Cory and I have been extremely blessed to be debt free for most of our marriage. We were fortunate to not have much debt when we got married. I had a full-tuition scholarship to college, and Cory had grant money given to him. We just had one car payment, which we paid off a little over a year after we were married. Honestly the biggest key to being debt free is a lot of hard work. You really have to be willing to put in the effort.
I have 5 tips for coming out of college with no debt!
Get scrappy. Apply for all the scholarship and grant opportunities that you can. Try to be resourceful, and do some research for every scholarship you can find. This was huge for us!
Having tuition covered really is such a massive thing. I have heard many horror stories about student loans. You got to do what you got to do to get an education, but do all the looking you can before going that route.
A lot of times if you ask people, there will be scholarship options that you wouldn’t have heard about if you hadn’t asked. This happened to us a couple different times. Cory talked to his professors, and they told him about some opportunities. Every little bit helps.
Have a family. I know that this seems opposite of what we are constantly told. In the USA we are rewarded for having a family. Having a family blesses your life in so many ways, as well as financially! We were able to get fafsa (https://fafsa.ed.gov/) because we were married. For every child you have, you get tax breaks. We were able to get really big tax returns, because we were in a low income tax bracket, and also had children. Not only did we graduate debt free, but we graduated with enough money to pay CASH for 3.6 acres!
There is really no other feeling like being debt-free. It is so liberating!
Budget. I’m sure you’re tired of hearing this word. There is not a better solution to money problems than a budget.
Cory took a finance class in college, and I would go with him sometimes. I remember the professor saying it’s very important that you marry someone like-minded as you when it comes to money. Because trying to set a budget with someone who is stricter or more lax than you, will be very hard. I’m so grateful that Cory and I are similar minded when it comes to money.
We’ve both made adjustments and sacrifices for the better good of our family.
The other part to budgeting is not only making the budget, but sticking to it. Cory has given me a really good perspective when it comes to budgeting. He always gives us a little wiggle room in the budget, because we do have three small children. Extra expenses do come up, and that way we are not stressed out when something unexpected pops up. We use everydollar.com, and mint.com The best part is that they are both free, and are extremely easy to use!
Live below your means. Essentially spend less than you bring home. Simple concept, but hard to practice. Especially in our society, we need the nicest newest things, and we need them now.
When we were first married we lived in a tiny half basement apartment. One bedroom one bath, probably around 400 sq ft. Our weekly grocery allowance was $25. Cory worked for a meat shop, and he could bring home extra hamburger at the end of the week. That helped a ton and we had a lot of hamburger helper type meals. It was not our healthiest time of life, but we did what we had to do to live below our means at that time.
There is nothing like sacrificing together in your marriage to get somewhere better. We look back at those times, and are so thankful for how it shaped us as individuals, and also as a couple.
Give. My last bit of advice is to give. I know that when we give to others, we are blessed from above for doing so. I put this last on the list because I know this is the main reason we have been so lucky to be debt free. Give in time, money, and in conversation. I know whenever we reach out to others to try to lift them higher than they are, we are blessed ten-fold.
In my religion we are given the opportunity to pay tithing. We pay 10% of our income for the ‘building up of the kingdom of God’. The Lord promises that He will ‘open the windows of Heaven to those who bring their offerings to Him and ‘there will not be room enough to receive’ the blessings He will give (Malachi 3:8-10).
During our marriage, there have been times that we’ve felt like the money hasn’t added up, but because we give to Him and others, we are blessed. We believe the Lord provides for us the things which we need and is our support as we faithfully give to Him, even when it may be difficult to do so.
“The latchstring hangs from the outside.”
What tips or life experiences to do you have for being debt free? I would love to hear about them in the comments.