Monday, May 7, 2012

Starting Our Total Money Makeover

As of June 1st, we are "stuck" in the same rental house for yet another year. Because of that, we have made many family changes, the biggest one being our budget. Knowing that we would not be able to purchase a house before our lease expiration threw us into a determined frenzy to get us out of this situation.

It's not that our rental house is a bad place. It's not. The neighborhood is nice and we're happy with the schools. The house needs a lot of work done to it but it is structurally sound, roomy enough and comfortable. It's just not...ours.

We decided to buckle down and start saving money. But creating a budget made us take a good hard look at our household expenses and our debt...all of our consumer debt and student loans. If we got rid of our debt, we could do so much more! We had a new mission - to become debt-free!

To make a VERY long story short, we have started The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. This debt-elimination plan isn't one of those "get rich quick" schemes and it doesn't claim to be "easy". This plan makes sense. It is realistic. It is cheap (as in FREE - even the book was borrowed from the library). It doesn't have all that crazy money vocabulary that either confuses me or puts me to sleep. And after only a few weeks, we are already seeing results. We've already paid off one credit card (yes, paid OFF) and one student loan (it was a small one). Two bills down, eight to go!

I don't usually talk about money with anyone, but this plan (and our progress so far) has gotten me really excited about it. I also figured that if I posted our new goal for all the world to see, it would be harder to back out.

I've been trying to find ways to teach the "Pickles" about money - earning, saving, spending, donating, budgeting, etc. The Boy is a "saver" but he's interested in spending OPM (Other People's Money). He's been working hard on his ability to convince me to spend MY money instead of him having to spend his OWN money. The Girl is a "spender". Plain and simple. It doesn't matter who the money belongs to, she's very willing to spend it the first chance she gets.

Creating a strict family budget for the family has gotten the "Pickles" involved in our debt-elimination goal as well. They know we won't be going out to eat like we used to (if at all). They know that family outings to theme parks and movie theaters will be few and far between. They found out how serious I was when I flatly refused to even look at the school book fair (I love taking them to book fairs) and when a month had passed and I still had not stepped foot in a thrift store (where I do my best shopping). I took them to the grocery store with a list of 3 items and we were in and out within 5 minutes. They were thrilled (they hate the grocery store).

We DO have a meal plan made out a month in advance (which has made dinner prep MUCH less stressful) and I've been putting more time into building up my own business to help to increase our income. I have also been looking for more and more ways to decease our household expenses.

I like the changes that have been made. I know it will be a long hard road ahead, but even if we're still sitting here next year signing yet another lease extension on our house, as long as our debt is disappearing, I'll be happy.

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