Friday, July 10, 2009


oKAY, so you think I am crazy? weird? absolutely nuts to be shouting out to you: I'M DEBT FREE!!!!!!!       but secretly, you are jealous. I'm jealous for you to be too! I would be glad to share my materials with you and be there to encourage you along the way and sponsor you on this debt free goal, so if you are interested - jump right in and you can join me in being DEBT forever free!!! Let me tell you, the blood sweating painstaking extremely freakin hard, hard, exhausted hard work til you thought you were going to keel over dead is absolutely 100%, hands down (really I mean hands up), so worth it. TODAY, I celebrate! I am debt free other than my house. Yup, took one year of not having a life at all to achieve this...but I did it! No regrets. Not one! So you ask...what made you decide to do this??? and why??? Lemme tell you, my story...

I started working as a Part Time File Clerk in California, March 1996. I made $6 an hour, and only worked part time for the first day. I rode the bus to work, cost me $1 each way and lots of time sitting on the route; but I stashed money away like nobody's business. I was going to buy a car someday so I didn't have to keep riding this dumb bus with crazy people. Over the course of working, my tasks changed and I remained full time, never seeing a part time shift except my first day of work. At a year, I got a raise to $7 an hour. A year and 5 months later, things changed, my granma offered to cosign on a car for me so I could get me some wheels. This same month I got offered a job at a business in the same complex a few suites down, for $8 an hour as a Medical Biller. I made the $450 a month payments on my car, extra and many times double and got the car paid off in only 2 years spending 1K in interest. In 1997, I got my first credit card, one of those Walmart Secured Credit Cards where the money you invest in this mutual fund is your credit limit. I was doing well, so I thought, I had 6K in the bank; do the math, you will see that I lived on very, very, very little. After 3 months at this new job, I moved to Texas and got a job as a Receptionist making $9 an hour. I opened up a Mutual Fund account and started Investing, just a small bit, but it was a start. The job had lots of stress, no room for advancement, I left and took a small cut in pay to $8.75 an hour as a Receptionist in the Accounting Department. This company believed in raises and advancing internally, but was so full of office bureaucracy that I never liked my job, but I stuck it out to gain more experience and better myself. I got promoted to the Adjustments/Collections Clerk when the position opened. I loved both boses I had at this job, they were real role models for me in many ways, so they made it worth all the grief of the company issues.  Eventually, I found a better paying position and at the end of my employement there I was making $10.30 an hour. My new job was as a Data Entry/Billing Clerk and I started at $12 an hour. Again, I got promoted within a short time and took on more tasks and became the Reimbursement/Collections Clerk for $13 an hour. I got hefty bonuses for working old AR, basicly a percentage of everything over 90days old that I collected. I even got a raise to $15 an hour due to my fabulous efforts.  When I say fabulous efforts, I got two checks into the agency at 62K and 65K!  The owner thought this money was lost, so you can see I made them absolutely thrilled with me.  This is about the time my lifestyle started changing. I saw many of my peers eating out all the time. I had been limiting myself to once a week, but what for? If they could do it, surely I didn't need to be so frugile, you lived only once, right? so I could too. Why was I saving all my money only to have some guy come along and think he could marry me and make it his too and blow it how he wanted? NOPE - I guarantee you, that wasn't happening...not a chance of it in my life! I wasn't going to be the one to make his future bright and shinning with dough and let him take the credit for it. I became more aware of the Jones's, got tired of the status put on those who had new clothes and how cute they were raved over when they wore them, and started accumulating things. Nice Things. I am not saying expensive things, I am saying good to have things that you can get at Target, Pier 1, Container Store, Ross, eBay, thrift stores and other new stores. Good Things like collections of books, stash of yarn to knit, lots of clear vases of different shapes and sizes, lots and lots of picture frames, clocks of all types, white pottery/kitchen ware, almost two of everything (sleeping bags, bedding, lawnchairs, etc). I told myself I would get my house equipped fully before I ever built one which was a dream I had, maybe even still have. I always paid my credit card off, so I wasn't worried about my spending habits, why should I? Yahright, of course I was but I flat out didn't care. I made good money, still saved money, but I had extra so I could spend it the way I wanted to you see. Nobody could tell me no, sure they might make their comments, but its just because they were jealous, or didn't care for my things, or thought I had too much, or whatever; I seriously didn't think it was because they thought it was so wrong to have things because I didn't believe that I was covetous.  They had "things" I didn't have - you know husband to spend an evening with, kids to hug & kiss, family to chat on the phone with and spend long weekends with, so why were they making comments about me??? Everyone has these things called opinions that they express so freely whether you want them or not, so I went on with my life...I simply wanted the good life.  A good life to the best of my ability within reason.  Never having had things very much in my childhood I held onto every little thing I did have. I sold my car and got a new, brand new, one. I did well to get almost 4K off the price.  This time, I qualified on my own for the loan and did the same thing I did before, made extra and/or double payments on it and paid it off in 2 years also. I went on this way for many years, like probably 5 or 6 or so with spending money how I pleased. During this time frame, my current job was struggling, a lot! My paychecks bounced for 3 months in a row and it took a month to get the funds to be good. I made them pay my return check and bank fees because of this, but this meant I had to tighten up the belt and have a full months pay in checking so I could float everything. Okay, it really wasn't too bad to deal with because I was still living within my means.  