How I Saved Over $20,000 In One Year

living debt free

I always liked to think I was good at the personal finance thing. I knew to never carry a balance on my credit cards. I knew how to invest for retirement. I knew how to stay out of trouble for the most part. I was doing pretty well – or so I thought.

The truth is I was living in a very dangerous place financially speaking. I wasn’t in any danger of not making rent or having my new 4Runner repossessed. I was investing 4% of my paycheck into my 401-k. I was doing okay. Just okay.

And “just okay” is a scary place to be. When you’re doing “just okay” you don’t have any incentive to do better. When you’re doing “just okay” you don’t have a reason to change. You can live you’re entire life doing “okay.”I consider it a gift from God that I downloaded Dave Ramsey’s podcast one day. There’s no other way to explain the fortuitous way I stumbled across this treasure chest of financial wisdom.

Money Motivation

“I’M DEBT FREE!” the first caller on The Dave Ramsey Show screamed at the top of his lungs over the phone. He paid off his student loans, his car, his credit cards, everything. He didn’t owe anything to anyone.

Two things shocked me about this call:

  1. The guy was making half what I made. How the heck did he do it?
  2. Dave went on and on about how rich that kid would become. Not a payment to anyone. Saving and investing all his money each and every month – can you imagine???

Another guy called in with a similar story. I listened to caller after caller who made less than I did, with way more debt than I had, pay it off and scream “I’m debt free!”

I couldn’t stop thinking about it. What would my life be like if I didn’t have any payments. How much could I save? How much could I do? What could I become?

My Turn To Win

I was debt free less than a year later. My meager $3,000 in savings swelled to six months of savings shortly after that. It took me several years to inch my way up to the three-grand in savings I already had. Then in about six to seven months we saved five times that! Now this is what living debt-free is all about! THIS is fun!

You can listen to my debt-free story on Jon White’s Debt Free Living Podcast

My wife Cameron and I started saving for our first home shortly after we paid off our debt. And we did it at a rate of over $2,000 a month.

Two grand. Each month. Every month. For over a year. That’s well over $20,000 in just one year!

Can you imagine? What were a couple regular twenty-somethings doing with this kind of cash?

I want to emphasize this: I don’t tell you that to boast. I don’t tell you that to put myself on a pedestal of some sort of financial guru or anything like that.

I tell you that for one reason and one reason only.

To inspire you. To fire you up. To show you what’s possible when you get to keep what you earn every month.

Hearing stories like this is exactly what started me down this road years ago. Stories like this kept me going when it was tough. Stories like this put us in a position to live our dream life.

Your Turn To Win

What about you? Are you just doing “okay” financially? How could things be different if you got to save everything you pay towards debts? Can you imagine???

So how do you get started?

No matter how much or little you know about money I always start people in the same place: Read Dave Ramsey’s My Total Money Makeover. It’s brilliant! Inspiring, educational, instructional.

Warning: This book will change your life… and it’s going to be an exciting ride! #lifeStoked

What would you do with an extra $2,000 a month?


(photo credit)

  • Kevin Landers


    Very excited to hear and read about your story. I, too, was blown away by listening to Debt Free Fridays on Dave’s radio show. My wife and I are currently on track to be debt free in Jan or Feb of 2012. We are so excited! We have worked hard, spared much and have been very thankful. I can’t wait to scream “I’m DEBT FREE!” on national radio. I also can’t wait to see how much more we will be able to save, do and give as a result of our new situation.

    Thanks again for sharing and congratulations! Glad to have you on our Board.

    Kevin L.

    • Deacon Bradley

      That’s so awesome Kevin! You’re life is about to take a very exciting turn! Always a great feeling when the snowball is rolling in the right direction, hah.

      I hope you get on the show to scream! Cameron and I got to visit Dave’s studio and watch him record a live Friday show recently and it was really fun. A couple people called in from the lobby and we got to watch live. Very inspiring!

  • Anonymous

    Gosh, with $2,000 extra a month I could finally replace my 7-year-old computer. And iPod. And camera. And still save money each month.

    I have to be honest, I have a copy of Financial Peace from when my church went through the classes. I was either in college or just graduated at the time, and I while I remember the principles, I was to scared to really implement anything. Really, I’m still scared of losing out on relaxation/entertainment with friends in
    order to get there, or not being able to participate in crucial
    activities that I’ve been waiting for years to come around because I’m
    trying to pay off debt instead. Basically I’ve been avoiding really
    trying because I don’t want the effort of what I need to do to cause me
    to miss out on what I actually want to do.

    But my attitude is finally changing, even if my nerve isn’t quite there yet. I really want to be permanently out of debt (instead of pseudo-debt-free at the beginning of each month). I am wondering though; should I just go back to that Financial Peace book, or is Total Money Makeover a better book to really stick with?

    • Deacon Bradley

      I’ve read Financial Peace & Total Money Makeover (and a host of other personal finance books) and Total Money Makeover is for sure the best place to start. I’m a personal finance fanatic and even I got bogged down reading Financial Peace.

      With Total Money Makeover you can read it in a week and it’s filled with inspiring stories to keep you going. To me that made a big difference because it was real people who were where I wanted to be.

      You could be finished reading that by Christmas and starting a WHOLE NEW YEAR for 2012 – how cool would that be?!?!

      • Anonymous

        That would definitely be cool. I plan on having a milestone year next year (I have a major birthday coming up after that, and I want to be my best by then), and this is one of the things I want to have conquered by then.

  • Christine Niles

    Deacon, our story is similar to yours….we had always been responsible, and saved more than our peers, but we caught the Dave Ramsey bug a few years ago, and became totally debt free (paid off the house) in 2008. 

    As a result of being intentional with our finances, we’ve been able to fund two adoptions, sponsor kids in Mexico and India, and take the whole family on a mission trip to Mexico….it feels great!

    • Deacon Bradley

      That’s so awesome Christine! So cool how God can bless others through financially strong families. #inspiring

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  • mom84

    i dont even make half that a month, single mom-no family or friends to help with chicldcare, i do it all and barely get by- cant go to school because can i barely afford the work daycare, how would i afford work AND school daycare? im too rich to get help and too poor to get help so im stuck until i die and my kiddo inherits nothing and goes to foster care with no family.

    • Deacon Bradley

      I’m sorry you feel that way. This advice is either going to upset you or open your eyes (hopefully the latter): Your situation will never change until you do. It’s clear from your words and the thoroughness of your explanation that you’ve already decided your future, and that’s unfortunate. The good news is you can decide to have a better future too. Will it be easy? No. Is it easier than the picture you painted in your comment? I sure think so.

      Two things I would do if I were you:
      1) Find a good church home and surround yourself with positive people who can lift you up and help with your burdens.
      2) Get a library card, and go find Dave Ramsey’s book. It will help you.

      • L’Diva

        Good advice for everyone. Thanks!