Okay, the first thing I am expanding on is how we as a family have changed the way we deal with money. Most of my years having a job, like a lot of people, I lived pay check to pay check. I never really had a good relationship with money. I remember saving $500 to help pay for my braces as a teenager, but other than that, money just burned a hole in my pocket. If I had it, it had to be spent! Whether it was on something I needed, or something I wanted, if the money was there, I would buy things. Sometimes, I even spent money I didn’t have, which was really smart of me since it ended up costing me even more money. (Thank you $30 overdraft fees from First Not Gonna Mention the Name of the Bank Omaha.)
About 5 or 6 years ago, I went through a course called “Financial Peace University” for the first time. I learned a lot of new concepts about money, how to change my relationship with it, and a whole bunch of other good information. The first thing that sticks out is learning how to do a zero based budget. Wait, what? A budget? That seemed like such a dirty word to my ears! But when you do a zero based budget, you are giving every single dollar you earn a place to go. Have you ever wondered, “Where does all my money go,” at the end of each month? I certainly did. With a zero based budget, you know exactly where every penny is going, so it eliminates that mystery. It’s kind of scary at first though, not being ignorant to where money goes. It forces you to take a good look at your priorities, and it makes sure you are paying for necessities first. For example, paying your rent before paying your credit card bill, or paying your electric bill before paying for your quad-venti-pumpkin-spice-mocha-latte. I also learned ways to pay off debt quickly while still paying the bills, and how to not rely on a credit score to tell me what I can purchase. Instead, I learned to save up for what I wanted to buy, and pay for it with cash. My goal is to someday not even have a credit score!
I learned so much good information in that class, but unfortunately, it didn’t all stick. After a while, my old habits came back, and I started losing track of where my money was going. Walmart called my name every pay day, and I couldn’t seem to leave the store unless I had completely filled the cart with a bunch of only $5 items. Those things added up! But they were so inexpensive and I needed them… I retained a few of the practices I had learned, like how to negotiate when using cash, and how to ward off creditors, but everything else seemed to be washed away somehow. Of course, I was single, and didn’t have an accountability person that I really stayed accountable to. That really makes a difference because when you don’t have to answer to anyone, you can do what you want. You can use all of the excuses, and you have no one to rebut them and tell you how ridiculous they are.
Thankfully, shortly after my husband and I got married, our new church was offering the class. Praise the Lord! They say that the number one cause for divorce these days is arguments over money, so what better way to build a solid foundation and get off to a good start and be on the same page?! My husband wasn’t sure about it at first. I had told him a few things I had learned in the class before, and I encouraged him to think about it. They offered a preview of the course, and he agreed to attend. It didn’t take long for him to make a decision once we finished that preview. He was even kind of excited about it! Yee haw!
Since we took the class together, we have totally changed what we do with our money. We have a budget meeting every 2 weeks to talk about where all of our money will go that pay period, and make any adjustments needed from previous budgets. We pay God first, then ourselves, and then anything we owe payments on. (Except the mortgage, but we consider that paying ourselves because shelter is a necessity.) We have paid off, canceled, and chopped up all of our credit cards, even the store ones, and are working on paying off our cars. We hope to also pay off our house early. We have an emergency fund for any unexpected emergencies that we would have justified using a credit card for before, which we have already had to dip into and replenished the very next pay period. We have a set amount of money we each can spend on whatever we want without consulting one another, we call that our “pocket money”. Every single dollar that gets directly deposited into our checking account gets a place in our budget. It has helped things run a little more smoothly when it comes to paying bills! The first few meetings were more challenging, but we were encouraged to stick with it by others who had done the course before us. I’m so glad we did, I have noticed improved communication with us, definite plus! And we are trying to instill good money habits in our daughter, who will be graduating high school in a couple years. Eek!
So, would you like a more detailed explanation of some of the steps we are taking to achieve financial freedom? I would like to invite you to visit the website below. I don’t get any type of royalties or anything for sharing this link; I just genuinely care about you all, and want everyone to experience the freedom of no longer being a slave to money and debt.
Please feel free to share any of your experiences with money, or any specific questions you have, below!
- http://www.daveramsey.com – Get REAL debt help: Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover Plan