Home frugal living/saving money You CAN Stay Home Series: Paying Off Debt (Part 4)

You CAN Stay Home Series: Paying Off Debt (Part 4)

by Kelly Crawford

The two most important things we learned from financial guru Dave Ramsey weren’t practical at all; they provided the emotional energy we needed to put behind the practical steps.

What were those two things?

1.  Determination

2.  Temporary deprivation

It’s very easy to become defensive about “depriving ourselves” of things–“Life’s not worth living without fill in the blank.”  And while I think we need a heavy dose of perspective when it comes to needs vs. wants, I’m talking here of a temporary delay of gratification, not a permanent state of deprivation.

If you have consumer debt, temporary deprivation is especially important.  Consumer debt is bondage and MUST be eliminated as quickly as possible.

But without fierce determination (which Dave calls “gazelle intensity”), it is nearly impossible to delay gratification.  It takes setting a goal, making it very visible and revisiting constantly the goal and the means by which your family plans to achieve it.

(By the way, if you are more excited about paying off debt and achieving some financial goals than your husband, I highly recommend giving him the book, Total Money Makeover, by Dave Ramsey.  He’s got a powerful way of motivating–that’s really his gift.)

Are you really saving all you can?

Earlier, I mentioned keeping track of every expense.  I think one of the biggest mistakes we make is not counting the little things.  A few dollars here and there seem insignificant until you begin to add it up.  This was the secret to the Tightwad Gazette’s author that enabled her family to save $48,000 in seven years from one income!

To give you a picture (and I challenge you to try this with your own expenses), consider the following hypothetical expenses:

John and Mary’s budget is tight.  They don’t have cable, they have one cell phone for emergencies, they don’t eat out much and are careful with their spending.  They also have some credit card debt that haunts them.  They really need to get it paid off but just don’t have any EXTRA money….or so they think.

But when they kept track of every purchase in June, they came up with these “extras”:

Gift certificate for her parents’ anniversary.  (She had meant to make them a scrapbook.)–$30

Two extra trips into town, a lunch out during one of those trips, and snack cakes bought on sale–$11.00

Husband’s  purchased lunch for 12 days in the month (Mary forgot to pack)–$48

Days Mary didn’t use the clothesline–$16.00

John’s McDonald’s coffee 14 mornings in June because the coffee pot had not been prepared and preset and he was running late–$28

Two dinner dates–$60 (Creativity will still enable a couple to keep these important dates without as much expense. My husband and I just  had a fantastic date at Ruby Tuesday last week with a buy one entree, get one free–$15.99)

Mary’s thrift store purchases (Super-great deals…I’m talking, “Honey, who could pass these up? I saved you money buying $400 worth of clothes for less than $60!!!  Huh?  Did you say, ‘What about the overflowing closets and drawers’? “ (Have you figured out by now that I am Mary?)–$58

In June, John and Mary leaked out at least $251.00 that they could have saved with a “gazelle intensity.” Remember, temporary restraints, not permanent deprivation. In reality, this is very small leakage.  If they leak that much every month that is a total of $3,012 a year that could have been put toward paying off debt. If you count the interest rate they are paying, that amount is actually worth more in dollar value.

We are John and Mary many months.  You probably are too because it’s just hard to keep focused and pinch pennies so hard! (I didn’t even count the Mocha Frappes!!)

Of course, some purchases are wise.  If a purchase will save you some money, that’s probably not considered leakage.

We are coming down the home stretch with our credit card debt now and it is so exciting!  I’m beginning to feel more intense in an urgency to get rid of them and realize, typing this, that we could have paid them off before now had we been more scrupulous.

Just to encourage you, we struggle.  Life does cost a bunch.  But our struggles have been some of our greatest blessings, both in learning to trust the Lord and in having our creativity so inspired.  I wouldn’t trade it.

(Note: Since the original writing of this post, just before we had our consumer debt paid off, our home (the one we were renting-to-buy) was destroyed by a horrific tornado that devastated much of our neighborhood. That tragedy took the shape of allowing us to be able to pay the rest of our debt and build our house back debt free! God is a God of miracles.)

Dave has a slogan to help people keep focused:  “Live like no one else now so you can live like no one else later”.

