We are DEBT FREE! Thanks, Dave Ramsey!

I have been waiting to write this post for a LONG time. I can’t believe it’s actually here! As of 9:00 AM on Tuesday, November 9th, 2008, we paid off our last debt, Sallie Mae, and are now officially DEBT FREE! This video is our story about how Dave Ramsey encouraged us to take control of our finances and the resources that the Lord entrusts to us.

My wife has a better blog record of our financial journey than I do, including the day we met with the financial adviser from church and started this process, the day we finally paid off the credit cards, and her debt-free post from this week. Now, here we are and we don’t owe a dime to anyone. Instead of sending our paychecks to other people (with interest), we get to use what God has blessed us with to bless others and our future family.

It really is an amazing feeling to be in control of your money, to eliminate financial stress, and to be good stewards of the resources God provides, no matter how large or how small they might be.

The process was very difficult for me, especially since Dana and I live on a youth pastor salary. Our bare bones monthly budget hardly balanced with my income! But as we started they journey in obedience to Him, the Lord really honored that and blessed us beyond our dreams. Over the course of the year, a got a raise at church and a health insurance situation that increased my income by $10,000 per year. Plus, the Lord provided work for Dana, prompted random people to give us financial gifts, my website started making money (even though it’s all free), and He gave us discipline to live on very tight budget: no eating out, no seeing movies, limited travel, and saying “no” to things that normally would cause us to splurge. It was tough, but as Dave Ramsey says, “Live like no one else, so later you can live like no one else,” and that’s exactly what we did!

A lot of people criticized our plan. Debt is unfortunately such a normal part of the American psyche that most people never consider what life might be like without it. Many “smart investor” people also told us that’s it’s foolish to pay off debt for many different reasons. The funny part is, they’re all broke! I’ll never take financial advice from a broke person! If they lost their jobs, they’d quickly start missing payments and within months would be filing for bankruptcy. Owing different companies a lot of money does not make you rich nor financially secure. In fact, this entire world would be a very different place if people followed this simple plan: Spend less than you make!

Total Money MakeoverDana and I paid off $21,521.66 in 15 months. When we started we estimated it would take over 2 years. Obviously, we did it in about half that time, not because we have a huge income, but because God blessed us once we started getting on track with our finances.

Our next steps are to save an emergency fund of 3-6 months worth of expenses. Once that is complete, we’ll start investing, saving for retirement, and especially saving for a down-payment on a house. Mathematically it will take us 2 or 3 years until we’re in a position to buy a house, but God has already proven that math doesn’t work right when He’s involved with the finances — He blesses like crazy!

I know he’ll do the same for you! Start by reading Dave Ramsey’s book, Total Money Makeover and checking out his website at I also HIGHLY recommend subscribing to his free podcast in iTunes and listening to 40 minutes of his radio show (commercial free) as your time permits. It will change your life.

Posted on November 6, 2008

  • Congrats to you both! It’s an awesome accomplishment!

  • Congratulations! Have you called into the radio show and yelled “FREEEDOM!” at the top of your lungs?

  • Congrats Tim. Thats awesome. Way to set a good example again. Love the emergency fund priority over your down payment. Wont be long till your owning your own home. Way to go man.

  • Claudia Farr

    Congratulations! My husband and I are trying to do the same. You give us hope :)

  • Congrats Tim!!! Other than the mortgage on our home, my wife and I are completely debt free as well. We committed to working hard to be debt free by the end of our first year of marriage and we did it. It is an amazing feeling and freedom.

  • Totally awesome story. Every time I listen to Dave’s show and someone calls in debt free I honestly can’t help but get a bit emotional to see the joy they have that they have their finances taken care of, and can now start living and giving as wonderful stewards of God’s blessings. Fifteen months is an awesome amount of time to get all of that taken care of. I’m not married – yet – but plan to be within the next 8 months. But, thanks to Dave being a bug in my ear since I was eight years old (thanks mom and dad) I have already figured out that post-marriage can be debt free within about 15 months, hopefully less! Again, Congrats!

  • What a testimony! My wife and I are in a financial crunch now of trying to get rid of all the debt we’ve acquired. We’re down to the 2 vehicles and a student loan (well and a mortgage.) Ironically, when I worked at a bank for 3 years they were so pro-credit cards and debt that we thought we were doing what everyone did!
    We have now decided we must get on a budget to finish these last few payments! Your story is awesome!

