I can’t imagine living my life without my wife. She is the only person who is crazy enough to jump on board with my wild ideas, and then throw in a few herself.
It Started with a Documentary
This all started a couple years ago when we watched Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things on Netflix. We learned about this thing called “minimalism” and it resonated with us. After we were done we looked around our two bedroom apartment and both said, “We have too much junk. Let’s get rid of stuff we don’t need.” We shed excess clothes, CDs, DVDs, books, and the like. We even lived without Internet for a month (but that didn’t last long).
Our journey continued as we learned more from the two guys in the documentary called “the Minimalists” (Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus). One of the things Joshua likes to say in their podcast is “there is no such thing as good debt.” That resonated with us, and we focused our attention on our debt. We got so laser focused that we knocked off several thousands of dollars of debt in a three or four month span.
We then lost a bit of momentum when we found out we were pregnant with our daughter, Harmony, as we racked up some debt with travel (possible new job in DC that I turned down) and adjusting to pregnancy life. Fast forward to February of this year and we came into $9,000 (via child support & tax return). We threw all of that at our debt. Boom! Progress!
That only left us with our two cars and minimal credit card debt. Less than $30,000 total (not including medical bills).
Let the Crazy Thinking Begin
Along with paying off our debt earlier this year, for whatever reason I got into Dave Ramsey again by watching his YouTube channel. If I’m honest, I think the Minimalists might also have something to do with that by introducing me to Rachel Cruze (Dave’s daughter) and Anthony ONeal.
Hearing stories about people getting out of debt and having financial freedom resonated with me as someone who wanted to live a minimalist lifestyle. So, Jaimie and I began brainstorming how we could tackle our debt in a significant way. How could we “live like no one else [today], so we can live like no one else [tomorrow]”?
If we kept moving forward, we’d have all our debt obligations paid off in 4 years, barring anything major happening. That’s cool, but I wanted to do more, even to my wife’s thinking I was pressing too hard. But, at the same time, we also had the thought of needing a minivan to accommodate our growing family. This meant we had to do something about our vehicles.
A Failed Attempt
Our first attempt at this failed miserably. We had the idea to trade in both our vehicles so we could buy a cheap minivan. Why didn’t it work? We were upside down on both cars and the dealer lowballed us on the trade-in value. The salesman understood what we were trying to do and he thought it was a great idea (at least personally). But, no one wanted to finance us for a used $8,000 van while carrying $11k in dead money (at least that’s what they said the negative equity was).
Their solution? They roll out a brand new SUV with less than 100 miles on it that would cost us over $40,000. Their justification? We’d have a better car with the room we needed for what we were paying now for both vehicles. The catch? We’d have to carry this note for another seven years!
I kindly told the manager that there was no way in hell I was walking out of there with that car & doubling my debt, when the intention was to lower my debt.
A couple months later, we finally stumbled upon something that would work.
The idea to downsize our cars never left us. From a Dave Ramsey get-out-of-debt perspective, we had to get out from under one of these vehicles and drive something cheaper. But, being upside down on them both made things hard, especially with no real way to knock down the balance any faster.
Then, one day when I was working from home, Jaimie and I threw ideas back and forth. What if we sold both cars to CarMax & got a loan for the negative equity & bought a $5,000 minivan? Nope. That wouldn’t work. After doing the math, we’d barely break even. Not worth it. What if we…? Nope. That won’t work either. What about…? No, that puts us in a worse position.
Then the idea hit us like a ton of bricks: sell my car (2015 Chevy Equinox) since it has the greater trade-in value, get a loan for the negative equity and enough to buy a bike, and downsize to a single vehicle. And that’s what we did. I went to CarMax and they offered me $11,000 for my car. I owed roughly $13,600, so that means I’d have to pay CarMax $2,600 to take my car.
So, I secured the loan. Found the perfect commuter bike (spent $1600 total on it), consolidated our credit card debt into the loan. Got the funds. Sold my car. Now we are $9,000 lighter on our debt. With one crazy decision.
Thankfully Spokane is a great biking city and my commute is only 5-6 miles to work. So, that is doable and only adds about 10-15 minutes to my commute by bike.
Going Even Further
But, we haven’t stopped there. We’re making other crazy moves. We’re now in the process of ditching T-Mobile who we pay over $140 a month to for cell phone service. We’ll be switching to Mint Mobile, an MVNO using the T-Mobile network.
What does that mean? Basically we’ll be getting the exact same cell phone coverage for a LOT cheaper. Sure, we’ll have to ditch the unlimited data & make sure we stay on wifi as much as possible, but we stand to save over $1,000 a year on our cell phone service.
Between selling my car and switching carriers, we have essentially freed up over $400 in our monthly budget. With a baby on the way that is huge!
Not to mention, the Lord has continued to be faithful by opening up doors, such as allowing Jaimie to watch two kids while remaining a stay-at-home mom. That’s a bit of extra income that adds to our financial freedom.
We Won’t Stop
It started with a documentary that has changed our lives. We won’t stop until we are debt free and living the lifestyle we want to live. We want to live a meaningful life with less so that we can have the freedom to be a blessing to others. That’s why we’re doing this & we hope we can inspire others along the way.