It’s time for an update on the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University. After 3 weeks’ worth of DVD lessons (each lesson is about an hour lecture) and reading along in the book (he’s smart, it’s two different methods to deliver the same message.) I can see some changes taking place in our household.
I have always had my own little income (from teaching, writing, etc) that I manage and use to pay some monthly bills like the gym and yoga. But Marc’s income essentially keeps our boat afloat. I had always thought that I couldn’t do much with my income (typically under 30K year) because I used (wasted) it on “buying things for the house and kids.” When you take a good look at it, that’s a lot of things!
Then I listened to Dave’s lectures and I also (coincidentally) joined a Facebook group with the goal of not buying anything new in January. I’m not a big spender when it comes to buying things, but I am an impulsive spender – “oh, just look at this! It’s sooooo cute!!” I tend to bring home the adorable things just to share them with my kids (note to self, next time bring home a photo.)
The combination of Dave and the no-buy challenge has me now pausing before each purchase. Is this something I need or is it something I want? It’s not like I’m going to put myself into deprivation, but it’s realizing things like, I’ll be darned if I buy another bottle of body lotion before I use up the *dozens* we already have lying around the house.
I’ve noticed that the rest of the family is starting to get on board (to some degree.) I keep a glass jar on the mantel where any coins I find in the house (sofa , floor, spare change of mine, money I’ve found outside) get deposited. I’ve noticed that I’m not the only one putting change in there. At the end of the month, that money will be counted and put against our debt. It’s not much but it certainly counts.
I drove my son up to Vermont for college in Sunday and so I asked another son to write out the weekly food menu and then to shop for it (that’s how I’ve spent my Sunday mornings for decades.) I told him that he needed to keep the budget under $180 (our weekly food budget) and to do this, 2 of the meals should be pasta based and 1 should be a soup.
He did a great job (cod, stuffed clams and potatoes on Sunday, pizza-sloppy joes from scratch last night, and corn chowder with bread tonight) and was as pleased as punch that the total came to $120.
Great, I told him. Then put $60 on the mantle to cover things that you may have forgotten or that you need to restock during the week and whatever is leftover goes into the debt payment pile. Everyone was okay with this. In fact they were proud that through their planning and actions they could contribute.
What was being laughed at a few weeks ago (oh, it’s another one of Mom’s experiments – is now being acknowledged.)
As a family of 6 we have always been on a budget. I used to tell people that I knew how to squeeze a penny until it screamed. But as kids start moving out, as they get older, as time seems to get shorter, sometimes you convince yourself it’s okay to buy pizza for dinner (why not, only 4 people will be at dinner tonight?) That all adds up (and although the pizza was good, I kept thinking that with the money, I could have cooked a knock-it-out-the-ballpark meal.)
But when you’ve got kids seeing you watch the DVD’s and reading the book, and doing things like keeping an eye on how much is being spent, they see that you are serious.
And because they are members of the family, kids want to pitch in.
To date – I’ve been able to move $2000 of my money toward a credit card that got away from us (and yes, that was scary to do that because it had been sitting in an account “just in case.”) I have about $700 – $1000 – depending on costs) in another account for my emergency fund (and knowing that I have that money ready “just in case” made me feel a heck of a lot better about using the $2000.) Things are starting to sell on eBay, I have a few writing and teaching checks that are will be coming in and I’m watching my spending. At the end of the month, I’m sure I’ll have $500+ *more* (on top of our regular payment) to go toward our debt.)
Next month I anticipate even more. The take-away is that if you walk the talk, it will rub off on the family.
So keep walking, please keep walking.
Next week I’ll cover Lesson 3 –
Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com
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