Why to Get Out of Debt

When Mark and I got married, we took our vows seriously.

To have and to hold,
from this day forward,
for better or for worse,
for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
to love and cherish from this day forward
until death do us part.

Our wedding was grand, 
the honeymoon, divine.

Nothing could keep us apart or make us unhappy.

We both had jobs, 
no children yet, 
no mortgage, 
no "responsibilities".

So, we did what we liked, 
went where we liked, 
spent what we liked 
on what we liked.

$350 suits, no problem.
JC Penney Credit.

Weekend trips to Disney World, let's go!!
(it's a small world, after all).

Dinner cruises, we deserve it.

A new car? Why not?
GMC Lease.

One day, the bottom dropped out.

We were spending more than we made.
We borrowed when we knew we couldn't repay.
We robbed Peter to pay Paul.
(Definition:To take or borrow from one in order to give or pay something owed to another.)

We were $33,000 in credit card and loan debt.

This was painful.
Excruciating, even.

We fought.
We cringed when the phone rang.
We ate beans and rice a lot.
We fought.
Checks bounced.
The electricity got turned off.
We fought.

We forgot our vows:
To love and to cherish,
for richer, for poorer.
We loved each other in the richer,
but blamed each other in the poorer.

But neither one of us were handling our finances intelligently.

Until we found Dave.
Dave Ramsey is our hero.
He gave us hope, and a plan and a hopeful future.

We attended a Financial Peace University seminar and not only learned
The Baby Steps to Beat Debt and Build Wealth,
but we learned 
WHY TO get out of debt.


  • God owns it all. We are just caretakers of his creation. All we have is just on loan to us, from Him. Every spending decision is a spiritual decision. Waste, for example, is NOT a squandering of our resources, it is a poor use of His

    Psalm 24:1 says-- The earth is the Lord's and everything in it;
    the world, and all who live in it.

    • We trust that the Lord will supply all our needs. The problem comes when we try to define "needs". Dave defines basic needs as: food, shelter, clothing, transportation and utilities. 

      Philippians 4:19 says-- And my God will meet all your needs 
      according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

      • We must honor Him with the resources we have. Since we have limited resources and unlimited choices (poor Americans!), the only way to get ahead financially is to deny ourselves some of the things we want. If we don't have the discipline to do that, then we will always be in debt. In other words, we must spend less than we earn to avoid this:

        • It restores peace and freedom to the home. After being in debt for some time, it's hard to remember what it feels like to not owe anyone. You feel trapped, desperate, in bondage. When the pain of slavery becomes more unbearable than the risk of breaking free, you are on on your way to loosing those chains. Once you are free from your restraints, the sun comes out, you are free to dream, and you can truly focus on what's really important--chocolate-- not really, just checking to see if you're still here.

        Proverbs 22:7 says--The poor are always ruled over by the rich, 
        so don't borrow and put yourself under their power.

        Psalm 142:7 says-- Rescue me from this prison, so I can praise your name.
           And when your people notice your wonderful kindness to me,
           they will rush to my side.

        • We will be able to share. Giving reminds us that the world does not revolve around us, and that no matter how bad off we feel we are, someone else is in a much worse situation.  Giving originated in the heart of a giving God, a God who lavishes us with more blessings than we ever deserved or expected. Life, love, salvation, eternity with Him... all gifts. One of the great and unique promises in God's Word is that the more we give, the more we receive--not necessarily in material things, but in spiritual and eternal rewards.

        • In our old age, we will not have to worry about our own care, and our children and grandchildren will be blessed by our prudence. Let's reverse our nation's trend toward leaving debt for our grandchildren. If we are able to bless our children, by helping them to get moving in the right direction early in life, what a legacy of love we can leave!

          (1929-- My great grandmother, Sarah, in the middle, and my grandmother on the left and her brothers).

          Proverbs 13:22 says-- A good man leaves an inheritance 
          of moral stability and goodness to his children's children.

          It took us two L-O-N-G years,
          We pay with cash
          we have money saved,
          we have an Emergency Fund.

          Just this month, 3 things in our household needed $ thrown at it:
          1) Our 1992 Buick Skylark (the car pictured above) needed a new radiator.
          2) Our 11 year-old lawnmower broke and so we got a new mower.
          3) Our 8 year-old digital camera died and we got a refurbished one.

          We were able to get these things 
          because we have an account just for such problems 
          that inevitably arise.

          Our life is not perfect, but definitely more peaceful.
          Mark and I spend less time talking about bills and financial woes
          and more time dreaming, laughing and enjoying each other's company.

          (Our 20th Anniversary Party--the kitchen is trashed because there were 10 couples celebrating with us!)

