Debt Free

In 1997, I began listening on the radio to Larry Burkett speak about living debt free.  Knowing that we were starting our family (Brett was a baby) and that I wanted to stay at home, a lot of what he said resonated very strongly with me.  I knew that if we lived above our means and carried a lot of debt, then at some point I’d have to go back to work.


At the time, we had about $75,000 in school loans, car loans, and personal consumption (new furniture) loans. We also had our home mortgage.  Fortunately, we did not have any credit card debt.

We spent the next 3 years putting every penny we could scrape together toward paying off that $75,000.  I still can’t tell you how we did it.  Jim was making between $32,000 and $35,000 during those years and I was tutoring.  But we lived cheaply and we did it.

And then began the mortgage years where we worked hard to pay off our home mortgage.

We made great strides toward decreasing the mortgage.  We still didn’t make a lot of money, but we lived way below our means and put  all the extra toward reducing the mortgage principal.

In 2008, we began Goat Milk Stuff.  By 2009, we had outgrown the house and needed more space.  We made the decision to refinance our mortgage to generate the funds to build the soap room and purchase the Hulk.  The Hulk is our large vehicle that allowed us to travel to and from soap shows with the whole family.

So we had a temporary setback, but we refocused our efforts to pay down the mortgage.  Since we are self-employed, it became even more important that we were living debt free for my peace of mind.

But then Goat Milk Stuff started to outgrow our existing property.  So we made a list of what we needed in a new property and God provided it.  But we didn’t have the cash to pay for the new property, so we had to take out a new loan.

Then began the year of fighting to be allowed to build on the Scottsburg property.  We finally gained approval, and started to seek financing to begin the large building project.

Hmmm…  that meant taking on a huge amount of debt and starting over.  I’m ok with that because we’re building something with the children and that takes investment.  But for a little while I wanted to know what it felt like to be completely debt free.

So we scraped together every single penny we had (including emergency funds and  the money we had saved for the down payment for building in Scottsburg) and this past week we paid off our mortgage!

I can’t even tell you how amazing it feels.  It’s like this weight, that has been on my shoulders since 1997, has been lifted.

So we celebrated – homemade brownie sundaes with good ice cream,  real whipped cream, hot fudge and sprinkles.  It was awesome.

I know as soon as we start building at Scottsburg we’re going back into debt.  But I also now know how it feels to be debt free.  And that feeling will help us to start again paying off all the Scottsburg debt.

I share this information publicly so you may be encouraged.  Because I can tell you that if we can raise eight children on a single (not large) income and pay off our mortgage, then so can you.  And you don’t need to start your own business to do it.  We would have done it if we’d never started Goat Milk Stuff.  In fact, one could argue that we may have done it sooner without Goat Milk Stuff.

The other reason that I share this is because I think it is important for parents to realize that our attitudes about debt will greatly impact our children’s attitudes about debt.  We are teaching our children that debt for consumable and depreciating assets is not a positive thing.  But we also teach them that if wisely used, debt can be a tool to help them invest in their futures.

What are you teaching your children about debt?




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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • betty

    BRAVO to you all. What a fantastic accomplishment… especially in our culture that bombards us with so much consumerism. We all can learn a great lesson from what you have done.

    • Thanks so much, Betty! I appreciate the kind words!


  • Judy

    You and your family are just amazing. Congrats on the forward thinking…..that you say is backwards! If more Americans did the same, this country would be even greater. Too bad some think they have to have everything and do so on credit. I come from the mortgage business and want to thank you for your diligence, kind thoughts and beautiful family. Oh, yeah, the soap too!

  • Way to go! I love reading stories like this. It is encouraging and a beautiful example to many. Thanks for being open and honest.
    Grace and Peace.

  • hooray

  • Sherry

    PRAISE THE LORD!! I, too, want to thank you for sharing such a remarkable story! Awesome!
    We trust all is well in Scottsburg and your home as I know the tornadoes were close to you. Continued blessings to you & yours!

    p.s. We love the soap and can’t wait for the liquid soap . . . thanks for sharing about it as well!


  • Pat Somers

    Congrats! I am so proud to know that in some small way I have helped you by buying your soaps. If you can do it, I am going to try to do it as well!

  • Felicie Ingalls

    Thank you for sharing, and letting other know that it can be done. We need to realize that we don’t need everything we want, and what we do need, use cash. I only have what I can afford, no TV, no Computer, no Credit cards and no loans. I have to live within my budget. My skin has enjoyed the soap, love the laundry soap (I grate it myself) and the lotions. I look forward to seeing more of the videos of the children, they are all so cute. Will keep ya’ll in my prayers.

  • Jonie M.

    Congratulations on the mortgage, PJ & Jim!

    PJ, you could do a great podcast about finances and helping others use discipline to live within their means. It never hurts to gain some extra advice on making wise choices when it comes to spending.

  • Joanna

    That is wonderful! Definitely inspires me to keep on plugging away at our goal to be debt-free. Like with your family, it is taking longer than I’d like but we will get there if we keep working at it. Thanks for sharing. 🙂