If you would have told me a year ago that my finances would be in their present condition, I would have laughed and called you crazy! Last February, I read The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey and it completely changed the trajectory of my financial path.
This may seem like a break from my usual organizing book reviews but getting your finances organized and in order is more important than cleaning out any closet or drawer. When your finances are out of order you inevitably feel stressed and out of control. The clutter on your counters is the least of your worries (unless of course the bills are the items causing the clutter on your counters)!
In all honesty, this time last year, I felt like I was sinking under insurmountable financial obstacles. We had gotten ourselves into a financial mess that looked and felt hopeless. I felt I had no power to change the situation we were in, so I prayed. I should have done that a lot sooner because I soon found hope. That hope came with a peace that God is our provider and we soon had a plan to move forward.
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
As I read reading The Total Money Makeover I realized that I could change things, not everything, but I could make a difference in some areas. I decided that I had 2 choices, bemoaning our situation and wringing my hands or being brave and taking responsibility for what I could change; my choice was clear. I focused on the circumstances I had contol over. This gave hope in a seemly hopeless situation.
In his book, Dave Ramsey gives a step by step plan, called Baby Steps, to get out of debt and become financially secure. One aspect of the plan is to get on a monthly written budget and using the envelope system, only spend cash on the categories you tend to overspend in. My parents had used the envelope system back in the day so is wasn’t an entirely new concept, but I was surprised by what a difference it made. You really do spend less when you are spending your hard earned cash rather than swiping your debit or credit card.
We used the budgeting forms in the back of the book to buckle down and cut our spending to a minimum. I began to pay attention and really count where every penny was going. I became so focused and my poor hubby stuck to it too, even when my penny counting got a bit extreme. Taking active steps towards change put us in control and gave us a sense of power that is hard to describe.
We also took the Financial Peace course through our church. The FPU class prompted us to communicate more then we ever had before. Even though D and I never really fought about money before this class, we still found it incredibly helpful. We ended up having some pretty strong discussions that ultimately strengthened our marriage. We had to hash things out while working together to achieve our goal. Truthfully, this is what we looked like at times.
I can’t discuss our complete 180 throughout our finances without focusing on Gods’ provisions. Each time I struggled with faith, I was shocked time and time again by the miracles, both big and small, that were going on around us. I don’t want to get into numbers but there is no denying that we had some miracles!
For one, we won a contest. I mean, who ever wins those things! The number of things that aligned just perfectly that day for us to win is amazing. It is another story for a different day. But I’m still amazed to say that the amount we won, plus another unexpected check, was the exact amount we needed to pay off the final debt! We are now debt free except for our home mortgage!
I am not saying everything is perfect. There are still many unknowns and we have more work to do, but we are sitting in a much better position than would have ever been possible without sticking to an organized plan. It is inconvenient, it is not fun, but when you come through to the other side you have a sense of pride and freedom that couldn’t have come without that earlier storm.
My goal in sharing this very personal story and how I connected to this book is to offer encouragement to those who are feeling financially hopeless. I could have never imagined the change that occurred in just one year. If we can do it, and others have done it, you can do it too! If I could share the same feeling that I have now with just one person, it is all worth it.
So how do you organize your finances? Any other Dave Ramsey fans living like no one else?
*check out my high tech envelope system – Spend app