Titles for this post could also be:
“How to get better with money so you have less stress and anxiety.”
“How to use money as a tool for the things you want to do instead of the the things you are obligated to do”
“I fixed my financial life, you can too”
“One great way to spend your Christmas money”
Regardless of the title, I want to take the last Money Monday entry of 2017 to talk about one thing:
Helping you get better with money.
What is your biggest financial concern?
Do you have enough savings?
Do you struggle to manage the day to day expenses?
Do you struggle with creating a budget that works for you?
Do you want to travel and do not have money?
Do you want to make a purchase but do not have the money?
Are you frustrated with the whole “give, save, spend” concept?
I understand, I’ve been through all of that.
Everything I teach people about money I’ve either been through myself or helped a client through. I had to figure out a way to learn differently about money, to change how I thought about money and, most importantly, believe that I deserved to have a life where money no longer stood in the way of my goals and dreams.
In December of 2009, I hit my financial rock bottom. I was putting Christmas on credit and realized it defeated the entire purpose of the Holiday. I had gotten so sucked into the commercialization of Christmas that I lost the true meaning of the Holiday. As a Christian, that bothered me. It bothered me so much I decided to do something about it. Actually, I had a God-thought that something needed to change. In retrospect, God had already given me the solution to my problem. A few months prior to December, my friend Katrina told me about Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University course. I wasn’t ready to hear her story – I mean, who gets out of debt and is excited about budgeting? My friend Katrina was, I thought she was weird.
I had a different idea – I would use my skillset as a former teacher and create a lesson plan for myself that would teach me how to “get better with money”. I read all the books from the popular financial experts at the time – Suze Orman, David Bach, Jim Cramer. I learned about budgeting, saving and making plans for our financial future and I created a lesson plan based on what I liked from each person.
It occurred to me that at some point Katrina would find out what I was doing (because, when I get excited about something, I tell people!) and so, to appease her, I should “throw in some of the Dave Ramsey stuff”
When I went to DaveRamsey.com and the website opened, I had this overwhelming feeling that this was exactly the plan I needed. The more I read about his story and the Baby Steps outlined in Financial Peace University, the more I just knew that I knew this was exactly what I needed to follow. Everything just resonated with me – a biblically based financial program, a “been there, done that” story and a step by step process that over one million people had gone through.
Just like I knew when I met my husband that I was going to marry him, I knew that the Financial Peace University (FPU) system was for me.
But, there was a problem. Two, actually. The first was that there was not an FPU class happening close to me. The second was that regardless of whether I took the class or did the home study course, it was going to cost money to buy the kit.
The cost was $99.
$99 that we didn’t have.
$99 that we weren’t going to get anytime soon.
I knew that I knew that I knew this was the right thing to do.
I also knew that we didn’t have money.
I felt defeated and I needed a better option.
The only thing I could think of was to take the money out of the December 31st paycheck. But, I reasoned, if I do that, we won’t have money for other things. We don’t have an “extra” $99 in that paycheck.
I knew that something needed to be done.
I knew that this was a huge risk.
I didn’t see any other way.
When I talked to my husband about it, we argued about spending the money. He didn’t see the need to spend $99 to take a course to learn how to get better with money. Sure, it didn’t make sense, why are we going to pay someone money to learn about money?
I knew our finances were in a bad place. I knew we needed to do something different. I was operating on the faith and the recommendation I had in my friend Katrina that this plan was going to work.
On December 31, 2009, I took $99 off the top of that paycheck and purchased the home study course of Financial Peace University. On January 1, 2010 I embarked on our “get better with money journey”. I took a huge risk spending money we didn’t really have to get this information so I had no other choice than to throw myself into learning and figuring out a way to make this work.
Failure to change was not an option.
One of the first things I needed to do was assess our situation. I had to know what I was dealing with in order to create a new plan to fix it.
Here was the situation:
Living paycheck to paycheck
No money in savings
No plan for our financial future
No sense of “planning ahead” for quarterly or yearly bills
We were not behind on bills but only because we used credit cards when we ran out of money before we ran out of month.
Those were the things I knew. It was still scary to write them down and assess the situation. Then, I had to go through the next step in the process, the debt snowball list.
This is a list where I write down all the debts we have, in order from smallest to greatest, not including the mortgage.
Lowes Home Improvement credit
Total debt: $43, 544
I wish I could remember exactly how many times I listed out all the debts and added, then re-added the numbers. Surely, I had made a mistake in my addition. Surely, the amount of debt we had was not that much. But, numbers don’t lie and that was, indeed, the amount of debt we had accrued. Once I had time to process the information, I had to tell my husband.
Ugh. How were we going to get out of this mess?
I’m really hoping that this process was going to work for us.
It took a few months to get traction. It took some time to create a budget that worked for us and learn how to follow it. As we followed the baby steps and began to see improvement, that gave us the motivation we needed to keep going. Eventually, I allowed myself to set a date by which we would be debt free:
September 27, 2013 – my 40th birthday.
I wanted to be debt free by 40. That was my goal.
On September 27th, 2013, we made the last payment to Sallie Mae at 9am and then called into The Dave Ramsey show at 2pm to do our
Debt Free Scream! (Click HERE to listen, scroll down to the video on the home page)
That risk that I took really paid off for us but only because we followed the process and began to believe that it was going to work for us.
That $99 investment has returned immeasurable dividends:
Living paycheck to paycheck Not anymore!
No money in savings Not anymore!
No plan for our financial future We are investing for our retirement!
No budget We have created a budget that we follow!
No sense of “planning ahead” for quarterly or yearly billsWe are no longer “surprised” by long-term bills
We were not behind on bills but only because we used credit cards.
when we ran out of money before we ran out of the month
We no longer use credit cards to fill in gaps and we are not behind on bills.
I started my business, Melissa the Coach, on January 1, 2012.
We completely remodeled our kitchen – PAID FOR IN CASH!
I’ve purchased TWO vehicles – PAID FOR IN CASH!
We’ve been on vacation – PAID FOR IN CASH!
I’ve been to nineteen Elton John concerts (since 2010) – five during our debt free journey and fifteen after we became debt free –
PAID FOR IN CASH!
We’ve been able to financially provide for opportunities that our boys wanted to pursue. We have conversations about money, not arguments. We have, indeed, experienced a life of Financial Peace – less stress, less worry, less anxiety.
We give more, save more and spend more.
And, we have experienced the greatest return we will ever have on our investment – the only way that our boys know about handling money is The Dave Ramsey way. All they have ever known is “debt is dumb”, “cash is King” and that they give, save, then spend. In that order.
They will be the first generation on either side of our family to not have any debt, to have a healthy savings account and know how to create and follow a budget that works for them.
That $99 investment I couldn’t afford to make really paid off!
So, what does that mean for you?
It means that if you are ready to “get better with money”, I’m asking you to make an investment in yourself – the same investment I made.
It’s not a self-directed online course or a group class. I provide a one-hour session of private coaching. Then, we’ll do a couple of weeks of follow up to make sure you stay on track.
The session can be in person or over the phone.
Is 2017 the year you decide to change your money habits and experience a life where money is a tool to get you to where you want to go?
If you are ready to make those changes, I’m ready to help you. The greatest investment you will ever make is the investment in yourself.
Make that investment today and secure the 2016 fee schedule rates.
Ready to make 2017 your year? Click HERE