Debt is as American as baseball and hot dogs. You would be hard-pressed to find someone completely without some student loan or car payment. Up until about a year ago, I personally didn’t think twice about toting around this ball and chain because it just felt like these were the “bills,” but we were just cycling through the months without an actual plan. My husband and I had decent incomes but still found ourselves wondering where the money went. Things felt sloppy, and we grew tired of working so much and feeling like we had nothing to show for it. Throughout the first half of last year, disorganization was costing us big time and enough was enough when our air conditioning went out in August, I needed new brakes for my car, and surprise! We found out I was pregnant with our third child all in a span of about two weeks. Instead of excitement, panic set in and we were finally fed up.
Our pastor at church did a sermon on finances and that same day we signed up for Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University that was being hosted there as well.
There are the people who don’t need to go through the class to follow his “baby steps,” but me? I needed all the accountability I could get. We had “homework” and were encouraged in the class to discuss our “wins.” Even if that small win was avoiding the bargain section of Target or getting your child’s Halloween costume secondhand and coming in under budget. (Whoop whoop!) But the major theme for starting the process of getting out of debt, staying motivated, and not getting back into debt is identifying your why. I know when my husband and I share our whys, it’s so much easier to stay on track. Some of our whys include being able to travel, invest, and give more. We have to verbally discuss these whys and then it’s easier to say no to eating out when we have food at home. This process has also taught contentment in a way I hadn’t noticed before! If something doesn’t immediately spark joy (are you tired of this phrase yet?) when I buy it but it’s a “great deal” (again I’m looking at you bargain section), I’m A) most likely spending money that’s allocated someplace else, B) bringing something else in the house that in some way or form I’ll be responsible for and my plate is already full, and C) failing my own, personal test of self-control and discipline. Two things, at even in my thirties, I need practice refining.
I’m very proud of our progress so far. We’re halfway out of our starting hole in just seven months while cash flowing a new baby. Our other air unit went out ::eyeroll:: but we were able to fix it without going into debt. My husband and I feel like we’re on the same team with money and have the same finish-line where before there was mainly finger pointing on who was more irresponsible. Our kids understand that the word “no” is a complete sentence and it’s because we refuse to set that negative financial example for them anymore. That may be the biggest WHY of all.