What will be your financial rock bottom?

We got our very own 9/11.  All to ourselves.  That’s the first thing that ran through my mind when the doctor walked in the ultrasound room and just looked at me.  Not a word came out of his mouth.  All I could say was “no, no, no” just like when I watched those towers go down.  This can’t be happening.

And so it was.  The doctor couldn’t say it so I had to ask.  Is he sick?  Yes.  Will he die?  Yes.  When? We don’t know.  How do I tell Manny?  I will.  You just stay here and wait.  So I waited for my husband to be introduced to our new hellish reality.  I used the time to decide how I would tell Alex and Noah that their baby brother would likely not live long enough to learn their names.

But wait, that wasn’t all.  This was 2008.  We were knee-deep in stupidity induced debt of every flavor.  Student loans, family loans, auto loans, 1st mortgage, 2nd mortgage, credit cards, medical bills and now a funeral we simply could not afford.  We planned Isaiah’s funeral during my 7th month of pregnancy.  I remember because while we were waiting for the “funeral planner” there was a pretty hefty earthquake (as if we weren’t shaken up enough already). Picking out your kid’s casket while he’s still alive and kicking inside of you is quite the experience.  But that was nothing compared to the shame I felt.  If rock bottom exists, we had hit it.  Hard.

I didn’t know if there was a way out of the hole we had gotten ourselves into.  But we knew we couldn’t save our son’s life.  We also couldn’t save the little girl we were expecting just a year later, so we worked on fixing the only thing we still had some power over.  We let go of the things we could not control, we placed all our faith in God and we got busy following the only plan that made any sense.  We were getting out of debt.

The house was already in foreclosure so we focused all our energy on paying off everything else we could.  Using the debt snowball, we started to see the power of small wins along the way and finally finding something in our lives we could save.

Fast forward 8 years.  We are completely debt free.  We have not had a credit card in years.  We have paid cash for both our vehicles, our kid’s college savings accounts are done with, our retirement savings are well on their way, we paid cash for our business (which is also debt free), we have emergency funds for both our business and household, we have an estate plan in place, we pay cash for our vacations and we are saving to pay cash for a house (yes, in Los Angeles).  Best of all, I gave birth to a crazy, beautiful, strong little girl in 2010 that is Daddy’s little princess (and mine). 

Nobody owns us anymore.  We own our lives, our jobs, and our freedom.  We take nothing for granted and today, we owe nothing to anyone but God.

I've only just begun

It's been a long time coming.  I've known for years that I wanted to help others through the same type of financial struggles we went through.  I knew that God had not blessed us and taught us what we learned just to benefit ourselves.  When we started to see the light at the end of the tunnel I was anxious to share with anyone and everyone that would listen, how we had done it.

At first, all I could come up with was buying books in bulk so I could give them away whenever someone casually mentioned their stress over money or credit cards they couldn't pay off, or student loans that had been around for decades.  

The second step was deciding to coordinate a Financial Peace University class at our church.  The funny thing is that we hadn't even taken the class ourselves, so it was great to see how this group accountability and support system worked so well to get motivated to make a change.  This class also helped to fill in the gaps and help clarify some details that we hadn't even considered before.

Throughout this process, I realized the importance of reading, listening to podcasts and actively learning more and more about what had become undoubtedly my passion.  I decided to teach a second FPU class and start a class for single moms that would help them like I wish I had been helped many years ago.  

Teaching made me even more curious and I wanted to be better able to answer some of the questions I would get from our students.  We had started RMD by then and our finances continued to improve, so I decided it was time to be trained by the best and I registered for the Master Financial Coach training in Nashville where I would learn from Dave Ramsey's team of coaches how to professionally do what I so badly wanted to do; help others get in the best possible financial shape.

Since completing the training and then a 3 month mentorship program, I have been offered the opportunity to be listed as a local coach on the Dave Ramsey website and now have the designation of Ramsey Solutions Master Financial Coach.  As of May 1st, I will have the opportunity to serve not just our existing clients and anyone looking for help through Dave Ramsey's team.  It's been a long time coming and yet, I have only just begun!