          Our wedding vows which stated:
          for better or for worse,
          for richer, for poorer
          --have been put to the test.

          Did we like the test?
          Uh, nope.

          But our marriage is sweeter for it
          now that we know why to get out of debt.


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          1. Isn't Dave Ramsey just THE BEST? Puts it all into perspective. So glad you are doing great now. Terrific pics, both then and now. Such a handsome and happy looking couple!!

            Big TX Hugs,
            Angelic Accents

          2. Congrats! Love the pictures, old and new. Shane and I have only been married 4 years and already I look at our wedding pictures and think, "We were babies!"

          3. Dear Leslie...Thank you so much for your very honest post today. I think it's wonderful you and your sweetheart have worked together to get out of debt and live a quality life. It's true that we become slaves when we owe. God is so good but he is a STRICT teacher. He's a disciplinarian alright. But we learn and then our lives are more happy, peaceful, and FREE. Thanks again for your sweet honesty. Sincerely, Susan

          4. I LOVE THIS!!!! First of all, I agree completely and could have written SO MUCH of this myself. (surprise, surprise)

            Can I also just say that you were a beautiful bride? Just lovely.

            Um... And you are one brave chick. I would never put a bikini picture on my blog. If I decide to put one, can I just borrow yours and photoshop my head on it? Please?


          5. A very inspiring post, dear Leslie. Love your photos, especially your 20th anniversary.

          6. Great and truly awesome post and happy 20th anniversary!!!


          7. I knew your pain, we are almost debt free, except for a new car that was desperately needed. THank you for sharing, HOpe you come by and join me. Ill be following

          8. Leslie- so very proud of you and hubby!! My DH and I facilitate FPU Classes. We worked on becoming dept free and because we accomplished it we were able to go into full time ministry!! It is worth all the hard work and it's amazing how much growing up we did!!

            bee blessed

          9. Oops for to wish you guys a Happy Debt Free Anniversary!

          10. Yay! What a wonderful post! I loved reading this (even read some aloud to my hubby!).

          11. Congratulations! And it probably made you both closer. That's a sweet story. Thanks for sharing.

          12. How inspiring. Thank you for sharing!!! Mrs. Goode highly recommends Mr. Ramsey as well.

          13. Hooray for you!! God is so faithful!!

          14. amen! we just finished baby step 3 today!!! we feel so free.

          15. Thank you for your honest post. I know exactly how you feel - Hubby and I are still trying to get out of debt, which originally caused a lot of arguements but after 10 years and a daughter later we're stronger than ever and hope to get rid of the debt soon.

            Happy Anniversary!

          16. That's an awesome lesson you learned. It's so fantaastic that your marriage is stronger now because of the things you both learned - together.

            I gave you a versatile blogger award. You can pick it up on my blog.

          17. We just graduated FPU ourselves and it has transformed our lives. We are so thankful that God used Dave Ramsey in our lives!

          18. Thank You for this beautiful, refreshingly honest article Leslie!
            Ramsey has pointed alot of marriages toward Biblical, financial wisdom and it has helped save those marriages, I'm sure!
            We are on that same hopeful path.
            Thanks for what you do, you inspire and teach! Love you!♥

          19. Leslie, I applaud you for having the guts to do this post. And can I just say, we have definitely been there, more than once. Financial freedom doesn't come easy, but when you've been in debt, it's something you never take for granted. I am a huge fan of Dave Ramsey. I watch him all the time on Fox & Friends. Thanks for giving me one more reason to love your blog.

          20. Amen sister. Makes me realise I should really be very thankful for my man's account keeping and wise budgeting over the years!

          21. PHENOMINAL POST!!!! One of the best reads all week!! You really have great perspective Leslie!! Thanks to God that He gave you such an open and willing heart!

            I took the Dave Ramsey FPU course several years ago with my mom. My husband has always had great financial wisdom and I used to purposefully and many times not purposefully sabotage his financial plans. After Dave Ramsey's course I was finally on the same page with my hubby and we, too, are much more content and at peace.
            God bless...Dustine

          22. Amen. I discovered Dave about a year ago, and his advice made such good sense I was finally motivated to get started on the path to living debt free. I got my emergency fund into place and started really working on the debt. Good thing I had my emergency fund in place, if you read this post, http://tiny.cc/y51lj, you’ll know why. $600 just to clean up the mess. That’s not replacement for anything that was lost, just the cost to clean it all up.
            I think this is a good post to remind us what is important in life. It can be easy to read all the gorgeous decorating blogs and get carried away with spending trying to ‘keep up’. Even though many blogs are all about decorating on a dime, those dimes can add up.
            Thanks for sharing your story.

          23. Amen Sister!! GREAT Post!!! We can all take lessons from this. I have made my share of credit mistakes as well. We live and learn..but we must all simply live within our means!! Great Pics by the way!!

