debt free story by

Several months ago I had the pleasure of meeting Sami Womack.  She’s a wife, mom, and budget coach who has an inspiring story of paying off $490,000 worth of debt!  I decided to have her over on Inspired Budget today to share a little more about herself and her journey.  Meet Sami!

Tell us a little about yourself!

I’m a wife to my high school sweetheart, Daniel. We’ve been married for almost 10 years, and I’m also a homeschooling mom to our 3 daughters. My passion is helping women learn how to live abundant lives through budgeting. As a budgeting coach, I work with families from all over the world, set up their budgets and get intentional with their money. My coaching style is different because I take a simple and positive approach to not only budgeting but life in general. I believe that true fulfillment begins when we adopt an abundance mindset and start taking steps every day towards our dreams. I believe in finding the lesson in every struggle, and I’ve been known to always find the bright side of life…sometimes to a fault…hence the name of my company, A Sunny Side Up Life.

I launched my coaching business at almost 2 years ago, and since then I’ve had the pleasure of coaching thousands of women.

I know that you guys paid off a ton of debt!  Tell us more about why you finally decided to work towards becoming debt free.

Our story began like most “normal” families. We thought that our success was based on our possessions. We lived in a 3,200 sq. ft. 5-bedroom house, we used our credit cards as our safety net, and we scraped by from payday-to-payday. We were so stuck in survival mode that we honestly didn’t even realize how out-of-hand things had really gotten…until we finally hit rock bottom.

My husband works offshore with an oil transportation tug + barge company. Which means he flies to work and flies back home every three weeks. It was time for our second daughter, Izabell, to be born…and of course, she was due right in the middle of his hitch at work, so we were responsible for his last-minute flight home. There I was 2 days away from giving birth, with a husband literally on the other side of the country, and no money for a plane ticket. Our only credit card that wasn’t maxed out had about $200 available…which made us go over our credit limit by about $600 to buy this last minute flight. Thank God that the transaction went through or he would have missed our daughter’s birth. The worst part of this whole story…she was a planned baby! How was it that during the 9 months of my pregnancy that we weren’t able to save enough for a plane ticket? Not to mention, we had zero dollars saved for hospital bills or work time missed.

My husband flew back to work when Izabell was 2 days old, and the postpartum depression settled in. We stayed in this darkness for 9 months before I finally got fed up enough to ask God and Google for help. I sat up until about 2:00 in the morning that night crying, looking for answers, and printing off free budgeting worksheets. Then I back-tracked the past 3 months worth of spending to figure out where our money had been going (which is what I now teach my students to do when they first start budgeting). I got my feet wet and slowly eased into this journey.

Three months passed and it was January, a full year since our “rock bottom” moment, and I finally got brave enough to add up our debt. Yeah, you read that right, I budgeted for 3 whole months before I could even stomach the idea of knowing how much debt we were in. When I finally added everything up our debt total came out to $490,000! I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach! This debt included our current house, our old house that we used as a rental property, a piece of raw commercial land which I had bought for my now-failed business, delinquent property taxes on all three pieces of real estate, several credit cards, IRS bills, medical bills, and a few other miscellaneous debts.

We finally struck motivation and got serious about our debt-free journey in every way!

What type of sacrifices did your family make to become debt free?

At first, we just made small sacrifices, like we started staying home more, we hardly ever went out to eat, and we cut our grocery budget in half. Then we started finding things to sell, we got super creative on holidays, and date nights meant just a glass of wine on the back porch. We flipped our mindset and realized that what we were gaining was much more important than what we were giving up. We broke free from the living-for-the-weekend mentality, and we adopted a long-term vision for our family. This new debt-free journey spilled over into every other aspect of our lives, and we found ourselves being intentional in other ways as well.

It was during this time that we adopted Minimalism. Our material possessions suddenly didn’t seem so important. Our 3,200 sq. ft. house started to seem excessive. We started to crave simplicity. That’s when we decided to make our biggest sacrifice of our entire journey. We had already sold our commercial raw land and our rent house at this point, and we had cash-flowed through the rest of our debt, which left only our mortgage as our last chunk of debt. We felt the tug in our hearts that it was time to sell our house.

This decision was the hardest part of our entire journey. This house meant so much more to us than the monetary value. The land had been in our family for 14 years, and the house was built by my dad to be the parents’ forever home before he passed away from cancer. Like I said, this was far from an easy decision, but we knew in our hearts that it was time for us to move onto the next chapter. We’re now very happily settled into a tiny 2-bedroom rent house for the next couple of years as we continue to live debt free and save almost half of our income!

What goals does your family have now that you’ve reached debt freedom?

Our first goal is to cash-flow an upgrade in truck for husband since his current truck is 10 years old and pushing 220,000 miles. We’re also really excited to beef up our savings for retirement and our kids’ college. After that, we’re planning to cash flow a 5th wheel camper so we can travel more as a family. And then we’ll start saving to build our dream home!

If you could give someone just 3 tips to help them be a better budgeter, what would they be?

  1. Work on your contentment – Stop worrying about what everyone else is doing. Stop comparing yourself to people you barely know on social media. Learn to appreciate what you have. Find joy in the small day-to-day things. Realize that true happiness is achieved from within, not from a store.
  2. Pay attention – Just simply paying attention to where your money is going is half the battle. Think before you hand over the cash or swipe the debit card. Write everything down, keep running totals, and know where you stand at all times with your money.
  3. Think about the big picture – Break free from the tunnel vision. Break free from the living-for-the-weekend mentality. Realize that there is so much more to life than just scraping by, that you are capable of so much more, and that you were created to live abundantly. Whatever your dreams are…that’s what you should be working towards every day. Realize that sometimes that means you have to make sacrifices, clip coupons, sell your house, or take on a side hustle to make those dreams come true. Just don’t settle for anything that doesn’t align with your big picture vision for your life.

I know that you have a passion to help women get better control of their money.  Tell us more about how you help people!

Yes! My true passion is helping women and families who are where my family used to be 4 years ago in those dark days of survival mode. I help families by offering a number of free resources like my 5-Day Take Control of Your Spending Course, free Debt Payoff Worksheets, my private Facebook Community for questions and accountability, weekly Motivational Monday Vlogs on my YouTube Channel, and frequent live Workshops. I also recently started taking on one-on-one coaching clients and offering group budgeting sessions, which have been a lot of fun.

My favorite resource of all is my full budgeting course, Your Sunny Money Method. I launched this course back in September of 2017 and it’s already been able to help families all over the world. In my course, we take a simple, self-paced approach to budgeting, and we work together through 30 lessons. In these lessons, we work through the why and the how of budgeting. I also include all 14 of my budgeting worksheets, several bonuses, all of my recorded workshops, and monthly live group coaching. All for a very affordable enrollment fee, because I remember those days of needing help, but not being able to spend a fortune!

To me, the most important aspect of what I do is help families live amazing abundant lives. I work every single day to spread this message of hope and offer my help with getting organized, changing your money mindset, creating new habits, staying motivated, and most of all…helping overwhelmed women finally be able to breathe again!

No matter which resource that message is spread through, I’m always here to help!