As many try to get a grip on their finances this year, one family is celebrating three years of financial freedom.
The Williams started like any family. Eric Williams says, "We were married in the fall of 2006." Eric and Kelsey went on a honeymoon, bought a house, a car and soon realized they may be in over their heads.
Eric says, "Early on, we basically put everything on a credit card. We paid it off every month, which was kind of a good thing, but we were never tracking what we were spending."
They owed thousands of dollars and wanted to get out of debt before having kids. Kelsey says, "We took a class at our church called ‘Financial Peace University’, which helped us a lot."
The 13 week class helped the couple set financial goals and create a plan. They each got second jobs and avoided certain stores. The two paid off $40,000 in less than two years. Eric says, "It's definitely freeing to know that's all been done and taken care of."
Kelsey says, "It felt like we were making a lot of sacrifices. And, looking back now, I realize how quickly that time did go."
The Williams also enlisted the help of a financial coach to help them reach their goals. And, he offers three steps to help you get started tackling debt this year. Justin Bennett with Strong Tower Consulting says, "You're still going to be able to go to eat. You're still going to be able to go to movies or concerts. But, you're going to make better choices."
Bennett says to start by writing down your expenses and income and create a budget. Next, save $1,000 so you have extra cash if your car breaks down or an emergency pops up. Then, make a list of what you owe starting with the smallest debt. Pay that first. Bennett says, "Once they start paying off those smaller debts and then they start tackling those other debts, they go, this can be a reality for me."
It became a reality for the Williams family. Eric even wrote a book about their journey called It’s Your Money What Will You Do With It.
Their next project is to finish the basement without going into debt. Kelsey says, "We've set, like a goal of $10,000 to finish the basement. We've got about half of that saved. So, we started on it, and we'll finish it as we can."
The Williams also write a blog called Words of Williams, which offers advice on how they tackled their debt. Strong Tower Consulting offers a free thirty minute consultation, if you want to try a financial coach.