Just a couple of days ago I was looking over our budget (something I do all the time) and it looked like we could be debt free sooner than expected. I crunched all the numbers just to make sure. Lo and behold I was right! So as a symbolic gesture we wrote out a check for the remaining $628, then walked hand-in-hand to the mailbox.
A day later I still feel in shock over what we have accomplished. For years I’d believed the lie “You’ll always have debt.” For years I’ve felt frustrated by finances. Not that there won’t be money worries in the future, but the likelihood is much less.
A couple years ago I heard Dave Ramsey on the radio. I thought he was a jerk. He was super direct with people and it rubbed me the wrong way. But I understand now that Dave has the best intentions, and tough love is what’s needed to tear down the misconceptions that people have about debt/money/wealth.
Going through life without taking control of one of the things that can truly impact most areas of your life is just crazy. Yet many people do this. Without a plan I had attempted to attack debt, throwing overtime money and tax returns at debt, but this merely felt like swimming in quicksand. Trying to do anything without a plan is a bad idea. You have to make your money work for you. (If you are cool frittering your money away, let me know and I’ll send you my address.)
[quote]Throughout this process of becoming debt free, my wife and I have grown closer, learned the value of sacrifice, and learned to communicate better.[/quote]We sat down each month to review what we had going on that month (birthdays, trips, etc) and talked through our budget. We wrung everything that we could out of our paychecks and put every last dime toward our debt. Yes “our” debt … being married means that we’re in it together. There’s no pointing fingers. Sometimes it felt silly when I would put $5 toward our debt after selling something on eBay, but that money would have disappeared someplace else if we weren’t focused.
Our adventure actually began before we were married. I had started listening to Dave Ramsey on the radio (available now on iHeartRadio), then after we were engaged we attended a live Total Money Makeover event, I read The Total Money Makeover, and we attended the 9 week Financial Peace University class.*
Dave Ramsey has an easy to follow “7 Baby Steps” process. Sure you can cut corners or rearrange the steps, but there is a reason for each step. One of the main reasons is to cause focused intensity. This will pull you out of the quicksand and set you on a path to be successful, whether that takes you 2 years or 7 years.
I’m getting long winded so let me leave you with a few thoughts…
- Don’t assume that you know where all your money is going. Make it behave.
- Utilize resources such as Dave Ramsey’s to give you a course of action.
- If you’re married you MUST be on the same page.
- I have found that listening to the Dave Ramsey show has provided me encouragement to push through those times where I didn’t know if it was worth the sacrifice.
- Live your own life – think for yourself. There are so many lies surrounding finances – learn what those are so you can stop living in them.
- If you’re married build into your budget “date money” and also “spending money.” These things give you the freedom to enjoy those things you love while still having boundaries.
- You really “need” a lot less than you think you do.
- And quite possibly the most important thing … hold onto “why” you want to be debt free. This will overshadow the finer points of “how.”
Our future is incredibly bright!
Written by Tim Kippel
*We regularly offer the Financial Peace University class. For information about our next class, contact Scott.