Now that I’m doing a total money makeover, these are my mantras: Nothing is as stylish as debt-free living. 40ish and debt-free is what I aspire to be. Nothing is as tasty as living life debt-free. Financial fitness is SO hot right now.
Which direction does your money-deviant behavior trend? Do you overspend on style, food, or something else? Chris (my fiance) and I aren’t too into material possession. We love great food, crave convenience, and do overspend on style a little.
Correction: we did overspend on style.
Our failed financial diet:
Chris and I had tried doing the debt snowball once. We saw some success, then dropped the ball. Neither one of us can remember why. All we can do is hypothesize.
Maybe it was stress. Deviance digs stress, because it’s easy prey. Maybe it was lack of buy-in. Last time, I had read most of Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness. Then, I told Chris about parts of it. Doing the debt snowball suggested by the book made sense, so we tried it…kind of.
At 40, I’ve had enough life experience to know that if one is going to kind of do something or try to do something, the results will not be optimal. In plain-speak, they’ll be half-assed. For decent results, it’s best to decide and commit.
What’s the debt snowball?
It’s the second step in The Total Money Makeover. In it, you list your debts from smallest to greatest. While maintaining and keeping up with regular payments on your debts, you increase your payments (or payoff) your smallest debt. Then, you take whatever the payment was for the smallest debt and add that to the amount you pay to the new smallest debt.
This brings me to the third possible problem, we hadn’t committed to step one: starting an emergency fund. Ramsey recommends starting an emergency fund that has $1,000 in it reserved only for emergencies. Later in the book, he encourages readers to grow it.
What will be different this time?
We listened to the audiobook version of The Total Money Makeover on our way home from St. Louis, Missouri. I drove the first leg of the journey home and let Chris know my intent to listed to the book. He had work to do, so he was on his laptop helping customers and listening to music. As he finished up his work for the day, he started listening to parts of the book with me. Then, he stopped working and gave it his full attention. I was shocked.
I thought Chris would make fun of, or be annoyed by the intensity Dave speaks with. It can sound cheesy at times. Or, roll his eyes at Dave’s references to the Bible and Christianity. Chris is agnostic and a skeptic. To my surprise and delight, Chris wanted to keep listening when we switched drivers.
The book ended an hour before we arrived home. I opened my laptop and started a spreadsheet. We talked about saving money, paying off debt, and limiting our adventures for a time. Recent past choices that were unwise came up. Should we really have leased a brand new car for me? Did we need to purchase a new house right when we did?
Then we discussed expenditures that we could cut.
Style: Chris cancelled his Menlo Club subscription ($60/month). As soon as my most recent rentals arrive back at Rent the Runway, I’ll be cancelling my Unlimited subscription ($171.52/month). Instead of having my hair blowcombed once a week ($55 – $65 each time), I can deal with once every two weeks. Maybe. We’ll see. I might change my mind on that. There’s something about being at a salon and having my hair done that lifts my spirit. It costs much less than counseling, and my therapist (as good as he is) has no idea how to do hair.
Food: We’ve been better than we were, but not as good as we are capable of being in that area. I tend to overspend at the grocery store, because I don’t budget. I write a shopping list and check our supplies at home before I go. I haven’t been paying much attention to prices. I know I’m capable of grocery shopping within a budget. I’ve loved not thinking much about it. Living debt free and having financial peace of mind makes budgeting worth it.
Our eating out expenses have included: daily morning coffee and/or bagel runs ($10 – $20), lunch out once per week on average ($25), date night dinner and drinks ($100) every Monday night, Friday night out with family and friends ($100 – $150) every other week. We’ve been spoiling ourselves while compounding our stress.
Fitness: We’ll keep the Rochester Athletic Club membership. I’ll be cancelling my Asana Rebel and Yoga Is memberships. Once a class on DailyOM is purchased access to the classes is forever. If you’re on a budget and you want to do online yoga, I highly recommend Sadie Nardini’s classes on there.
We will stop trying and start committing.
That’s the plan. Today we fly out to San Francisco and plan to relax and enjoy as we get one of his son’s settled in at college. Sunday we fly to Atlanta to handle some family business. We should be back home late Monday night. Tuesday, the gazelle like focus and intensity that Dave Ramsey encourages will begin.