q & a- nancy ray

Today’s q & a is a special treat. You get to meet my friend Nancy Ray.

She is a fellow photographer as well. We actually met years back at a photography workshop. Since then, we have kept up with each other on social media. And through that I realized we have another common interest… finances. We are both big Dave Ramsey fans.

If you google financial statistics in our country, you will probably get a sick stomach like I did. Did you know that the average American household has over $16,000 in credit card debt, over $8,000 in car loans, over $33,000 in student loans, and then a mortgage average of $154,365 on top of it? Ouch! There’s no surprise that money has got to be one of the most stressful things… period. (I feel like in our marriage it’s one of the main things that can send us in to a stressed-out, irritable mood).

When you are in the thick of it… you feel like just ignoring the issues. But, don’t just run away from money problems! There are so many practical things you can do!  People are terrified of that “B” word… BUDGET. But, trust me.. you can’t afford to live without one.

Over the years, I have loved reading about how Nancy and her hubby Will have not only made efforts to be wise with their personal finances, but also teach and challenge others as well. I wanted her to share a bit of that wisdom with you today! Hope they inspire you too!

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and  how living financially free has changed your life?


Hi! I’m Nancy Ray, a photographer based in North Carolina. I’m a Southern girl who looks most forward to waking up each morning to drink my coffee, read my Bible and soak in the beauty that surrounds me. When I’m not taking pictures, you can typically find me watching movies with my husband, running with my great dane, or reading a good book. Will (my husband) works on staff at our church as the Youth Ministries Director, and he is also a Financial Coach. As you can imagine, weekends are very busy for us!
Will and I grew up very differently in regards to how we handled our money. I grew up in a very wealthy home – always able to shop, eat out, and never think twice about it. Will had to work in high school to pay for his own gas and fun activities – he knew the value of a dollar, when I didn’t. He also was okay spending, and he didn’t have a long term plan for his finances. Both of us were NOT prepared when it came to finances in our relationship! Thankfully, when we went through Financial Peace University  Dave Ramsey) while we were engaged, our lives were changed. I’m going to be honest – this played out in a not-so-glamourous way on my end. It was a struggle, friends. A really hard struggle at times. But in the end, it was so worth it. We fought to stay on the same page, in unity, to make hard decisions and to set high goals for ourselves. Now we are completely debt free (including our home), and we are so grateful!


2. So many people hear the word budget, debt, etc… and cringe. Why is it important to talk about finances together? 

My mind immediately goes to me and Will, sitting at our kitchen table, my head in my hands whining, “are we through yet?” like a responsible twenty-something year old. This is quite the quintessential picture of us doing the budget together. Will: motivated. Me: bored.  BUT: If it weren’t for the numbers and budgets and nerdiness and time spent doing the things I didn’t want to do, we would not be where we are today. You have to commit to work on and communicate about your finances as a team!

It is incredibly important to not only talk about finances, but to AGREE on them. We set up 1 time at the end of each month to discuss our finances. It’s the “Budget Committee Meeting.” We make a budget for the upcoming month, we discuss big picture goals, and we both give in to the other’s desires until we AGREE. Honestly, the budget is the key. The numbers have to work. You must “spend every dollar on paper” before the month begins. If you can agree on the budget month to month, it will enhance your marriage. We get excited to dream together, to plan together, and to talk about our money together. While at first it was so difficult, now it is a joy.


3. The economy has hit many families quite hard, and it seems as if few have yet recovered from the downturn. What baby steps would you recommend to them?

 I would recommend these baby steps, no matter what economy you are in! This will help you become “economy-proof.” No matter what the economy does, you will be okay.:
1. Live on less than you make.
2. Follow Dave’s Baby Steps.
3. Stick to a budget
4. Use the Envelope System.


4. So a lot of young families are still paying off their student loans from college. What would your recommendations be for those families who find themselves still stuck in student loan debt? 

I’ll be honest – I am so grateful that we have never had to worry about student loans. Will and I both had our college educations paid for, and we see the immense value in that now that we are older. If I did have student loans, I would approach them just like we approached our mortgage: devise a plan and follow it. Knock them out as fast as possible! Develop a hate for debt, a love for financial freedom, and get to work!

For example, Will and I decided to pay off our mortgage of $110,000. There are many students out there with the same daunting numbers for their student loan debt. We decided to do the following:

– Live on 1 income.

For our first 5 years of marriage, we lived on Will’s income of approximately $40,000. Everything that I made, we paid extra on the house! So when our household income increased to $100,000, we did NOT increase our lifestyle. Instead, every penny of my income was put towards the house. We paid off our $110,000 mortgage in 2.5 years.

– Don’t allow yourself to be swayed by our culture.

All of our friends were getting newer, bigger, better houses because they “needed” to because their family was growing. We’ve decided that less is more, and truly we don’t “need” anything but the basics. Make up your mind to be grateful and content, and don’t get into debt just because you want something nicer.

– Work hard.

Take an extra job. Create an online business. Babysit kids. Do what you have to do to knock out your debt, so you are free of it.


5. You own your own business, any advice for fellow entrepreneurs when it comes to business finances?

I have a 3 simple steps to recommend to all of my entrepreneurs out there:

1. Get your income UP

2. Get your expenses DOWN

3. Work your tail off!

This is a basic recipe for a profitable business. Many people will tell you to take out a loan, to make more purchases so you don’t have to pay as many taxes, and on and on and on. Debt will limit your business, add stress to your life, and put you at risk as a business owner. Buying too much stuff (letterpress business cards, a custom website, the latest equipment) can cause you to own an expensive hobby, without ever actually making an income. Yes, you do have to spend money to make money! Just spend as little as possible and make as much as possible. How do you do that? Serve others well. Work your tail off. Be the best you can be in all aspects of your business! What you sow, you will reap!

Thanks Nancy for such awesome insight! If you are interested in reading more about their story… just click here…  the exciting day we screamed “We’re Debt Free!”  You can also read about their journey through the Financial Freedom Series here:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

And, because I love to hear from you guys… Do you have a financial success story you would like to share? Have any of you put some of these things in to practice? Leave a comment below and share your story!




  1. My husband and I also took a financial peace course at our local church… This has changed our lives! We are now working so hard to be financially free! It’s not what is normal at in today’s world.. But it is what is needed! We are so happy we did this!

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