Money Stories: Breaking Free and Building a Fund

Jacob from Power Over Life stopped by the blog today to share his inspiring story about the power of emergency funds…and what it was like to learn about them the hard way.


My money story starts six years ago.  I was 21 and had just returned home from serving a two-year mission for my church.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life.  The only thing that I was certain about was that it was time to start getting serious about school.

On a whim, I paid cash for a cheap car, put all of my belongings into it, and moved to Salt Lake City, Utah.

I had no job, no place to live, but I had been accepted into school there, so I figured everything would work out.

Luckily, it did.  After sleeping in my car for a few days, I was able to find a decent place to live and a few days later I was able to get a job.  The unfortunate part of this story is that, up to this point, I had exhausted nearly all of my savings to get to Utah and start my life.

A few weeks into my stay in Salt Lake City, I had a strange health episode (one that I haven’t had since).

I started having an intense pain in my abdominal area and I lost feeling in my legs and wasn’t able to walk.  I reluctantly went to the ER to get looked at.  Unfortunately, I walked away with a $5,000 hospital bill, with no way to pay for it.

That one decision, to go to the hospital, is what led me on a painful five-year path to get out of debt.

I started making payments on the hospital bill with every penny that I could spare.  I wanted to be out of debt so bad!  Years later, I learned that the biggest problem I faced wasn’t the actual debt, but that I tried to get out of debt too quickly.

It had never occurred to me that I should probably save up a little chunk of money for future emergencies.  Instead, I left my bank account drop down to $0.00.  It stayed there for three weeks straight.

During those three weeks, the timing belt on my car broke, leading to a $3,000 expense to keep my car working. 

In order for me to get to school and my job, I needed to have a working car.  I reluctantly paid for the expense with my credit card and threw the balance on my ongoing debt total.

This trend continued for a few years. Because I had no emergency fund, I wasn’t able to pay for the things that went wrong, which resulted in a swipe of the credit card and me getting further and further into debt.

At the time, it seemed like everything in my life was going wrong, especially financially. Finally, one day something actually went right!  I met my future wife, in the elevator at school.  After one year of dating, we decided to get married.

After a year of being married, my wife and I decided to get pregnant.

Nine months later, we were anxiously waiting for our little girl to come into our lives.  To our surprise, we learned that we would have to deliver our baby by C-Section because she was still breech.  We freaked out…we hadn’t budgeted for the extra surgery expense.

After having an argument about money, we finally decided that we were done playing the debt game. We had had enough!

We agreed then and there that we would work on getting out of debt, until we were debt free.

We put our heads together and came up with a plan of attack.  To make a long story short, we kept with that plan for nearly 8 months. That’s how long it took for us to get out of $16,000 of debt.

The reality is that once we got serious about getting out of debt, we were able to do so relatively quickly.

It was a commitment, but once we had made it…it was easy to stick with it.

My word of advice is that if you feel like you are being crushed by debt, you don’t have to be.  You too can become debt free.  It may take longer than eight months, but if you make a plan and stick with it, you too can have peace of mind.  It will be hard, but I promise…it’s worth it.


Do you want to share your #MoneyStory? Email me: taylor@thefreedomfrommoney.com. (You can be anonymous!)

Thank you so much to Jacob for sharing such an inspirational story. And congratulations on becoming debt free! Woohoo!

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  • Reply Jackie February 21, 2017 at 1:51 pm

    Love this story! I’m currently in month two of a one year journey to pay off $20, 915 worth of debt. I’ve got a long way to go but his story is a lesson that focus and determination come with great rewards. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Reply Jacob Merkley February 22, 2017 at 11:57 am

    Taylor – thanks for having me on The Freedom From Money! It’s been great binge reading your Money Story series. Thanks for hosting it!

  • Reply ZJ Thorne February 24, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    I’m always excited to see these success stories after the struggle. Thanks for sharing this.
    ZJ Thorne recently posted…Net Worth Week 46 – She’s Gone EditionMy Profile

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