Monday, July 27, 2009



I know that this should be a “all things Korea(n)” blog, but I can’t help making this announcement.


Last week on Wed. I submitted the last payment of about $3,500 to Sallie Mae thereby fulfilling that last of Charity’s school bill only a year and two weeks from being married.  To say that Charity and I were ecstatic would quite the understatement! 


However, in the midst of my elation, I was struck with the fact that Charity and I have had a painless move into debt free land was really a testament to our circumstances, families and planning.  As a testament to our God and to His goodness to us this post is dedicated to this journey.


First we’ll start with Daniel. 

So I could begin my story with my family very early on.  My parents took the time to give me a good education at home and push me to accept the challenge of college.  From K5 to 12th grade and a little beyond, my parent taught me at home.  This may seem a little strange to talk about my earlier education but my being able to go to college hinged on the support of so many people.  Now my parents were willing to not only encourage me to go, but financially supported me in my endeavors. 


Our family has a long history with BJU and as a third generation student (still thanks to correspondence!) I had quite the example in those that had gone before me. 


When I graduated from high school, I spent the next 18 month working and saving for college.  I had been saving before the end of high school, but then I devoted myself to saving for college.  Even with a good job and living at home rent free (again thanks to my parents for putting their money where their mouth is and proving what they believed) I was only able to save about a year’s worth of college.


When my money ran out, my dad was their to catch me financially and kept me out of debt.  I know the sacrifice that was involved in that, I don’t know that I can totally imagine the amount of work involved in it.  It meant that he was working his regular 40 hours a week and then working on the “gutter truck” for the rest of the week.  I am not sure that he even recognizes the 5 day work week.  In the following two summers I worked my heart out to pay for college but sum total, I doubt I paid more than half of my school bill if that. 


Upon graduation, I stood on that stage in front of all those people and I owed that school absolutely no money.  Yet my parents took it upon themselves to get a loan and they paid it off.  I reaped the benefits of their sacrifice. 


But, to say that it stopped there would also be an understatement.  After meeting Charity at school and realizing that I was hopelessly in love with this sweet girl, I also realized that I needed to get busy about taking care of her and getting ready for our eventual wedding.  Once again, I was back home and again living rent free. 


I would be remiss if I didn’t say that I did get a really nice job.  Free health and dental along with a fair amount of other benefits and a suitable paycheck provided me with great savings potential.  However, it was when the company sent me to Toronto, Canada that I could really start saving.  Between the per diem they gave me and the taking care of all the expenses there that I could basically save all my money from my regular paychecks and had saved something like $6K by the time I finally came back home.


For another full year, I saved and starting using that savings for certain…necessities.  After paying for a car, a diamond ring and some other items, I still had a substantial savings.


I would need it too.  Because the girl I was marrying would come out of school in May of 2008 with around $23,000 worth of school debt.  I don’t want to steal all of Charity’s thunder in her section, but I will say that she worked hard to get it down to about $22,000 by the time we were married on July 5th, 2008.


We went back home to Kansas City to start setting up our lives there.  Till we found a place to live, Mr. Rehn kindly let us stay at his beautiful house in Blue Springs.  Again, with the stipulation that I would keep the property up and work around the house, I wouldn’t pay any rent. 


By the way, if you are reading this and cannot see the hand of a gracious God, then I have to wonder if your eyes are open!


We then went looking for houses.  Two things bothered me though.  The first was my watching our little savings dwindle slowly but surely towards nil.  You see, I wasn’t making an exorbitant amount of money, but it didn’t seem like it was going to be enough to get over the school bill financial hump. 


God had a plan though, because I never would have thought of doing it, but the opportunity to come here to Korea to teach came up and we started considering it.  Two weeks after that, we had the applications filled out and the acceptance to come. 


Right before we left for Korea, I put the last of the savings we had on one of the school bills on a credit card thereby paying it off.  We left the USA with about $15K still to go.


The Lord truly blessed here in Korea though.  Between school, summer school, tutoring, low cost of living and a bit of denying ourselves, we put the last of our debt baggage on the “Goodbye Forever” express and at the point of writing this are completely in the “black”. 


So, if you were paying close attention, you will see that we went from almost $23K to $0 on the debt meter in about a year.  My encouragement to anyone else is that there is a way to do it and you can be completely debt free.  It may take a little time and it may not be the most pleasant life for awhile, but it can be done. 


More than all of that though, it is important that God get the glory for this.  Some people could look at it and say that it is a bunch of “favorable circumstances” but I will tell you that this was providentially set up before I was.



Now for Charity’s part:

Now for my turn to explain how I managed to accumulate so much debt.  Honestly though, its was very little debt compared to what I could have stacked up. 


From the time I was of working age (I think that was age 14 – yeah for babysitting jobs!), I knew that I would have to pay my own way through school (when you are one of ten, this is kind of a given).  I had older siblings that managed to convince me that the best thing to do would be to save every penny I made in high school for college, and that is basically what I did. 


Two of my sisters sat out a year after high school graduation to work to save for college, just as Daniel did, but I decided to take a leap of faith and try to make it through at least a year of college on my high school savings.   Miraculously I made it through the first semester without getting a loan with the help of a 25 hour work schedule.  The second semester was when I had to get my first loan.  Every semester after that took a miracle to get back to school, but somehow I made it back every semester until the first semester of my junior year.


I took that semester to take some correspondence classes, work full time and take a class at a community college. I was determined to graduate on time despite missing a semester of college. 


Once again miraculously I made it back to school and graduated on time!  So many times i have wondered how this was possible because we are talking around $60K to go to school, and I graduated with $23Kish debt, so that is around $47K that was paid off by working summers and Christmas break (it just doesn’t make sense in my mind, so I have to just label it a miracle).  I did have a help along the way with some anonymous gifts put toward my school bill, as well as 2 grant/scholarships.  Also, part of my school debt was sitting on a 0% APR credit card my last semester that my Dad was paying the monthly payments on until I graduated.  My mom also saved up her “tutoring money” and helped me pay for my school books.  Still, when you add up all of this, I am still amazed at how much was paid off by my senior year. 


I’m even more amazed at how quickly we were able to pay the balance off as Daniel mentioned.  All I can say is that miracles do happen, and prayer changes things!


Well that is all for now.  As always…


More to come…