It appeared we were going to get bought out, none of us new if our position would be kept after the buyout, the new guys came in and interviewed each of us, but we didn't learn a peep out of them! So, I decided to find a new job, yah what a novel idea! I landed one, same pay, same type of work and life rolled on. During this time frame I also was doing a project for my christian fellowship and was upfronting the costs and not receiving reimbursement for a good year or more.  I had the funds, but really didn't know where they were going and with the other spending habits I had developed, money went in and out very easily.  Then I got to thinking, I needed to do better with money. I attended a free seminar in Fort Worth titled Smart Woman Finish Rich seminar by David Bach, with one of my coworkers and it motivated me to take a serious look at my "Latte Factor" and "Pay Myself First" and I got some more advise from a new financial advisor (but stayed with my current advisor) and started investing again, with more money. I bought property, 2 pieces of land with the intentions that someday I would billed a house. I was determined to pay this 4 year note off in 2 years, just like I did my cars. But life changed. Part of the land was purchased with a cash advancement from my credit card to do the remaining down payment because I didn't want to take it out of savings. Ugh, MiStAkE! Wouldn't have been such a bad idea if I agressively had paid it down, but I didn't. I had medical bills and some more medical bills...I wasn't able to make my payments in full and this is when I got irritated with myself, frustrated that I felt overspent with my money, but then would tell myself it was all for a good cause and I had legitimate things so it wasn't like I was just blowing my money on junk. And what did I do? Stop buying anything I didn't have to have??? Nope.  I went and bought more things when the cash flow got better instead of saving for a rainy day!!! People told me that I was doing really well, and on one hand I thought I was too and on the other I didn't like my situation for one moment - but how do you change now? I didn't see any way, you just keep plodding along on this journey. I continued to save a small amount of money monthly, decreased my monthly investments a bit to make my land payments. Consequently the land did not get paid off in 2 years, it took the full 4 years. Then in the midst of all this, my business fell apart, I had no work & no income. I was doing anything to make ends meet. Paint your bedroom? laundry room? I will do it! Tear wallpaper off rooms in a house you are remodeling? I will do it! Worked for $8 an hour doing these things and took temp jobs from $11.50 to $15 an hour. I would have a job for two weeks and then the project would be done and then I might go up to six weeks with no work, then I might get an assignment that would last 6 weeks. I got stressed, I got majorly frustrated with myself all around, but nobody knew. I just worked thru the discouragement and feelings of being a failure and just looked like this hard working individual. I struggled like this for 11 months!!! I finally landed a job, the worst job I EVER HAD! But I needed the money and was so determined to succeed and make ends meet as now I had to have it, every bit of the income. The benefits were decent, though no health insurance policy, and the pay was I kept to my task. I decided I was done with debt. I was going to get rid of all my credit card debt. I cut extras, I did without and I learned to be happy with no buying of things, or so I told myself. But deep down, I wasn't happy. My friends had husbands, they had vacations, they had trips planned to do fun things, they had beautiful houses, lovely new clothes!  I hadn't let God take control of my life, I had made things important to me and I was still trying to do it my way. Then, I got a tip from a friend about this really cute house that she and her husband saw and she so wished I was at the point that I wanted to buy, because it was so cute! I went and looked at it, talked to my mentor, he thought I should bid on it, I wasn't prequalified, so I had to get that done, like right now, today because bidding closed on this foreclosed home in a little over 24hrs...went the next day and looked at it again, then off to realtors office and completed paperwork. The next day I was notified that I was the top winner of 4 bids on the house, I was now a home owner! I was so excited!!! A place to call my own, but oh, so much to learn about this process...and then the feelings of "what the heck did I just do?" land is not paid for? and I have credit card debt! I decided to cash in my mutual funds for a down payment and the remodel of the house. This more than adequately covered these things and I thought I had it all under control. Then murphy came to visit...air-conditioner went out on the house, pool had many issues and repairs had to be done to get it in working order, car had a few repairs, I had more medical bills and seriously had barely any money left in the savings account and zero in the mutual fund account. For the first time in years, I was nearly broke.  How was I going to pay for these things? Yup, you know the answer, I slapped them on the credit card. It is then I decided I was done, totally done with my lifestyle. Or was I? I said I was...but in my heart I had expectations of what my house needed to look like when my friends came over. The yard needed attention before I could host the party you know.  I needed little to no furnishings - just bar stools for the kitchen and a rug for the living room...the rest, I already had...but the yard???  It really needed some help. So I spent money on greenery for the outside. It was a cycle that I went thru, crack down no spending and do really well for 3-4 months and then spend some money. Say I wasn't going to do that again, and then something else would need fixing and I was forced to spend money.  Overall the result was much improved, but not good enough. I finally got really determined and was limiting my spending. For reals this time.  It was during this time frame when I was very focused on cutting my expenses that the job I held got down to a financial crisis and my boss asked us to be patient with him, but he could not meet payroll.  