Spend. Spend. Spend. Save. Save. Save. The two words describe two totally different philosophies on money. Can you guess which philosophy is mine? If not, allow me to help: American Eagle, Maurices, and Forever 21 – my favorite clothing stores! I’ve always loved to shop. I remember when I first started working in high school. I wasn’t allowed to work often, but I worked enough to earn a little extra cash-cash I couldn’t wait to use for new outfits, jewelry, and shoes. I’d come home with a big bag of new “necessities” and my mom would always tell me I already had “exactly” what I just bought and I should try to save for college. College?! Who in the world considers college before January of their senior year?! Well, about April of my senior year, I wish I had because I realized I was broke and college was outrageously expensive. The summer after I graduated high school, I got a full-time summer job and saved, saved, saved. When I left for college, I got a great job at Fiddlestiks and I was able to continue with the occasional shopping trip and also work my way through college. I only paid for what I thought I could realistically earn and still had over $10,000 in student loans when I graduated – how depressing. To top things off, I decided I NEEDED a new car my junior year of college, so I was able to add a significant amount of money to the student loans I’d already accrued.
When Wade and I got married we were able to combine each other’s debt to come up with a grand total of over $30,000. “Not bad” some would say, but it was sickening to think we were going to spend the next 10 years of our married life owing money to someone else…and we didn’t even have a house!
About a year ago, Wade and I were introduced to Dave Ramsey, the author of Total Money Makeover. I remember Wade calling one Friday while I was teaching and hearing him say, “You have to read this book!” He started telling me all about it and I could tell he was pumped. So I read it… well most it… and it completely altered the way we both thought about money – especially in regards to debt. Wade and I were fortunate enough to bring in a little extra money each month, which allowed us to save some money over the first year of our marriage. After reading Total Money Makeover, we took everything we had saved (except the $1,000 emergency fund) and paid off what was left on my car. Debt #1 = Gone!
Once the car was paid off, we took our monthly car payment plus any additional money we had leftover after bills and put it all on Wade’s student loan. After several months, debt #2 = GONE! The only debt we had left was my student loan; therefore, after all monthly bills, we applied the “extra” money toward my loan. Our goal was to be debt free by January 2010.
While Dave encourages an extreme, radical lifestyle, Wade and I decided to keep cable television and internet as well as a small entertainment budget for date nights and eating out. But we limited every category and TRIED (although we often failed) to stay within the limitations set forth in our monthly budget. In just under one year, Wade and I met our goal. As of last week, we are completely DEBT FREE! By applying Dave’s strategies and techniques to the money God FAITHFULLY provided for us, we saved approximately four extra years of bill hastle and approximately $4,000 in interest. Neither one of us had incredible paying jobs during this year: internet, teacher, minister, and substitute teacher. However, we were extremely blessed in that neither of us lost our jobs during the drowning economy and the principles Dave came up with worked.
I am NO financial advisor. In fact, I know VERY LITTLE about money. Wade takes care of our budget and I am very thankful for that. But if you’re interested in a Total Money Makeover and have an open mind in regards financial principles, then I highly recommend Mr. Dave! And of course faithful giving to the One who provides it all for us.
Wade and I are now in stage four of this makeover process. We hope to spend the next SEVERAL years putting the money where we want it to go. God willing, we will save for new vehicles and our first house as well as retirement and future college funds. And maybe, JUST MAYBE, I’ll even be able to get in a shopping trip or two!