I remember that moment with my son like it happened just yesterday, even though 10 years has passed.
He got home from school on what was a great looking early spring day, and looked rather upset. He definitely didn't want to talk about it.
It took a couple hours but, finally at the dinner table it came out.
"Dad, are we poor? Some of the kids at school say we're poor."
That question hit Jane and I hard.
"No son, we're not poor, we're just in debt (this was way back in 1992 before we started off grid living. We have no money because it all goes towards paying our debt.
Our son took that answer and played with it for a while as only a bright kid trying to figure out what to do can. "Why are we in debt?" he asked.
I looked at Jane, then at our son and at that moment he knew that I didn't have an answer for him.
The first time that dad didn't know the answer to one of his questions. That was hard, and it hit Jane and me at the same time.
Why are we in debt? There's no need for this 'poor lifestyle', let's look for ways to learn debt free living.
That night we set about to change things for the better. Sitting at the kitchen table that night Jane finally confided in me about how she felt about our debt.
"Do you know how hard this is on me as a woman and a mother?
I can't get all of the groceries I want and our son can't have the things other kids have. Our debt is pulling this family apart!"
love my wife and listening to her plea for help hurt a lot.
She continued, "I don't need a new car or a credit card if it means being stuck in a life like this. What do we do?
What were we going to do to change this?
The burden of this situation weighed heavy on us both and I had been denying it. Now the burden had even been passed onto our son.
We needed fast action to make this situation better.
Taking a look at our debt load I quickly added it all up and couldn't believe we owed $43,000 in mostly consumer debt. No wonder we didn't ever have any money. It all went out the door to the credit card companies.
To top it all off, our lifestyle was worse than before we borrowed money. It was much worse.
A quick search at the library about debt free living and an internet search revealed a ton of 'get out of debt' help and I was relieved. There was help out there.
We looked at debt consolidation but it looked to be just a way for us to pay off our debt to someone else, and it did not speed up the process.
We even looked at bankruptcy and credit counseling.
None of them helped.
We bought eight books on getting out of debt and not one of them taught us anything we didn't already know. Not one of them offered a practical step by step plan for getting out of debt either.
We wanted a fast plan that would be easy to follow and relatively painless to implement. We didn't want to suffer more than we already were.
It took two months of searching but we finally stumbled on a plan that looked like it might work. Our trusted friend Steve showed us a book, How to Learn Debt Free Living.
The title of the book said it all. That's what we wanted! We trust Steve and when he told us he had just paid off $67,000 in debt in a little over 4 years I wondered why he hadn't told me about this sooner.
He said, "I was a little embarrassed at our financial situation and I wanted to make sure this plan worked before I told anyone about it. It feels good."
Steve told us that we wouldn’t believe what was in it at first, and he was so right.
I quickly learned that indeed, everything I had learned about debt since I was a kid was all wrong! Dead wrong, and worse it was keeping us in debt. Jane and I knew absolutely nothing about getting out of or staying out of debt.
It took us exactly 3 years and 4 months to pay off $43,000 in debt, including our mortgage.
What do you need to get started?
- A good debt free living plan
- co-operation of all family members
- a mentor to help you through the tough times
The directions are easy to follow and there isn't any complicated budgeting or math involved thankfully. There are just straight-forward steps to follow.
Steve encouraged us to share this with everyone we know, so they can get out of debt. Every family that we have showed it to, and there are dozens now, are either totally debt free now or well on their way to getting out of debt.
Their smile says it all. The burden is lifted.
Best of all, my son doesn't ask if we are poor anymore. We have time and energy and money to do things as a family. Jane doesn't cry at night anymore because we have no money either.
We got some help that worked.