We were right around 6 months removed from the farm.
Quick Recap for those who don’t know- Frankie & I tried to start Ohio’s largest commercial hops farm in over 100 years. We acquired the land, sought out investors, and planted 26 acres of hops before it all came crashing down in November 2017. The owner of the land we were contracted to purchase backed out, and we lost everything, including our home and investors’ money.
Frankie was working at Home Depot, and I had a job working for Nationwide Realty Investors (I still have that job). He was hating every second of it and struggling to find something better to do. He wasn’t making enough working full-time to pay his personal bills while I struggled to cover all the other expenses. When we started the farm, we weren’t married, and intentionally kept all of the finances separate in case something bad happened. As a result, Frankie personally took on most of the debt and completely wrecked his credit. We were drowning. We hated our apartment, our situation, and our overall outlook was bleak. We decided we had to do something.
I started researching Dave Ramsey’s steps for financial freedom at the suggestion of my dad, and discovered the debt snowball method for paying off debt. There was one issue with this method, and that was that we’d be forced to sit down and write out all of the debts we were carrying. Personal credit cards, farm assets, farm debt, vehicles, student loans… the list went on and on. When we finished with the list, we added the total and landed at just under $118,000, with nearly $28,000 from credit cards alone. Ouch.
The worst part about it was that we had nothing to show for it, and we were still living with the guilt of losing other people’s money in the farm, but we had to push through. What other option did we have? Once we had all the debts written down, we couldn’t hide from them anymore. We couldn’t continue to let our anger and sorrow run our lives. We had to let go and get shit done.
Frankie quit his job at Home Depot- yup, you read that right. We put together a flyer, ordered some $5 business cards, and he started landscaping- something that he’d done in summers past. The jobs started rolling in, almost quicker than we could keep up with. I was helping on the weekends, and Frankie was working so hard. I continued to pay most of our living expenses, with the exception of his debt, cell phone and insurance. Every extra cent he had went towards debt. We started making progress.
Here we are, 6 months later, and we are carrying $48,000 less debt than we were in May. That number blows my mind every time I read it. What if we had continued to sulk in what we couldn’t change instead of taking action and making a difference in our lives? We aren’t exactly where we want to be- in fact, we want nothing more than to take on the ultimate debt and buy a house- but it will all happen in His time.
I’m grateful for the experiences I had that caused me (us) to take on this debt. I would have never discovered how much I really love chickens, or that two short people can definitely erect telephone poles if they try hard and truly believe. I wouldn’t have traveled to the west coast and made numerous friends and relationships. We are certainly paying for the lessons we learned, but those lessons are truly priceless.
If you’re interested in following our debt free journey, comment down below and let me know what kinds of things you’d be interested in reading about. I’d like to write a bit more about the steps we took to get started, how we continue to progress, and I’d love to hear your suggestions too!