Let me preface this by saying, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and this is a talk I was asked to give in a church meeting. I received such an overwhelming response to this talk that I felt I needed to share it with a broader audience. I don't expect everyone who reads this to agree with me, as I know most people don't believe in modern day prophets or the Book of Mormon, I simply ask you to read this with an open mind and heart. Please, take the time to read this and discover for yourself the things which may be true. This is my testimony of my experiences with my husband and our family in the journey to find freedom. This is an exact copy/paste of what I read at the pulpit almost a month and a half ago.
Good morning. My name is Candiss, and my husband is Chris. We have 3 children and our number 4 is due May 11th.
Our oldest child is Raven, she is 6 ½ years old. She was an angel sent from heaven to me and everyday she continues to remind me of how blessed I am to have her in my life. Raven is a wonderful help with her siblings and is extremely excited that she will finally be getting a little sister.
Next, exactly 2 years later, we were blessed with Eldon, who is now 4 ½. Eldon is my little tender heart. He is always happy to help, to the point where it often gets him walloped by his younger brother who doesn't want any help. Eldon has a heart of gold.
The current youngest is Cael who will be 3 years old at the beginning of March. Cael is all boy. He likes to rough house and often picks on his older siblings, leaving them in tears. Though Cael doesn't like getting in trouble and becomes completely docile and full of mourning when he is reprimanded.
Our fourth child who currently remains under development is due to be a girl. Her name will be Ember and we are extremely excited to meet her.
Chris and I have been married for 7 ½ years. Those years have been filled with many ups and downs in our efforts to meld our two lives together. With the help of friends, family and most importantly, God, we have made it through our trials, stronger for having experienced them.
We moved to Bountiful almost 3 months ago to be closer to Chris' job. But at the beginning of December his employer of 3 ½ years cut his hours down to part time employment. We count ourselves blessed to have another job practically fall into our laps by the first of the year, though it will take several months to adjust to the new schedules involved. We are even more fortunate to have followed the council of the prophets concerning our finances. For if we had not heeded their council we would have had many more hardships and stress to endure in those weeks with little to no income.
Let me start with a little bit of background as to how we grew to trust and depend upon financial guidance and council of family responsibilities given to us by the Lord through his inspired prophets. In 2007 we found ourselves in what seemed to be a bottomless pit. Chris was working 1 full time job and 1 part time job. I too, was working full time. My sister was raising my kids for me while I worked to support our lifestyle. We had 2 kids and would soon find out we had a 3rd on the way. We owned a home in Sandy. 4 bedrooms, 2 baths and it sat on a beautiful ½ acre lot on the Dimple Dell gully. We also had 2 cars, complete with monthly payments, 3 credit cards, maxed out and more medical bills than I care to try and count. So to make it simple, we had 2 ½ jobs, 2 ½ kids, a marriage on the rocks and way too much month left at the end of our money.
Statistically most divorces are cited as occurring because of money problems and we were on that track going faster than a bullet train towards the solid cliff wall that could ruin our lives and our kids lives forever.
One day while we were in the car we found ourselves listening to the Dave Ramsey Show. I had heard my eldest brother mention him on occasion so we decided to listen to what he had to say. I was a little dumbstruck at first, what with him saying it was possible to have a car and no payment, a student without a loan, a home with no mortgage, no need for credit and no credit cards. But in our hearts, there was a glimmer of hope, that these things were possible. After all, why wouldn't they be? In 1st Nephi 3:7 it states “...I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing for which he commandeth them.” And had the Lord not commanded us to live this way? To be free of the bondage of debt? In modern days the prophets have counseled us to live within our means and to avoid debt except for a modest house and if necessary, schooling. We continued listening to the Dave Ramsey Show over the next several months.
We found out I was pregnant with our 3rd child and decided I needed to stay home and raise our children. My 2nd child, Eldon, had already been showing greater signs of attachment to my sister than to me and it was breaking my heart. I love my sister, and if I weren't around I wouldn't want anyone else to raise my kids but her, however, I wanted to be around, I was here, but I wasn't really, I was at work from the time I woke him up in the morning to load them up into the car, until I returned at night and he fell asleep on the drive home. In order to allow me to stay home we needed a serious lifestyle change and that included selling our house and renting an apartment for less money monthly. It would not only shrink our monthly payment on our residence by renting, but also decrease our utilities and if we could get a place closer to work, our gas budget. We put our house up for sale in June 2007, right before the housing market crashed and we were able to sell it by November 2007. I quit my job and we moved to Layton. For a few months Chris worked 3 jobs until we had enough debts paid off that he only needed to work 2 jobs to keep the bills paid and I did my best to make $30 a week go as far as possible for our food budget. It wasn't easy, as a matter of fact, it was extremely trying, but so much more satisfying knowing that we were on the right path.
The Church has an extremely wonderful pamphlet they offer for free called “One For the Money” that helped guide us on our journey out of debt. We were so far in the hole that we also looked to outside sources for help, including Dave Ramsey's book The Total Money Makeover. He has so many great resources available to help you get out of debt and get on track that we probably couldn't have done it as quickly as we did, without his guidance as well.
We learned what it really meant to budget. That we needed to tell our money where to go, not just track where it went, because if you don't tell your money where to go, it's going to leave anyways. Chris began packing a lunch every morning and we stopped eating out. We sold everything we could until the kids thought they were next, in an effort to pay off our credit cards and medical bills. When Cael joined our family in March 2008 we had enough money saved to pay the hospital upfront, for which we were given an extremely generous discount. Cael was delivered C-Section because he was breech. This was not planned, but because we had taken the time to save the money needed for a normal birth combined with a timely tax return we were able to leave the hospital not owing them any more than we had before we entered and it was a tremendous feeling.
Dave Ramsey commonly quotes Proverbs 6 which speaks about surety, or debt. Proverbs 6:5 says “Deliver thyself as a roe (which is in the antelope family, similar to a gazelle) from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler.” Our debt is the hunter, or the fowler. We need to run away from our debt as fast as we can. We need to pay it off as fast as we are able, put all vacations, wants and extravagances aside and put any and all money available towards earning our freedom, and escaping the hunter.
When our lease was up with our apartment we decided to move back in with my parents for the remainder of our debt elimination efforts. With only 3 months left until we would reach our goal, another member of my family needed our place in my parent's basement, having just lost their home to bankruptcy. We began renting again and I started a graveyard shift job at the Jordan Valley Hospital. It was a short lived job, only lasting six months before I remembered why I had stopped working the last time. I needed to be mom. I also began homeschooling my daughter Raven, and it has been extremely satisfying.
July of 2010, 2 ½ years after we began our journey to follow the council of the prophets and live debt free, we paid off our last debt. I cried, so overcome with the newfound freedom that is unlike anything I have experienced before. I still cry when I listen to Dave's show on Fridays and listen to all the people tell the world that they are debt free. One day I hope to be able to own a home again, but not until we can afford it. Chris started school again this spring semester and we have no plans of taking out loans for funding his education. We are free. Free from the bondage of debt and the chains it placed on our marriage and our family. We are so much stronger for having gone through this experience, though I do not wish it upon my children. Chris and I have determined to teach our kids this principle, the importance of our agency, and the importance of having a mother in the home.
I have linked in any references so that you might find them easier if you are interested. Thank you for your time. May God bless your day.