A practical word about paying off debt:

  • If you have medical bills, call and ask for a reduction.  They almost always offer a reduced rate, sometimes up to 50% if you just ask!  Sometimes they ask you to pay it off sooner in exchange for the rate so be prepared if you can.
  • Don’t go hungry paying your credit card bills.  Another of Dave’s famous lines is:  “If it’s not above the red line, it doesn’t get paid.”  If your income simply isn’t enough to pay all your bills, prioritize them in the following order:  Food, Shelter, Utilities, Everything else.  They won’t come after you, they only harass.  Be aware, too, that you are protected under the “Fair Debt Collection Act” that prevents them from undue harassment or threats.  I had to learn this the hard way.
  • If you are really behind on your credit card bills, you are probably at an advantage.  It wasn’t until we fell so far behind that I thought it was hopeless when our creditors began their “magical solutions”.  One card knocked $2,000 off our balance and reduced our interest rate from 24% to .99% in an exchange for automatic deductions, which were lower than the monthly payments we had been trying to make.  That card has one more payment on it until we’re FREE!!!
  • Pay the lowest BALANCE card off first, not the lowest interest.  Momentum is better than saving a few dollars on interest.
  • Calculate what your interest is costing to give you added incentive to become INTENSE.
  • Label a jar “Becoming Free” and put everything you can into it and pay that much on your debts extra every few months.
  • Make sure you print off on paper a list of all your cards, their balances and a column with months of the year.  Every statement, cross out the previous balance and write in the new.  We have done this for five years, and the closer we get the more motivated we feel!

Our ebook Finding Financial Freedom goes into a bit more detail about how we handled our creditors and began our journey to becoming debt free.

Part 1-Living On One Income

Part 2-Cutting Expenses

Part 3-Cutting the Grocery Budget

Part 5-Earning Money From Home

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Lori June 17, 2010 - 10:39 am

” One card knocked $2,000 off our balance and reduced our interest rate from 24% to .99% in an exchange for automatic deductions, which were lower than the monthly payments we had been trying to make. That card has one more payment on it until we’re FREE!!! ”

Awesome! I had no idea they did that sort of thing!

Ginger June 17, 2010 - 11:09 am

We completed baby step 2 (paying off debt) about a year ago and now we have a couple months left to completing our big emergency fun (3-6 months expenses). It is REALLY exciting now! I find I’m reading books and articles about frugality even more now as I know the value of every cent that we can save.
I’m currently rereading Total Money Makeover just to keep up my intensity. It’s working! Dave is so motivating!

the cottage child June 17, 2010 - 12:35 pm

I am the woman who goes broke saving money! That’s the trick, isn’t it, curbing the consumption? It’s great to save money on necessities, but the only sure-fire way to save is not to spend in the first place. Enjoying the series, but did my husband send you an email asking for this? 🙂

Mrs. J June 17, 2010 - 12:40 pm

I definitely agree about the daily-interest-as-motivator: currently, my student loan (my husband’s are luckily in deferment as he’s in graduate school) produces $3.18 in interest daily. Egads!

Word Warrior June 17, 2010 - 3:13 pm

One of my enemies brought up a question (well, accusation) and just wanted to answer it in case anyone else (though doubtful) had the thought:

“Wow! I believe in paying my debts in full. If I ran up $2000 in restaurant bills and clothes, I wouldn’t expect a CC company to eliminate debt in exchange for automatic deductions. They agree to that just so they can be sure they will get paid.

I am pro-business and I really don’t believe in “gray” ethics like that. If you charged it, if you have it in your home, pay for it!

If I bought something off your website, and ended up owing you $4000–I doubt you’d be very happy to knock off $2000 just so you’d get the assurance of payment through automatic deductions.

Sorry, but I just don’t think that’s ethical. Is that how the Lord wishes us to act?”

Three answers:

One, we actually have a biblical model for the God-approved practice of creditors forgiving debts (and actually they forgave the whole balance, not just a portion).

Secondly, if a creditor voluntarily offers a reduced amount to a paying customer, any question of ethics is eliminated. Since you asked me about my business, I have given free ebooks to people who have written and expressed a difficulty in paying. Does that make them unethical because as a business owner I chose to offer that?

Thirdly, in this situation, due to the outrageous interest rates (there’s your question of ethics) and the number of years we had paid on the card, we had already paid back the amount we borrowed.

But, to the questioner, thank you for the opportunity to let me bear a fraction of what our Lord did as the Pharisees of his day tried to trip him up at every turn. I wonder, “is that how the Lord wishes us to act?”

Kelly L June 18, 2010 - 11:02 am

I actually have had those thoughts when watching commercials advertising people getting that kind of discount. I still do not know where I stand on others getting this, but I do know grace offered should not be turned down out of pride or rigid religious thoughts.
The good news? I am not anyone’s judge, so it does not matter what I think. It would be foolish of me to think that God cannot or will not forgive debt just because we got into it unwisely (thinking of the parable).

Word Warrior June 17, 2010 - 3:14 pm

cottage child,

Nodding and knowing. I revisited this series for myself. 😉 (But you SHOULD see the adorable denim jacket I bought last week for $2.98!)

Renee June 17, 2010 - 3:46 pm

I love practical tips! Thanks again for all this information! We are too trying to pay off lots but God does really provide all our needs!

