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We did it! It’s still sinking in that we paid off our mortgage! For those of you that know us well, you know we are huge Dave Ramsey fans and have been following his principles for 13+ years. We decided not to go to his headquarters and scream debt free for a couple reasons, the big one is that we paid our house off faster than we thought and just can’t find the time to travel to Nashville, TN to do it “in person”. We listen to his show all the time and love listening to the debt free stories people share on his show and wish we could do it in person, but instead we will do it in this blog post for you all. I will try to answer the questions Dave asks each family when they come on his show….so here we go! ūüôā

How much have you paid off and how long did it take?¬†$150,000 and we paid it off in 7 years and 2 months. It wasn’t until the last two years that we were really able to tackle it aggressively.

What do you both do for a living: Jayme works for Perrigo in Allegan, MI in one of the packaging plants. He works the night shift. Perrigo makes generic drugs. I own and operate my own business, Gregersen Photography!

How did you get started on your debt free journey?¬†Two years into our marriage, we found Dave Ramsey, and it seriously changed our financial life. We did not have a lot of debt, but we did not have a plan. Thankfully, my parents paid for my college education (thank you mom and dad) and Jayme paid off his school loans before we got married. Our debt was on Jayme’s beloved Ford Mustang. When we finally got on the plan and could see our future if we follow it, Jayme sold his Mustang. I was surprised and really proud of him for doing that. We were then debt free-except for our mortgage. Because we were debt free, I could dream. It was then that I was falling in love with photography so I worked six Saturdays of overtime at the Hospital to earn the money for my first camera. I then realized quickly I loved photography and started doing it “on the side” and this side business grew and grew. So we decided two years into this side business it was time to look for a studio space outside of the home and make a go at this business. We opened the studio in 2009. Everything was done in budget, actually under budget, since we started and grown the business debt free. It meant I had to start slow….but God blessed year after year and has grown my business to a wonderful “part time” (I say that loosely as any small business owner knows, we don’t work “part time”) career in a profitable established business in our Kalamazoo community. As the business profits grew, our lifestyle budget stayed very conservative, and that allowed us to be able to pay off the house faster than we initially set the goal for which was 2019.

What was the hardest part on your journey?¬†Having to say no to things or vacations that we could easily could have done but when you have a goal in mind and you both have the same level of focus to meet it, you say no. As Dave says “live like no one else now, so that later you can live like no one else”.

What is the key to getting out of debt? ¬†Following Dave’s plan. He has done all the hard work of setting it up and then its just up to us to follow it. Setting up a budget each month and then STICKING to it. Communication is huge. Jayme and I have noticed through the years we do not fight or argue about money. Its just not an issue at all in our marriage, we both have the same goals financially and that doesn’t mean that there have been times when the budget was tight (Jayme was without a job for six months many years ago, and we still stuck to our budget and our goals). The biggest factor for us getting out of debt was work. God provided the opportunities for us to work, and we took advantage of them. We did not receive inheritance money or have any gifts of money given to us….it was all earned by work. We did the math and the more we worked, the more money we made! ūüėČ So that was our sacrifice, I worked a lot more weddings with that goal in mind. We worked together to make sure our girls did not have to go to babysitters often. God always helped us find a way to make it work….so we could work!

What’s next?¬†How cool is it to say we are on Baby Step Seven!! ¬†This step is “invest, build wealth, and give generously”. And that is our plan. We can save our money and chose to do with it as we wish and God leads! Dave Ramsey is right when he calls it “financial peace”. So so true. People have asked us if we can to do something fun to celebrate. Well, we are big campers, and I would love to upgrade our camper, but to do so we need to upgrade the vehicle that tows it too. So as you can image that is not cheap, so we plan to save our money (cash only folks) to buy a truck and new camper….not sure it will happen for 2018 camping season, but we are going to try! We are so excited to be able to GIVE, we love to give and always have said “I wish we could give more”, and as God leads us to, we can!

One last tip: Never dismiss your spouse’s crazy dreams. Two years after we bought this house on a 30 year loan, Jayme kept a close eye on the interest rates as they were bottoming out to record rates. He then had us refinance the house at a very very low rate on a 15 year loan. On the way home from that refinance meeting, he said to me that he would love to have this house paid off by 2019, so in half the time of the loan. I remember thinking “doubt that will happen” , but I never said it out loud. ūüėČ He set this goal for us and I was on board, but it was all Jayme’s initiation. So if your spouse is all about becoming debt free, go for it!! Link arms and work together and get it done, its so so worth it.

I want to thank Dave Ramsey and his team for being amazing educators and encouragers for those that want to get out of debt and have¬†financial¬†freedom. I have learned so much from his teachings…he also teaches on small business, and I built my business on his principles and they have not let me down…actually they have been¬†extremely beneficial for my business! ¬†I highly doubt Dave will ever see this little blog post, but I want to say thank you.¬†

¬†I also want to thank Jayme, my husband, for being a man. A man who put his family first, making sure his family’s future is secure…as secure as he can do within his control. Thank you Jayme for being an amazing example to our girls to love God, and be good stewards with the money and resources He blesses us with each day.¬†

One more group of people I want to thank, and that is my clients. I am a huge believer in supporting local small businesses and could not be more grateful and thankful for my clients through the years that have supported my small business. They have supported my family and allowed us to meet this goal!! 

We have a whole new thing to be thankful for this Christmas season….our home, that we OWN!!¬†