Meet Kristy, aka, The Former Mrs. Jones. I first heard her story on the Dave Ramsey show. The segment was so inspiring that I reached out to her to see if she would participate in the Debt Free Stories series. I was thrilled that she said yes, and I’m super excited to introduce her to you.
She hosts a You Tube channel, The Former Mrs. Jones, where she vlogs about budgeting, debt free living, and family life.
Meet the Former Mrs. Jones: Her Debt Free Story
1. Tell us about you and your family. Where are you from? What do you and your spouse do for a living? What are your hobbies? Include anything that you’d like to add to give the reader an idea about your personality.
My husband and I are from Houston, Texas. My husband is finishing his Bachelors degree in Management this year as I continue to pursue my degree in Education. My husband is an extremely hard worker as he works and goes to school full time. I personally have never seen someone do what he has done the last 2 years. He has paid a price to win with hard work and sacrifice to reach his goals, and I truly admire him for that.
I also manage a YouTube channel called The Former Mrs. Jones. I decided on the name because I did not want to keep up with the Joneses anymore, or pretend to be Mrs. Jones myself, therefore I am now “The Former Mrs. Jones”.
2. How much debt did you pay off? What kind of debt was it? How long did it take you?
Total, we eliminated $180,000 of debt in 12 months. It started with $40,000 in consumer debt (vehicles, credit cards, small student loan) and then sold our home and eliminated the $140,000 of mortgage debt.
The $40,000 of debt took about 9 months to pay off. A HUGE chunk of that thanks to my husband. After convincing him to get on board with the Dave Ramsey plan, he sold his motorcycle and truck within 72 hours and eliminated $20,000 of debt. After that, we paid off the remaining $20,000 of debt over the course of 9 months.
While we were paying off our debt, my husband and I both had a realization about our home. We realized that we had “too much house” for us and where we were in our life. We realized in order to keep the house, we would have to sacrifice in other areas that we did not want to sacrifice in. So we decided to sell our home and become renters for the first time. The day I realized that the house needed to go, was the day God spoke into my heart about what we needed to do next in our debt free journey.
We completely started over. Sometimes I feel like we are newly weds again. Renting, not having super nice furniture or cars, having mismatched dishes and bedding. We just decided one day to his “reset” and that our future was more important than the material possessions we have right now.
3. What inspired you to become debt free? Was there a particular event?
One evening my husband came home from work and mentioned that he forget to get gas in his truck on the way home. I was nervous about this comment because I remember looking at our checking account earlier that day, and seeing nothing in it. I got paid the next day, but in that very moment we were broke. So I offered to take his truck to the gas station and get him some gas so he could get to work in the morning. Knowing our bank account was empty, I was hoping that one of our maxed out credit cards would have enough room to get him $20 bucks worth of gas to get him to work the next day. It was 11:30PM and the first gas station I went to was closed. And so was the second one. By the time I reached the third gas station I was super nervous about my situation. I was juggling so much in that one moment. I had fear that the truck would run out of gas, that if I did get to the gas station it wouldnt take my credit card, and that I would have to call my husband and explain everything to him.
So I finally got to the third gas station and inserted my Discover card, hoping it would accept it. And by the grace of God, it went through. As I was putting the $20 bucks of gas in my husbands truck, I had my “sick and tired of being sick and tired” moment. Here I was, leaning against his $20,000 truck, while my $15,000 car is sitting in the drive way of our $150,000 house, and through all this our 8 month old son was sleeping in his $400 crib, and I didn’t have $20 bucks of my own money to get gas.
It was in that moment I realized I needed to do something different, this was just SO DUMB. So a few days later one of my favorite family vloggers posted a video on YouTube of their debt free scream through Dave Ramsey. I looked up Dave Ramsey and was immediately hooked. He was the common sense I desperately needed.
4. Did you follow a particular debt freedom plan or book, such as Dave Ramsey or Debt-Proof Living?
After getting my husband on board, we bought The Total Money Makeover on audio book and would listed to it on repeat daily. We also listed to The Dave Ramsey Show every day for daily motivation while we worked the baby steps.