Ashley B June 17, 2010 - 9:10 pm

We completed baby step two a little over a year ago. It was such an amazing feeling. We were halfway to our goal of 3-6 months emergency fund when our van’s transmission went out. We were thankfully able to buy a good used 15 passenger van with a portion of what was in our emergency fund. Unfortunately, we have had to put more emergency fund money into some repairs the van needed, as well as some medical costs that came up. However, we still have money that is there. Praise God that we had been diligently saving, if we had not, we would have been right back in debt for a vehicle.

Dave’s plan is solid. It will get you out of debt, and keep you out of debt. But you have to do the hard work! It’s GOOD work though!


Renata June 17, 2010 - 11:27 pm

Thanks for writing this post. I’m interested in the Dave Ramsay books – they sound great (I’ve only just heard about him – we’re in Australia). What is the one you would suggest getting?

We have also made a pact to get debt free & want to be fully (no mortgages ) by the time we’re 40. We’ve been discussing ways of doing it quicker – I’d love any ideas!
Have a lovely weekend
God bless

Word Warrior June 17, 2010 - 11:40 pm


The Total Money Makover is the one I think you want…if you are already thinking in the debt-free direction, then you will be over the top if you read his book. Super motivating!

Jaime @ Like a Bubbling Brook June 18, 2010 - 8:13 am

Great post! We are huge Dave Ramsey fans, and long before that we were inspired by Larry Burkett of Money Matters, then Howard Dayton of Crown Financial Ministries. God used all three of these men to change our thinking and keep us motivated. Howard Dayton has a life-changing book titled “Your Money Map.” I highly recommend it!

In the summer of 2007 we finally purchased our current home debt-free, after imperfectly following this path for almost ten years. God is so good! He has been faithful, even though we weren’t always as faithful as we could have been! We didn’t always do things perfectly, but His grace covered a multitude of our sins, and WE MADE IT!

I have no doubt that you – and the other mamas out there – can do it, too!

Tiffany June 18, 2010 - 9:20 am

Thanks so much for your wonderful posts! 18 months ago my husband and I paid off all of our debt except for our mortgage. I am battling our next step as I really feel called to come home (we have an 8 month old son). The issue is that my husband works part time and makes $10,000 a year. My salary is 7x that. We save, save, save but definitely not as much as we should. Starting in July we are going to try the envelope method hoping that we can learn to live on a much lower salary. Please pray for us as we really need my husband to find a full time job with medical benefits in order for this to work for us! For so long I have said that I can’t come home because my husband doesn’t make enough. But finally I realized that he doesn’t make enough because we have never allowed him to have that opportunity. Any thoughts/suggestions on what we should do next?

Erica March 18, 2013 - 11:55 am

Hi Tiffany!

I was kind of in your shoes about 10 years ago…I was the only one working as my DH had a back injury and was unable to work. I stayed home until the kids hit school age and while they were home I babysat other people’s kids and did Medical Transcription part-time after the kids went to bed each night. But right before I got pregnant with my oldest daughter I had decided to quit my job to go back to school – thereby transferring the responsibility of having a job to my DH. He isn’t even a high school graduate, which made thing VERY hard on us for a while because most people didn’t want to hire him, and those that did weren’t paying very well at all! We got pretty thrifty during this time.

Something I have noticed since our family made the switch we made is that so many of our friends & family talk about how “tight” money is in their families…(we have 6 kids and my husband only makes $20k/yr)…and they are still take trips costing them thousands every year, going out to eat 3-4 times a week, buying Starbucks coffee drinks daily, and buying many things they don’t “need”…all while complaining about how they don’t have any money. The point I am trying to make it that you & your husband need to decide what is important to YOU and decide how you want to go about getting to that point.

I’m not going to lie and say things have been so very easy for us…it’s been a rough climb at times. BUT, we have learned that this has definitely been a lesson in trusting God and believing that He will not let us go without things we NEED to survive. There have been times I have been crying & stressed out about a bill that is due and we have a shut off notice, or running out of groceries. Surprisingly on the day we need to have it – the money DOES show up! (One time I found a $100 bill in my wallet that I had set aside & forgotten about, only to find it while cleaning out my purse, and funny thing was that just the day before I had used up the last of our groceries and we literally had NOTHING to eat in the house…bag of flour, sugar, and condiments were all we had left!)

