Momentum Sunday Encouragement! We can do this!

This clip is from May 2011 when our church purchased our first property with cash!

I posted the below testimony four years ago on the Dave Ramsey forums.  I only share it now on my blog because we gotta kick this thing into high gear and I'm praying this encourages you to do just that!  Hope you enjoy!

Our Total Money Makeover journey began in earnest during the Summer of 2003.  But before that, there is a story to tell. In the mid-nineties, my wife and I were both Naval Officers with no kids.  We lived in the same house we live in now and I didn't really care about how we spent money.  We made over $80k per year at least back then as Naval Officers and had nothing at all to show for it.  My wife (the original nerd of our family) gave me a copy of Financial Peace in the 1997 time frame.  I "skimmed" it to appease her, but the info didn't stick.  I continued to buy cars, motorcycles, motorcycle accessories, computer games, and just about anything else I wanted (on credit of course) at a rapid pace.  Although you wouldn't think someone this immature would be in ministry, I was (and am) a minister and began a church in 1997.  So I continued to preach, work in the Navy, and spend money like water like everything was all good: no savings, no retirement, no plan, and no clue.

Then it happened. She cried.

Sometime in the late nineties, my wife and I were on one of those timeshare tour things.  I think they must have promised us free stuff to lure us in.  Anyway, I declined the timeshare because I thought we couldn't afford it.  My wife wanted it...but I...the one "in charge" declined (which of course suggests her vote didn't count...and back then...I'm sad to say it didn't).  So not much later and after spending lots of time thinking about our lack of financial discipline and stewardship, my wife just broke down and cried.  She looked at me and said, "Not only can we not afford to vacation; we make all this money and we don't have anything to give to those in need." (She no longer thinks timeshares are smart, but you get the idea.)


Like most men who are totally in love with their wives, her tears were simply torture for me.  And like most men, I never really "heard" how important this money stuff was to her heart.  Her tears were enough to begin the process of shaking me out of my little boy mindset and the beginning of me learning how to MAN-UP for my family.  To give some of you wives a bit of hope, it still took me another 3-4 years of making slow progress before the Gazelle Light clicked on, but the light DID come on.  LOL!  I was now at least cognizant of personal finance and its impact, and the guidance the Bible offered on the subject was no longer "theory".  I was beginning to pay attention, but I was still a slave to my big-ticket item impulses.  During the next 3-4 years, I still made HUGE HUGE HUGE little boy buying an Acura MDX for $40k in 2001 KNOWING I had to soon leave the military to be a full-time pastor and take a big pay cut.  The payment was over $800!!!  DUMB!  I did wise up though and sold that beautiful 2001 black on black mint condition wonderfully leathery smelling truck with a sweeeeet navigation system after about a year and shortly before leaving the Navy.  But I'm over it.  Really.  (Sniff, sniff.)  I also bought at least three motorcycles during this same timeframe.  Yes I said THREE: trading up all the time to have the newest and fastest.  They loved me at the motorcycle dealership! :)

The light came all the way on in 2003.  What happened?  The Total Money Makeover book came out.  Although my eyes were beginning to come open, my painfully slow progress was still frustrating my wife.  We saw the book and I remembered: "Hey, the Financial Peace guy!"  So I bought it (probably on a credit card :)) and read it.  That was it.  Something changed in me.  I finally saw debt as an enemy, not a friend.  I saw my wife as someone I was called by God to actually provide for.  You'd think a pastor would know this right?  LOL.  And I did in fact "know" it.  But "knowing" and "doing" are two different things. I went from a goober to a gazelle in the time it takes to read one book.  I WAS DONE WITH DEBT!!!!!

My wife was soon convinced that I had really changed.  During the summer of 2003, we had about $200,000 in debt: credit cards, two motorcycles, a $25k car, and  $150,000 left on our mortgage.  I sold both bikes (it about killed me), rolled the car and the remaining cards into a mortgage refinance (I know, dumb.  But hey, I was still a TMMO newbie!) on a 10-yr note at 4.75%, declared war on debt, and haven't looked back.  By January 2004, all we had left was a $180k mortgage.  From Jan 2004, WE JUST DID THE PLAN.  No credit cards or borrowing of any sort, doing a budget each and every month on paper on purpose, using the envelope system, getting the right kinds of insurance, fully funding an emergency fund, investing in retirement, cash flowing home repairs, cash flowing three adoptions, working TOGETHER, and staying intense.

With the birth of my first child in 2005, we got really intense.  It's on now!!!!   In Jan 2006, we kicked it up a notch on the mortgage and started going all out. No vacations.  Wife working nights.  I took extra work.  Friends, I'm talkin bout yelling at a red "NO MORTGAGE" circle with a line through it on the fridge.  Seriously!  I'm talking about total attack mode.  And it worked.  On Independence Day 2008...we were done.  On that day we made the last mortgage payment.  We are on Baby Step 7.  Praise the Lord!

Over the last few years, we brought FPU to my church several times and a few years ago took it up a notch with Dave's MOMENTUM program.  We put 80% of the church through FPU at one time.  It was awesome.  The whole culture of the church has changed.  So many families are getting in position to bless others and change their family trees forever.

Thanks to everyone here at TMMO.  I didn't post much, but I read the boards every week.  I drew a lot of strength from some of the die hard straight-talkers on the board; you know who you are.  LOL. Thanks for the kick in the pants when I was tired.  And speaking of being tired, 5 years is a long time to stay focused, and maybe some of you are facing a long stretch to complete BS2 or BS6.  But like I tell my church...the time is going to pass either way so you might as well be in a position of strength when you get there!

My unsolicited advice to any who want to get to Step 7?  Just follow the plan with as much INTENSITY as you can muster.  Seriously.  Try not to play around with it.  Try not to rationalize why you are different.  Read The Total Money Makeover and do what it says.  It flat works.  It has been a long 5 years, but now we have NO PAYMENTS. Time to build some serious wealth, have some fun, and give like crazy!!!