How we paid off $35k of debt & still had fun

When we got married in July 2009 it was hard to be in wedding bliss for long. At age 21 & 26 we were instantly suffocated by over $50,000 in consumer debt! One of the greatest blessings of being self aware is knowing what makes you happy. Brandon and I weren’t very happy being slaves to monthly payments. After 2 years of some job changes and finding our niche, we got a game plan together. After a surprise pregnancy and only paying off $15,000 in those 2 years we had to pause. We paused so I could finish school and be a stay-at-home mom. Once we had 2 good incomes we would tackle the $35k, and that’s exactly what we did. Click here to find out more.


You always hear the stories of people getting out of debt. They usually consist of people selling off all of their stuff, working 3 jobs, and eating ramen noodles for 3 years right? WRONG! I could not do that! I needed to find a balance of paying off debt without wanting to kill myself. Being self aware is crucial in this journey. Finding out what makes you truly happy will allow you to give up the things that are not only draining your pocket book but your time & energy. For example, if you love to fish and golf figure out which one makes you come alive. Which one brings you the most happiness? If you love both, but can’t afford both because you’re getting out of debt, you have to choose between the two. If you can’t give one or the other up than your passion for getting out of debt isn’t greater than your passion for golf or fishing. 

This is the part that stings and usually keeps people in debt, because they are afraid of giving up the fun now and being miserable. It’s simply not true! Yes you do have to give up a lot, but you don’t have to give up the thing that provides you the most joy. Having that happiness will give you the fuel you need to pay off the debt as fast as possible. For me that thing that brought me the most joy was my love for the outdoors. Which worked out because it happens to be a very inexpensive passion & I will go into detail on that in another post. I could live without new nails, my hair getting done, gym memberships, and going out with friends. I didn’t love those things like I loved hiking, camping, etc. As I said before being self aware is huge in getting out of debt. Once you figure out what makes you thrive, you will want more of that  and less of all the crap that has kept you from doing what you love!

So in the middle of dropping $2K to $3K a month on debt and eating cheap homemade meals, we’d load a picnic basket up ($20 worth of snacks & food), and head to the great outdoors. We would have a blast! It recharged our batteries, and made the huge sacrifices worth it. Caidon may not have got to go to Incredible Pizza or MAIN EVENT , however he did get to see some awesome waterfalls and go fishing!


Paying off debt is a difficult road not many people take. I encourage everyone to become debt free and experience a freedom that the majority of people will never experience. You find out that all the crap you’re holding onto is actually what’s holding you back from true happiness.  How do you pay off $35K in 18 months and not go crazy? Get your butt on a budget, become self aware of what you love the most and give up all the other crap you don’t, & never be above any job! Now we get to do all the things we gave up for 18 months for the rest of our lives. Check out our full interview with Dave Ramsey.

-Caitie

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It’s just a dog, right? 

“Dogs teach us a very important lesson in life: The mail man is not to be trusted”    -Sian Ford

For as long as I can remember, I have hated running! I was never athletic, nor had the desire to run a marathon or even do track & field. However, now I LOVE running! Its not the only thing I have grown fond of lately. In October 2016, we adopted our ADDA!


She is beagle/Australian Cattle dog, and LOVES TO RUN. So a few days a week after work I put on some running shoes and head outside. At first I was only doing it for this puppy who would otherwise go crazy without a good energy burn. I didn’t know what it was doing for me.


There are so many benefits to exercising outside, and even more benefits exercising with your dogs.

According to Whole Dog Journal, running with your dog improves your health as well as your puppy’s health. It can increase your bond, and you also get an accountability partner. Dogs will keep you motivated while running, and act as a distraction from discomfort allowing you to run for a longer period of time. Sometimes proper training and practice will need to take place before getting a good rhythm, but all the hard work is worth it! Your dog will thank you for it. I recommend a Hands free leash, which makes running easy.

We had no idea what this dog would do for our family dynamic! She’s brought us so much excitement, energy and joy to our lives. She has influenced all of us to love and embrace the great outdoors!

Road Less Traveled

Going back to Tulsa we always take the Turnpike. Someone always told us, “it’s the safe way, it’s the fastest way, & it’s the most convenient.” Today however, we decided to take the Road Less Traveled. 

