According to Susan and Brad, it’s never too late to start your millionaire journey.
Susan and Brad hail from the great state of Texas. They dug themselves into a pile of debt, but like any good Texan, they pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and climbed out of that hole. With focused intensity, they paid off almost a half a million dollars together! Then they focused on their big goals: reaching everyday millionaire status and being able to retire early.
Want to know how they did it? Read on.
What was your relationship with money like when you were young?
My [Susan’s] parents never taught us anything about money growing up. We were on our own. I moved out and started supporting myself at age 17. I worked three different jobs to put myself through college and just winged it. I took out minimal college debt and lived paycheck to paycheck.
How did you and your husband handle finances together?
When my husband, Brad, and I got married 11 years ago, we combined two families. We each had two teenagers. The money fights started immediately. We each had a house, and we decided to buy a large house that would fit all of our kids. Neither one of our other homes sold immediately—this was in 2008. Things were getting bad in our marriage. We realized we had to do something.
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We had a tremendous amount of debt. We were just spending money on one thing after another. We bought a new vehicle and gave my husband’s truck to one of the boys. We signed a Parent PLUS Loan for one of the boys. I remember one phone call where Brad called and said our son needed new tires. I just sat down and cried.
So, what changed?
We took Financial Peace University (FPU) back in 2012. As soon as we did FPU, we started doing a budget together. And as soon as we started doing a budget together, it completely changed how we interacted with each other. We were a team. We had our why.
We paid off a total of $426,000, including our house! We paid off our mortgage in December 2016, and we did our Debt-Free Scream in February 2017. I was able to retire at age 53! I was an IT manager. IT is a stressful career, and I was so grateful to make a change.
What sacrifices did you make along the way to becoming debt-free?
We live a very simple life. We completely changed our lifestyle. Things like manicures, going to movies, going out—we just completely cut that out. We stopped our vacations for the time being. We love CarMax and getting used cars.
Honestly, we never went back to our old ways. We haven’t seen a movie in forever. We don’t miss any of that stuff. We hardly go out to eat anymore.
How did you teach your kids about money?
We made hard choices as the kids were growing up, but then the kids caught a lot of that as we showed them. Like Rachel Cruze says, “More is caught than taught.” I really started noticing it when my daughter changed her attitude about her prom dress. She used to say things like, “All my friends are getting $700 prom dresses!” But things started to change as she watched us. Eventually, she was just fine getting a $150 dress. Now she is bare minimum. She shops at Aldi and Walmart. We’ve helped our kids change their family trees.
How do you spend your time now that you’re an everyday millionaire?
It’s my passion to coach people about how to handle their money. I also work with probate courts to prevent financial exploitation for elderly clients and clients who have dementia and can’t take care of their finances. I help them pay their bills and make sure they’re not being scammed. I also just signed up to do taxes at the library.
We want to be able to bless our kids and help them more. Our main thing right now is that we both want to retire early (Brad still works at State Farm) so that we can decide when we want to travel. My husband is going to do something fun when he retires. We’ll still work, but we’ll work in a job that we’re passionate about.
How has becoming an everyday millionaire given you freedom with your money?
Being able to retire early was our huge goal. My husband will be 55 in just over a year. Neither one of us will quit working entirely, but we get to do what we want to do and not be a slave to a 60-hour workweek. We’re also looking forward to traveling together.
We love being able to bless our kids now too.
What’s the secret to becoming an everyday millionaire?
We stockpiled money in our 401(k)s and mutual funds. You just need to trust the process and follow the Baby Steps. They work. It’s not about math—it’s behavior. God will bless you with more when you learn to manage the resources that you currently have.
What do you want people to learn from your journey?
It’s never too late. We were in our mid-to-late 40s when we got serious.
As a coach, I’ve seen some of my clients who make unbelievable salaries but have nothing to show for it. No retirement. It’s crazy. Life doesn’t have to be this way! People get caught up with keeping up with the Joneses, but they’re completely broke.
Be okay with living below your means. Be content! And then more will be poured into you.
Start Your Everyday Millionaire Journey Today
We love this story because we love the attitude that Susan and Brad bring to the table. See, here’s the deal: Each one of us has an opportunity to make something of the life we’ve been given. Don’t beat yourself up about the past—decide what to do moving forward!
What you’re retirement dream? Do you want to help others with their finances like Susan does? It’s important to dream in high definition, and it’s just as important to have a plan to get there.
These are general guidelines. Your situation may be unique. If you have questions, connect with a SmartVestor Pro.