Do you want to do great things with your finances, but you aren’t sure if it’s possible based on where you are today?
My friend, it doesn’t matter what your financial dream is. It IS possible if you get serious about money.
Maybe you dream of:
- Having a paid-for house;
- Getting out of credit card debt;
- Owning and running a successful business;
- Being so financially independent that you can travel as often as you want to;
- Not having to show up to anybody else’s job;
- Owning a business that provides jobs for other people (one of my greatest joys, personally);
- Being able to afford anything (even if you choose not to spend money on certain things);
- Not ever experiencing stress about your finances another day in your life; and
- the very BEST of all: becoming a RADICAL giver. I mean giving things like scholarships, offerings, helping those experiencing homeless, helping single parents, helping widows and the aged, sponsoring missionaries, underwriting ministries, and SO MUCH MORE.
Do any of those dreams hit home with you?
Your financial dreams can happen.
I wrote more about it here, in my post answering the question “Does Great Wealth Come Suddenly?” … but I wanted you to hear some real-life stories today. So I asked a few of my colleagues in the financial blogging space for their stories, and they sent me some great stuff.
Read these short stories and testimonials about what regular people were able to do by getting really, really serious about money:
In no particular order …
Richmond at PF Geeks (Personal Finance Geeks) shares his story:
My wife and I got married right out of college, and within a few months were dealing with a surprise 5-month-long unemployment. I ended up starting grad school with only a part-time job. So, not only had we lost my income but we added a big expense to our bottom line.
My wife still worked full-time throughout, but we had to drastically cut our spending. Since then, we’ve been able to aggressively grow our net worth from $13k to $100k, purchase our first home, and take out zero debt for my grad school program!
The biggest keys to our success were keeping our expenses stable while increasing our income, finding habits that helped us save money (like meal prepping) and sticking to our budget as much as possible.”
Kelan and Brittany at The Savvy Couple shared their story:
“Brittany and I had over $25,000 in lingering student loan debt that just seemed to never go away. We finally got sick and tired of paying our monthly payment and decided to attack our debt with everything we possibly had.
Through budgeting our money down to every dollar, cutting costs everywhere we could, and having our online blogging business take off we were able to pay off the $25,000 in less than five months!
Becoming debt free feels absolutely incredible and has set us up for a very bright financial future.”
Todd at Invested Wallet shares this:
“In 2014, I was still in over 30,000 debt (student loan, car, credit card) and had just over $1,000 saved. I was living paycheck-to-paycheck and had very little left to save if I wanted to. I had zero background in finances or investing, just knew some very basics about saving money and credit.
Now almost five years later:
- I’ve financially educated myself and have saved/invested $72,000+.
- Knocked out 95% of my student loan debt and fully paid off my car.
- Increased my full-time income by 120% and escaped the 9-5 cubicle life.
- I’m maintaining a 65% savings rate when the average American saves less than 5%!
This year I aiming to have my first $100,000 saved and invested.”
Um, wow. Go, Todd!
Liz at Mindful Money Coaches said this:
“My husband and I increased our net worth by seven figures when my husband left his six-figure corporate IT career three years ago to focus on our rental business. He was 51 at the time. I stayed working. We did this all debt-free.
Now, we’ve created enough passive rental income for me to retire at 51. Focus and discipline were key for us. It took strategic energy and a few risks but it was so worth it.”
Andrew at Wealthy Nickel says this:
“Shortly after I got married and we started talking about having kids, I realized that I needed to get serious about planning for my family’s financial future. I wanted to become financially independent before the standard timeline of a 40 year career.
My wife and I decided to start building wealth through real estate, and we went from zero knowledge and experience to over $1M in net worth through real estate in about 5 years!
While the journey was not always easy, we were committed to the process and any extra money we had went into our first rental property. We made mistakes and learned as we went. It snowballed from there, and now we have 7 rental properties, have done multiple flips, and my wife even got her real estate license to save us money on transactions and make a little extra money on the side to boost our investing.
