How I found out about Dave:
When Scott and I got married, we knew we'd have to change how we handled our finances as individuals. Neither of us were big into keeping up with the checkbook. We would routinely check our balances online and that was about it. (Some of you are identifying with this methodology.) For our wedding present, our dear friend Peter gave us a Financial Peace University kit. It included everything we needed to get started with our "revamp the finances" project. Thanks Peter!! On our honeymoon, which included some lengthy plane rides, we listened to some of the cds. We were hooked from the beginning. Dave doesn't teach graduate level financial planning concepts. He uses basic common sense that not too many of us like to put into practice, such as SPEND LESS THAN YOU MAKE. Wow...there's a novel concept.
In July of 2008, Scott and I started on our path to financial peace. Combined, we had $75,000 in debt. Two car loans, two credit cards, and two huge student loans. The first baby step is to save $1,000 in a starter emergency fund. We did that. Then on to the debt. Baby step two is pay off all your debt except your house using the debt snowball. Scott is a teacher. I'm a nurse. We make decent livings, but we're not rollin' in it. I was sure it was going to take us 5 years to pay off all our debt. But it didn't. We put together a modest budget (or cash flow plan, for those of you that hate the word budget) and threw every extra dollar at our debt. It took us two years. Twenty-five months to be exact. Now we are DEBT FREEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!! (I have a copy of our debt-free call to the Dave Ramsey Show, but I'm not smart enough to figure out how to upload it here. :-/)
In tiny print at the top of the picture is Scott and I's name in the queue waiting to scream 'We're Debt Free' on the Dave Ramsey Show.
It wasn't easy.
I like to take lots of trips. We didn't take exotic trips.
I want to decorate my house. We didn't.
Scott wants a big, flat screen tv. We didn't buy one.
Being disciplined isn't usually "fun", but the rewards are HUGE. What I really love about following a cash flow plan/budget is that it makes some decisions very easy. I don't walk into the grocery store and wonder if I'm about to spend our electric bill money. Everything has a category and a budgeted amount and I have peace of mind knowing groceries, eating out, rent and other necessities are covered. Even none-necessities like entertainment have their own category. We can go to a movie without spending our food money. :) We save all year for Christmas. I have a per-person amount that I can spend. There's freedom in that. Is it hard? Yes. I want to buy extravagant gifts for people. But we're not there yet. For now, those of you on my Christmas list will have to deal with your $30 gift. :)
What's the point of all this? To me, the point of being disciplined with your money is not to get rich, although that's a very real possibility. The point of being disciplined is to be able to help others and give, give, give. I don't know who said this, but I liked it: Nobody would know who the Good Samaritan was if he didn't have any money. In other words, he wouldn't have been able to help out if he was broke. My job as a Christ-follower is to point people to Jesus. One of the ways I hope to do that is by financially helping people in need. What if Christians were, on the whole, diligent with their money? What if that led to Christians funding programs that help those in need instead of the government? What if we led by example how to love and care for others? I don't mean to make this a political thing. It isn't. I just mean to say that if people we wiser with their money, there would be more available to pay rent for a single mom or fully staff an orphanage and supply the needs of those children. It could happen...
Dave says within a marriage, there is usually one nerd and one free spirit. Nerd = spread sheet keeper, keeper of the books. Free spirit = dreamer, big spender. Scott is a free spirited nerd and I'm a nerdy free spirit. He doesn't like to keep up with the check book or write out the budget each month, but he's not a big spender. I like the spread sheets and for my check book to match the bank to the penny, but I also love to spend money. :) Somehow we make it work.
Soooo...Scott and I are on our way. We're on baby step 3: fully funding our emergency fund. Appropriate, since we have a baby on the way. A fully funded emergency fund is supposed to have 3-6 months of expenses saved up. Not INCOME, expenses. To me, this is a tricky target number to come up with. Imagine if we both lost our jobs. What would it take to keep us afloat until we started working again? We kinda laugh at this (we shouldn't). If Scott the teacher AND Betty Anne the nurse can't find work anywhere, we've got bigger world problems. In that case, should a bomb shelter and supplies be included in our emergency fund? I digress...
One of the funny things Dave says is to "put the dog on craigslist, sell the cat on ebay". Scott was ALL ABOUT us selling the cats. I put my foot down. NO WAY. First of all, what are we going to do with $2 extra dollars that we would get from selling them? Second of all, NO. He said I wasn't being gazelle intense. I said......mean things. We're better now.
My cousin Jon works for Dave Ramsey now. He has a blog you should check out: Stuff Christians Like. Jon is my hero now because he works with Dave. I mean, he was cool before, but NOW... I already looked for nurse job openings at the Ramsey Headquarters. No such luck...
I know I'll have more to say in the future about Dave Ramsey, but for now.... I'll end this mini-novel.
"Live like no one else so later you can GIVE like no one else." -Dave Ramsey
In front of the Dave Ramsey Headquarters in Tennessee!