If you haven’t read Our $90,000 Turnaround, here’s the quick breakdown. In 2012, my husband and I had $60,000 in student loans (mine) to repay. We wanted to pay them back in 5 years and ended up doing it in 3 1/2! Shortly after that, we bought a car with cash, saved up our emergency fund, and had a baby. Looking back now, I find myself laughing at some of the things we did to get to where we are now.
- Milked cows
We live in rural Wisconsin, so it should go without saying that we’re surrounded by dairy farms, but I did not think I would be working on one. I’m from the city, so the thought of me milking cows never crossed my mind, but my husband’s cousin needed some help on the farm, so Ryan started helping out. Somehow, I started helping, and before we knew it, we were working there. Until then, I had zero knowledge of what it takes to milk cows and run a dairy farm, but all of a sudden I was doing chores, cleaning calf pens, unloading hay, and watching calves be born. I did not see that coming.
- Bred cows
I didn’t do this one. Ryan was in school for Agriscience and needed an internship. He found one where he would be artificially inseminating cows and then checking to see if they were pregnant (it was because of this that he was able to tell the gender of our first child from the ultrasound. I, on the other hand, saw a blob that I hoped was a baby). He had to get up at 2:30 in the morning and drive an hour to get to work. He would be home by 2:00 in the afternoon, and we would head to the farm to milk cows.
- Drove without heat
Did I mention that we live in Wisconsin? Did you know it gets cold here? The heat in my car stopped working in February, but we weren’t out of debt yet and definitely didn’t have cash to buy a car, so a friend from work gave me a seat heater that plugged into the cigarette lighter in the car (do people still call it a cigarette lighter? If not, what is it called?), so I sat on that and wore 2 coats to stay warm on my drive to work and back. We finally had enough to buy a car with cash the following December. I was 5 months pregnant by then and very thankful for the working heater, which at that point was my only criteria!
- Lived in a “free” house
This one is still happening. My in-laws own a house that they let us live in rent free, and we’re responsible for upkeep. It is not our dream home. Not even close. But, as much as I want a house that is truly ours, living here has allowed my husband to stay home with our kids during the day and work part-time. It’s the house where we brought our 2 children home from the hospital and where they will make their first memories. It’s where we had our family over after our tiny wedding ceremony and had friends and family stay for our reception. So, even though it’s not our favorite, and it’s maybe a little weird, we’re thankful that we have it. Our next big goal, now that things have slowed down a little bit, is to save up a healthy down payment for a house and either buy or build. Hopefully sooner rather than later!
Even though we’re out of debt, we still have a lot of work to do. On the journey to financial freedom, the finish line (if there is one) is still quite a ways away, but we’re getting there, one weird thing at a time.