Sometimes you do have to think outside of the box. Frugal living is not something you just know….you need to learn how to do it. Thankfully there are tons & tons of websites and other information available right online that can help you when you hit a tight spot, or just if you want to make things easier on yourself for the switch where you are relying on your husband’s income after being use to living on your own. Things like making your own cleaners & soaps can help save money. Selling on Craigslist and/or eBay can help you get rid of clutter or unused items while giving you money for bills & groceries. I suggest that you & your husband have a serious talk about (and make lists!) things you need to have, costs involved, bills that you pay each money. Get an idea of how much it will cost you to live on a day to day basis…and don’t forget to factor in the money you will save by not having to drive to work yourself each day and things like childcare! Surprisingly you DO save money – on gas & car maintenance…not to mention your time! Then you can do a “trial” run for a few months and see how you do living on his income. It might give you a good idea on where there will be holes to be filled.

Like I said before – it is truly a leap of faith. But I can honestly say that if my family can do this – I know anyone can do it…IF they are determined enough and trust God to see them through! God luck to you!

Word Warrior June 18, 2010 - 9:53 am


Wow…that is difficult spot! I don’t really know that I have an answer, except continued prayer for your husband’s work. I can offer a tip we learned from the credit card trap: if it’s not an option, you won’t do it.

Meaning, when we ran our credit cards up it wasn’t for frivolous purchases. We paid bills with them because the money just wasn’t there. At the time, we were thinking, “Boy, it’s a good thing we have these credit cards to fall back on”.

In reality, and something we tested to be true later, if the credit cards had not been available, we would have been forced to do something else–take a second job, cut back more, etc. We have since been in those situations and while still a hard place to be, on the other side of it, we weren’t thousands of dollars in CC debt.

I don’t know if that helps to apply those thoughts to your situation, but thought I’d offer it.

Your commitment to coming home and determination will be your most important factor as you pray and search for practical solutions.

Tiffany June 18, 2010 - 10:29 am

thanks so much Kelly (or is it Kelley??). The thing is that we have done a good job of saving for retirement and our next car that we will need in another year or 2. With all that money saved up I could probably quit my job and we would be fine for about a year…even if my husband is still only working part time. But the health insurance really scares me since we want more children (if it’s God’s plan). On the credit card note…we use them now because we like the benefits…and I know that we spend way more money because of them. For example, last week we used our HHonors points to stay one night in a hotel. It was “free” but we probably spent at least $100 more using that credit card just because we had the card…so really the night wasn’t free! I think I heard Dave Ramsey say once that he never heard of anyone getting rich off of airline miles! How true!

Rachel June 18, 2010 - 10:15 am

It’s such a great feeling coming out of debt isn’t it?

We’ve managed to clear an £1800 overdraft (leftover from my student days) this year on one income. Next year we need to clear another £1800 from my husbands student account, and then pay off a car loan. But we will get there in the end!

It is the little things that all add up that can be problematic. We’ve both been on a diet since Christmas, and it has *really* saved us money – no more popping down the shop of an evening to buy chocolate has probably saved us pounds and pounds 😉

The phrase “gazelle intensity” is very apt I think.

Rebecca S. June 18, 2010 - 11:10 am

Hi Kelly,
I am so enjoying this series and the knowledge you are sharing with us. I did want to ask how did the CC company go from charging you 24% interest to a mere .99%? Is this something they offered you or did you ask for it? I would be interested to know how that occurred to see if its a viable option for us.

Beth June 18, 2010 - 11:33 am

I’m interested too… Several years ago, my husband and I had about $15,000 credit card debt (on cards with 20-30% interest rates) and tried the often suggested call to ask them to lower the rates. I don’t know if we just didn’t talk to the right person or what because they told us there was nothing they could do. Going to the automatic payment withdrawal thing would have only knocked one percent off the rate… hardly enough for us to feel it was worth it. So, we took out a personal loan from the bank with only a 8 or 9 % interest rate, used that to pay off the credit cards and then focused on paying off the loan. We’re still working on student loans and now have a mortgage, but having no more credit card debt has really helped us (I guess that’s how we got the mortgage)! I’m wondering about how you actually got them to reduce the rates that far out of sheer curiosity since that suggestion didn’t really work for us. Maybe $15,000 wasn’t enough debt?

Word Warrior June 18, 2010 - 12:22 pm

Beth and Rebecca,

I’ll tell you exactly what happened, as best I can remember since it was quite a few years ago.

We had been paying on the card for quite some time and the interest rates (as you well know) jump from the original to astronomical if you are even a few days late, the case for us.

I had, too, on several occasions called and *begged* for them to lower the rates to a reasonable amount. As it was, we were paying like $175/month with, LITERALLY $8 going toward principle and the other $167 toward interest. Sickening.

We accidentally happened upon the arrangement. Upon a particularly hard financial season, we were only able to pay for essentials–as Dave says, things “above the red line” (food, shelter, utilities). We were hit or miss with the CC and felt so exasperated anyway because so little of our payment was even going toward principle that it was like throwing money we didn’t have away.