          24. Great post. It is so easy to get into debt -- the world keeps telling us we need this or we need that. I like Dave Ramsey's philosophy. It's painful getting out of debt but you feel so much better when you do.

          25. Truer words were never spoken.

            P.S. Thanks for visiting me. I appreciate it.

          26. Wonderful story! And congrats on 20 years!!

          27. Leslie,

            What an inspiring post not only at getting out of debt but one that honors the vows you took. I spent many years in my profession creating and managing wealth so I appreciate the effort and discipline it took to reach your goal.
            Lesson learned: It is best to hold onto each other rather than things.
            Have a wonderful weekend my friend.


          28. Congrats on 20 years! Great post and so true. Life is so much sweeter when you live within your means. :)


          29. Amen! What a beautiful testimony to coming back to what is truly important, and following God's plan for us.

          30. Can I just shout a big "AMEN!"?? Wow, your story is that much more powerful when I know what we just paid off in credit card debt. So proud of you guys! I know in years past, if there was one thing Jeff and I fought about, it was money and how to spend/not spend it. Sooo glad those times are fewer, if any because we are both focused on how our $$ is spent. God is so good to us and we need to honor Him with our spending...you are so right!

            Excellent post. I'm posting the link on my FB account.

            Blessings to you both!

          31. Hello ~ I don't know you, but stumbled upon your post because of facebook...thank you for writing. My husband and I started on our road to financial freedom in April. At this point, it's only been a few months and I'm a struggling a bit. I feel like this road will never end. But, we're planning to pay off the first of many credit cards in August! Thanks for your encouragement. :-)

          32. I have to thank you for your post about Dave Ramsey and FPU. Fate proved helpful when in the same week I saw a post about Dave on your blog and one other place. I thought it was a sign because I had never heard of this.

            Well, we are in our 3rd week of the FPU program and full of hope to get rid of debt. Thanks for blogging about it!

          33. Leslie, I am all too familiar with your journey. We now have no credit cards and pay everything cash. Unfortunately with the credit cards and all the wrong spending, along went our credit too, but the lesson was learned. There are still a few things I'd like to perfect even more and sometimes it is difficult when we are living on one salary and have made so many sacrifices in order for me to stay home with our children for nearly 20 years now. Little by little I guess, but the best thing is that our marriage survived and going on 26. Congrats to you guys!

            Thank you for being transparent. We need so much more of it, especially in fantasy blogland. ;)

          34. Dave Ramsey is another member of our family. LOL We follow his baby steps and he has forever changed our family tree! We hope to have our house paid off in 5 years!

          35. Thank you so much for sharing this. We are on the baby steps, but I so appreciate your "why" things. I just found your blog today and love it! Have a wonderful day!

          36. Happy 20th Anniversary! Cash is king (to stay debt free) and it is always safer to pay with cash and be super mindful of "need". Credit cards make adding impulse "wants" too easy when on errands. We are big Dave Ramsey fans too. Clark Howard is another financial wiz who we listen to. Many blessings to you all in 2011 !!

          37. Thank you for your honest words, it give me hope that my husband and I can also find financial freedom.

          38. Amen! My husband and I spent a few days at a Christian work shop on managing finaces and it was a real eye opener. Your blogg was a refresher that we need to pull out the stuff from the class and put it to work.

          39. Thanks for this post! We are currently working toward becoming debt free, too. Sometimes it seems like everything just piles up at once, though. 2 ER trips and an emergency trip to the dentist after a fall, all within 2 months. Whew!

          40. Thanks for sharing your story. Hubs and I, probably like many, have a similar story - and finally got the picture. Though we did not do it with Dave Ramsey We are debt free and working on going forward now. Isn't awesome to get it the way God planned it.

          41. Ah, I love Dave Ramsey. We're a no debt family, too. It's good to remember why! I love your reasons. Thanks for this post and for your authenticity!

          42. Or, you can use credit cards that earn cash back and make money while you buy things you need (food, gas, etc.) Pay off the balance in full each month and reap the cash back rewards.

          43. We love Dave Ramsey! But we're still working on the debt-free baby step! Thanks for linking to me in your sidebar, Leslie!!

          44. AMEN!! Awesome words of wisdom! ^_^

          45. I love your story. I found Dave about 5 years ago and a year later got married....my husband is now hooked too. Thank you for reinforcing that we are doing the right thing staying out of debt and that God owns it all anyway.

          46. So happy I to have found your blog today. You are such an inspiration!!!

          47. Love Dave Ramsey and honestly you've gotten more beautiful through the years!


          Thank you for coming by and for sharing your heart and thoughts with me!


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