Chapter 4 – Find the puppy
The theme of Chapter/Lesson 4 in Dave Ramsey’s Financial University is that Debt is the most aggressively and successfully marketed product in history. Dave spends the lesson talking about paying down your debt, but before he can get you to change your behavior, he takes a lot of time giving examples of how debt is marketed to us. Although he does a good job, I have a few examples of my own to add.
- Wendy’s restaurant is currently running a 4 for $4 special. For $4 you get a burger, chicken tenders, fries, and a soda. No matter how you slice it, that’s one item too many. Why do you need to eat a burger *and* chicken tenders for a meal? They count on you paying more because it’s a deal. Not only is it bad for your budget but this one is also bad for your waistline. You just don’t need it.
- When I told a friend of mine that I was working on eliminating our credit cards and only keeping our debit cards, her advice was to keep a card “just for emergencies.” The problem with that is just what constitutes an emergency? Out late at night and need to eat? Something’s on a sale that you just can’t say no to? When you have a backup like that it’s too easy to talk yourself into using it.
The bottom line is that Debt is bad. It’s not sexy, it doesn’t make you more desirable, it’s a dead weight on your shoulders – on your life and you should do everything you can to get rid of it.
In my case it means:
- We’re not having dinners out for a while (that’s okay, I’m a pretty good cook)
- I’m staying away from the bookstore (books are my drug of choice) and if I have to get a book, I’m going to the used book store. (Oh and I’ve talked to the used book store about selling some of my older books.)
- I’m still plugging away on eBay. The money that trickles in goes toward rebuilding my $1000 emergency fund (it’s recovered some from paying cash for a new washer and dryer) and anything that’s left over goes toward out debt.
- I have a chicken workshop scheduled in the spring – that money is already allocated to our debt (out of sight out of mind) I won’t even be touching it.
- I have a teaching check coming in soon, I plan on buying a new fit bit (mine is cracked) and anything that’s left over goes toward debt.
You see handling debt is not about deprivation. I work – I make money. I want to get a new Fitbit because it’s something that I want and use on a daily basis. Because it’s my money and I control it, I can buy a Fitbit and *still* put money away. Getting on top of debt is all about making choices and asking yourself that very important question for every single purchase – would I rather buy an item now or work on paying off my debt?
For me, paying off the debt is far more important and so with very few exceptions, that’s my goal.
Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com
Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.
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Lesson 3 in Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University is all about creating budgets. (This follows Chapter 3 in his Complete Guide to Money book – which I saw at Costco this week for 12.99 – just sayin’)
I thought I was pretty good at making a budget (in my head) but when I sat down and put it on paper I realized that I had a little work to do. Dave tells us that the first month, your budget will not work.
Huh! I was going to prove him wrong. I was going to be an A+ student in this class. I took my anticipated monthly income and *before* it was deposited in the bank I sat down and allocated funds to bills and expenses. I even set aside $100 during the month for “Mad Money.” My goal was to have about $500 extra at the end of the month to put toward our debt. Continue reading
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! Continue reading
This week I watched Lesson 2 and read its corresponding chapter – Relating with Money – nerds and free spirits unite in the book.
Dave is a funny guy. He has a knack of taking a tense topic and quickly defusing it. And if the topic of money is not tense then you’ve never had to pay a bill, a mortgage, or for an emergency room visit. I believe him when he says that financial stress is the reason behind many divorces.
It’s tough not having the money to make repairs, or go on vacation, or even buy the “optional” team sweatshirt because money is tight. Marc and I have been lucky, for the most part we’ve had enough money, but there have been some tough times. Handling a chronic (and very expensive ) illness, losing my work during the recession (depression) around 2009 and just trying to keep up with the many, many needs of growing kids. And now, we’re trying to juggle the high costs of college.
I think it’s fair to say that Marc and I will never get the chance to know that “new car smell.” Continue reading
As I said I would after the holidays, I’ve started the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University home edition (it comes with all the materials, DVDs and CDs.) Marc and I make a decent income but as anyone who has children knows (and especially anyone who has 6 children) even when you watch pennies, there never seems to be enough money.
I started by watching DVD Lesson 1, which, as it turns out is an overview of the course (there are 7 specific steps he outlines) and an attempt to “sell” the course to the audience (whom I assume has the option of signing up or not.) The lesson is about an hour long, he makes his case and basically, like a book’s overview, he tells you where he will be leading you through the program.
I had already read one of his books earlier and was fairly familiar with his financial approach, but it’s tough not to learn new things from Dave especially when he is a master at using personal stories and props. He starts off with the first dining table he and his wife bought when they were first married and brought us through the experience of being married, having kids and then having the table turn from a place of contentment for the family to a place of discord once the bills started to (literally) take over the table. I’m not sure I know of anyone who can’t relate to that story. And then using oversized scissors he tells the story of getting into trouble by using a credit card “only for emergencies” and then cuts the card in half.
He is very good at being relatable.
Dave pulls no punches when he talks about his first step which is the $1000 emergency fund. He calls it one of the easiest yet one of the hardest steps to take – easiest because in the scheme of things, it’s not really that difficult to raise $1000. (Which is also why I’ll be going over eBay basics on Thursdays. eBay is a great way to declutter and raise cash.), but it’s also the most difficult because it means that that money is for emergencies only. For some people that seem to have holes in their pockets when it comes to money this may be a new concept.. You can’t use the emergency fund for a sale, you can’t use it to buy the kids’ new clothes (you should have budgeted for that already – kids grow), it’s only for a true emergency It’s also a very strong statement that you are committed to giving this 7 step method a try. All in or out. Continue reading