Dog Payments, Snowballs and Debt-Free Living!

How you can go from Financial Stupidity Champions to Debt-free Living, one simple step at a time.

I’m fond of saying that Hubby and I should have received a financial stupidity award in our early marriage. Armed with credit cards and few brains, we shopped foolishly and extravagantly. Even buying a dog on credit! 

If prizes existed for financial stupidity we deserved first place! Yes that’s right, we bought a dog. On credit! A living being, which could get die, run away, or get hit by a car. Or even as happened get stolen, leaving us to pay for something we no longer had. An Old English Sheepdog, Sheba was beautiful but not worth that!

That should have served as a wake up call, but really didn’t. We did start trying to cut back, but to no avail. We had a credit addiction and were over our heads in debt.

Submerged by debt

It soon became obvious that we couldn’t keep up… And the bank must have thought so too, for they repossessed our car and mobile home.

We even had to borrow my parent’s car to get to the hospital for our son’s birth. And that was when we started to realize that we had a problem. (Better late than never! :/ )

So in 1981 we took scissors to the credit cards, dog debt included. And made a pact to not buy on credit. Then we worked at getting out of debt little by little, feeling lighter and freer as each was paid!

Debt-cutting simple life

And that marked the beginning of a new era for us. One that I like to call our journey to a simple life.

We had learned the wisdom of living within our means and buying with cash only. Of learning to get by, make do, or even do without it. Which taught us that real needs are relatively few. And also increased our appreciation of what we already have.

We celebrated our 15th anniversary by making the last debt payment. We had nothing left for dinner out or gifts. But we’d gone from Financial Stupidity Champions to Debt-Free Living, and that was far better than all the gifts or flowers in the world!

Debt-free living really is possible and is something to really celebrate!!

The snowball debt method

Only years later did we learn our method had a name: the Debt-Snowball method. And here we thought ourselves the proud genius inventors, darn! An apt name though, because debt can become like a growing snowball.

But paying debts off also works in the same way. Once you get that ball rolling, applying all extra funds to paying them off, your debt-free status keeps growing and growing!

And what’s important is it worked! It wasn’t easy and took determination and discipline. But knowing that it was good for us helped us keep our eyes OFF of things we didn’t really need, and ON the benefits of being debt-free.

Mortgage-free living

Fast forward many years and we have now also entering mortgage-free living!

The Lord enabled us to finally buy our own home at age 50, and a few years ago we made our last house payment!! And the Lord even blessed us with being able to pay it off 3 months early! Which means we don’t owe money to anyone for anything. The only payments we are have are standard bills like utilities and car insurance.

Living without debts has been a huge blessing to us. Partially because as missionaries our income is unstable. But mostly because it gives us so much more freedom and peace of mind!

4 Benefits of debt-free living

Debt-free living comes with many benefits, but these are my favorites!

1. More time to relax.

You might be able to work less and discover that you have more time for relaxation.

2. It’s easier to save for rainy days.

With fewer payments going out, it’s easier to save for rainy days or for making future purchases like replacing our ancient car with a newer one. Or enjoying a few more special meals out.

3. It’s easier to help others.

We are freer to reach out to others with a helping hand.

4. Fewer worries over income loss.

We never know what the future may hold. Life has a way of throwing us unexpected curve balls. Or icy cold snowballs splat in our face. The current pandemic of corona virus we’re now experiencing is a prime example.

Having no payments except monthly expenses to cover helps make any income loss (like we are now experiencing) so much easier to deal with. Knowing our monthly bills are payments are limited brings greater peace of mind. While debt becomes a big thing to worry about.

Mission Possible

But perhaps getting out of debt seems like Mission Impossible to you. If so, take heart from our story. Because trust me, if two financial idiots like us could do it, so can you!

If debt-free living seems impossible to you, take heart from our story. If two financial idiots like us could do it, so you can you!

The borrower is servant to the lender.

Proverbs 22:7 WEB

Disclaimer: This information is provided for informational purposes only, and not intended to replace financial or legal advice! Please donโ€™t hesitate to seek professional counsel or representation.

Image credits: Couple | Credit card | Money.

50 replies on “Dog Payments, Snowballs and Debt-Free Living!”

I’m not great with money, but I’m from Yorkshire. Yorkshiremen are stereotypically stingy/frugal/prudent, depending on who you ask, and in that respect I’m a stereotypical Yorkshireman. And thankfully I’ve married a Proverbs 31 woman, who manages our money better than I could! Thanks for the post- and congratulations on reaching a jubilee!


Thanks Robert! Not having a mortgage is a huge blessing! I’ve heard that Yorkshiremen have that tendency. As long as it remains frugal and prudent it’s a great trait. But not stingy!! And you certainly don’t give me that impression!!


I hope not! A study was done a few years ago which actually showed that Yorkshire folk spend among the most in the country on Christmas presents. And at the moment it’s not just toilet rolls and hand sanitiser being panic bought but lots of alcohol!


I only hope I can keep my cash only lifestyle going til $0. Your story is inspiring. Congratulations on strides you have made!


I have also been in those shoes. Very interesting read. I’m glad that life has blessed you and you have learned from mistakes made in the past. Now everyone learns, which is a shame.


Aw, thanks so much! I’m just grateful that God has helped me learn through all of life’s varied (and often strange) circumstances! And hope to get wiser as the years pass. I still have much to learn and much growing to do!


My husband and I married young. I guess we thought we should start out having it all, and we both worked, so…
We bought a house, furniture, appliances, a car, and a motorcycle and then I decided I really thought it was time to start our family. Needless to say, we ended up in debt and it took several years to understand how to “make ends meet” within our means. Thank you for this post, Sheila, and for expressing the freedom that comes from not being tied down by our desires for more “things” –


Sounds like our backgrounds are similar Doris. That plastic money certainly made things seem easy. But it created a lot of long-term trouble for us. Contentment with what we have is, I think, a real treasure! Glad you too have stepped out of that cycle!


Good for y’all!!! Debt free living is a relief and freedom to be able to be and do whatever called to do! Keep the good work!! (And at least you bought a dog on credit, not a cat!!) ๐Ÿ˜‰


Sounds like you are telling our story. We are not completely out of debt, but have come a long ways with this same process. It is so much more freeing with low to no debt. And it is being a good steward with what God has blessed us with. Thanks for sharing.

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