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I'm Dolly — a Nashville based family & branding photographer AND a systems + workflow educator (and Podcast Host) for creatives who want to be more streamlined and organized with Systems, Workflows & SOPS to better impact the backend of their businesses. I'm here to help you look awesome (for your photos) & feel great about workflows!
I wanted to share our debt free journey blog post that my brilliant husband, Ty, wrote and shared this week (click HERE to read our story).
Please note: this has truly been such a humbling & embarrassing experience for me. When I started college in 2003, I was not educated about student loans (or anything financial related). I was just told (and taught) that I had to go to college as my next step after High School. I was also told/taught that it would be easy to pay off my loans once I graduated from college and that finding a decent paying job would be easy (HAH)! And here is the kicker: I was told that my mom had saved up money for my college expenses, but my biological father had used it when he had gotten into debt…isn’t that a kick to the stomach? I had to swallow a lot of anger/bitterness and resentment about that little tidbit of information when I found out I had no money for college at 18 years of age. I also had to swallow a lot of bitter resentment when the University I had applied to didn’t give me a discount even though my mother worked for a CoC school/I had the school GPA + grades to get a scholarship, and I had a missions background. (Why didn’t I look at other Universities? That’s a good question! I was 18 years old, and I was sold on this certain University because of its missions program, and I was scared of looking at other colleges. If I could go back in time, I would probably do everything differently by going to a community college and then transferring into a University…but I can’t turn back time and I hate dwelling in the past because it’s super draining and depressing to me).
In 2010 when I had finished my first Master’s program, I was over $150K in debt, and the only jobs lined up for me were ones which paid less than $30k per year. I had no idea what I had gotten myself into, and I was, of course, so fearful about my financial future and how I was going to overcome this grave I had dug myself into. I decided to push those fears aside, and just live my life and try to pay off the debts as best as I could, but living from paycheck to paycheck was draining.
When I met Ty in 2014, I was so embarrassed and ashamed to admit to him that I had student loan debt because I knew he had worked for Dave Ramsey, had his college education paid for, was financially responsible, AND he had just bought a house in which he had put down 20% of his own saved up money for (that is incredibly intimidating to me). I honestly thought that if I told him I had accumulated so much student loan debt he would “leave me” and “wouldn’t be interested” in me anymore especially since I had a low-paying job, had mountains of student debt, and honestly was still trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. In my mind, Ty had it all “figured out”, and I was just going to be another “joke” in his eyes.
Thankfully all those lies I had made up in my head were not true. After I had literally poured out my heart to Ty one tearful evening (I just wanted him to know everything about me so that he could make up his mind if I was still worth pursuing) he STILL looked at me with respect and admiration after I had poured out my deepest darkest secrets & regrets to him. Honestly, I thought that after he had gotten to know my personality and heart he would break up with me (because I am such a broken & imperfect woman). But he totally blew me away with so much love and comfort, and from that day forward I knew I could trust this man, because he wouldn’t judge me by my past circumstances or past experiences, he really knew how to love my heart despite my brokenness.
Working through all this debt has been painful for me because I feel like I have brought on so much stress to Ty’s life when he married me. I feel like on June 18th, 2016 I literally put an invisible weight on him, and it still bothers me that I don’t add that much to our marriage (financially) because, let’s be real, I don’t exactly make that much money working in private education. I know for a fact that Ty doesn’t hold this against me because he constantly voices to me how much he cherishes me, and loves me, and loves leading me…but there is always a nagging voice at the back of my head reminding me that I have brought this shame of debt to our marriage. (Seriously, I am tearing up as I write this sentence…but in the spirit of authenticity I wanted all you readers to know…this has been a grueling journey for me).
Again, I share this not to rub it in anyone’s face that I am FINALLY debt free. I am sharing this to let you know, this has been (and still is) an exhausting battle within my heart to accept myself and to accept the fact that my husband loves me for ME (despite my past student loan debt). I am continually reminded on a daily basis that God has blessed me with a man who really loves me, and he loves co-leading alongside me. I have been incredibly blessed with a true man who allows me to be me, while at the same time he pushes me to be more responsible and mindful of the future.
I hope this encourages someone today! Please reach out to me if you would like to talk to me or Ty about how to tackle debt. We are more than happy to talk to you (FOR FREE) and would love to help you start your financial journey today! My email is: email@example.com.
May God richly bless you all today!
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