We are certainly not real estate investing geniuses, and truly believe with hard work anyone can have success in real estate (or whatever investment/business you set your mind to).”
Lance from Money Manifesto shared this:
“My wife and I got serious about her student loan debt as soon as she graduated from college. She graduated with over $80,000 of student loan debt to get a four-year BSN degree. We earned a healthy income between her RN job and my accounting job, but we also got serious about our finances to pay her student loan debt off as fast as possible.
We lived a fairly frugal lifestyle since we hadn’t adjusted to the post-college expense creep yet. We focused on saving and paying down the debt. We ended up buying two homes and paying off her student loans in full within three years of her graduation from college.”
Jarek from Time In The Market says this:
“I have always been a frugal guy but didn’t really get serious about saving money until the start of 2017. I had a portfolio then of about $370k, but that was after nine years of saving. I was making progress, but it was slow; and I knew that if I wanted to retire early, I had to step it up.
I really started to look at my finances. I saved as much as I could. Now, two years later, my portfolio is nearing $600k–more than $200k in growth across two years–simply because I started to focus on my savings rate in a big way (although the growth in the stock market certainly helped). That’s more growth in those years than my entire income before taxes in that time frame!
I’m excited to see where I go from here with this new found focus.”
Note from Jamie: Some of you may have started shaking your head when you saw the numbers above of $370k and $600k, but a portfolio of that size doesn’t mean you are financially free.
Notice that Jarek had a great start, but wasn’t too serious about his savings. We have plenty of readers in this community who have SUPER incomes, but aren’t saving or making progress financially free. Income does not equal stability if you’re a bad manager of what you make. A word to the wise is sufficient!
Kristin at Cents and Purpose tells her story:
“My husband and I began cleaning up our financial mess in February 2017 with what we thought was around $35,000 of debt (plus a mortgage). I had just begun a part-time job (after being home with our children for a few years) because we were drowning. Every time I sat down to create a budget, it was completely upside-down.
We were so overwhelmed because our expenses were greater than our income; it always had us feeling discouraged before we ever really got started. This time we were both feeling so much financial stress and pressure to turn our situation around. We were both ready.
We finally got some traction and make some progress on our debt snowball.
We were living on a pretty strict budget, and it was definitely an adjustment. We worked so hard:
- We had a “budget meeting” each week.
- We used cash envelopes.
- We slashed our expenses.
We were so focused on the end goal: debt freedom.
We received many blessings along the way, and we ended up paying off the full $35,000 in exactly seven months! It was amazing, but something still felt … off.
We had a side business. The side business was also in debt … to the tune of just under $20,000.
We had fought so hard to grow this business. This business was supposed to be our ticket to financial freedom, but instead it was pulling us back under.
What felt like “the cost of doing business” before now felt almost unbearable. Our position on debt had changed drastically. Over the course of those seven months we realized we no longer had any passion for the business. The weight of the business debt was just too much.
We hadn’t previously considered it our personal debt.
It was business debt, and the revenue from the business was making the payments each month and would have continued to do so, but we couldn’t do it anymore. It just felt different. That’s now how we wanted to build our business.
We made the difficult decision to close the business and work to pay off the debt. Becoming debt-free is incredible, but we weren’t really debt-free with the business debt hanging over our heads like such a dark cloud. We had to swallow our pride and start the debt-payoff process all over again. We knew that, once we got through this last $19,500, we would never have any debt again.
We paid that debt off in under 10 months.
Now, we are finally 100% consumer-debt-free. But, more importantly, our lives have completely changed! This journey has been such a blessing to our family, our finances, and our marriage. The blessing to our marriage was unexpected, but certainly welcome. I’m sure you can imagine the toll that a decade of financial stress can take on a marriage.
If I can offer one piece of advice, it would be to start now.
I don’t care if it’s not the right time. I don’t care if it feels scary. Starting truly is the hardest part. If you can’t go hardcore right now that’s okay. Take a step. Just one small step to make a change. Then another. And another. You will never ever regret getting out of debt and improving your finances. I’m rooting for you!”