  • Hey guys,

    Great job! It takes a lot of discipline to accomplish this. In a country and culture that loves to live way beyond their means you are a wonderful example to follow.

    DEBT FREE! You are now in a place where you can save up and GIVE more!

    An incredible book to read as a great follow up for this is “The Blessed Life” by Pastor Robert Morris.

    Way to GO!


  • Way to go you two! Such a freeing feeling that is! So glad to hear you are enjoying it!

    We are currently hosting a Dave Ramsey financial workshop at our church. So great to see others see the power of being debt free! The potential for helping the Kingdom of God when debt free is enormous!


  • Way to go!!!

  • Tim! Thanks so much for sharing your story – it has been such a blessing, and I can tell you that as a fellow youth worker with lots of debt accumulated from undergrad student loans, and paying as I go through seminary, it’s good to be able to see that there can be a “light at the end of the tunnel”. Enjoy the freedom!

  • Congratulations Tim. My wife and I have been off to a rocky start with FPU as we get the $1000 put away, sometimes get the budget on paper, but after a few months it seems like we are dipping in the $1000 to support our spending. I’m really getting after the budget again for November. I can’t wait to be able to post a similar blog.

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  • mom schmoyer

    Proud of you both AGAIN as ususal !! When Dad and I were first married we had to decide whether to have heat in our PA house or tithe. We tithed and God kept us warm enough somehow. Later we had to decide to save for the future @ $25/month or buy REAL milk ( you know that liquid stuff all you Schmoyer’s crave) or buy NON instant “miliatry” powdered milk. Well, 18 yrs of drinking that “white water” paid off when we had 4 teens in private Christian colleges at ONE TIME…With NO student loans.. and that was on a part time nurse salary and very small church pastor’s salary.
    Less IS better . Everyone should be poor at least once in their life so they have the opportunity to learn to be good stewards of their resources
    You have done very well and God has honored that like He did your parents before you… God Blessed you both Congratulations -Mom

  • Thank you everyone for all your encouragement. It is so nice to have others around you working on the same goal. There are/were many other couples in our church working to get out of debt at the same time. It is good to keep each other updated on when another debt is gone and the snowball keeps getting bigger. Spread the word and stay encouraged!

  • Nice job you guys, and just as an FYI to anyone out there, if you want to get one of Dave Ramsey’s books for free you just have to send him 5 of your credit cards in the mail. (clearly the canceled/old ones) Of course you can put hole punches through the numbers and name. He uses them for live presentation disctruction!!! Adrienne and I are saving to pay cash for a car, I keep researching cars for motivation to stay on track :-) Nice work again and we’ll see you soon.

    The address for Dave Ramsey is:

    Financial Peace Plaza
    Attn: Lara Johnson
    1749 Mallory Lane Suite 100
    Brentwood, TN 37027

  • It feels great doesn’t it? My wife and I were able to do the same a couple years ago and you would be amazed at what financial freedom allows you to do that you would never be able to any other way. God sure does bless and trusting in Him to provide is one of the blessings in this life.

  • Eric

    My wife and I started the TMMO journey before becoming full-time at another church. We got on a budget and moved. My wife doesn’t have a teaching job yet, so our income dropped by about 30,000. We currently have about 40,000 in debt and 2 toddlers running the stairs. Thanks to Dave, we haven’t been struggling due to the budget. I urge everyone to spend each dollar before you take it to the bank ON PAPER. “Imagine what the people of God could do for the kingdom of God if they were debt free.” Congratulations Tim and Dana. Just a question, according to Dave, which one of you is the free spirit and which one is the nerd?

  • @Eric: Dana and I both play the role of the nerd and free spirit at times, depending on what the item is we want to buy. Generally speaking, though, she’s probably the nerd, but not by a lot.

  • Jamie

    Hey Tim,

    Thanks for your story on becoming debt free!!!! Congrats! Freedom!

    Can I ask a technical question about ramsey’s plan? Did you guys stop putting into your savings after saving your $1,000? He makes it sound that way in the book unless I haven’t been reading carefully. He makes it sound that as soon as you save up your $1000 then you should put ALL your extra money towards debt. Is this what you guys did. Feel free not to ask if this is too personal of a question


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