Peace & Prosperity–What is It? (Our Debt Payoff Story)

Today’s a big day for the Sack family.

Five years ago we sat with a net worth (all our assets minus our debts) equal to over 1/2 a million dollars in debt. The funny part is that we looked like we were getting somewhere in life. We just bought our first home, Robert had a stable job and was making good money. Two dogs, one child, one home, and grass in our front yard and back!! We were living the “American Dream”, right?

We took out a private loan to remodel the 1961 original home. Boy did we “feel” great! That’s until one year later Robert sent me an email asking for a list of all of our debts and the percentage rates for each one.

I emailed him the response with a conclusion statement of “how depressing…”

It was.

When you went passed the curtains of our lives hidden from what everyone sees, you saw that we were broke. Talk about “the deceitfulness of wealth.”  We easily made our monthly payments and had money to spare but we just lived at a pleasure life of “I want today… So I buy today…” mentality. We never used credit cards (or at least we used them for those precious points and always paid it off every month).

Yet, the total debt screamed $194,400.

Yes, you read that correctly. One hundred ninety four thousand four hundred dollars in DEBT!! We owed Sallie Mae, a car loan and a private loan… And that number was not including our Mortgage! (Sigh of depression here…)

At first we thought we were living the life.   I mean, we didn’t have any “bad” debt, right?  Only car loans and student loans.  But we sure weren’t living wise for the future. Statistics show that only 1% of people save too much for their retirement years. So saving too much for retirement doesn’t seem to be a problem in America. I want to be that 1%, so that when we die, we pass on a good head start to our children’s children as it states in the Proverbs 13:22.

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Today, June 1, 2016 is our FINAL student loan payment!!! This one single loan was over $80,000 when we started it. Yes, we did the Dave Ramsey snowball out of order because to be honest, Robert and I were in denial that we had that one single large Goliath of a loan.

Goliath.

That’s what we called it; her; Sallie Mae.

Less than two years ago, half way into our debt payoff mission, we had to face reality.  We had one large Sallie Mae loan of over $80,000, and WE had to pay it. The truth hurt. Entitlement shattered. Fairytales were over. That “one breakthrough” hadn’t come.  No one was waiting to rescue us from that loan.  We had to dig out of that hole ourselves.

With a monthly payment of $400 and 90% going towards interest, we got mad! $390 of our monthly payment was making someone else rich!! Talk about stewarding our money poorly for God! We started our battle.

Mission: Kill Goliath.

We printed out a chart with $200 increments in the boxes. Every month we would pay as much as we could. Emma, our 4 year old at the time would sharpie off the allotted boxes for that month. After one year into our battle of exhaustive payments, saving every penny, walking to the grocery store with a preschooler and baby in a double stroller because we chose to be a one car family… We were exhausted. Probably depressed.

 

This process was not exciting, and definitely anti-climactic. Only a handful of people were cheering us on each month. And some months no applause or cheer was ever made.  Just a quiet click of the payment button when thousands of dollars went out of our account and handed over to Sallie Mae.  The choice to live on 40-50% of our income was questionable at times.  Was this worth it?

I wanted to be free of the debt that was weighing us down. I wanted to see the money Robert worked 12-14 hour days to earn. I wanted to get somewhere in life.  I wanted to be “normal” like everyone else. Others were buying new cars, wearing new outfits, going to the hair salon, throwing big birthday parties for their kids. And we chose not to. Yes, we had parties. Ones where I hand-made piñatas.  Ha!  Not too fabulous, nor recommended.

We HAD the money, but we were choosing to take a different path and pay off the money we owed. We wanted to owe no man anything but love as it states Romans 13:8. Oh boy can I tell you the selfishness that awakened in me during this process. I had to fight personal pity parties. I lost many times. How immature am I, really??!

 

Our Light of Hope

But we did it. A few months ago Robert and I started to see light at the end of the tunnel. $20,000 owed then turned into the TEENS! We saw hope for the first time. Daily email and text exchanges between the two of us would be shared in excitement. Cheering each other on along the way. Talk about how to strengthen a marriage, right?  Knowing that his long work days would soon be coming to an end. Almost four years of this extreme intensity will soon be over.  This marathon is coming to the finish line.

Then one month our amount turned from 5 digits to 4. We owed less than $10,000!!! Can I say there were butterflies??! You betcha!! Butterflies with happy tears. A heart in full gratitude to our good God for helping us along this process. Never giving us free money, although we were believing for some supernatural payment. It never came. No. It sure didn’t. But more work came for Robert. He accepted it. And we were blessed with jobs and better jobs.

 

Teamwork

Robert amazes me. To have a husband who selflessly sacrifices for our family; humbly he worked.  Long 10 hour days followed many of nights with clients in his private practice.  All the while choosing to not work on the weekends in the end in order to be with our family. He is a wise man. I needed him.  We needed him.  During the weekdays he would come home after long days to jump in and take out the trash, do the dishes, or sit and attentively listen to me use my 10,000 words on him. He never complained and was fully engaged.

I am blessed.

We are blessed.

 

What Is Prosperity?