My friend, I want to finish off with a snippet of my personal story:
I decided to become financially stable as a young adult in my 20s. I read Dave Ramsey’s book The Total Money Makeover and began working the plan. (Read the story about my first $1,000 here.) I began chipping away at some credit card debt I had accrued from professional training classes I had taken, and from a few too many trips to the shopping mall.
After my husband and I got married, we began working together on our finances in earnest:
- After arguing about it for a few weeks, we finally made a budget that worked. 🙂
- We paid off our cars, but kept driving them.
- We started paying off my student loans and another debt my husband had.
- We paid off our cell phones, which reduced our monthly cell phone bill.
All this took about 11 years.
During that time, we had a huge financial crisis that lasted years. We had to pay for 3 mortgages–3 pieces of real estate. The payments were eating us alive. I battled severe depression. But, we hung in there:
- We kept tithing.
- We kept giving.
- We kept budgeting, even though we were drowning financially.
The Lord kept our head above water and eventually rented out one of the houses, which took the worst part of the pressure off. That nightmare lasted from 2008 – 2018, though–eleven years.
Fast forward to today, and we are debt-free except for our house, by the grace of God
We both work very hard, and we are extremely frugal. My car is a 2008 model and my husband’s is a 2000 model. Yes, that’s 11 and 19 years old, respectively. They still run and we’re going to keep driving them until we have to do otherwise.
We don’t have cable TV; we don’t shop for new clothes except about once or twice a year; we don’t spend much money on vacations. (We learned how to travel hack and so we fly and stay in hotels free, and have stayed free for years.)
We are working on paying off our house now, because I no longer feel that ANY debt is acceptable. Not a mortgage, not student loans, not anything. The Bible says to keep out of debt and owe no man anything, except to love others (Romans 13:8), and I believe God meant what He said.
It has been very hard work, but everything worthwhile takes work.
Everything that matters takes work. Not just “work,” either, but WORK. I mean prolonged, purposeful, intense, focused, sacrificial WORK.
But you know what? If you’re willing to work, you can have your financial dream.
Nothing can stop you, either.
It’s all about your attitude.
Your age isn’t a barrier.
And if you think it is, you will fail because of your “can’t do” attitude. You need a “can do” attitude that sees your age and wisdom as assets rather than liabilities. And before you argue with me, let me tell you that I worked almost 15 years in the disability/vocational rehabilitation industry, and I’ve seen it all when it comes to people returning to work or business. And the “seasoned soldiers” were extremely successful in returning to work or business after debilitating illnesses, even with residual effects, IF THEY WANTED TO BE successful. It’s all about your attitude.
Your skill set isn’t a barrier.
It doesn’t matter if you have the skills you want or not. If you’re alive and breathing, you can learn. When I started my blog in 2012, I didn’t know a thing about websites. You know how I learned? I Googled everything. I read books. I learned all by myself, with the help of the Holy Ghost. I prayed and listened to God when He told me what to do, and I worked 70 hours a week for YEARS.
You can learn anything you need to know, IF you have a “can do” attitude.
Your financial situation isn’t a barrier.
There are plenty of ways you can build a business or make extra money without startup capital. Read my list of 185 ways to make extra money here for some ideas–but there are loads of things you can do that aren’t on this list. If you have willing hands and a willing heart, you can make extra money and become financially free even starting from nothing.
Time isn’t a barrier.
Beloved, we all have the same amount of time. The only difference-maker when it comes to time is how we manage the time we have. Even if you have forty-leven children under the age of 1, you can somehow find the time to at least get started. YOU CAN DO IT.
Your attitude determines whether you succeed or fail financially.
If you will get intense about your money–God’s money–and decide that you are going to change your situation, you can. God will bless your efforts, too. But if you don’t decide that you can and will do it, nothing will change.
I’ll leave you today with this thought:
In five years, you will be five years older whether your life looks any different or not. If nothing has changed in five years, will that be okay with you? Are you okay with keeping things the way they are another five years?
If not, what will you do about it beginning today? Leave your response in the comments below!