5. What are the top 3 – 5 ways you found money to put towards debt.
We sold EVERYTHING! Baby furniture, BBQ pits, tools, guns… EVERYTHING. The rule was, if I could get $50 bucks or more for it, it was going on Craigslist. Thank goodness its illegal to sell cute little children, because I would have gotten a pretty penny for my son 🙂
We stopped buying stuff. It was the first time we consistently told ourselves NO to purchases. No new clothes, no vacation, no extra anything. We were sticky on a spending freeze.
6. What are your top 3 – 5 tips for saving money/pinching pennies to put towards paying off your debt.
We started cooking at home more, a big issue for us was eating out. So we would cook at home and take leftovers for lunch the next day. We tried our best to stretch the food budget.
We used up what we had. We stopped buying things until we absolutely needed to. We stayed in on the weekends and just didn’t spend money.
7. If married, who initiated the debt free goal? Were there arguments during the time you were working on your debt? How did you resolve the tension and arguments?
I initiated the “I swear it’ll be totally fun to pay off our debt” conversation. My husband wanted nothing to do with the idea and we spent the next year going back and forth about it. I can let a lot of stuff go, but if I’m passionate about something and I KNOW its the right thing to do, I CANNOT LET IT GO. And that’s exactly how I was with this debt free stuff. I knew this was what we needed to do, so I didn’t let up until I got him on board.
The big key to get him on board was that he wanted to finish his degree. I told him I was not okay with student loans, and that if he wanted to go back to school, we had to get in a better position financially. He understood that and got on board. Plus, once he started listening to Dave Ramsey, he started to understand why I was pushing this debt free journey all along.
8. Who handles the day-to-day finances in your home or do you work on it equally? How often do you and your spouse discuss your finances/budget/spending?
I am the nerd and he is the free spirit. So I am the one who basically does the budget, and he looks over it and agrees or disagrees on whatever. We do a monthly budget.
9. How did you celebrate when you became debt free?
We went and saw Dave Ramsey at a live speaking event in Dallas, ha! (Watch Kristy and her husband’s Dave Ramsey Show segment.)
10. What habits did you form while being debt free that will now stick with you for the long term?
To not count on debt being a tool we can use. If we want to buy something we have to save up the cash and pay for it outright. Getting out of debt can be easy depending on your financial situation, its STAYING DEBT FREE that can be challenging. We are constantly being sold that we “deserve” a new car, or new iPhone, or vacation, or new furniture. But its about being disciplined enough to say “Yes, I do deserve nice things, but only if I can actually pay cash for it”.
11. Was there something that you gave up that you will go back to now that you are debt free?
Yes. My husband sold SO MUCH of his stuff to become debt free. Guitars, guns, car stuff. Now that we are debt free he has been able to build up his collections once again. The difference now is that we are able to have these items and I don’t have the thought in the back of my head “well, we can sell one of Matt’s guns or guitars in order to pay for this”.
I am also able to indulge once again in my Bath & Body Works candle addiction. I am very happy 🙂
12. What are your financial goals now?
To finish Baby Step 3B (save a house down payment) and buy our next home. Then move onto Baby Step 4, 5 and 6. As well as me starting up my education full time and completing that.
13. What advice do you have for someone that is paralyzed by their debt load, but wants to be debt free?
Regardless of how much debt you have, and how long it will take you to become debt free…. The hard work and sacrifice is worth the reward. Do not allow fear to convince you to not pursue your financial goals.
Sell stuff, say no to vacations and eating out, and just get through this time. It may not be easy, but a lifetime of financial peace is worth it.
14.Is there anything else you’d like to add that you think would help the readers who want to become debt free?
The biggest piece of advice I can give is to tell people to listen to Dave Ramsey. Do exactly as he says, and you’ll win.
For more of Kristy’s story, check out her You Tube channel, The Former Mrs. Jones.
Congratulations, Kristy, and thank you for sharing your Debt Free Story. For more stories like hers, go to Debt Free Stories.
Would you like to share your real life debt free story? You don’t have to be a blogger to share. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Put “Debt Free Stories” in the memo line and I will send you a questionnaire.
Please note, I AM NOT A FINANCIAL PLANNER. This series was written based on the experiences of others who have become debt free. If you feel you need additional advice, please consult a certified professional.