About 20 years ago I (Dan) was pretty “Normal”. I was working and earning an income that was a little less than my outgo. After living like this for a number of years I woke up to about $31,000 in credit card debt. Not really knowing any better I filed Chapter 13 bankruptcy and spent the next 5 ½ years having my checks garnished to pay off the bankruptcy. During this time I found Dave Ramsey on the radio and halfheartedly listened to him. I will be honest and say it took me about three years of hearing him before I really listened to him. I soon found myself attempting to write monthly budgets and I even opened a savings account. From there, I began really working my plan.
About this time I met a girl (Ann) and our relationship started progressing. About the time we had “the talk”, you know the one that says we are on the same page and the relationship is going somewhere, I explained to her my new found philosophy on personal finance and explained that debt was a deal breaker for me. I told her about Dave Ramsey and her first response when I asked her what she thought of him was “Wow a personal finance guy who is also a Christian, what’s not to like about that” and she soon put a plan together. At this point I was debt free with my bankruptcy discharged and had a 3-6 month emergency fund started. She started working the plan and got a few of her small debts paid off. When it came time for us to get married she was well into eliminating her debt.
Now we had a great plan after we got married. We were both making good incomes and we made the decision to live on one income and use the other to work on the remaining debt. We entered married life with about $75,000 in debt. That included $36,000 in student loans, about $6,000 on a “Fleeced “car, and various other personal debts. We made great progress in the first four months sending out checks and working our debt snowball. Around month 4 of being married we hit a little snag when we found out we were pregnant. We kicked everything into high gear and managed to pay off all debt besides the student loan as well as build up a separate emergency fund that would cover the max out of pocket expense for Mom and Baby in case something went wrong. We also had to furnish a nursery and we paid cash for everything. Once the baby came and everyone was OK we took some of the extra in the savings that luckily we didn’t need and started paying off debt again. Our plan from the beginning was to be a stay at home family and we were fortunate enough for Ann to be able to finish up her work from home and transition the office she was managing to her replacement while still bringing in a little income. Once that was done we continued to be intense but now we only had half the income we used to have to work with. During this time we also paid cash for chemo treatment for our dog that was diagnosed with Lymphoma. It took us a total of about 2 1/2 years to pay off the $75,000 in debt, pay cash for our baby and all related expenses, and cash for chemo for the dog.
We have been facilitating Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University since 2005. One thing we did notice though is that every time we taught a FPU class there was at least one family that needed more help than we could offer. Then we had the opportunity to go attend Dave Ramsey’s Counselor training. What an incredible six days. During that time we got all the tools and knowledge to have the ability to sit down with those families give them recommendations and help them find options to achieve their financial goals. And that is how Blueskies Financial Coaching got its start.
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