Let’s get out of debt together! Why? Because misery loves company and being saddled with debt is miserable.
Debt is something we all know about but rarely discuss. The subject is often taboo in mixed company and is the source of many arguments in relationships and marriages. In fact money problems is one of the top causes for divorce in America.
KEEP THE MAIN THING, THE MAIN THING
Married couples need to learn to disagree, agreeably. Respectfully disagree. My conversation about how my husband and I are getting out of debt is not about marriage woes. We are not unique though so I do want to mention the reality of the debt conversation in a marriage does cause disagreements. Those can and should be resolved. The two of you are on the same team so be sure you keep the main thing, the main thing. Don’t get side tracked by wanting to be the one who is right.
FINANCIAL PEACE UNIVERSITY
Our church was offering the Financial Peace University class by Dave Ramsey so we signed up. Frankly, we didn’t know exactly what it was about but we knew it was about Biblical teachings of money management. Our classes began in January and isn’t that perfect. New year, new financial goals and plans!
Dave Ramsey gives his testimony in the first video shown in class. It is powerful and his mistakes will resonate with many.
Going to class is great because, you are in the company of many others who are doing exactly the same thing you are and for the same reason. We all want to be better stewards of the finances we have been blessed with. Plus we would like to know some proven methods we can implement to live a more comfortable worry free life.
Our first class was so full of folks, they had to bring in extra chairs. We wound up moving to a larger class room for the remainder of the course. People of all ages down to very young adults and up to beyond retirement age attended. There is a link for FPU at the end of this post under Resources.
CREDIT EQUALS DEBT
Do you remember when you were first starting out in life as an adult? The thing you really wanted to do first was to establish some credit so you could buy yourself some things.
Now you have too many things and lots of debt to prove it. Yeah, we did that too. I remember my very first credit card ever was a store card with a limit of about $200.
Now we have the debt to prove that we have good credit. Credit equals debt folks. Now we need to learn to live a cash life again.
THE ZERO DOLLAR BUDGET
One of the first things taught at FPU (Financial Peace University) is to create a Zero Dollar Budget for your home.
Zero-based budgeting is when all your income minus all your expenses equals zero. This means that all the money going out should be the same amount as the money coming in.*
Pause right here for a moment. It is true that you do not want to go into next month flat broke and this sounds like what we would be doing. Not true. What it really means is that all of your money is accounted for and what that means is that when you make your new budget, you will not leave out any categories whatsoever!
CREATING THE BUDGET
My husband created our new budget and then we sat down together and had our first finance committee meeting. FPU teaches that couples meet regularly to discuss the budget and call it their finance committee meeting. I know that seems a little humorous but trust me, it works.
Our first meeting consisted of tweaking the budget to add in categories which may have been overlooked. We added Birthdays and Veterinarian visits. Since it is hard to say what a Vet visit might be, we set that budget high. Our puppies were due to be neutered so that is an expense which will occur only once but it had to be budgeted for.
It takes about three months to really tweak the new budget into one that will last the year. We may yet still come across things we forgot to add and need to make some minor changes. We both know this so we can make those changes peacefully.
ADD UP ALL OF YOUR DEBT EXCEPT MORTGAGE
The first thing we did was to total up all of our debt except our mortgage. We made a list of our debt beginning with the lowest balance and ending with the highest balance.
Our first four weeks have been fruitful. We completed Baby Step 1 in FPU which is to save $1,000 for emergencies and we paid off the debt with the lowest balance which around $2,800!
HOW WE ARE DOING IT
The two biggest things we did right away which allowed us to throw lots of money at debt was to Budget groceries better and stick to an eating out budget!
We were spending far to much at the grocery store by not budgeting or meal planning. We were occasional meal planners but when life gets busy, we would go out to eat or just get what made life easier from the grocery store. Now we are sticking to our meal plan and sticking to our grocery budget too!
Eating out has become more of a treat for us than a habit on weekends. We are staying home on weekends. As it turns out, we love staying home! We began this journey in the winter so cuddling up in front of a Netflix series has been fun. Have you seen The Crown on Netflix? We are still binge watching it on Saturdays.
Progress begets hope! Having paid off our first debt has fueled our fire to keep going. The next thing we will be doing is selling some things and I will tell you about it when we do.
In the meantime, I recommend Financial Peace University. There is no compensation in it for me to recommend FPU. Below under RESOURCES, I have linked where you can find classes in your area. If there are no classes you can attend in person, you can take the class online. It costs more online. Churches offer a discounted price when they offer the class. Generally speaking, you don’t have to attend a church to take the class there.
RESOURCES FOR BECOMING DEBT FREE
- Financial Peace University Classes (scroll down on the page for the box to enter your zip code to find classes near you)
- Everydollar.com is a site to help you create your budget and track your progress and goals.
Dave Ramsey Books on Amazon (affiliate links)
*Definition of Zero Dollar Budget by everydollar.com
FOLLOW MY STORY OF BECOMING DEBT FREE
The average American family is about $38,000 in debt. We fit into the definition of average. Isn’t that wonderful! Remember, this is non-mortgage debt we are talking about. It does include car payments and all other debt. Sign up for my newsletter to follow my story. I will be sharing our tips and tricks and what is working for us along with our progress on the blog but I generally spill the beans quicker in my newsletter. Scroll down for the simple sign up form.