The Journey to Financial Freedom: Rachel Gause’s Story

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Rachel Gause

My name is Rachel Gause. I’m a Christian, parent, and a United States Marine. I have a passion for talking about personal finance, encouraging people on their financial journey, and teaching people about personal finances. I’m a firm believer that your biggest testimony is how you live your life and what you learn from life’s lessons. In the past, I didn’t handle money the way I should. By God’s grace and mercy He has allowed me to become debt free on March 13, 2015.

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Courtesy: G. McDowell photography

Hello!  My name is Rachel Gause. I’m a Christian, parent, and a United States Marine.  I have a passion for talking about personal finance, encouraging people on their financial journey, and teaching people about personal finances.  I’m a firm believer that your biggest testimony is how you live your life and what you learn from life’s lessons.  In the past, I didn’t handle money the way I should.  By God’s grace and mercy He has allowed me to become debt free on March 13, 2015.

Jonathan Key asked me to share my journey to financial freedom and asked me the following 5 questions. Here’s my advice and story. Thanks for reading!

Courtesy: G. McDowell photography
Courtesy: G. McDowell photography

Jonathan Key: 1. What advice would you give to someone just starting out?

Rachel Gause: My advice to some just starting out would be to get organized and focus on your journey.

Get and Stay Organized.  Who do you owe and how much do you owe?  You have to acknowledge your past and find out how bad things really are.  You can’t ignore bills.  It will just make things worse.  Face your financial giant head on and get the sling shots ready.  With God on your side, your giant will fall – one payment at a time.  Build an emergency fund and get on a budget.

Focus On Your Journey.  Don’t focus on other people’s debt free journey.  No two journeys are the same.  Some people have no income, low income, or high income.  Some people have very little debt while others have a large amount of debt.  Then there are some people have no debt at all but still need assistance with organizing and managing their finances.  Do congratulate others on their financial accomplishments.  Just remember to keep the focus on what YOU need to do.

Jonathan Key: 2. What advice would you give to someone struggling?

Rachel Gause: My advice to someone struggling would be to contact your accountability partner and to take Financial Peace University. For some that might mean getting an accountability partner or re-taking Financial Peace University.

Find or Contact Your Accountability Partner. Take a deep breath and contact your accountability partner ASAP.  If you don’t have an accountability partner make that a priority in your life.  This accountability partner could be your spouse, a relative, or friend. Debt addiction is real.  You can’t get through this alone.  Having a positive support system is key.

If you are struggling, don’t let your pride and ego keep you from reaching out for help.  Find someone who not only talks the talk but walks the walk.  Find someone who has a heart of a teacher.  Find someone who will talk to you and not at you. A good resource would be one of Dave Ramsey’s Endorsed Local Providers or E.L.P.’s for short. These are experts who work locally near you and who are available to help you with your financial needs.

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Take or Re-Take Financial Peace University. Financial Peace University is a 9 week course that helps people gain control of their finances by starting an emergency fund, getting on a budget, knocking out debt with the debt snowball, investing for retirement, saving for the kids’ college, building wealth, and giving like no one else!

I started Financial Peace University in January 2010. At the time, I was really pumped up and on fire!  Fast forward to Fall 2010, I slowed down my gazelle intensity and prepared for deployment.  In 2011 I was in Afghanistan for seven months.  From 2012-2013, I was a full time student at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington where I earned my degree in finance – debt free! Thank you Staff Noncommissioned Officer Degree Completion Program!  In 2014, I realized I needed to find a financial support system.  Social media has so many support groups and I’m thankful for those who accepted me in their groups.  I regained my momentum.  It was as if my gazelle had several cheetahs chasing it.  I attended Financial Peace University again and graduated in November 2014.  It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Watch this 8 minute video as Dave Ramsey explains Financial Peace University.

Jonathan Key: 3. What were 1-2 of your greatest struggles before finding Dave Ramsey?

Rachel Gause: I believe I was too comfortable with my living situation and I experienced a lack of contentment.

Being Comfortable with My Living Situation. One of my biggest struggles before finding Dave Ramsey was being very comfortable with making monthly payments on my debt.  I never missed a payment and I usually paid what was owed before the maturity date.  I was on top of my game I thought.  I knew who I owed, what I owed, and the interest rates.  I was always a woman of my word because I paid on time.  Lenders and banks loved me.  I was working hard to pay them.  The interest I paid them every month made me an ideal customer.

Lack of Contentment. My other struggle was not being content with what I have.  I got tired of things real quick.  When I was stressed, I naturally bought more stuff.  I knew it would only be a temporary relief.  I didn’t care.  I had many days of buyer’s remorse.

Jonathan Key: 4. How did you overcome your struggles?

Rachel Gause: I overcame these struggles by changing my view of debt and refocusing on being content.

My View on Debt.  I overcame being comfortable with monthly payments simply by becoming uncomfortable.  I changed the way I viewed debt.  Every time I got my paycheck, I took care of my needs first and then threw the remainder of what I made at my debt.  I was determined to get rid of my debt once and for all.  I cut out all unnecessary spending and focused solely on knocking out my debt.  My last three months before paying off my debt, I put a total of $13,397.02 towards my debt snowball.  Imagine making debt payments from 1998-2015. That’s ridiculous to make payments for 18 years!

Refocus and Contentment. I began to feel content by realizing that God has blessed me and will continue to provide for my needs as long as I don’t allow stuff to have me.  I started de-cluttering and getting rid of things I hadn’t used or didn’t need.  I donated what could be donated, blessed those that needed a blessing, or trashed what needed to be thrown away.