After 3 or 4 month of not being able to pay on it, they called us. I call it “the magical CC lady”. I even remember saying, “you mean to tell me that for months of calling and asking to have our interest rate lowered, being assured that it “wasn’t possible” you are now dropping it from 24 to .9??!! They also dropped a heap of $35 late charges.

So, for reasons difficult for me to understand, they suddenly became very friendly.

For the “ethical” argument, let me offer this as well: I have spent many an hour on the phone with creditors and you are not dealing with ethical companies. I have complained numerous times about the contradiction of reward/punishment of the customer. It went something like:

“Are you aware that you punish honest customers who try to do the right thing by working hard to pay their debts on time and then reward them when they stop paying? That’s whacked.”

So while I can’t suggest that someone intentionally stop paying on a debt, I’m sharing our accidental experience of irony: it was only when we hadn’t paid for a few months that we were able to recover a reasonable interest rate and arrangement that enabled us to actually pay what we owed instead of forcing us into bankruptcy. I think many people choose that because it seems so overwhelming to climb over the interest rates that keep them from making any progress on the actual debt.

Mrs W June 19, 2010 - 4:44 pm

Just because the credit card companies aren’t ethical doesn’t give us an excuse as Christians to not be ethical. We are to pay our bills. If we stupidly end up in lots of credit card debt (sin) then the consequences of that sin are having to pay it back.

We just paid off just over $12,000 in credit card debt, and we did what we are supposed to do, we paid back every penny. To do otherwise is not ethical. It was so sad to read this post where you brag on a lack of ethics especially when, although you and I disagree about some things, it seems you are genuinely trying to live right.

Word Warrior June 19, 2010 - 9:36 pm

Mrs. W.,

You honestly accuse me of being “unethical” because the company *voluntarily* offered to give us a small discount, which technically, was no discount from what we actually charged? Unbelievable. You would tell them, “no thanks, I’ll have to decline your offer”? What is unethical about that?

“Bragging?” Wow. Shaking head.

LucyT June 20, 2010 - 1:13 am

Kelly, I can not believe anyone would call you unethical for excepting an offer made by the credit card company.We fell behind on one credit card in three months of not being able to pay on it the balance due tripled.I AM SERIOUS!I think that is unethical.

Word Warrior June 20, 2010 - 1:26 am


I’m sitting here at my computer, late at night, reading up on “ethics” regarding this, asking the Lord, “Were we just naive?”

Never in our lives have my husband or I considered accepting their offer as “unethical”. (I certainly wouldn’t be sharing my experience as “encouragement” if I thought for a minute it was).

I think it’s pretty unfair to be blind-sided with a hateful statement like,

“It was so sad to read this post where you brag on a lack of ethics especially when, although you and I disagree about some things, it seems you are genuinely trying to live right.”

With all my heart, I want to live uprightly before my Savior. This question, unkind as it was, has caused me to certainly consider, whether there is something I’m not seeing.

But thank you, for your words. I’ll be seeking “a multitude of counselors”. It matters to me.

LucyT June 20, 2010 - 1:57 am

Kelly,I am sad that you are worried about this comment at all.I had a surgery 7 years ago.My insurance didn’t cover it,even though I was told it would.It was something I could have put off had I known.We made payment arangment and paid for a couple of years.Then we had some set backs .I called the hospital to try to get my surgery payment lowered.The billing person after looking at my account told me my bill had been paid by a donation from someone.I couldn’t believe it.I ask her who she said they had a program and people could and did donate money to pay others medical bills.She wouldn’t give me any more info.I have always excepted it as a blessing.
I owed this money. I agreed to the surgery. someone else paid my debt.I didn’t turn down the offer.I never felt it was unethical.I remember crying and saying Thank you God while the billing person laughed neviously on the other end of the line.

Mrs W June 21, 2010 - 11:09 am

What a blessing! That’s awesome that your debt was paid. You did nothing wrong, seeing as the debt was paid. It’s totally different to not paying your debt at all. Jesus paid our sin debt after all. He didn’t cancel out the debt, didn’t say it didn’t need to be paid, no, HE actually paid for it.

Word Warrior June 21, 2010 - 11:37 am

Mrs. W.,

After much thinking, praying and seeking godly counsel about the nature of the ethics in question, I can say confidently that you are wrong.

Let me offer the few details that lead me to this decision, and th1.en I’m done.

1. Your assertion is simply, “You charged it, you pay it back”. Which is fair. But you’re leaving out some important factors. The credit card company receives money–principal paid and interest paid, it’s all the same, and the debtor agrees to the terms. Before any arrangement had been made, we had already paid the money we originally borrowed. That didn’t reflect in the balance because most of it was going to pay the interest, but the money had been paid to the company from where we borrowed. That in itself is enough to satisfy any ethical questions of repayment.

