My Journey to Financial Freedom

I must start this blog post by saying I have 2 big goals before I turn 30 in late November.  

#1 Pay off all debt

#2 Lose 30 lbs

I am happy to say I have accomplished goal #1!!!!

HERE IS MY STORY:

DEBT DEBT DEBT DEBT DEBT DEBT DEBT

IT’S A HEAVY BURDEN TO CARRY!

“…and the borrower is slave to the lender.”  Proverbs 22:7

YA.  That was a lot!!!!  I had never really sat and added it all up and once I did I felt overwhelmed to say the least considering I was pulling in less than 28k a year.  I did the math and with my other expenses it was going to be a LONG LONG time until I could pay it off.

I started talking with my boyfriend who I had been dating for about 5 months at the time and asked him if he would be interested in doing the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace Class, to which he replied, absolutely!  I loved his willingness to go considering he had no debt.  We started looking around for a class and the only one we could find that could possibly work within our schedule was on the same night we were attending a small group at church.

I thought hard about it, prayed about it and decided that going to FPU was the right thing to do in this season so we gracefully bowed out of our small group and started attending FPU on Tuesday nights.

The class was held by Zack and Audrey Bennett.  Zack actually works for Dave Ramsey so it was really cool to know that he was so passionate about the FPU message even after working there for some time.

A random side story here:

I started my FPU class on a Tuesday and on Thursday of that week I had someone ask me if I could come and photograph a Patron’s Party for the Brentwood Star Gala.  I almost told this person no because they asked me the day of the event, but for some reason I said yes and then was handed an invitation and told I could not get in without it…

I look down to read it and the invitation says… “Hosted by Dave & Sharon Ramsey

and if that wasn’t cool enough, then I read further and the party is at THEIR house!  UNBELIEVABLE!!!  I called my boyfriend and told him to go buy a suit on lunch…  WE ARE GOING TO DAVE RAMSEY’S HOUSE!!!!!

Here are a few of the photos from his house.  Some of these have never been published before.


Dave Ramsey's House - Dave's Bedroom

This next photo I love… It’s my boyfriend in Dave Ramsey’s hall of him w/ famous people photos…

Hallway of famous people at Dave Ramsey's houseThis is me shootin’ em up in Dave Ramsey’s office…

So after that I was SUPER SUPER SUPER pumped about continuing my Financial Peace Class.

A few weeks into our class… and I start thinking more and more about what I want in life.  I start entertaining the thought of quitting my job and trying to do photography full time, but I stay with the job I was at and continue to grow my photography business on the side.

Then… a couple weeks later.  BAM – I get robbed at gunpoint at work on a Tuesday.  Even a gunman could not deter me from attending my FPU class.  I still went, as shaken as I was.  It was then I started aggressively entertaining the idea of photography full time. (more on that later)

Then on May 10th 2011 we graduate FPU

WAHOO — I am feeling totally freaking excited.  I am going to tackle the crap out of this debt that is weighing me down…

AND THEN….

As stressful as it may have been… it was PERFECT timing

I saw this as an opportunity to grow my photography business so I went for it…

frolicking in the field

At first, gigs were coming my way easily, but in hindsight I was charging far too little and barely scraping by.  Running your own business full time was a lot harder than I thought.

Paying off this debt while trying to get my own business off of the ground proved to be as hard as fighting a wild fire…

I picked up a second job Nannying and it was a good second source of income, but at this point I was just paying my bills.  Finally I cracked the whip again and started following FPU baby steps the best I possibly could and started making some headway.

I started getting more and more photography gigs, taking that money and investing some back into equipment and some to tackle my debt.  I was started to feel pretty good about where I was going…

THEN — While all was well I got offered this amazing job working for a country artist (who shall remain unnamed) it paid pretty ridiculous and I would be Nannying  for them, watching their one kid.

So I start working for this artist, quit my other Nanny job to work for them and then BAM this Artist BLOWS up and gets booked for tour after tour and then decides they no longer need me because they would rarely be home.

uhhhhh… SERIOUSLY!   Needless to say I was devastated!!!! This seemed like a such a great opportunity!

I start going on a massive job search and after a month, nothing! This was December mind you so photo gigs were pretty much non-existent.

& then things take a turn for the better…

My boyfriend invites me to go see a motivational speaker named Rory Vaden.  I attend the TAKE THE STAIRS event and am blown away.  I take tons of notes and feel quite inspired by Rory and by his company called Southwestern Consulting that he refers to several times in his speech.  I go home and continue the job search…

AND THEN… 

I come across a job opening at Southwestern Consulting two days later.  Even though I felt I was lacking a few of the “requirements” I apply anyway and almost immediately get a reply.  I talk to Amanda and she is interested in hiring me to be Rory’s assistant.  Wait, what… ME??  You want me to assist a New York Times Best Selling Author???

Well long story short I end up meeting Amanda and we realize that I would be a great fit to work with her and I quickly refer them to my friend Darcy for the role of Rory’s assistant (which she gets by the way)

This was truly a turning point in my life in many ways, but the stability and business of Southwestern Consulting helped me to financially start making headway again on my debt.  I have learned so much in the short time I have been there about what it truly means to be successful in every area of life.

A saying we have at SWC:

A constant reminder that for ANYTHING you are involved in, whether it be a business, your debt, a relationship… IT TAKES WORK.  EVERY DAY!!!

BACK TO THAT DARN DEBT… Remember I said about 16K???

Well I am happy to say that on Tuesday August 7th 2012 I made that last credit card payment of $511.28!!!

I FEEL FREE!!!!!!

THANK YOU’S – (in no particular order, other than God…)

God – For providing me amazing opportunities and filling my life with amazing people

Parents – well because you are my parents and I love you

Tommy – For being the most wonderful man ever!  You have always believed in me even when I haven’t believed in myself.  You encourage me to be a better woman and to live a life of purpose.

Friends – You are all amazing and you know it.

Darcy – You are a true friend and I appreciate you more than you will ever know.  Thank you for driving me around most of the time to as we both know my car is holding on for dear life… Thank you for getting pumped about me being debt free and thank you for taking these lovely photos of me!

Zack & Audrey and the whole FPU Class – Thank you for opening your heart and taking time out of your lives to lead me toward financial peace

Dave Ramsey – Thank you for being a vessel — You have poured wisdom into so many lives.  You rock!!!

Amanda Johns Vaden – Thank you for being the most amazing partner I could ever ask for.  You have been beyond good to me and you are such a blessing to all you come in contact with.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Rory Vaden – Thank you for being you. Thank you for writing the book TAKE THE STAIRS and for living what you preach.  I look up to you man! Keep rockin

SWC Team – ALL OF YOU are amazing and I am so excited I get work with you… Thanks for being rays of light in my life.

My one zillion roommates I have had – Thank you for living in the house.  You have made my rent cheaper so that i can pay my debt off.  HAHAHAHA!  Nah really, thank you for the laughs, fun times and for putting up with my managing of the household.

Lastly,  but not least…

THANK YOU to all of my photography clients.

THANK YOU FOR PAYING ME!  Thank you for hiring me and allowing me to continue to grow my photography business into something much cooler than I ever imagined it could be!

NOW ON TO GOAL #2 — LOSE 30 lbs before 30 — 25lbs to go and 106 days to do it!!!!