Money was never something that I was taught. I didn’t know my parent’s salary till I was way into college. I didn’t have a credit card till I was in grad school. If I knew then what I know now, I would have never gotten one. I still don’t balance a checkbook, nor do I really know how, although the concept isn’t hard- I don’t think, and this past month is the first month I ever had a budget, and I blew it- bad.
When I moved to St. Louis, a story I will explain along the way, I was the only one working for the first four months, and that was honestly very difficult to do, but I am all the better for it. With Moran looking for a job, the last thing they wanted to talk about was money, and I didn’t care to share my stress with them, as there was literally nothing for them to do to help than to do exactly what they were doing: looking for a job. As Moran started to get more interviews and closer to finding that job, I started venting my financial stress with my sister. We had touched lightly on it in the past, but this time, I really needed to make a change. I want to do things with my life: own a house, travel, adopt children, and potentially own some animals and operate in the animal rescue ring. The thing is, you need money for all of those things, even if they are good things, and how am I supposed to do all of that without creating massive amounts of debt- that’s a horrible word, isn’t it?
Lily (my sister), told me about how she has spent the past year+ working towards her money schedule, and how she budgets and pays off past debt. She told me her breaking point, where she had gotten stuck in LA during the shootings, and had to confess to our dad that she had already spent the money he gave her. She directed me towards a person: Dave Ramsey, who wrote a book called the Total Money Makeover. I rented the book from the library, oldschool, I know, and started reading. Mind you, the last time I read a book was Jane Eyre, and it took me 3 months to finish. I finished Dave’s book in 4 days!
I was motivated and enthused to attempt Dave’s method of using baby steps to build wealth and get the life I want. I started out with his first step- listing out all your debt in one place- god that hurt. I owe a lot of money- a credit card I used when I was jobless, student loans, and some medical bills I never paid. I need it to go away, please make it go away!
With these debts I also wrote down their monthly payments, and calculated how much money I would have to spend a month just to cover my minimum payments. $1,243 between Moran and myself. Ouch, Imagine we could save that for ourselves every month? I mean, we could have a phenomenal vacation in half year! That’s more than rent. That needs to go away. I am taking this as motivation to tackle and execute our debt, and trying to become overwhelmed by its crippling weight.
The first step in the Ramsey Program is to start $0 based budgeting. I started in March, and failed miserably. My excuse: my sister is here, I have to entertain her! I probably could have done it cheaper or with a coupon- but none the less, it isn’t her fault, and I am not going to beat myself up over it. Next month, I will stick to my budget! (Next month starts in a few days, and I will go more into how we budget after we have our monthly budget meeting)
The next step I took was getting current with my creditors- I was embarrassed to admit that I hadn’t paid my electric bill since I moved to St. Louis, and I owed $364. It may not seem like a lot, but that is a major chunk of my paycheck. I paid it off in a lump sum. Ramsey doesn’t even consider doing this a step, so I am calling it a hop, because, it was the first responsible money decision that I had made in a while.
You have to live like no one else, so later you can live like no one elseDave Ramsey, Total Money Makeover
The next step is to save an emergency fund of $1,000 as fast as you can. I am on that step now. It is hard not to spend the money I save. I am struggling, but part of it is realizing that money, is technically not mine because I owe money. It is also hard to commit to the idea I don’t need that pretty shower curtain from Urban Outfitters that is $40. Clear will be just fine for now, stop kidding yourself into justifying you deserve things, what you deserve is happiness and love. It’s foolish to think that only having a clear shower liner means that I am living like no one else, but I am living like I haven’t lived before. My mom always focused on making her, our home beautiful in every corner, and subconsciously I took that in and decided it was a truth:
Your home has to be aesthetically beautiful to achieve happiness.
My home is beautiful because I am in it, and it is a home because it is filled with the people, dogs, and plants that I love. It is exactly what I need because we all live here. And I am happy because I have people and love, not things and money. This home is the vibe I want, it has joy and I am content and humbled to be here.
Just an additional note, my mom wasn’t wrong to do that to her home, she was in a financial spot to do so, I however, am not, so it is wrong for me to pretend I am.
An additional, additional note, the point of having a $1000 emergency fund is so that you don’t use credit to cover an actually emergency. Moran and I have stopped using credit, per Dave’s advice. If you want to learn more about the steps and Dave’s method, read his book. I will briefly describe them and what they mean to me as I hit them .