You are fun. I mean seriously, who doesn’t love you?! Birthdays. Christmas. Christmas in July. New jobs. Engagements. Pregnancy. Finishing a major project or passing a huge test. I’m convinced people simply make up holidays so we can have more of you!
Celebrating is fun. It allows us to focus on the positives and breathe in the midst of life that is honestly just hard sometimes. So we celebrate.
Last week, I had reason to celebrate like I’ve never had reason before. You see, four years ago I started a program called the Kanakuk Institute. During my senior year at OSU I decided a year committed to laying a biblical foundation in my life was the post-grad route I would pursue. One of the most fun and life-changing decisions of my life.
While I knew this was where I was going, I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to foot the bill. In the Rother household, you get four years of college. Make the most of them because they’re on you after that. It was my choice what I did post college, but I was also responsible for my own financial status. I’d already made up my mind, but paying for this program outright wasn’t an option.
The Institute offers opportunities to get masters’ degrees on top of the biblical components, and for lots of reasons I chose this route as well. Thus, I pursued student loan options to financially make this decision possible. I was 22 trying to navigate waters I’d never even laid eyes on before, so naturally I called Papa Roth in for advice.
Now this is where we need some backstory. Mama and Papa Roth have always been supportive of me, but they also made their opinions very known through college about my need to pursue grown up internships instead of working at camp and getting a real job rather than postponing it for another year. I appreciated and processed their advice, but it didn’t stop me. This being said, my parents were supportive of me attending the Kanakuk Institute, but they would much rather see me get a job.
Out of left field, Papa Roth graciously offered to front me the money to pursue the path I’d chosen rather than paying interest on a loan. My folks would be my loan officers with no interest. What?!?! I wish words could describe this moment”…they can’t. I will say that I watched God’s hand move mountains in this situation”…mountains I’m still seeing the whys of their movement. Also, I must note that my parents are huge advocates of my life choice now.
So they fronted me the money. I attended the Institute where I laid a foundation I will build on for the rest of my life. It was also a year worth every penny I paid as well as every penny I lost not having a real job for the year. It’s something I recommend everyone at least considering. I graduated in April 2010, worked at K-West that summer and started working full time for Kanakuk Kamps in September. In October of 2010, two months into my first big kid job, I paid off the first $50 toward an $18,000 debt. Talk about starting small! Every month, I made a payment. I was committed to making sure my folks knew I never took advantage of them. You see, I was an intern being paid hourly that first year. My take home in an entire year wasn’t much different than the debt I owed. This was going to be something I had to work toward over time, but I knew I had to start somewhere.
It was a priority. It was a line in my monthly budget. After the first couple months I got my payment up to $200 each month. Never less. Sometimes more. I always tithed first. Paid my bills second. Put money in savings third. Then everything extra went toward my debt. I wanted it eliminated. I always wanted my parents to know my gratitude. Finally, I didn’t want to be a slave to any lender, even my dad.
So I chipped away. $50 led to $250 which led to $1,000. Oh, this was a milestone, but I had 17 more milestones to go.
By the end of 2011, I had paid 25% off. Another milestone. Put six grand into it in 2012. I was up to 58%. Which brings me to one of my 2013 goals. In January I committed to paying of the rest of my loan in no more than 14 months…that was 42% or $7,450.
I am here to tell you that this month we have reason to celebrate”…August 2013, six months earlier than projected: I wrote my last debt check to my parents ever!!!!!!!!! I am officially debt free!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I’ll write again about how I made small tweaks to my lifestyle so I could have enough extra to pay this debt off. The one thing I would say is that a choice has to be made to execute something like this. And honestly not just one choice, but daily choices. I don’t make much money, so to be able to pay $18,000 off in debt in less than three years is definitely something to celebrate!
Friends, be encouraged by this. Be challenged by it. But most importantly, join me in the greatest financial celebration of my life! I know Dave Ramsey would be proud!
Dreaming what my financial state will look like now that this budget line is no more,
Debt free celebrator