Saturday, January 16, 2010


It's a vicious, cyclical beast.

A beast, that in our household, has finally been tamed.

And taken to the doghouse.

Take that! You beast!

We've never had a huge amount of consumer debt.  We've owned one credit card through our local credit union that we put a $1000 max limit on.

It's what we would use in emergencies, or for an occasional purchase when our normal paycheck just didn't stretch far enough.

But it was debt.  And it was annoying.  And burdensome.  It was a cyclical dirty, rotten beast.  Cyclical, because it would always get paid off (usually with part of the tax return), but then it would start all over again.  There was almost always an amount on that card, whether it be: doctor or dentist bills, tires or repairs on the car, clothes or shoes for a new school year, etc.

Well, since I have been taking the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University course, our financial outlook has been a lot brighter.  (I only have about a month left in the class - I don't want it to end!)  I've had quite a few people ask me about Dave Ramsey and his class, so I thought I would share some of the things that have made me a FIRM believer in his system:

-We finally have a budget that actually works, using the zero-based budget plan.  Now the 'ants' don't carry away that last little bit of money that is left over when we do our budget every two weeks.

-Using the cash envelope system has made a HUGE difference in how we spend our money.  It is so much harder to spend cash!  And now we use cash envelopes to pay for all groceries, gas, doctors visits, misc items, etc.  When the cash is gone, it's gone.

-Having a $1000 emergency fund (Baby Step #1) has saved our hides this past month or so.  With the miscarriage, and broken washing machine, we were able to pay for both of these unexpected events without touching a credit card.   I must say though, it was really hard to dip into that fund to pay for these things.  We didn't want to touch it because we worked so hard to get it.  But, of course we did, and now we are actively building that fund back up to $1000.

-We no longer have debt except for our mortgage! (Baby Step #2).  And we look forward to working on paying the mortgage down quicker after we finish a few more baby steps.  The goal is to never have a 30 year mortgage again.  Ever.

-We hope to have our 6 month expenses Emergency Fund by summer.  This will be in case Bill were to lose his job or other BIG things like serious illness, natural disaster, etc.   We would be able to live for 6 months (or more, if we stretched it) on this emergency money supply.  This will feel really, really good to have done.

I think overall, we have just been able to play offense with our money rather than being on the defensive when 'stuff' happens.  Money has not looked the same since taking this course.  We treat and handle it differently.

 And it is reciprocating.  

Here's to Dave Ramsey and keeping the beast in the doghouse for life!

**My only complaint is that I wish I would have known about it sooner.  I shudder to think how much further along we would be if we had known about this going into college.


MegJill said...

You inspire me!!!! And I need that, because it has been hard to keep up this Dave Ramsey thing! We have our initial emergency fund, FINALLY, and are working on knocking out those student loans.
Hearing your progress really does help. And yes, it would have been so nice to have followed these steps when in college and/or first married!
By the way, are you still making your own laundry detergent? And is it getting the clothes clean? I'd love your laundry recipe!

LGH said...

Natalie, this was an absolute awesome post. I think every senior in high school, every senior in college, and every married couple should have this class. When we first married, we did the envelope thing; it's so effective because you are right, when the money is gone, it's gone. I felt so excited when we got our first credit card...boy, was I mixed up, huh? And, I remember the absolute thrill of paying off our mortgage. Good for you and Bill...very, very impressive. You should e a national spokesperson for Dave!

The Lane Family said...

I love some of the ideas that you have given. Jim and I started the cash only system about 3 months ago and we find that you have what you "need" but you don't over spend on what you "want".

I agree we wish we would have started using some of these techniques long before now!!!

Cummins Family said...

Natalie... that is awesome. I give people a book called "Debt Proof Your Marriage" by Mary Hunt as a wedding present a lot.

I had no idea you had a miscarriage. I wish I would have been a better friend to you and known. I am so grateful to have you in my life. You inspire me to be a better person.