It was Rob's 30th Birthday a few days ago. As I wrote out his card that morning, I couldn't help but remember how far we've come this past year.
Last year, around this time, Rob started to mention that he thought the time was here for him to buy a new car. His 2004 volkswagon was a gas guzzler and required expensive repairs and upkeep. I, in trying to be a supportive wife, said I thought that was a good idea, and suggested we should go car shopping together.
We found a car that we both loved! It was a 2012 Camry SE, leather interior, and it drove as smooth as melted butter. Of course, it was a couple thousand dollars more than we had planned on paying, but when you fall in love, what can you do?
So we financed the car and drove it off the lot on Rob's 29th Birthday! It was a beautiful day! We proudly drove our shiny, new car to Minnehaha Parkway and walked beside the river. We even found $20 on our walk. Finally, we ended the night listening to live music and enjoying a delicious meal at the Icehouse.
About one week after this beautiful week-end, we sat down and looked at our finances. Together, we had a large amount of student loans. I had been unaware of the exact number, and the grand total hit me like a ton of bricks.
"All my dreams are shattered." I said, showing my immaturity in its finest form. I started to cry; I played the blame game. It was a horrible memory, and its effects have stayed with me like a nasty cold I can't quite recover from.
That entire month, Rob and I were at each other's necks. Only one month into marriage, and true to status quo, we were fighting over money. But, we started to read Dave Ramsey's book, Total Money Makeover, and it started to give us hope that we could turn the ship around. We created a budget and did our best to stick to it. We started living below our means and started throwing all our extra money from the month toward our smallest debt to begin the debt snowball.
In March, we decided the financing payments for the car had to go. We paid cash for Rob's parents 2000 Mazda protege and sold our beautiful new car back to the dealership. We took an initial loss on the value of the the car, but we knew that we would make up for the loss in the long run and have that much extra cash per month to put towards loans.
We are still not there to having our debts paid off, but we are getting closer. We have learned a lot about being content with what we have, where we live, what we drive. We don't spend a lot on traveling, but we were blessed to be able to take a trip to Chicago this summer. Rob has given up buying DVD's. I have given up buying books and Bath and Body Works products (except for extreme sales.) We try to cook more at home; we hardly go out to movies; we still eat out, but we don't go above the budgeted amount for eating out that month.
And our marriage has thrived as a result of being united about money. We still disagree sometimes, but we work through it and compromise. We forgive each other when we mess up. We dream together of financially freer times. We're not competing with the Jones, and we're okay with that.
I love that we are united, not by material things, but by something and someone bigger. I am so thankful for this humble man, full of integrity who I get to do life with! I am honored to be the first one and the last one to greet him everyday! And I can't wait to find out what God is going to show us in this coming year!