About two months ago I happened across a book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. I couldn’t have timed it more perfectly. For 8 weeks I followed her methods of decluttering your home and creating a space you enjoy. Days were filled with getting rid of everything.  Starting with clothes, followed by books, papers, household items, then personal and significant things.  All done in a search to find what truly brought me joy, and keeping that and only that.

This process decluttered our home and brought me into a deep sense of peace and prosperity. The more I gave (bags and bags one trip and the next, soon followed by truckloads scheduled for Salvation Army pick-ups), I realized how prosperous we really are. We were just too overwhelmed with stuff to know and appreciate what we really had. I have to admit, I am obnoxiously obsessed with the book! Sorry friends and family who have had to endure my “before and after” cabinet, closet, garage picture texts. There was just something quite therapeutic about the process.

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Our process is done.  I mean really… who needs gas bills from 9 years ago!  Geesh!  I know where everything is.  Everything has a “home.”  And I love everything we own.  (Except our fish…another story, and I’m trying my best to let those electricity sucking, food eating, non-entertaining fish become a joy to me…horrible, I know…I’m just being honest!)

(Please note: While Marie Kondo teaches to talk to her socks and items… I sure don’t! Kind of weird!  We took a God spin on it and praise God with an Ann Voskamp gratitude for our possessions.)

My heart is full. The final stage of that de-cluttering process ended at the same time we are coming out of debt. Timely?! I think so! Thank you God!!

 

The Final Click

So now I sit here this morning. 6:49 am on Wednesday, June 1st. We write our tithe check first. First fruits always go to Him. And now, when Emma (our 5 year old wakes up), we head to my computer and log into our loan. The emotions are overwhelming. It’s been way too long. But way more worth it than I can explain. Emma gets to kill Goliath! She gets to submit our final payment while Shyloh screams her 3 year old rendition of Dave Ramsey’s debt payoff scream.

It’s time.

Emma’s awake and fully pajama’d she requests to have Daddy here too.  He was in San Diego for the day to complete an assessment so we FaceTimed him.  Together the four of us completed the kill.

 

It went round and round and round and round and round and round and round…with one little stone left in the swing….  my heart sang as Emma grabbed the mouse.

 

SUBMIT… As Emma bounced up and down which she usually does in excitement to anything. Shyloh sings her 3….2…..1…. We’re debt FREEEEEEEE!!!!! And me…. A 34 year old pregnant mother of 2 1/2 with an overflowing heart of gratitude to our good good God and allowing the lump in my throat to turn into a well of tears.  I cannot believe today has come. Almost like the day I walked down the aisle in my gown marrying the man of my dreams (and even more amazing than that!).

Tears… Tears… And more happy tears… I just can’t explain it.

My desire for a bigger home, a new car, or search to find my importance and value in anything other than as a wife and mom and child of God left me about a month ago. Robert was home for family dinners most evenings this month.  Life is good.  Maybe it’s the pregnancy or maybe it’s PEACE.

There’s a quiet spirit that’s settled in my heart. It’s quite pleasant. It’s almost unexplainable. It’s overwhelmingly delightful. It has to be a gift. A grace given to me by God. It’s peace. Prosperity.

My closest is very sparse but I enjoy every piece of what I own.  It hasn’t been disorganized since I started this method 2 months ago. Our house is almost “mansion-essque” to me. I drive home in a paid for car every day, walk passed green grass up a long entryway sidewalk greeted by a dozen tribes of roses each blessing me with their beauty and fragrance. I open the diamond-like wooden front door to a grand entrance.

Our home.

Not paid off yet but one day it will be. I enter our grand entrance to a home of Peace. The door swings open and I feel room to breathe. A living room that invites a long stay with the deep seated comfy cushions. The dining room that looks into our massive kitchen.

It’s a mansion to me.

Yes, our 1,441 square foot 3 bedroom 2 bath home with two showers (no bathtub and one a handy elderly shower) is my perfection for today. It’s home. It’s blessing. It’s where life happens in the Sack household.

There’s hair pulling, laughter, burnt dinners, cuddles and chaos, but there’s peace.

Prosperity.

Thank you Lord God for allowing us to take this journey. From over 1/2 million dollars in debt five years ago, we actually have $$ to our name. A true net value.

What Five Year Goals Can Do

It feels good to get somewhere in five years. Our prayer is that we steward it for His glory. We have learned many things along the process but one thing for certain. We are given today our daily bread. Sometimes that bread is saying “no” to something we want. Sometimes it’s a job we don’t want to take. And sometimes it means denying ourselves for the greater good. We sure weren’t perfect along the way but we never gave up….. Ever……………

 

Our prayer is that our story ignites a passion in your heart to carry your sling with its stones to your personal Goliath.  Or maybe we simply get to join you as you have once stood foot planted on the ground and the other a-top your dead Goliath.  I now understand your sacrifice.  You are wise.

 

If I could whisper one thing to you, it would be:

One day at a time. 

Don’t ever give up.

Give faithfully to our good God.

Live on less than you earn.

Steward the rest wisely for His glory.

 

All my love from our humble abode,

Jamye

The honored wife and mommy of this blessed Sack family
 

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