2. But, more than that, just like we agreed to the terms of repayment, agreed to the terms of interest (no matter how ridiculous they became) we are permitted to agree to their terms of repayment, even if that includes a reduction. (By the way, they wouldn’t consider reducing the balance except that they knew they were still getting more money back than was actually borrowed). When a business offers a client something–a sale, a reduction in payment, whatever, it removes ethical question. This company offered US, without even a suggestion from us, a reduced rate on a balance that had already been satisfied. Those were THERE terms. To agree to those terms is not unethical. It’s an honest business arrangement.

Any further suggestion that what we did was unethical will now be dismissed as a reader who simply wants to find fault. Case closed.

Mrs W June 21, 2010 - 9:39 am

It’s much along the same lines of Christians who file for bankruptcy just so that they don’t have to pay back what they owe. The Bible tells us that if we did get into debt, we are to pay back what we owe. I honestly am having trouble seeing where any of this kind of stuff is Biblically ok.

Beth June 21, 2010 - 11:51 am

I guess I don’t see where it would have been Biblical for Kelly to turn down the mercy and forgiveness that the credit card company offered to her.

Beth June 21, 2010 - 11:54 am

Oh I just saw Kelly’s response and I like the way she explained it. That’s about what I was thinking too. Sorry to keep adding to it.

MK June 15, 2011 - 3:25 pm

“It’s much along the same lines of Christians who file for bankruptcy just so that they don’t have to pay back what they owe. The Bible tells us that if we did get into debt, we are to pay back what we owe. I honestly am having trouble seeing where any of this kind of stuff is Biblically ok.”

Mrs. W: Did Jesus himself appoint you judge of other people’s debt situations and choices? I doubt it. It is fine to raise questions, however it is sinful to hurt/judge others by how you raise those questions just to justify your own actions. Be proud of paying off your debts but keep your judgements to yourself.
Christians (or anyone else for that matter) don’t ‘file for bankruptcy just so that they don’t have to pay back what they owe’. People file bankruptcy largely because they DO have to.
I suggest you search a little harder for those Biblical references you seem to need so badly to justify your own actions – because it seems that you need to. Maybe you didn’t have to struggle so hard to pay your $12k but are angry because you only realize it now through someone else’s experience?
Good thing Jesus didn’t need a biblical reference to die on the cross for us.

Erica March 18, 2013 - 12:04 pm


Kim M June 18, 2010 - 11:13 am


Congratulations on being almost debt free! That is so wonderful!

Great post! Our church hosted Dave Ramsey’s Financial peace University a couple of years ago. It was so motivating. I would recommend to anyone to LISTEN to his series as well. Reading is great but listening is added icing on the cake too. I know there are some clips on Youtube that might be helpful.

Tiffany June 18, 2010 - 11:30 am

Hi again! I posted some info about my family’s situation above and my desire to come stay home with my boy. One viable option is for us to move away from our current location to somewhere that my husband has better opportunities for work. He works in forestry and the options are limited in our area. However, this would mean moving away from the rest of his family whom we are extremely close to (parents, sister, aunts, cousins, etc). And now that we have children I am afraid we all would really struggle with this. Has anyone ever done something like this and might be willing to share their story or advice?

LucyT June 18, 2010 - 1:33 pm

This is only my opinion but I would pray very long and hard,possably fast and like you have done here ask others who have nothing to lose or gain from your move what they think you should do.(seek godly council).Neither my husband or I are close to our families.Yet when we moved away we really came to regret it.We left everything we had ever known and I have had a real hard time coming to the relization.That my children won’t share the same childhood memories that I loved and all the generation before me.The seasons,the smell of lilac and wild honeysuckle,endless cornfields,fireworks on the lake,long cool orange falls,snowy hills perfect for sledding,all the special festivals that are ingrained in our community the since of belonging to a place and a people.I truelly belive that chasing money is not always what God would want for us.Sometimes faith is sticking it out where you are.

LucyT June 18, 2010 - 1:38 pm

I wanted to add that I will be praying for you.

Tiffany June 18, 2010 - 2:03 pm

Thanks LucyT…you brought up a very good point about leaving all that we know. We definitely will be in prayer over these decisions. And thank you for your prayers!

Charity June 18, 2010 - 1:15 pm

Hey Kelly, I wanted ask your advice….We have never had debt until recently. We do not have credit cards, we rent, and have a “basic” emergency fund that we are working to build to a 3-6 month status. We have recently accumulated a lot of dr bills (even having health insurance). We have payment plans set up with them and are faithfully paying the agreed monthly amount. My question is this: should we use the emergency fund to pay them off? Or continue making payments like we are? We do not think it would be wise to deplete our emergency fund completely. But is this what the emergency fund is for?

