Hearing that word is the equivalent to hearing nails scratch a chalkboard combined with the feeling of sinking in quick sand.
Who Are We With Money?
As Dave Ramsey would define us, my mister is a “free-spirit” personality and I have the “nerd” personality. In other words, my mister loves to spend to his heart’s content and I love to save, and this keeps my heart content. We have the same financial goals, but different methods of reaching them. As we all may relate in marriage, working with money alongside our spouse is definitely a learning process: we’ve discussed, planned, argued, celebrated, strategized, compromised, argued some more, discovered each other, and celebrated some more. Sound familiar?
WHAT WAS OUR FINANCIAL TURNING POINT?
We decided early on we would focus on paying off debt after the wedding. We have huge life goals, but none would be possible if we weren’t debt free. The day after we came back from the Honeymoon we started our first Dave Ramsey video. Odd, I know.
WHAT’S THE PURPOSE OF THIS POST?
It’s actually hard for me to write about our finances during our first year of marriage due to it being a vulnerable, personal topic and I fear this post may come across as boasting which is not the case. We are just like other newlyweds learning about one another, and with that comes learning money management. After much thought and prayer, I am writing this post for two reasons: This has been a personal year of conquering my fears and of seeing that getting out of debt IS POSSIBLE.
So here I am sharing with you a personal endeavor we took on our first year of marriage to pay off over $10,000 of debt while paying for his grad program on our income. Keep in mind, Aaron and I bring in the average income as he is a school teacher and I am a church administrator/counselor.
HOW TO BEGIN THE ROAD OF FINANCIAL FREEDOM:
Below are 10 key elements we implemented to shave off our debt. My hope is you find these ideas to be helpful and that you would be inspired from them.
1. Get with the Dave Ramsey Program. Watch either the Dave Ramsey Financial Freedom series or read “The Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey, or both. His money concepts are eye-opening, relatable, and produce results when implemented.
2. SAVE. Dave Ramsey shares “7 Baby Steps” to help people get out of debt. The first step is to get $1000 in a savings account as an Emergency Fund as soon as possible. In 2 months we cut every possible corner to scrounge $1000 to put in our Emergency Fund. Key words:
SLUSH EMERGENCY FUND.
For instance, early this year, our car tires blew out and we took the money out of savings to replace the tires, making this emergency stress-free. If we did not have that money, we would have needed to put the tire cost on a credit card and would have incurred more debt. Over a brief time, we were able to build our savings back up.
3. FACE THE DEBT. The second baby step is to pay off debt using the “debt snowball” (the step we are currently on). We listed our debts in order from smallest to largest and started paying them off in that order. Then once a debt was paid off, we used that money in addition to the money we were already paying the debt with to pay off the next debt.
In one hard working year, we went from 10 debts down to 4, including his grad program. Hurray!
4. SELL. Dave Ramsey encourages people to sell their stuff to help pay off debt. Since we are newly married and have a hand-me-down love seat, an old big blue 80’s chair that creeks, and a bedroom set we are borrowing, we aren’t in the position to make money by selling what we have (as you can imagine). So, we sold his college books at the end of the semesters on Amazon.com, and are learning to “sell” our talents for profit.
5. USE CASH ONLY. My mister and I used the good ‘ole fashion envelope system. We budget and use money envelopes for groceries, gas, spending money, household, etc. for the month; other bills like car payments and electricity are automated drafts. When the cash is gone, it’s GONE. Yes, GONE. No debit or credit cards to fall back on. Talk about struggle being real.
HOW TO CONTINUE THE JOURNEY OF FINANCIAL FREEDOM?
6. PERSONAL SPENDING MONEY. We are vigorous about paying off debt, but we also feel it to be important to have a little spending money each month to do whatever we wanted. Paying off debt takes a lot of energy and sacrifice for the benefit of future reward, and during this period it’s fun to have a little money for occasional little splurges.
7. BE A GIVER. Designate money for tithes and giving. Beyond this, find areas to give of your time and talents. Right off the top of every paycheck we tithe 10% of our income and give another percentage to giving. I find when we give of our time, talent and treasure, the rewards go beyond any financial compensation.
8. Pray. It may sound silly to some, but the Lord cares about our burdens. As we can all relate, financial burdens have the ability to weigh heavily on us. I’m naturally a “worrier” and praying over our finances has been liberating. I have seen God change my heart and perspective on my marriage, myself, and my money.
9. LEARN HOW TO SAY “NO”. Learn how to say “no” to yourself and to others. Yes, get used to the word “No”. Whether it be a dinner out when you have no more money in your “date” fund or if you are asked to participate in a fundraiser and all your giving money is gone-pecan. Don’t feel guilty in saying “no”. Not saying “no” is partially what got you into debt, and saying “no” will help you get out of it.
10. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH FINANCIAL FREEDOM BELIEVERS. There is nothing like gleaning ideas from people who are heading towards the same goals (whether they are spiritual, physical, or in this case, financial). Spend your time with those you can learn from. Whatever you do, don’t take financial advice from those whose goals are not aligned with yours.
For instance, my husband and I are interested in becoming entrepreneurs, and we recently were invited to some friends’ home who have made their living in this business and are living in financial freedom. They poured their ideas, mistakes, as well as their successes into us from across the table. We walked away inspired and determined knowing we were on the right path.
I totally understand this money plan is a whole new way of thinking, life-changing when implemented, and is quite intimidating at some points. These temporary sacrifices are worth it. The point of this post is to share a glimpse of hope to all my fellow readers that financial freedom IS attainable.
Live a debt free life with a nice retirement? Why not? We all deserve it.
As always, thanks for reading.