On Saturday August 30th 2014 I stood in my home and surveyed the damage done by our tenants. I had a broken front gate, a broken door jamb, broken and missing light fixtures, one of the closet doors upstairs had fallen apart, the washing machine was full of mold, the carpet was destroyed and water damage in the kitchen. Everything was covered in a soapy hazy film from their attempts to clean the place. There was garbage in the backyard and a mountain of garbage piled up in the front yard next to the driveway extending all the way to the street. Our lawn was gone. I felt like I could cry. But not for the reasons you might think.
I was home! And all of this was fixable. And I had friends there to help. I was truly feeling blessed and grateful at that moment. Kind of crazy, huh?
One of my friends, who is a plumber, got right to work before I even said anything. He took care of the washing machine and checked all the faucets, toilets, sinks, the dishwasher and even upgraded the plumbing on the hot water heater. My other dear friend ran home for her carpet cleaner and made a stop at Walmart on her way back to pick up a load of cleaning supplies and food to keep everyone fed. We all scrubbed and cleaned. I used vinegar water in the carpet cleaner and some stain remover to clean the bad spots on the carpets the best I could. That machine got a workout for a solid week!
The next day another good friend went and hooked up our RV and brought it to the house for me. Everything we owned was now sitting in my driveway in our 27 foot travel trailer and in the bed of my pick up. We had no furniture because we sold it all with the idea we'd start over in Arizona.
Just before we moved back to our house I had thought ahead and used my PayPal account to purchase a couch and recliner for the living room off of eBay. No interest for six months and I knew I could pay that off before then, which I did. I had also ordered a dining table and four chairs from Amazon and paid cash. With my friends surrounding me we sat on the freshly cleaned and fragile living room carpet and put my new furniture together. We had a start.
That first week we used the mattresses from our beds in the RV until I was able to get our new beds figured out. We emptied out the RV and I listed it on Craigslist. It sold in three days, for the amount I wanted too! I used that money to buy the girls their new mattresses, paid off some of my medical bills and a $1300 credit card bill. Then I blew up the Aero Bed mattress we had in the closet and I slept on that for two months.
I listed and sold a big chunk of my inventory leftover from my business on eBay and used that money to pay off the PayPal account. Little by little I furnished the house and bought the things we needed by continuing to sell my inventory and using those proceeds to pay things off. I did that for a year.
Every day I went to work and every time I was offered overtime I took it. Each pay day I paid our mortgage and our utilities and bought groceries. Whatever was left went toward that debt that first year. When I got my tax refund in February of 2015 I applied the entire thing to it. I also transferred a large chunk of debt to a 0% interest credit card offer and then I worked to pay that off ahead of the deadline. Then I did it again, and again. Until last week, when I paid the final amount off.
In order to free up cash to put toward that debt I was super careful with my spending. I kept us to a tight budget, we ate at home and dined out very little, we didn't go on any vacations or take any trips until just this past year. In that first year I managed to pay off nearly half of that debt and in the past 23 months I worked hard and paid off the rest. And while I was at it I furnished a house, took care of my children and our pets, repaired our home, built up my savings and retirement accounts and maintained a healthy credit score. And don't forget, I bought Laverne too! A whole year earlier than planned!
I don't make a ton of money. I'm sure if you really knew my income level you'd be shocked. While the entire situation might have seemed impossible I set a goal, several in fact, and I proved to myself it could be done!
With patience, determination and a boatload of planning and hard work, I accomplished my goal. You can do it too. I hope that if you are struggling financially, you find some inspiration here. It really can be done! Where there is a will, there is a way. I feel so incredibly grateful right now.