I mentioned before that Chris and I went through Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University at our church, withour small group. And I think I mentioned that it has since changed our lives. Though it's all for the better in the long run, we have not had any 'fun' since Dave entered our lives. And from the looks of it, he ain't leaving anytime soon... Which is again- a good thing.
Our idea of 'fun' in our lives P.D (Pre-Dave) looked like this-
eat out whenever we felt like it, drink a bunch of starbucks coffee, golf like it's going out of style, be part of a group that owns Season Tickets for the Suns, watch musicals at the Gammage, watch a bunch of t.v. on our ginormous t.v., buy stuff, donate stuff, buy more stuff.
Our lives W.D (With-Dave) looks like this-
eat at home, drink coffee at home, watch golf at home on our ginormous t.v., watch the Suns at home on our ginormous t.v., listen to cds of musicals that we have gone to in the past at the Gammage, buy only the stuff we need, sell stuff on craigslist, still donate stuff (if we can't sell it on craigslist.)...
Do we still have fun? Yes! We are Watsons after all. But I was so used to having fun that we couldn't afford! t is just taking some time for us to get adjusted to life as we should have always been living it. We were living as if we were rich and without a care in the world (or a budget.) Now we realize we are not rich (or at least not as rich as we were pretending to be), and we have quite a few cares in this world (lots of them concerning our budget!)
So, here are the most important things I learned from good ol' Dave Ramsey, and if you are thinking of going through Financial Peace University with him- I would highly recommend it. Just get ready to change your life...
1. Sell Everything: get rid of stuff you don't need for real survival. We live with some serious excess in our lives. Chris and I were prime examples of that. There were so many things we thought we couldn't live with, Chris especially. Here are some things we have gotten rid of, many with tears and some resistence, but none without gain (monetarily speaking.)
-Chris' motorcycle. Chris got this in the beginning stages of our marriage and thought he NEEDED to have this. Though Arizona has pretty great weather all year round, it's not as great for motorcycle riding as you would think. In the summer, it gets a touch hot here in the desert. Being exposed to the sun, on a machine made of metal that is exuding heat because it is on is not that fun. Though he sold it begrudgingly, and he actually did this P.D- it saved us in our monthly bills.
-Excessive Entertainment. That included the Suns tickets and going out to see musicals and playing golf. Chris still occassionally golfs. But nowhere near as much as he used to. I rarely to never golf, but that's a combo of being W.D and W.B (With Babies). The Suns tickets were the hardest to give up, but we will get them again one day...
-Our psycho cable bill. We had a butt-load of channels P.D. Over 200 of em I think. I mean we could even listen to music on our t.v. It was pretty sweet. And ever so unneccessary. Chris did not want to skimp on the extra sports package, even though that was the first thing to go. Then the HD. (I could never tell the difference between HD and non-HD anyway!) Then the extra-extra channels. We still have 100 channels (which is plenty!) But our bill went from $120 to $60sh! Talk about excessive. (I know, we could still trim diwn a bit more... give us some time!)
2. Debt Snowball. What this is a plan to get you out of debt fast. Dave tells you to make a list of all your debt and to attack them from smallest to largest. And as you know out one debt-item, you add what you had been paying towards that first thing to the next, and so on and so forth. We had some absolutely stupid credit card debt cause we just got careless one year (yup, all that debt was accrued in just one year) and boy are we paying for it now! But we have just a little bit to go and we will be credit card-debt free! Then we will move on to the car, and then the house... I mean houses...
3. The Cash-in-Envelopes System. We are now on a cash-only system. (Our bills still get withdrawn automatically) We have envelopes for different things like Gas, Food, and Stores. When we started this, it was really shocking to see that our money was finite. Once you spent it, it was gone. Unlike using a credit card, or even my debit card. You just assume there is money out there for you to spend, so you spend it! Very easily. I knew I had a serious problem when someone asked me for my i.d. once (no I was not buying booze, nor was I being pulled over by a cop) and I instinctively pulled out my bank card cause that's just what I always did- pulled out trusty Mr.Debit.Visa. My trusty old friend and I are no longer on speaking terms in this W.D era, and I can barely remember his phone number (aka my pin.)
4. "Live like no one else, so that later you can LIVE like no one else." This is Dave's catch phrase and I thought it was so stupid when we started. But it's very true. I can live like 'everyone else' right now and keep buying crap I don't need, and pretending to have more money than I do. Or I can stop the vicious cycle of being servant-to-the-lender, and eventually save money, then spend AND GIVE money that actually belongs to me! (I would just like to say that we still give money in tithes and offerings. Dave does NOT tell anyone to stop doing that. Good job Dave.)
So, there you have it. At leat for now. Maybe I will remember something else that was amazing about the program, but for now that should do it. Chris and I are definitely feeling much more at peace about our finances, and one day in the distant future, we will run up onto our fully-paid-for roof top and scream "We are debt-free!"
And this is truly what God wants for all of us- to have peace- in our marriages, in our finances, etc. And the best thing that I maybe didn't mention about Dave Ramsey is that he is Christian, and he knows that everything he has is because of the good Lord. And when you surrender your finances to Him (God, not Dave), He will bless the crap outta ya! Remember my Christmas- miracle washing machine? And my walking around Target or the mall with no purchases is nothing short of a miracle too! At least according to Chris.