Word Warrior June 18, 2010 - 1:52 pm


Dave suggests building a $1000 emergency fund and then paying off debts and then building the EF up. If the debts aren’t accumulating interest, though, and are therefore not as urgent, I might consider using about half of what you have saved to pay on them, and then resume regular payments for the rest.

We did this for one of our credit cards that had virtually no interest. Since we weren’t losing money on our monthly payments, and funds were so stretched, we have just paid the minimum amount and it has whittled almost away in a few years.

The best plan, I think, is above the $1000 or so, if you are comfortable enough with other bills, to get rid of the debt. Remember that usually the hospital bills have inflated charges anyway and will likely reduce your balance–ESPECIALLY if you can pay it in full.

Charity June 18, 2010 - 2:02 pm

Kelly, What I was calling the “basic” EF is the $1000, and we were working to build it up to the 3-6 months as Dave suggests in the step program, since we had no debt. The dr bills are very recent (as in, we just began getting them in the mail over the last few months) and since we didn’t have enough for the total payment we set up payment plans with them. We have just payed off one of them (by using some from the emergency fund) but there isn’t enough left in the EF to wipe them clean, and we didn’t want to be without an EF. So, rather than continuing to try to build the EF (to 3-6months)we should use put that effort toward the dr bills? (They do not have any interest on them.)

Word Warrior June 18, 2010 - 2:14 pm


I consulted Dave (through the book ;-)) on this one, just to be sure. He is adamant that *all* money above the $1000 EF goes to pay off debt–regardless of whether there is interest rate.

Pay them off in the order of smallest to largest first.

If in that time, you have to dip into your 1000 EF, stop paying extra on the debts until you replenish the EF and then resume extra on debts.

The power behind Dave’s strategy is momentum. He says that if you pay a little here and a little there you will lose the emotional energy it takes to become financially free.

So, above your $1000, pay off those medical bills as fast as possible!

Let me know if they offer a reduced rate for paying all at once, too.

Charity June 18, 2010 - 2:38 pm

Kelly, Okay, thanks so much! I feel like we can have one BIG arrow pointing in the right direction now, rather than lots of little arrows pointing aimlessly all over the place 😉 Now I’m feeling very determined (I have a mouse-like personality, generally) so I’m off to call lots of dr’s offices to see what they say. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Charity June 22, 2010 - 2:34 pm

Kelly, I have hesitated letting you know how things went because I didn’t want to add to the “unethical” thing, and almost emailed instead of commenting here…but decided this might be encouraging to someone else in a situation like ours.

I called the first couple of offices that we owe smaller balances to. Both that I called offered reduced rates automatically and we were able to pay them off (with the money we had in the EF over $1000). So, now we will put the money that we would have used to pay those two bills’ monthly payments, on the nest dr bill on the list, which by doing this it will be paid of in two more payments!! (Isn’t this the snowball effect Dave talks about? We kinda just skimmed the chapters on paying debt off, since we didn’t have any debt at the time.)We are thrilled! We are continuing down the list of dr bills, and plan to call and ask about reduced rates (if payed in full at that time) for each one. We aren’t sure that it’s that great to have health insurance. Kinda confused about this, because when my husband was unemployed and we had none, we paid cash up front for all medical services (and this included the birth of our baby boy!) and paid less than we are being charged for some of the exact same services, at the exact same offices….with insurance!! Very confusing to me! I would welcome any advice here as well.

Thank you for everything Kelly.

Word Warrior June 22, 2010 - 2:41 pm


That is wonderful! Yes, doctor’s bills are far less without health insurance because of the corruption of the companies. Health ins. co. write off most of the bill they are charged. So the hospital has to inflate the price just to get a fraction paid.

Which is why often they lower your bill if you ask them. The prices are so often already inflated (they won’t bother to tell you that) that a “reduced rate” is not really reduced, but just the normal rate.

Thank you for sharing!

Heather August 3, 2010 - 1:23 pm

Hi Charity, I wanted to encourage you to look into Samaritan Ministries International. It’s a healthcare sharing ministry that is an alternative to health insurance. We found out about it and joined a few months ago after hearing it endorsed by Doug Phillips (of Vision Forum). It is a WONDERFUL alternative in so many ways and much more affordable than health insurance. It is $320/month for families and covers most things over $300. Members send their “share” each month to meet another member’s need. Another cool thing about it is that it is exempt from the upcoming mandatory health insurance. If anyone does decide to sign up, let me know b/c they give members $170 off one month’s share for referals. God bless!

