A Practice in Priorities

A Practice in Priorities

Beth lives in SW Michigan and is a SAHM married to brilliant Michigan Yooper (aka DaHubby). She  defends her home against the playing and pillaging of her two preschoolers (aka Flicka and Pojke). She blogs at Life with Two Little Vikings.

Yep, we drank the Kool-Aid. If there were lawn signs still around from the 2008 election, we would have modified one to read “Another family for Dave Ramsey?” Yet, I still say – at the risk of sounding like another mindless groupie – Dave Ramsey really has changed our lives.

Because of Dave, we’ve paid off over $17,000 in debt since October 2007.

Because of Dave, our marriage is stronger because DaHubby and I are finally looking in the same direction money-wise and are on the same page budget-wise.  I also have 2 kids who are already beginning to understand that they have small jobs they can do every day for a quarter per job and THAT pays for the “Mom, can we have a treat?” at the grocery store. No jobs? No money. No money? No treat.

Because of Dave (and bloggers like the Happy Housewife), I’m feeding a family of four well on $60 per week.  And, because of Dave, my hubby at 40 years old has returned to school full time at while working 40-45 hours a week to train for a new career in a more promising and more stable field.

We’ve also been honored to guide another 13 families through Financial Peace University and have been able to celebrate with one in particular who can already yell “WE’RE DEBT FREE!” Finally, we’ve already been able to give away small blessings to people in need.

But, it is hard work. And, it’s a daily thing. Not just for one month or one year because it’s a lifestyle change.
It’s all about priorities.

When one fills out Dave’s initial “basic quickie budget” which gives a snapshot of where the money is currently  going and help FPU students to see where it SHOULD be going, several things are immediately obvious:

GIVING is the first thing listed.  Whether you are a follower of some faith or not, he strongly suggests that giving should be the first thing you do each payday.

SAVING is the second. You haven’t paid a bill yet but you have “paid yourself first.”

Then, it is housing, utilities, food and transportation. Finally, the next categories are clothing (just the basics), insurance and child care.

Y’know what’s listed near the bottom? Entertainment.

Y’know what’s listed after that? Every else…including debt payments! You need to have a home with the lights and water on and with a vehicle that runs in the driveway before worrying about debt. Because you need to have that peace so you can hit the debt-paying ground running with some serious intensity.
Remember – it’s all about priorities.

For those of you who have participated in or are familiar with the Weight Watchers point system, it’s very similar. Different foods are worth different points. And, you are given so many “points” per day you can eat. If you plan on eating a large breakfast with eggs, bacon, and butter on your toast, then you will have fewer points to use later in the day so salads for lunch and dinner! LOL

Similarly, you only have so much money coming into your home each month. Figure out as best you can exactly how much that is, plan before the month begins where it will go and stick to the plan or you can “overeat” your resources and find yourself bloated with excess debt!

This concept can also help “savers” explain to “spenders” the finite limits of a budget. “OK, honey, I understand you’d really like a new (outfit, pair of shoes, big screen TV, you fill in the blank). So where are we going to take money from to cover this cost?”

Finally, a quick testimony to the wisdom of Dave’s theory on emergency funds. He suggests that initially you have $1000 tucked away for Murphy visits – of which we’ve had several lately.  DaHubby’s unexpected root canal the day before Christmas Eve? I just wrote a check. Now THAT’S financial peace!  The basement flooded the day after Christmas. Deductable for a homeowner insurance claim? I can just write a check!  Easy, eh?  That’s financial peace even while still in the midst of digging out!

So, please, make it a priority to get your finances in order for 2009. Whether you use Dave Ramsey or another reputable program, do it!  We are hardly out of the woods. Our overconfident rookie claim in 2007 that we’d be debt-free by spring 2009 may have been a tad premature (LOL) but we are still moving forward, making plans, adjusting and tweaking the budget as Murphy throws his curve balls.  And, before too long, we will be able to call up Dave’s radio show some Friday afternoon and be able to scream…

“We’re debt FREE!!!”

For more Frugal Fridays visit Biblical Womanhood.

For more Tightwad Tuesdays visit Mary.

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  1. What a blessing to hear how you have paid off so much!! Dh and I need to talk about paying some things off so we can be debt free. We don’t have much debt, but I’d rather be free of it. 😀

  2. Great job in paying off all that debt already! I’m very impressed.

  3. Way to go! We love Dave here too and took FPU a few years ago. I would recommend it to anyone.

  4. congrats on your progress! 🙂

    i’m working on baby step 4 right now.

  5. To DgsandBjsmom: DR just recommends an initial baby emergency fund of $1000. When all your debt (minus a mortgage) is paid off, you put 3-6 months of living expenses in a safe place. For us, that will be about $16,000…more than enough to cover the example you provided. But, yes, if it happened before that point, other arrangements would have to be made.

    And, one other thing, this morning my hubby got his pay cut by 1/5 and we’re gonna be just fine because we follow DR’s plan.

    And, ironically, despite now suddenly having to live on about $650/week, we still have our bases covered and, while we are living with only the basics, we definitely have the peace of knowing we won’t lose the house or the vehicles.

  6. Wow such an awesome and rare accomplishment! Way to go!
    We are debt free except our mortgage. and how I wish that were paid off! We live on a fixed income and the mortgage is too big.
    Ilove that you put giving first. It is a bibical principal that truely works.

  7. I see that DR has a lot of books out there. Any recommendations on which have worked for you the best?

  8. Super. What a great feeling that must be.

  9. This was a GREAT tip ! I just read about after you tithe then pay yourself first. That is such a neat concept. I am praying that hubby will see the need and we can start doing this. Thank you for filling in for the Happy Housewife. [0=

    Blessings in Him<

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