Sunday, November 7, 2010

Total Money Makeover - 6 Month Checkup

On May 1st of this year, we started something crazy.  For the first time in our lives, we were going to develop a budget and learn how to live by it.  We were sick of feeling like our debt and spending were out of control so we took charge of it.  We read about the Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey and his simple steps made sense to us.  It seemed so easy:  Set up an emergency fund, Create a budget, Stick to your Budget, PAY OFF DEBT!

It's been six months now since we started and I'm proud to say we are still sticking to it!  It took us about 2 months to really figure out what we were doing with the budget and how to tweak it to fit our needs, but it really has helped us to stay accountable for where our money is going.  There have been some big changes in our financial world since the TMMO, and they've all been for the better!

  • Cash Only - Every Sunday night, we put money into envelopes we've labelled by category.  This way, I have all my grocery money I'm allowed to spend right at hand.  When the car insurance comes due, we have the cash ready to go.  If I see a new scrapbook supply I like, I don't have to feel guilty about buying it.....if I have the cash available in my envelope.  No more whipping out the credit card at Target if I felt squeamish about my total, no more putting of the dog's haircuts because we didn't have the money, and no more overspending on the everyday things.
  • Paying Off Debt - When we started this journey six months ago, we had more than $41,000 in non-mortgage debt.  I'm not going to stagger anyone with our progress, but I am proud to say that we have paid off FOUR of those debts, two loans and two credit card balances.  Each one of those pay offs has been such a victory for us.  We're down to two credit cards and one student loan.  It's that last one that's going to take the most work and dedication, but I'm more hopeful than ever that we'll be able to rid ourselves of it in a reasonable amount of time.
  • No New Debt - Part of paying off debt is making sure you're not digging yourself a deeper hole at the same time you're trying to claw your way out.  We have not swiped a credit card in six months!!!  I'm a little scared to think about what might happen in the future if we end up needing to purchase a new vehicle before we're quite ready, but I guess we'll just have to cross that bridge when it comes.
  • Saving to Spend - Why did I never do this before?  I always told myself we couldn't go on a vacation or do anything fun because we didn't have the money.  As it turns out, if you really work hard to say no to the things you don't really need, you can save up the money to do the things you really want!  We've been saving up the cash to send us on our little mini-vacation to Chicago for a while now, so we'll be able to enjoy ourselves without worrying about going further into debt.  We know that we need to replace our roof next year, so we've been saving up for that for the last 6 months as well.  I haven't yet found the courage to go as "gazelle intense" as Ramsey describes when it comes to changing our lifestyles, but I think we've been doing pretty well at cutting things in order to make room for the more important things.  Sometimes it is hard to say "no" to a trip back home because we can't spend the gas money or turn down an invite to go out for drinks because we can't bear the idea of wasting the money.  It's worth it though!
  • Happy Finances = Happy Marriage - What a wonderful little side effect of learning how to budget!  Since we have started our TMMO, our fights conflicts over money have decreased dramatically.  Getting on the same page when it comes to our money and having our weekly budget date has been so beneficial for our marriage.  We don't hide our spending habits from one another any longer because now it all has to go in the budget.  We're working together toward common goals and we now feel like a team. 
We're off to an encouraging start!  You can follow our journey toward being debt free from the beginning right here on the blog by clicking HERE!

Have you experienced a Total Money Makeover?  Or maybe you're in need of one?  It's never to late to join the party!

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