Moses Abdool January 18, 2012 - 6:20 pm


Erica March 18, 2013 - 12:32 pm

Thankfully we don’t have CC’s at all. Although there have been moments I wished we did…but looking back I am MUCH happier knowing that if we don’t have the cash for it then we don’t get it! Many times it has meant that the purchase would have been nice, but definitely unnecessary. I had to learn this the hard way when I was 18 and got stuck paying off things that ended up costing me much more than just buying it outright after you factor in finance charges & late fees.

I have been able to purchase some of Dave Ramsey’s items off of the Homeschool Buyers Co-Op we belong to. They recently began offering some of his financial planning “tools” for students. While I haven’t gotten them yet to be able to read through them I know from other parents that much of what is in his books/materials for students helps teach them from the beginning how to manage their money in a way so that they aren’t dealing with these types of issues in their futures.

I have been very blessed because my grandfather was a very devout Christian that lived his life based on what the Bible teaches. I spent most of my childhood with my grandparents because my father was an alcoholic…and my grandfather took the place of my “father-figure”. He taught me from the age of 5 yrs old that when you get paid the FIRST thing you do is set aside the 10% that goes to God, then 10% for your savings, then you buy groceries & pay your bills (in that order)and anything left over can go to fun things (or towards savings…anything you want). I would “work” for my grandparents and when I got “paid” my grandfather would distribute the money in that manner to teach me. He handed me envelopes that were marked – “God”, “Savings”, “Bills”, “Wants” – and I had to figure out what 10% was and put it in the “God” envelope, same with “Savings”…since I was young the “Bills” often times meant things like Girl Scout items I needed or money for a camping trip with school.

It really left an impression on me and even after I fell away from God later in life I STILL used the system. My husband has never lived this way and believes that since he makes the money then he should control where it goes. Sadly this has placed us in stressful situations at times! It’s the little things that have tripped him up – stopping to get gas and grabbing a can of pop and pack of gum, or forgetting to pack his lunch and going out to eat some place that sounds good, but costs him $10-15 to eat a meal there! I tried to get him to really look at what he’s buying EACH day…but he said that he just could not find the time to do it daily, but when he tried weekly he could never remember everything he had spent money on. Finally I just waited for him to get home each day (for ONE month) and while he was “unwinding” I would quiz him on what he did all day. If he stopped at the gas station I asked him exactly what he bought & how much it cost. After just one month of this I was able to hand him a print out of his spending habits where he was able to see that he was literally throwing money away each month doing things “his way” instead of following the planning methods I was trying to teach him. Surprisingly after years of pointing this out he finally got it and has been much better…just have to make sure I make him pack his lunch before we put away our dinner leftovers, make sure I set up the coffee pot and program it to make coffee for when he’s getting up for work, and don’t let him make ’emergency’ runs to the carryout around the corner when we need something, because they charge 3-4 times what the grocery store charges!

The biggest problem I have is getting my husband on-board with our finances. I just keep praying!!!

Payitdown August 1, 2013 - 12:47 pm

I want to know if this is a good idea. My husband and I both make 80K and 58K respectively. We both have student loans totaling approximately 70 – 80K. I feel like we can live on his income and use my income to power pay down our loans (instead of paying separately) and to power pay down our mortgage of 380,000 as well. Does this make sense or am I crazy? Thanks for listening!

Home: Understanding Family Economy (Part 4) | September 28, 2013 - 9:42 pm

[…] of working outside the home, earning money from home, family economy, cutting the grocery budget, paying off debt, and a bit about our own personal journey of my leaving work to come home. One of my first ebooks, […]

Mrs Pretty Kelly August 11, 2014 - 2:32 am

My name is Mrs pretty kelly and i live in the USA California and life is worth living right now for me and my family and all this is because of one man sent by GOD to help me and my family, i once had a life filled with sorrow because my first SON needed a kidney transplant and all our savings were going towards his medications and this normally leaves us with no money to pay our bills or even put enough food on our table and our rent was due and no funds to pay these bills and life felt so unfair to me and every night my wife will cry herself to sleep every night until one day, i was browsing through yahoo answers and i saw a striking advert of a man that gives out personal loans and that the offer is opened to all and i have heard so many things about internet scams but at this point of my life, i was very desperate and ready to take any risk and at the end of the day, i applied for this loan and from one step to another, i got my loan within 12 hours through bank transfer and you know, it was all like a dream and i called Mr.Lewis Harry A Man who is the GOD sent lender i found and said, i have received my loan and he smiled stating that to GOD be the glory and i was so shocked as i have never ever seen anyone with such a GOD fearing and kind heart and today, i am the happiest man on earth because by GOD’S grace, my SON kidney transplant was successful and today he is healthy, i and my family are living very comfortable and happy and if you are in my former situation or in serious and legitimate need of a loan, you can reach this GOD sent lender via: lewisharry_lending@hotmail.com
Mrs Pretty Kelly


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