Thursday, January 3, 2013

Apleys On the Path to Total Debt Freedom

Early in our relationship, Scott and I discussed money; and it wasn't pretty.  We both realized that our finances were a mess  and we were carrying a lot of debt.  We also both desired to better for ourselves for out future family. We wanted to do whatever it took to control our spending, save money, get out of debt (for good) so that we could have the freedom to bless others. We did not want to continue to live our lives avoiding the reality of financial hole we had each dug ourselves into.  Between student loans, credit cards and a lot of bad decision making we had amassed some serious debt.  Scott had brought up Financial Peace University (FPU), a biblically based financial planning program created by Dave Ramsey .  I had never heard of FPU or Dave Ramsey but, after looking over the website I suggested the FPU kit to my dad as his Christmas idea for us. 
Melissa and Scott, Christmas day 2010
We immediately enrolled in the first available class and fully committed ourselves to the program.  What we really learned through FPU was that financial principals are simple: save money and you’ll have money, don’t spend more money than you make, don’t buy things you can’t pay for.  We also learned that Budget is NOT a dirty word, it’s a way to make the most out of your money.  Now, I cannot imagine living without a budget. 
Financial Peace consists 7 baby steps:
Baby Step 1
Baby Step 1

$1,000 to start an Emergency Fund

An emergency fund is for those unexpected events in life that you can’t plan for: the loss of a job, an unexpected pregnancy, a faulty car transmission, and the list goes on and on. It’s not a matter of if these events will happen; it’s simply a matter of when they will happen. Learn more
Baby Step 2
Baby Step 2

Pay off all debt using the Debt Snowball

List your debts, excluding the house, in order. The smallest balance should be your number one priority. Don’t worry about interest rates unless two debts have similar payoffs. If that’s the case, then list the higher interest rate debt first. Learn more
Baby Step 3
Baby Step 3

3 to 6 months of expenses in savings

Once you complete the first two baby steps, you will have built serious momentum. But don’t start throwing all your “extra” money into investments quite yet. It’s time to build your full emergency fund. Learn more
Baby Step 4
Baby Step 4

Invest 15% of household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement

When you reach this step, you’ll have no payments—except the house—and a fully funded emergency fund. Now it’s time to get serious about building wealth. Learn more
Baby Step 5
Baby Step 5

College funding for children

By this point, you should have already started Baby Step 4—investing 15% of your income—before saving for college. Whether you are saving for you or your child to go to college, you need to start nowLearn more
Baby Step 6
Baby Step 6

Pay off home early

Now it’s time to begin chunking all of your extra money toward the mortgage. You are getting closer to realizing the dream of a life with no house payments. Learn more
Baby Step 7
Baby Step 7

Build wealth and give!

It’s time to build wealth and give like never before. Leave an inheritance for future generations, and bless others now with your excess. It's really the only way to live! Learn more


We are gazelle intense about getting out of debt. Now, I’d be lying if I told you that it hasn’t been hard at times. It's never fun to deny yourself, and it has been especially difficult having to turn down offers to go out with friends on occasion BUT, in the big picture it has been pretty easy.  I’ve found that I don’t miss my recreational shopping trips as much as I’d have thought. I REALLY enjoy seeing them impact being intentional with our money has made.  Since we started the program, and while enduring a cumulative 16 months of unemployment, we have paid off nearly $15K in debt, paid for our wedding and honeymoon entirely in cash and are now in the process of purchasing our first home. Having financial peace isn't just being able to pay your bills, it's about regaining the peace and security in your life, preparing a future for your family and ultimately being able to  bless others through giving. 

One of the great things about the FPU program is that it's a life time membership! The class has recently been updated and now includes material from one of my favorite bloggers, Jon Acuff and shortened to a 9-week session.  The classes meet once a week and include an entertaining video presentation followed by group discussion. We decided this would be a great time to take the course again as a refresher. We invite you to join us for a special preview night on Sunday, January 20, 2013 @ 7pm.  Click here for more information. 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Our First Christmas as Mr. & Mrs.

We had a wonderful first Christmas together!

One of the very special gifts that Scott had made for us by my cousin's at Amarillo Embroidery. He plans to add a new image every Christmas to celebrate each year of our marriage. 

We joined a new church this year and enjoyed taking communion with our family at Valiant Church for the first time at the Christmas Eve Eve service. We are thankful for the new friends we make and are looking forward to lots of serving and fellowship in 2013. 

Our sweet Christmas tree. I hand made many of our Christmas decorations this year including the tree topper! 

I finally had the opportunity to use my beautiful new Kitchen Aid mixer! I saw this recipe for Eggnog Cheesecake on Facebook.  I was excited and intimidated to try it out but, it came out great.  I can't wait to try out some more cheesecake recipes. I've also already been scoping out all the awesome attachments that can be added on to the mixer.  Seriously, amazing. 

My Aunt & Uncle came in from New Orleans and organized a very nice Réveillon dinner.  Here we are toasting the new beginnings of 2013.

Scott took on the manly task of carving the meat.  

Some of my goodies from Scott. 

Aunt Sharyl and Gavin dancing. 

Gavin and my brother, Daniel. 

Scott and some of his goodies from me that still haven't made it in the mail yet....

Mr. & Mrs. Apley at the Midnight Christmas Eve service.

We celebrated Christmas day with our family in Katy.  Scott has 5 brothers and sisters and lots of nieces, nephews and cousins. It's always fun watching the babies open their presents! 

We hope you that you had a very merry Christmas and enjoyed making many special memories with your families this year! Happy 2013!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Wedding Photos

Here are a few of our favorite photos from the wedding by our photographer Jessica Maness, owner of J Ellen Photography.  Our entire wedding album can be viewed here using the password "apleyeverafter".



Our wedding was bittersweet. Losing my father was extremely difficult and we weren't sure if we should continue with the wedding. Unfortunately, life does not come with instructions on what to do during difficult times.  I knew I couldn't wait another day to marry Scott.  I am so glad that we decided to proceed with the ceremony, despite canceling our guests and reception.  It was a beautiful and emotional ceremony with many sweet memories that I will cherish forever.