An open letter to those in need of hope,
Ever since I can remember and even going back to when I was a kid; I always wanted to own my own business. I wanted to have the freedom to do what I wanted. When I was 10 or 11 years old I remember starting my own car wash in my driveway. I made some really good money and it felt amazing that I made that money all on my own. I can still feel that feeling of accomplishment. We also tried a roller rink in my basement. That didn’t work out so well though when the kids got tired of constantly turning in circles.
When I became an adult I still had this dream. However, that dream was distancing itself from me and it seemed impossible. Why is that? Why as adults do the dreams we have as children drift away and all of a sudden become impossible? I have a six year old and he can dream the wildest most impossible dreams, but you know what? He believes with his whole heart that he can reach them. If there is one fear I have as a parent it is for my son. I fear he will lose that belief in his dreams. Believing and having hope is so powerful.
There could be several reasons that as adults we let go of our dreams. My reason was debt. Now I have never been comfortable with debt. But, I like many bought into the American way. Mortgage, car payments, and credit cards; if you don’t have the money just borrow it!
I remember being in a newly renovated home I had bought. We spent six months fixing it up with borrowed money from my Grandma. I remember sitting at the dining room table for the first time, checkbook out and a stack of fresh bills waiting to be paid. When I started, I remember having this feeling of pride, “I am officially an adult”, as I sat in my own home getting ready to pay my bills.
That proud feeling lasted all of about 30 minutes when after the last check was written I realized I had no money. Sadly, now I knew what most adults feel like in this country and I didn’t like it. I remember calling my mom, “Mom, is this how this is supposed to work? I paid all of our bills, but I have hardly any money left. Are we going to be ok?” My mom’s response, “Welcome to being an adult, you will get by.”
GET BY? I don’t want to just get by! But, I did. As I said I fell in line with what most Americans do. We go into debt, we buy stuff we can’t afford and we get stuck in payment hell. I did this for 10 years.
Luckily, I still had that feeling. I had this feeling inside that although this was the popular belief that it was wrong. There had to be another way. Thankfully I was right.
While working at my second job to make ends meet; I was driving home late one night. I was listening to talk radio trying to get an update on some of the sports scores. Instead of finding the sports report, I found I was listening to this guy talking to callers about debt.
I was taken back when he started saying things like, “You shouldn’t have car payments! You shouldn’t have credit cards! You should be debt free!” WOW! Who was this nut job I thought?
You see even though I still had that feeling that debt wasn’t good; the popular belief on debt held on to me tight.
The voice on the radio belonged to a guy by the name of Dave Ramsey. You may have heard of him
Now Dave was taking calls from people and they would explain their debt issues to him. I laugh thinking back to this because I still remember telling myself that I wasn’t like these people. I have good debt! Palm to face!
Week after week I would find myself tuning into the show. Dave announced a new book he had coming out called the “The Total Money Makeover”. I went and bought a copy as soon as it came out.
I remember reading this book and having everything click. It just made sense. All of those feelings I had were right. Debt was wrong. Debt isn’t the way. This is why I can’t have my dream of owning my business because debt is holding me back! DUH! It was a like a light bulb went off. I just needed someone to confirm those feelings for me and Dave’s book did that.
I was at a crossroads. Do I keep going down this path that has proven to just get me further into debt and further from my dreams? Or do I take a chance and go against everything I have learned about money, good credit scores and debt? I decided it was time to take the road less traveled.
I went to work! Let me tell you it was a lot of work! Paying off debt was the hardest thing I have ever done. As I said, debt is the American way so when I told people what I was doing they looked at me as though I was a disease. “You are doing what? You can’t do that! You can’t live without a credit card! You can’t live without car payments, you need something reliable!” Honestly, most people almost took this as an insult that I didn’t want to be in debt anymore. Their way was wrong and they didn’t like that I felt that way.
It was a struggle! When everyone including family and friends were telling me this was impossible it was hard to keep going. It was hard to keep that hope alive. Breaking free from the crowd, breaking free from popular belief was the hardest thing I did during this process.
I kept moving forward. My progress was slow because I hesitated. I held on to the normal way of thinking and that delayed my progress. But, here is the thing, it didn’t stop me. I was like the Little Engine That Could, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.” Until one day I did!
I found out I was going to have a son and that blew the roof off! I remember telling myself “I have to get this money thing figured out now, I need to get serious!” I got serious!
So serious I began selling stuff left and right to pay off debt. I sold one of our cars that had a hefty car payment. I sold furniture that we weren’t using in a spare bedroom. I had multiple rummage sales. I went crazy and any extra money I had I threw at my debt, nothing was going to stop me now!
Four years after my son was born I paid my last debt off to Grandma. She loaned me the money to renovate the house, which by the way I didn’t even live in anymore.
I did it! I made it! I became the hero of my own story! 100% DEBT FREE!
Being debt free has improved every single area of my life. My marriage is absolutely rocking! I have an amazing wife who runs her own business. My family life is amazing. Our family is no longer weighed down by stress. I used to be fat and out of shape, I have lost a ton of weight and I am in the best shape of my life. My life is awesome! Instead of enduring life, I am embracing it and I feel more alive than I have ever felt before.
I am writing this on a very early morning in my office. There is a nice cool breeze coming in the window and I can hear the birds chirping. I now own and operate my own business full-time; completely debt free. I am not owned by any JOB or anything! As I write this paragraph and think back to my journey I have tears in my eyes. I am living my dream and it feels absolutely amazing!
Do you want to know what my business does? We help people realize their dreams by helping them become financially free. That’s right! I opened a business to help people become debt free so that they can have an opportunity to reach their dreams! This is had such an impact on my life that I am now called to share the knowledge and provide the support to those that also want to live their dreams and the life they have always imagined.
How fun is that? I can’t think of a better way to spend my time on this earth than to help people become who they want to become by ridding themselves of the chains of debt.
What are your dreams? What is holding you back? I want you to know that you are a hero! You are the hero of your own story. You may not believe that right now, but I believe it and I believe in you.
I believe you can do what we did and what so many others have done.
You can have that life that you want. It is just waiting for you to go after it!