I knew whether or not I was ready for reals or not, it was time to find another job, I had to have my income.  And I found one, one that was closer to home and where I made an hourly wage and was no longer salaried and I had health insurance benefits.  All this was a great plus.  I had been used to being salaried for so long that this change took a little bit of getting used to but for the first 7 months, I had overtime and that helped with the expense cutting.  Not 3 months into this new job, is when I got called from a previous employer to assist with the medical billing of her practice for a month while her biller had surgery. I knew I couldn't say no, I needed the money to apply to getting out of debt. I worked very long days, up and off to my regular full time job and then to my second job after that working until I felt I couldn't think or see straight any more, getting home about midnight or later and crashing in bed and doing it all over again the next day...6days a week. There was so much work to be done and I felt I needed to make the most of the opportunity for extra income. The plan slowly changed, the physician needed me to find her cash flow issues. I did. She exteneded the cleanup work project I was assigned to as she released the biller from working for her. We agreed that I would work for her doing this cleanup and complete it so she could hire an agency to take it over. So I continued the massive gruleing schedule, being paid as an employee and making the most of all I could find in work to get the task done and the debt a bit lower. Knowing that all the while it was helping reduce my debt. At this time, I really didn't know where I was financially. I had quit staying current in my Quicken and really wasn't sure I wanted to know my real financial state, no I was sure I didn't. I then decided I needed to get myself caught up for the year, face reality and make a plan. I did. The results, not pretty! Downright pitiful.  Sure Quicken showed I had a nice net worth, but really did I if you looked at my debts vs savings? No.  In many ways, it was suffocating when you looked at the figure. I thought I could get out of debt in six months, not really even logically probable. After 8weeks of this regime, with 2 more weeks to go, the physician and I agreed (after several conversations) that I would gladly be that billing agency and my business that I had never dissolved, Medical Account Solutions, would be back in business doing Accurate Medical Billing & Collection Services for her practice. This was my chance to get out of debt and it was going to take some long hard hours, and hours and hours, of work to achieve it. But I was determined once and for all to make a change.  I had made tremendous progress at this and was 50% out of debt when a coworker told me about a course offered by Dave Ramsey called Financial Peace University thru her church.  I asked if I could attend, she said she would check.  She notified me that I could and that the cost was $97.  Wow!!!  When you are not spending on cent, that is a heck of a lot of money...could I do it?  Though I know many money principals and have lots of knowledge, I felt it would be good for me to stay motivated and learn more.  When you really wish to change bad habits, you will.  As Larry Balderson says, you will never possess what you are unwilling to pursue.  I thought about it for a week and decided yes, I could do it, really had to do it, but more than that I wanted to do it!  The membership was for life so if I wanted to take the class again, I could.  I learned several things in the class which I will share.  Dave says in his class on finances that it is 20% head knowledge, 80% action and if you don't control your money it will control you!  or as Zig Ziggler says, ifyou aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time.  Dave is very zealous for God and encourages others to be so too.  Dave has been thru bankruptcy and he has experience first hand that I will hopefully never have.  Even in my finanical state, I have NEVER had a creditor call me and if late on a payment by accident, it has always been reversed.  I learned several things int he class or found insightful and reasons for recommendation to others:
1. even if you are single, have someone you are accountible to who will work with you and hlep you with a budget and major purchases, if you are married - you both have to be on the same page, period.
2. how men & woman face money and handle money, how to view money, you work too hard to be broke
3. you MUST live on a realistic budget
4. save 15% of your income, period
5. research your purchases, don't be afraid to shop for a bargain or make an offer
6. lots of statistics and data that will inspire you to save $$$ at a young age, shortcuts are the wrong attitude
7. how "normal" people live and why you want to be different, normal is broke
8. the last 6 months are the most expensive time of your life, how to plan for this
9. types of insurance to have, how to shop for, what is good vs bad, etc
10. explanation of investments - KISS keep it simple stupid (silly)
11. understand yourself, strengths & weaknesses, commit to a lifelong change
12 remember God owns it all, we are asset managers, this affects how you relate to money (the live example was awesome)
I think the most memoriable of all was the video where he acted out "gazelle intensity".  I was in tears - for more reasons than one.

The class was not hard, there was weekly homework, but it wasn't remendous and I always got it done even working two jobs!  If you listen to Dave regularly on his radio show (which I don't because of my work schedule), you will learn many of his principals by listening to it with the live examples.  You can watch some o fhis previous shows on the Fox Business network at  You could probably get all this data through various resources of books, talking to people and doing online research; but he does a great job at the way he presents the class and his points and there are no words for his experience, both personally and thru his business.  Obviously the class spurred me on to keep to my goals and set new habits, patterns and learn many things about me which was the most important thing I could have gotten out of the class.  So today I tell you

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