumer debt, lived paycheck to paycheck, read Dave’s books and I decided to take control of my future by changing careers and bucking the trend. My service is designed to help people grow their portfolios… my hope is that if I’m successful in helping you… Dave Ramsey might help you figure out where to put those profits.
Bottom line… if you want financial freedom you have to fight for it… otherwise the government and big banks will bleed you out because it’s what’s good for them and not what’s good for you.
This isn’t the first time I’ve written about controversial topics like this and it won’t be the last. I have my beliefs and a platform, I’m going to use it to teach and help others, the way Tyler, Nic and Dave helped me. This is one of the longest blog posts I’ve ever written but I’m telling you, attaining financial freedom was one of the hardest things Pamela and I have ever done… but it’s worth the time and effort it’ll take you to get where I am today and I truly hope my service helps you get there.