Well its been a minute since I have been able to sit down and lay all my thoughts out. Life has gotten busy but not in a bad way! Throughout all the organized chaos we have really been attempting to get a grasp on our current financial situation and our future plans for where we want to be and how we want to get there.
We officially began our Dave Ramsey lessons the beginning of October but we had started to conceptualize what we wanted to do with our money a month or so before than. We knew a change was needed or reality was going catch up to us quickly. We weren’t in trouble but we were playing on a slippery slope as a one income family. We were getting by just fine but the stress we were feeling was less than ideal and we didn’t want to live on the edge anymore. In the few months we have been doing this our thought process on spending and saving has changed immensely. We could certainly buckle down more and make even bigger changes but we are taking this is small strides and making progress at our own pace. The Dave Ramsey program has been an excellent outline for us, as I find his speeches very empowering, but we are doctoring things as needed for ourselves.
So, step one was obviously getting in our own head space and saying “You have to do this, you NEED this change, and its all laid out for you.” So we started the program. The first lesson was an eye opener. Justin was more than willing to ‘try’ the program but I don’t think he was fully willing to believe the methods and practices Dave speaks were going to make that much of a difference. One lesson and Justin was on board and myself even more so. We both were stuck in a place living outside our means and believing our lifestyle choices were necessity. Let me clarify however, really not a lot has changed which I acknowledge doesn’t exactly make sense and likely leads me to contradict myself a little, or a lot. What I mean is that we ultimately have not had to sacrifice that much we have just become smarter about how we spend and more importantly when we spend. See, here was our spending cycle in a nutshell before: We ‘needed’ something (really we wanted something) so we grabbed a credit card, purchased it, and said we will pay it off next week when the next paycheck comes in. Done. No sweat off our backs right? Wrong. Here’s the deal, we probably could afford the thing but we didn’t plan for it. We saw it, we wanted it, we took it home. Had we just waited until the next week, thought about it more, and maybe even changed out minds about wanting it, we likely would have saved money and not racked up a credit card. You live and you learn though right? We are fixing our mistakes and making positive strides!
I really think the biggest key to our success has been opening our minds to other options and possibilities. There is always more than one way to make things work, always. Of course you cannot be successful without making actual changes so that is a vital part of all of this as well. Here is what we have been able to do in the last few months…
We sold our pickup and bought a new (to us) vehicle. That’s completely backwards right? You would think so but we were into something that we could afford the monthly payments on but we couldn’t’ exactly ‘afford’ the vehicle. That’s where a lot of companies get you on approving you for larger loans. The monthly payment is manageable but it really doesn’t make the item any more affordable, you just think you got yourself a deal. We made the seriously difficult decision of parting ways with something we both loved and found as a necessity, and for us it still is, but right now it just wasn’t logical. We purchased a different and 100% reliable vehicle and now have $10,000 less dollars in debt to our names. That was actually one of our first and bigger steps. It felt good, but it was also scary and somewhat frustrating because we were giving up something we both really enjoyed. We did it though, its done, and we are going to be better because of it.
We have also paid off almost $1000 in credit card debt which completely eliminated 3 full credit cards. I will own that I am the guilty party in our marriage who has 80% of the credit cards but they are out of our wallets, cut up, and no more apart of our life. We have also been able to pay for out of pocket expenses that we normally would have just thrown on a credit card and worried about later. Last week were were able to get a part replaced on one of our vehicles that normally would have stressed us out and the end result would have been as I just said, a quick and thoughtless swipe of a credit card. This was all done with money that was already set aside and the funny thing is we had this money before but using credit cards was just apart of our normal routine. This is the importance of having an emergency fund because that money is intended exactly for that, emergencies; situations that cannot be ignored and have to be dealt with such as fixing a vehicle. The first baby step in the program is quickly saving $1000 that is strictly for emergencies and it is a super important one!
We have also been able to add more to our savings in the last few months than we probably have done in the last year. That’s what is most rewarding to me. While I love watching our debt disappear it gives me even more satisfaction to see our savings account grow even larger and provides me a real sense of security. Truthfully though, we are still only at the beginning of this process and it is super exciting to know we will only continue to pay down our debt, grow our savings, and secure a future for ourselves and for our girls! I am so happy we decided to take a chance on ourselves to improve not only our relationship with finances but also our relationship with one another as husband and wife. It has helped us open up more lines of communication and realize that we have nothing to be ashamed of but now is the time more than ever to fix whatever mistakes we have made in the past and move forward in a positive way.
(Originally Posted on November 30th, 2017)