The Life That Got Us Here – Part 1

by Funhog Family on June 17, 2011

Yesterday I met a guy, and the topic of the Funhog Family 50 State Challenge came up. The first thing he said was, “You just don’t think up something like that. It must have taken you years to plan and prepare.” I got to thinking about the life that got us here – to the point where I can take a sabbatical and travel for 3 months through thirty-nine states with thirty-nine distinct adventures with my family of seven. I have taken our lifestyle for granted because it is who we are and where we have been for the last thirteen years. We have lived simply and made decisions that have produced an abundance of fruit that we are enjoying today. As Dave Ramsey says, “Live like no one else, so later you can live like no one else!”

The Grandma Mobile

Reality in the Tuten household is that we began our marriage without much debt, as I had been working for a year while my fiancee finished her degree back home in GA, and I was able to pay off my school loans before we got married. Being a frugal guy, this was important to me. And when we got married, knowing that when we had kids we wanted Jodi to stay at home, we lived off her income (around $20k) and used mine to pay off her student loans that first year. We were a one car family that 1st year as well, a 1990 Buick Century I had purchased in college for $1000. Jodi used the car to commute to work, and I used my bike (I worked a mile from our apartment). My parents then gave us another $1000 car, a 1988 Pontiac 6000 they no longer needed.   Our friends used to say, “You do all this fun adventure stuff, and you drive that “grandma mobile!”  Many might think we were deprived, but in reality we loved the simplicity of our lifestyle. So much so that when we were told we should really own a home (no more “wasting money” renting), the house we bought and still live in was a 1960 cement block, 3 bedroom home that is a cozy 1300sq ft (Yes, a family of 7 can make it work).When we bought our “new” home, we did not go out and furnish every room. It was just the two of us, and we already had a futon, tv, desk with computer, dresser (we shared), bed, and a small dining table.

Besides, we were out hiking, kayaking, and canyoneering every weekend and working during the week – what more did we need?

Now, I will say that to me, debt is debt, and though we had paid off our school loans, no matter how I looked at it, I could never fully convince myself that a note on a house was not debt.

Home Sweet Home

So, when I discovered Dave Ramsey a couple years into our marriage, I was SOLD on paying off our home. Since we were still living mostly on Jodi’s income (which was closer to $25k due to a job change), we started working the baby steps. And we were Gazelles (if you know anything about Ramsey)!! We cut up credit cards, got on a budget, made higher payments on our home along with additional lump sums at the end of each year. We had a couple of garage sales (some friends had given us a few things – we still didn’t have much). We were on schedule to pay off our house right around the time our first baby was due (5 yrs after we were married). Then I got laid off a month before Kendall was born…

Part 2 coming up!!


Brian O'Keefe June 17, 2011 at 7:44 pm

Your story is sounding familiar 🙂 I had some co-workers that couldn’t understand why I would even WANT to pay off our mortgage. It was an awesome day when we did it. Now people don’t understand how I could leave a high-paying job to start my own business without any existing customers. Living like no one else, baby!
Looking forward to part 2 of your story.

Peggy Boltz June 22, 2011 at 8:52 am

Hi Brian and Jodi, I am excited to see how your adventure goes. Have a great trip and I look forward to following your trip.

justin keefer July 1, 2011 at 4:36 pm

I’ve listened to a few Dave Ramsay podcasts, i think his views are along the lines of this blog I follow:

It’s awesome that you paid off the house quickly. When I get one I plan on doing that too!

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