We went to Rollercoaster Road in wewoka, ok, which wasn’t quite the “rollercoaster” we had in mind, but we went and saw some amazing things by taking the road everyone else avoids. Oklahoma is truly beautiful. Open fields, one of a kind sunsets & the heart of the Bible Belt are just a few reasons why I LOVE  OKLAHOMA! 

By taking the long way home we saw parts of Oklahoma that we had never seen before. In fact, we got a little taste of Scotland, right here in Castle, Oklahoma! 



These cows are called Highland Cattle. Usually found in Scotland & they are known for their long hair and long horns. They were quite vocal and yelled at us as we stopped to snap a few photos! Hehe 

Such a great experience that would have slipped by us if we were to take the the road that’s comfortable to us. It reminds me of the season of life we are in now. It’s definitely the slow way and may be a little less convenient, however, it’s much sweeter! 

Oklahoma Red Dirt 

“That pigment is a reflection of who we are, a representation of who we are as native people,” he explained.
“It’s our blood. The red earth takes care of us and protects our identity as native people, but it also secures and reminds us of our wound, where we come from. And we were made from earth, and we shall return to earth.” – Gordon Yellowman


Today I was reminded about how amazing Oklahoma Red Dirt is! It’s just a city lake. Not much to do there, and it’s not very scenic; however it’s home. Where no one buys a white swim suit or swim trunks because it will come out brown. It’s so influential an entire music genre was named after it. My little boy discovered just how fun OKLAHOMA RED DIRT can be.


All day I watched him play in the red clay dreading the stained pants, and brown bath tub. At the same time I saw him making memories. Memories that will turn into roots, and those roots run deep in the Oklahoma Red Dirt! 

“It’s where I drank my first beer. It’s where I found Jesus

Where I wrecked my first car, I tore it all to pieces. I learned the path to heaven. Is full of sinners and believers.

Learned that happiness on earth. Ain’t just for high achievers

I’ve learned,

I’ve come to know.There’s life at both ends. Of that red dirt road”-Brooks and Dunn 

4 Ways To Stay Active While Working Your Desk Job

I love my 9-5. It’s been a huge blessing to me and my family. The only down side to my J.O.B. is the fact that I am sitting the majority of the day. Research has shown that SITTING IS THE NEW SMOKING. In recent studies, conducted by the Mayo Clinic, it showed that your health is at risk. Increasing cardiovascular disorders, stress, and high blood pressure just to name a few. After deciding to adopt a more active lifestyle, I knew I had to make a few changes to my office space!

  1. Get a STAND UP DESK According to Authority Nutrition standing keeps posture stabilized, helps with back discomfort, and helps with circulation. The link is posted above to an affordable option I currently use in my office. 
  2. Stop drinking caffeine A recent article stated Caffeine has been linked to irritability, fatigue, and mood swings. Even though I LOVE my morning cup, I drink more water to keep hydrated throughout the day.
  3. Every Break Needs To Be Taken OUTSIDE If you receive breaks, every break needs to be taken outside (weather permitting). Taking a break outside will increase your productivity allowing you to improve your overall work life. 
  4. Do A Quick Workout at your desk Yes! This is possible. Doing simple things like jumping jacks, squats, lunges, planks, etc will help keep you alert throughout the day. According to WEB MD this will decrease your risk for diabetes and heart disease.

    “Cash us Ousside, how bout dah”

    Hosting people at our house is one of my passions! If I could dream of the perfect day, it would be my house full of family and friends, eating, laughing, playing games, and doing life together. One of my biggest (1st world problems) is the size of my home. It’s small and quaint with little room for everyone I love. I’m in this constant battle with living a minimalist lifestyle, and at the same time wanting 50 people at my house. In the midst of this tug-of-war game I find a very simple solution: Go OUTSIDE. Yes, I know,crazy right? But here’s how we got to “Go outside?!” 

    In the later 1800’s the light bulb was invented. Creating a more efficient light source than ever before decreasing the dependency of sunlight for production. Now some spaces in your home don’t even require a window. 

    In the early 1900’s the air conditioner was invented (thank God). For the first time in our world, families were spending more time inside their home than ever before. 

    Mid 1920’s birthed the garage door that most Americans use at some point(detached garage, storage units, shops, etc…). Now we literally don’t even have to walk outside to get into our homes. 

