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It Takes a Plan to Pay Off a Mountain of Debt

How do you pay off $63,000 in debt? For Robert and Julie Couden, it was by saying “no” 63,000 times.




Robert Couden
Hartland, Wisconsin
April 2016

In summer 2014, God called me to close a remodeling company. I thought God had helped my wife and me build the company, but I was wrong. The business was holding us back. I was putting aside all of my personal goals and pushing my wife further and further away, just to please homeowners and employees. On top of that, we were piling up personal and business debt with no end in sight.

After God changed my heart that summer, I made the commitment to my wife that I would close the business so we could begin to rebuild our life together. I started selling equipment, letting go of employees, turning down new projects, and getting used to the idea that God had a different plan for us. But before I could really get a hold of this new reality, I received a phone call concerning a potential job as a maintenance guy at Lutherdale Bible Camp. Within 45 days, I had a stable job with great benefits and the opportunity to put my skills and tools to work, literally for God.

By November 2014, my wife and I were able to start focusing on our goals and dreaming a bit about the future. The only problem: We had a big pile of debt holding us hostage. We had been through Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace class a couple years earlier at our church, but the principles never took hold because I was so focused on building a business instead of taking care of my family. We went through the videos again with some friends who were living debt-free. They inspired us to develop a plan to attack our debt. By saying no to absolutely everything except giving to our church, and taking on extra jobs and overtime, we were able to pay off $63,540.98 of debt in 13 months. With God’s help, we took our lives back. We are now working to purchase a home with cash and plan to spend the rest of our lives not as slaves to debt, but in control of our finances. It feels so good to be living debt-free, as if we are finally spending God’s money by following God’s principles.

Watch Robert and Julie’s interview with Dave Ramsey, and see their “Debt Free Scream” on YouTube.

This submission describes a personal perspective on an aspect of the ELCA benefit program that may or may not reflect the experience of others.

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