Home, Purposefully

Four years ago this month I came home from my first blogging conference (the very first Blissdom with only 70 people) and asked my husband if I could temporarily stop homeschooling our boys and see if I can make this Nesting Place blog into a real business.

Of course, it’s more complicated than that.

We moved to Charlotte five years ago after losing a business.  Lost business = a bunch of debt.  And not the fun kind like vacations and clothes and furniture and bottles of wine.  Our debt wasn’t even a dumb fun mistake.  Plus, we decided the smartest thing for us was to buy back into a franchise that had been really successful for my husband in the past.  Which meant more business debt and purchasing a vehicle for the job.  We pretty much had to buy a job.

That was 2007–when we moved to a new town and I started Nesting Place so I could leave comments on Pioneer Woman’s blog without feeling like a killer with no blog, I wanted to be part of the blogging community. Then September 2008 happened when the economy went crazy and my husband’s new, “safe”, we’ve-done-this-before-car-industry-franchise-so-we-feel-good-about-it-business slowed to a crawl.  We had $150,000+ worth of debt (nope, no house included, that’s all business and a little bit of school and medical bills and attorney fees and boring franchise costs).

By October of 2008 it was looking bleak for us.  Then, like I said, I attended the first Blissdom and met some encouraging friends who made me realize that this here blog already had enough page views to put up some ads and bring in a few dollars.  You have no idea how much we needed that.  Desperately.

I had homeschooled our boys for just over a year when we decided to put them into the new little public school across the street from our neighborhood.

And I started taking Nesting Place seriously.  I wasn’t crazy about the writing part but I loved the connection with you all and I had lots of ideas to write about.  Within months Nesting Place was bringing in much-needed income.

The next year, because we take schooling one year at a time, I homeschooled our then 6th grader, the 3rd grader went to a Montessori school and the 2nd grader was in public school.  The next year the oldest went to a private school. Again, all three of them in different schools, one public, one in a five-day-a-week private school, one in a three-day-a-week University style school.  Last year was a year of luxury where they all went to the same school, so they were all at school three days and then home doing schoolwork (homeschooled only without me having to plan lessons) on Wednesday and Friday.

Meanwhile, as of April of this year we had paid down our debt to a mere $10,000 left.  If you do the math, it makes no sense. Some years we paid off more than half of our income. We paid off more than $140,000 in four and a half years and it was messy, it seemed hopeless at times and we had a lot of work to do to clean up the effect that fall of 2008 had on us.  Seriously, part of me doesn’t even know how it happened.  We just kept throwing money at our debt.

As of today, we are ‘this-close’ to being debt free.  I underestimated our 2011 taxes and then we had a huge unexpected medical thing show up so that threw a wrench in our plans.  But we hope to be debt free (minus a family loan) by the end of the year.

And debt free is just that…freeing….

to be continued…tomorrow

and just for fun…


  1. Congratulations on being (almost) debt free. I hope your story inspires and blesses people who are still struggling to get out of debt. I’ve been an ‘evangelist’ for living debt free for 10 years. I wish this was taught in schools. Imagine the wealth that our nation would have. We could do so much good with it!

    • Colleen P. says

      Funny you mention that-our state (Ohio) now requires that high school students take a semester of financial management to graduate, and it covers things such as insurance, buying a car, balancing a checkbook, shopping for a car loan or mortgage loan, investing, etc. My son has taken it this year and even I am surprised by how comprehensive it is. I totally agree with you that this should be taught in schools everywhere.

  2. Congrats! That is so awesome. I get so excited when I hear about people meeting their financial goals, especially becoming (or soon to be) debt free.

  3. This is such an inspiring story! I’m sure it was daunting for you but your perseverance is sure paying off!! That was a huge paydown!! I hope more bloggers get inspired as much as I did.

  4. Hurray!! So excited for you! I think it’s so awesome that you and your husband can be on the same page about all of this – financial issues, your boys’ schooling, the blog as a business {which = time}. That’s huge too! Thanks for being real too – and putting yourself out there in this way. Your story truly is inspiring! Congrats!

  5. Congrats on being this close! Your story is inspiring.

  6. WAY TO KEEP AT IT! I think you are amazing for keeping at it, and look at you go on the debt! DEBT FREE IS THE WAY TO BE! (line from my husband and I’s favorite Dave Ramsey talk show)!

  7. Whoa…can’t wait till tomorrow’s post. This is inspiring to me because of similiar issues we have experienced. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Thanks so much for sharing this, Nester. This is good, good stuff and I can’t help but see Gods hand in it. Doing things you don’t even really know how they happened AND helping your family so the step by step day by day hard stuff. Kelly


  10. I’m so excited to see what you write tomorrow! I’ve had this “blogging dream” ever since seeing Sarah of Thrifty Decor Chick fame on Nate’s show. I was like, “Hey, I think I could do that!” It incorporates all the things I enjoy and (I think) I’m good at…what an awesome creative outlet and if I could make money at it, all the better. I started my blog, http://www.homesweetthriftyhome.blogspot.com, last December but then didn’t stay consistent due to two part-time jobs and “life”. Well, the two part-time jobs went away, which I think was a God send really, and now it is sink or swim with the blog. We were working Dave Ramsey’s plan very successfully until my jobs went away and our renters moved out of our house in Louisiana leaving us with two mortgages, so I feel your pain sister! I’ve never in my life had to ration gasoline or put stuff back at the grocery store until now…welcome to this awesome economy, right? Anyhoo, thank you for the inspiration! It means a lot to those of us working on growing our blogs and/or struggling in this economy. :)

    • Colleen P. says

      I am so relieved to know that I’m not the only person who has had to ration gas and goes to the grocery store feeling dread because I know I can no longer afford to buy whatever strikes my fancy. It can feel so defeating. So many people are struggling in this economy, and while we all KNOW that we’re really not alone in this struggle, it can often feel that way.

