The Turning Point
It all started with a simple observation…
It was January 2010. I was visiting my grandparents in South Florida. I watched my grandmother (mi abuela) sitting at the kitchen table hovered over her checkbook to balance the checking account (she would have made an excellent accountant). Suddenly the flood of stories from her past came into my mind. The struggles my grandparents went through coming to the US from Cuba in 1962. The family that had been thrown into Cuban prisons for voicing their political beliefs. The family members they had to leave behind in Cuba. The sacrifices to start over in a new country with no money, no knowledge of the language, no jobs lined up. They found work in the US that was humbling to their great abilities and slowly worked their way back to what they had before. I distinctly remember my grandmother telling me how they had paid off $55,000 of their mortgage in one year.
And here I was in my early 30s with nothing to show for financially. I had squandered away my 20s living the high life with no excuses and no reason to be in that position. I knew in that moment that I couldn’t waste the opportunity my grandparents had risked and worked so hard to give me. It would have been a slap in the face to all they had endured. It was time to draw the line in the sand and decide if I was going to continue down the path I was heading or to make a change.
When I got home I totaled all of my debt – $56,000 in student loans, car loans, and credit cards. The total took my breath away. I knew I had debt but not this much. How in the world was I ever going to be able to attack this?? It seemed insurmountable – I felt defeated already. I knew that if I wanted to get ahead financially, I needed to figure out a way to break free from the chains of debt so I could use my income for more productive and fulfilling uses – like investing for my future and being able to give to those in need.
After returning home to MN, I had a conversation with my best friend Angie about my financial awakening. It just so happened that she and her husband Dave had started a personal finance class at their church called Financial Peace University (FPU) created by Dave Ramsey. Angie talked about how much she was enjoying the class and that she and Dave were already starting to see progress in a short time. I decided to look into FPU and see what this Dave Ramsey guy was all about.
Little did I know how drastically my life was about to change.
Next: The long and winding journey to paying off debt and the much anticipated day of freedom…