Kara Robinson and her husband added the total debt – $138,000. “That’s a house!” as Kara put it.
We make choices in our youth that have to be addressed at some point. She discussing those choices for this New Year New You 2015 profile.
Rather than be discouraged, they are working together and focusing on a plan to be debt free while taking advantage of every opportunity to use their resources most effectively. Kara is taking-Kara-business and she’s chronicling her journey out of debt on Taking Kara Myself.
As newlyweds, did you both bring debt into the marriage?
Yes, we both brought debt into the marriage. I had about $28k, and my husband had about $114k. Over 80% of our combined debt was student loans. Hindsight, my husband wishes he would’ve gone to a state school versus a private school so he wouldn’t have had so much student loan debt. But I can’t be mad at that. If he would’ve gone to another school, we would’ve never met.
How long have you been working to dump debt?
Before we got married, I was following along with Dave Ramsey’s baby steps and got rid of about 8 of my 14 bills. But once we got engaged in May 2014, we sat down and decided the best method to get rid of our debt was to combine our finances. We have been working on debt since then.
When do you expect to be debt free?
Making the same amount of money as we do now, we figure we will be out of debt within 7 years. Realistically I see us catching on to the gazelle-like intensity that Dave Ramsey and his followers speak of so often, especially once we start knocking off a lot of our smaller debt. Hopefully we will find ourselves out of debt sooner though.
What’s been the hardest part of your journey?
I would say this is a two part answer. The first hardest part is coming to terms with the debt amount. Sometimes, when I am reviewing our budget, I will start talking to my husband about our debt, and it hits me. We have $138,000 in debt! That’s a house! And, as he always does, he brings me down. He reminds me that we have a plan, and it takes sticking to that plan; even when it is most difficult. No, we can’t always go out to eat with our friends, or we can’t plan a weekend getaway. That money could, instead, be going towards our bills. Every cent we put towards our debt is a cent closer to debt freedom. The second hardest part is making some sacrifices. For instance, when we got engaged in May 2014, we initially wanted to have a July 2015 wedding. But we quickly realized that we would need to get married in Florida since that is where all of our family and friends live. Then we established that if we did a wedding there, we wouldn’t have a honeymoon. So we decided we should just get married here, in Texas. We planned a wedding in all of 10 days and spent a whopping $543. Yes, family and friends missed out, but we have successfully planned and paid for our honeymoon, which is a cruise that we will be taking this May. Yes, it would’ve been nice to have a big wedding and celebrate with all of our friends and family, but we couldn’t simply justify spending the time and money in planning a wedding. Both of us couldn’t be happier with our wedding, and especially with the fact that we paid for our wedding in cash! The sacrifice was worth it.
Was there anything that was surprisingly easy?
Creating a budget. Once we wrote out every single bill we had, everything seemed to fall into place. It makes it nice that we get paid twice monthly. So our middle of the month budget is the same every single month. Then the end of the month budget is always the same as well. It really helps us out in terms of keeping with our budget, versus getting paid every two weeks and having to deal with bills at different times in the month.
What’s helped you stay committed?
Realizing that if we can stick to a budget, we can get out of debt. The great thing about our budget is that we pay our bills, we have savings, and we both get a certain dollar amount to last us for food, gas, fun, etc until the next pay period. We can do whatever we want with our extra money. We aren’t necessarily limiting ourselves by saying we can’t go out to dinner, or we can’t get home for Christmas. If we spend the money out of our “spending” money, and don’t touch our bill money or our debt snowball money, we can do it. Once you create a budget and stick with your budget, you realize that yes, you are in debt. Yes, it sucks having debt. But, we have a plan, and we are moving forward. We will not be in debt forever.
Why is it important for your family to seek debt freedom?
Nobody should be strapped down by debt. It is one of the worst feelings in the world. So what’s one of the best? Paying for something straight out, without having to put it on a credit card. Right after we got married, we made our first purchase as husband and wife. We bought a couch, a loveseat and a coffee table. Guess what? We paid cash! The money came from some wedding money, and our own spending money. That was such a great feeling to be able to make that purchase and not have it affect our budget. That goes to show that once we are completely debt free, we can do anything – have kids and not be strapped financially, buy a house and not be worried about where the next mortgage payment is coming from or even take a vacation and pay for it up front with cash.
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