  11. wow! that’s a serious amount of debt to have paid off in that amount of time.

    seems as though you’re teaching your boys more than just academics :-)

    this is inspiring…..some of us have something different than a messy debt situation to persevere and “clean up”. i’m looking forward to the juicy, inspiring details.

  12. WOW … that is really cool and inspiring.

  13. Congratulations! You are so close – keep it up. It is amazingly freeing when you finally get there!

  14. That is wonderful! I look back and wonder how we paid off our own stupid consumer debt that we racked up our first two years of marriage (added to what was already on some cards my husband had before) because at first the number seemed insurmountable. But my wonderfully talented husband has worked so hard to build a freelance business on the side that freed us up to pay everything (except the house and car) off as of the beginning of this year! It is better to look forward instead of always looking over your shoulder at the past following you. Congratulations!

  15. Inspiring and amazing, like so much else on your blog. I’m so happy for you!

  16. That clip was hilarious! And, it is freakin awesome that you are almost debt free… that is a huge deal. Nice to hear from someone with real struggles like i have had, coming out ahead…


  17. I am relating to SO much of this post except we’re not on the other side of debt yet ! Working that direction but right now up to our necks in debt …just made a major move from one state to another …some things didn’t work out quite the way we thought they would …house still won’t sell , etc. I was wondering how you started getting ads on your blog? Is that a company that works with you on that? Maybe a post on that process :-) ?? Thanks for your honesty ! It’s SO refreshing !

  18. Ok, I regularly visit your site, but this is my first time posting! We’ve had a very similar financial story and are now $3000 away from being debt free! It’s been really difficult, and it was so refreshing is she another mom with similar tastes and aspirations talk about your path. Thank you for the encouragement, it’s nice to know your boat has been sunk before!!!

  19. Thanks for the inspiring story! Love your comment about starting a blow, so you could leave comments without feeling like a killer…me too!! So thankful you started this blog!

  20. i also visit alot but do not speak but had to now… congratulations!!! that is amazing and as everyone has told you inspiring. keep at it and know we are all with you. loving your blog and glad you made the choices you did to keep it going!!!

  21. How funny – that was part of my reason for starting a public blog. I’ve had a private blog since 2007, but I wanted to comment on others blogs without them thinking “Oh, that’s nice. Annie left me a comment….who’s Annie?”

  22. Barbara Ann says

    Thank you for this post! Aside from your inspiring get out of debt story, I really appreciated knowing about how you make different schooling decisions for each of your boys. I am struggling with this right now and your post has given me some clarity. I do have a question for you regarding the transition to new schools. A tad bit of info about my situation:
    I moved my 2 boys from Montessori to public this year due to financial strains from tuition. My oldest (4th grade) has transitioned beautifully. My 1st grader, not so much; he has struggled with not being challenged at his level and with boredom induced behavior problems. We have tried many different strategies with the teacher and have spoken with the principal.

    My gut says to withdraw him from the school and place him in a small private school. With that said, I wondered how you approach such a change with your boys. Do they accept the change willingly? Are they resistant and if so, how do you convince them it will all work out? Do they complain that it is not fair that one gets to stay home/go to a particular school/etc? I am fearful of making a wrong decision to change my son’s school right now, but I don’t want him to waste a year of learning where he is. Any insight you can offer on how your decisions have gone over with your sons would be great!!!

  23. Like so many others we have the up and down months of debt and getting caught up.
    Sadly, there are decisions one has to make that are tougher than to buy or not buy the FUN stuff, or take a vacation. It seems to be a never ending cycle.

    And you left us hanging! I want to hear more of your story!

    Thanks for the fun video at the end, and the inspiration that there are ways to see the end of the deepest money worries.

  24. I just read your story backwards. Even though you told me to read it forwards. This makes me giddy happy. LOVE LOVE LOVE it. Big cheerleader over here!!! ;}

  25. How did I miss these posts? What an amazing testimony! I LOVE seeing people doing what they love…. and it giving your family freedom. Someday, lets have coffee and chit chat all about what God showed you in this journey! I can’t wait to hear.

  26. I have no idea if you’ll see this, but I just wanted to say that your story resonates with me. We are just starting on our debt free journey and facing down a mountain worth $124,000. My snowball calculator says we can knock this thing out in 8 years, but if we get really gazelle and spend an extra $200/month, then the debt will be gone in 6. Saying that makes me feel a little discouraged but a whole lot of hopeful and reading your story, with numbers so similar to ours, thrills me. This can be done. We are going to do this.

    I have a question for you regarding how well your kids did while you were paying your debt down. What was it like in your house when you factored in your kids and what they wanted to do vs what was a priority in your budget or if they ever asked for things that you just couldn’t afford? I know that paying down debt and saving for our futures will be one of the biggest gifts we can give our kids, but as someone who is on the other side, do you have any insight on doing this as a mom? So many debt free stories seem to feature couples who do this journey pre-kids and since I have 2 of them, it can be hard to relate to their situations. My oldest is 6 so in 8 years, he’ll be 14. This is silly, but I worry that he might resent us for needing to be so frugal since we took on debt before he was born and subsequently had to pay it off when we could’ve been, I don’t know, giving him stuff. Just typing that out makes me realize how silly that sounds, but still, I think it’s normal for parents to think like this. Thanks in advance for your time, Nester!

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