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Dave Ramsey explains the Debt Snowball here in this 2 minute videos.

Jonathan Key: 5. What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned?

Rachel Gause: Some of the greatest lessons I’ve learned are that God owns it all and the only debt I want is to love others.

God Owns It ALL.  I just need to manage it better.  I can’t repair what I’ve done in the past but doing the 7 baby steps and having financial peace has changed my financial future.  Money that could have been saved for a rainy day, kids college, retirement, or invested was just given away to monthly debt payments for far too long.

Courtesy: G. McDowell photography
Courtesy: G. McDowell photography

The Only Debt I Want is To Love Others. In very real terms, the borrower is slave to the lender. To remind me of where God has delivered me from, I meditate regularly on this passage in the Bible Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.” Romans 13:8 NIV.

Final Thoughts

Rachel Gause: It’s very easy to get into debt and few people want to go through the journey to pay all of their debt off completely.   The journey out of debt can be tough.  It didn’t happen overnight.  At times, I even felt lonely, but I didn’t give up.  Most people are not comfortable with talking about how things went wrong financially.  Surrounding myself with people who are debt free or working towards that goal is my reminder that ALL things are possible for those who choose to believe that it can be done.

Check out my friend Jenn Custer‘s Journey to Financial Freedom too!

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What’s your journey to financial freedom look like? Have you heard of Dave Ramsey or Financial Peace University?

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About Rachel Gause 1 Article
My name is Rachel Gause. I’m a Christian, parent, and a United States Marine. I have a passion for talking about personal finance, encouraging people on their financial journey, and teaching people about personal finances. I’m a firm believer that your biggest testimony is how you live your life and what you learn from life’s lessons. In the past, I didn’t handle money the way I should. By God’s grace and mercy He has allowed me to become debt free on March 13, 2015.

74 Comments

    • Robin, I remember when I made my last credit card payment. What a huge relief. I went from being a revolver (only making the minimum payment) to a dead beat (paying it off in full each month) and finally to someone who doesn’t need or want to use credit cards.

      Congratulations to you and your family.

    • Debbie, you’re so right. I’ve come across people who don’t have a debt management problem but a cash management problem. Living paycheck-to-paycheck can be so stressful and it causes people to do some things they know they shouldn’t.

    • Ashley, congratulations to you and your husband for being on this journey together. With you and your spouse working together concerning your finances, you’ll be finish before you know it.

    • Mary, you would be surprised at how many people told me I should have just filed for bankruptcy. Bankruptcy may be an option that people choose but for me, it wasn’t an option. Climbing my way out one paycheck at a time was the best thing for me and my family.

    • Andi, I tried it my way and I was just living. Life didn’t have a real purpose. My faith in God is what kept me moving forward.

  1. Congrats on being debt free! I know it is a long hard road to the finish line, but the great news is that there is always a finish!! It took me almost 10 years to be able to say those same words. Now I guard my finances very closely (probably TOO closely) but I worked so hard to fix it 🙂
    Rene D recently posted…Faith During TrialsMy Profile

    • Rene, CONGRATULATIONS on being able to say that you are debt free. I’m so glad that you didn’t give up. I too guard my finances. I don’t want to enable anyone or just hand my hard earned cash away.

    • Bonnie, CONGRATS!!! August makes twelve months of doing the envelope system. It takes a while to get use to not using debit and credit cards. I’m not against using credit cards, I just would rather work and keep my money than work and put it on credit cards. Look forward to you joining the No Credit Card community.

    • Shannon, thanks. During the journey, it didn’t seem like I would see the end but I’m so glad I kept pushing forward.

  2. What a motivating story. Rachel is remarkable. I admire people who push themselves instead of letting themselves be stuck.

    • I left home after I graduated HS at the age of 17. The military taught me to push myself beyond my comfort zone. Staying motivated was definitely at the top of my list.

    • Jessica, thanks. I see so many who just bury their heads in the sand and ignore the financial storm that’s growing out of control.

      Do you have an accountability partner?

  3. Awesome story! I think contentment is a big issue in financial problems. We are a throw-away society. I’ve learned when I picked up anything at the store to ask, “Do I need this? What could I use in place of it?” It’s stopped me from buying many times.
    Pamela recently posted…My Children are His!My Profile

    • Pamela, I can remember plenty of times when I’ve walked away from a store because I talked myself out of a purchases. Great job on having the will power to walk away.

  4. In today’s situation, most people have huge debts. Personally, I do have debt but like everyone else, I am trying to keep my spending controlled as possible. Hopefully by next year, my debt is fully paid. This story is very inspirational.
    Mhar Sefcik recently posted…Sunset Over NevadaMy Profile

    • Shann, you’re so right!!! It’s easier said than done and it takes a lot of discipline. I’m just so glad my happiness (contentment) started well before I became debt free. I had to learn a few things first, but I’m glad I did.

  5. All, thanks for taking time to read my story. I am so glad I didn’t give up. I’m looking forward to finishing Baby Step 3.

    • Cathy, thank you. I’m thankful for having to learn some hard lessons and being able to see not only the financial growth in me, but in all of those around me.

  6. To begin I would like to thank Rachel for her service. This is awesome advice indeed and a great story. I really need to do this things to begin my journey in being debt free. Thanks so much for sharing.

    • Rebecca, thank you for your support. Reading Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey and/or attending Financial Peace University will get you on the right track to becoming debt free. I look forward to hearing your success story.

    • Christina, don’t delay any further. See if your library has Total Money Makeover or see if there’s a Financial Peace University starting in your area any time soon.

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