Well 2012 is here and with it a lot of changes and challenges for the Gilliland family. In October of 2010, we began a journey through Financial Peace University (www.daveramsey.com) and learned some valuable lessons about credit, debt, budgeting and what God had to say about money. Our hearts and minds changed the way we view everything. Priorities changed, life changed, stuff was sold and given away and not really missed. We finished our 13 week course in December of 2010 and we were ready for the new year to start fresh.
In November of 2010, after losing our condo, God came to the rescue and provided us with a new home to rent with the kindest of landlords. It had been a hard year, with lots of spiritual challenges and growth, but we were hopeful that 2011 would be better. In May of 2011 we finally sold our second car, and I continued to stay home with our son while Colin started his 7th year of teaching at Lakeside High School. We had a plan and worked together to stick with it. After much prayer, we decided we wanted to facilitate a Financial Peace University class at our home church, Sandals. After talking with the staff, and finding out that a series on generosity was in the works for Christmas time, the church was all for us starting a Dave Ramsey class. We had learned so much valuable information in those 13 weeks of classes and wanted to be used to help other people. I just didn't plan on being on the receiving end quite as much.
This past Thursday (right before the new year) was the, "Dumping Debt," lesson. I remember it being one of my favorites. Dave Ramsey talks about eliminating debt, so you can give, save and LIVE like no one else. Our minds have been brainwashed by our culture to think that we will always live with debt, that it's "normal" because American's like their stuff instantly instead of earning them the old fashion way- by saving. I was proud of the fact that Colin and I had eliminated all of our credit card debt and car debt. However, we are still a long ways away from eliminating our student loan debt- $50,000 away for eliminating it. I had become comfortable with just paying a little more on each bill than the minimum payment because we have lived comfortably, modestly and we were sticking to our budget. However, if we ever want to get rid of the debt (before the projected year 2030 end date) we knew we needed to make some additional changes. Mind you- all of this thought has just started to spring up again in the last 6 days. So, the challenge from Dave Ramsey was to sell, sell, sell, and KILL your debt. He calls it, "Gazelle" intensity. Meaning, you know that debt is preventing you from saving money and living the way God wants you to, so you need to get rid of it as quickly as you possibly can. If that means getting a temporary second job, or cutting your living expenses as much as you can then you do it. So, we started praying for intentional ways to eliminate our debt quicker.
Over the last week of school in December, Colin received an email from a co-worker that was looking for room mates to share a house with. It is a 4 bedroom house, in Lake Elsinore, with a nice size living space (2 stories) and a 3 car garage. We decided it couldn't hurt to check it out. So, we went over to meet with this potential room mate and look at the living arrangements. They explained their situation, a recent, unfortunate divorce, that left them with a large house payment (lease) that they could not afford on their own. We checked it all out and told them we'd like to talk with some friends and would get back to them in a few days. We have never had a room mate (except Tymon) since we've been married, and now with Kellen too we didn't know if we asked enough questions or even what questions to ask. So, we sought out friends with room mates and asked them what they thought of the situation, what they thought we should find out, and tips to getting along if we decided to go ahead with the move. They had valuable information to offer (thank you Prisant's!) Our potential room mate came over a few days later to check out which furniture they felt would fit in their home... thankfully most of it will. They stayed for about an hour and we talked about logistics and decided that this would be the best move for our family, specifically for our finances, but not without sacrifice.We will be able to eliminate our debt by the year 2016 instead of 2030 if we make this move. Which means that initial $400 a month we were paying in student loans can be invested somewhere else.
Let me give you a Dave Ramsey example about home much monthly debt payments rob you of your retirement:
If we were able to save $400 a month instead of pay off loans with it, at a 12% rate per year, it would make $4,705,909 in 40 years. Or- to put it in more close to home numbers, it would make $32,668 in 5 years. We've been paying on these student loans for over 7 years and only eliminated about $10,000 thanks to interest! Ugh!We are so ready to knock them out, and finally have the determination to do it.
If anyone else, besides myself, actually reads this blog could you please be in prayer for myself and my family? Not only do I hate moving, but we are taking a little leap of faith by saying goodbye to such a great rental. Pray for spiritual wisdom, guidance, and release from stuff... because we are going to have to get rid of more stuff. (I kind of like that part though). Our official move in date is February 1st (and probably the weekend before). This is all happening kind of rapidly. Please pray for our current landlords. They are really great, and were sort of caught off guard when Colin called them. Pray that new, good tenants would occupy their home quickly and that they would understand it is strictly a financial decision to move. Pray that Colin and I would work together in all matters, communicating honestly, working together and allowing God to change us; strengthening our marriage. Pray that Kellen would adjust to the move and feel loved and cared for every step of the way. Also, pray for honesty and good communication with our new room mate. She is a teacher, with 2 grown children (they will not be living with us), and going through a divorce, which really sucks. It is right in the middle of soccer season, which means Colin is going to be exhausted, so please pray for his health, and strength to get through the move.
Finally if anyone is available the last weekend of January to help us move, we will be renting a U-haul to do one clean sweep of all our stuff, in one day. Anyone that wants to load up boxes (and furniture) will not be turned away!
Well, Happy New Year everyone. Here's to more new beginnings. And eventually being able to say, "We're debt free!" May 2012 be a year of positive change for everyone!