Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Worst 4-Letter Word of All-DEBT

I'm switching gears today.

I'm still very very sad about Julie and her family, but I'm going to focus on something positive today.

Joe and I just started Financial Peace University through Dave Ramsey.

Finances are one of those things that no one wants to talk about. It's almost more taboo than sex anymore.

Here's where we stand on it: we don't want to play the game anymore. The game that consumer America has told us we all have to play and we so willingly bought into.

We have a large and a small mortgage.
We have 2 car payments.
We have credit card debt (and how!).
we have school loans.
We have medical bills from procedures/visits years ago when we had no insurance.
There's more.
We owe and owe and owe.

We decided we're sick and tired of being sick and tired.

If you're a Dave Ramsey fan you've likely heard that phrase before.

Dave's plan is simple.

Stop borrowing. Pay off your debt. Save for college. Invest.

Easy right?

So what if you have more month than money and it's impossible to save anything?

This is where Financial Peace comes in.

Joe and I are learning about making up a budget (just putting on paper where our money goes), saving up a $1000 emergency fund for those emergencies that ALWAYS catch us by surprise, paying off our debt, and then learning how to save more and invest.

Easy peazy, right?

Not really. First, you have to get angry enough to actually commit to doing it. It's hard to get to that point because Dave's is a "Go Big or Go Home" mentality. You're either in 110% or you're out 110%.

His motto is Live like No One Else So Later You Can Live Like No One Else.

We are making significant changes. We are lowering our cell plan and downgrading from iPhones to regular, non-fancy schmancy phones. Dumb phones you might say.  That change alone will save us $80 per month.

We're also cutting things like gym membership (cuz, let's be realistic...I wasn't using mine anyway...), eating out (most of the time), and frivolous purchases.

When we actually took a close look at our checkbook ledger, we were amazed at how many entries said "Target-$123" or "Giant Eagle-$54." Ridiculous.

Our "we're just going to grab a few things" inevitably turned into mini shopping sprees of things that we didn't really "need."

I was able to justify (to myself) that it was necessary to charge Christmas decorations. (!)

We are ready.

In a week's time, we've actually save up $445 toward our $1000 Emergency Savings Fund that is necessary before you can start re-paying debt.  That's freakin' amazing for us.

How nice it would be to be completely out of debt. No more friendly calls from the credit card company, no more car payments, no more mortgage! I can see it in the not-too-distant future. I can taste it.

I think it would be awesome to write a check every semester for my kids' tuition and not have to take out a second mortgage, loans or for my kids to have to work to pay tuition. That way they can start their adult life without be saddled with debt right off the bat.

It'll be tough. And emotional. It's amazing how many emotions are tied to the balance of our bank account. But as tough as it will be, it can't be worse than sleepless nights wondering how in the world we're going to rob Peter to pay Paul. 

I'll update how we're doing periodically.
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