    At the same time, the TV was also invented. This made it possible to find entertainment in your living room that historically required you to leave your house to find. For example: movies, plays, musicals, comedians, concerts, & town halls. 

    I love all of the above! Wouldn’t go a day without any of it. However, it is important to understand that the evolution of technology has allowed our brain to think bigger on possessions and smaller On relationships. While sometimes that is a good thing, it also can create an unhealthy cycle of more things, less relationships. 

    So in my world, instead of getting frustrated by the size of my house, I just say “Go Outside”. My home just gained 7,000 sq feet. This alone has saved us thousands in home costs! In fact it’s a goal of mine to never own a home that is over 1400 square feet. Just based on the fact that a smaller house forces me to own less, and live simply. I love people way more than my home, and I love my home! If I can spend more time with people and less time working to pay for a bigger place that gives me nothing in return, I’m gonna do that! 

    Spending the majority of our time outside, especially when we have guests, allows my focus to be on what matters (the people), instead of what doesn’t(the size of my home).  It’s helped me realize the importance of doing life with others now instead of waiting until we “get a bigger place”. No tonight we light the fire pit, grab some lawn chairs, and go outside. Bigger isn’t always better.

    Caitie Brown 

    Give Them Inspiration 

    So many things inspire me as an adult! Sometimes it’s a podcast, a good book, music, Gary Vaynerchuk, or my family, but most of the time it’s simply being outside. Whether it’s going for a walk, driving down the country side, or going on an adventure, I always find inspiration when I am outside. 

    Watching this lil man ride his bike after school also inspires me. Mostly because I see him come alive while racing away! It’s his first taste of freedom. When his hands hit the handlebars, he is a police officer chasing after badguys or a motor cross Star going for the gold!  His imagination takes off and he is in his own world. When we stay on the inside of our 4 walls it limits our imagination. We lose inspiration and forget how to be creative. When Caidon goes outside it forces him to be creative. Video games can’t pre-determine his character. He determines what his characters look like, What color pants and shirts they wear, what mission he will go on, and what the outcome is! Inspiration is something that people are losing more and more of. The beautiful thing about nature is that there is never a day that is the same. The sunset is always different, the clouds are ever-changing & the rainbows have a different end. My prayer for him is that he never stops being inspired, and he always strives to be an inspiration! 

    Life is Messy, Do it Anyway. 

    Texas adventure was a bust! Lake Lewisville was not our best decision. As we lay here thankful to be at home, I am reflecting. Reflecting on the disrespect some people have for others and nature, and trying to figure out how to do a  180 on the outcome of our fun Camp out.

    This peaceful image is deceiving. A birthday party until 3:30 AM did not make for an exciting morning filled with hiking, camp breakfast, or fishing. It was filled with stress, quick cleanup, and HURTS DONUTS (which were amazing!). The disappointment sucked. How in the world could I make this worth while?


    Then I realized that we can all learn from this. Caidon will remember how that birthday party kept waking him up, and he will remember the trash that was left behind. He won’t forget how he didn’t get his camp breakfast or get to go hiking with PaPaw.

    He will want to be better. He will know that life isn’t perfect. It’s messy, and he knows that not everything will go as planned.

    Even though it was a five minute stop at the Scenic Turnout, it was a little dose of beauty we needed to conclude our weekend! You make the best of it. No matter how disappointed you may be, you know that God never changes and he is there.

    Life can be messy and inconvenient but we do it anyway

     

    Free Therapy!

    This past weekend our family spent the majority of Saturday & Sunday outside. We took to some local trails around our city, and went on our little adventure together. It lowers my stress level, helps me gain patience, allows me to teach my son about nature and God’s creations, and it forces me to to put down the screen and live my real life. Making real memories. We are happy out there! In the forest finding make believe critters, and hunting bad guys. Getting vitamin D, exercise, therapeutic scenery, and quality time with my family makes time move a little slower. And the best part: it costs us NOTHING! God gives us this beautiful thing called nature to help us relax and unwind, and it’s beautifully free. When we are out there, there is no yelling, tripping over toys, or being consumed by to do projects. It’s just us and God. And that’s exactly how he intended us  to be.

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