Step #1

As part of my life revitalization (a.k.a. budgeting and organization), I’ve finally boarded the Dave Ramsey train.  I guess I am like so many people who think they’re okay, but they have no idea what the real numbers are for their finances. Nothing opens your eyes like putting pencil to paper and doing the math (and having to drag out the calculator because that just can’t be right!!!)

I got on the Dave Ramsey website and started looking at the steps to take and I knew I had a long way to go.   After feeling quite overwhelmed I started listening to the podcast.  Oh gosh.  I quickly realized I wasn’t $100,000 in debt like some other people, so I instantly felt better. Now, I had still have some credit card and medical debt, which is less than $1,000, but on my income that’s still a lot of money owed.  I also need about $1,300 in car repairs done to my little old man of a car.

I knew something had to be done, so I did what any person would do when they realize they have been doing it all wrong:  I went into denial and bought myself a cheeseburger. 

Not long afterward, I set up my budget and realized how much I spent on going out to eat.   Well, $60 a month is way too much when I’m hand-to-mouthing it every month.  I had to start swallowing my pride and going by the plan. 

Since baby step #1 is to get a $1000 emergency fund, I started there.   Here are some of the steps that have worked for me, so far:

1.  Quit eating out.  After seeing the cash that went out the door, I realized PB&J wasn’t so bad.  5 days in a row got pretty rough, so I swapped out something else one day and gave myself a reprieve.  I’ve also noticed that a kid’s meal will fill me up just fine. The bonus is that it’s half the cost and comes with a toy for Beanster.  Win-win.  (Hello, Chick-Fil-A!)

2.  Stop buying junk. There are so many emotional purchases I make after a bad day or when I’m feeling low or when I’ve watched ads and decide “hey, I neeeeed that!”  Nope.  When I became honest with myself, I realized all the lies I’d told myself about “wants vs. needs”.  I actually have a lot less needs than I thought. This frees up so much more cash for actual needs 

3.  Don’t give into kids’ demands.  Beanster thinks he needs every single toy that hits the shelves.  Nope. He thinks he needs to eat out often. I know I’ve created part of this (and kids just want everything their friends have).  It’s now my job to reverse this.  I make him go play with the toys he already had and I use going out to eat as a reward for positively reinforced behavior.  He has started playing with his toys a lot more (and if I’m not shopping for junk I have more time to play with him which makes him ask for less toys).  

4.  Don’t use credit cards and use cash whenever possible.  I only have 1 credit card that I actively use and that’s for gas and any bill I can’t fully cover.  Yes, it’s going to come back on me, but I have drastically reduced its use and have freed up more money to pay bills. I also love plastic, because paper hurts so much more to let go of.  I took a little bit of cash out to use for groceries after the bills were paid.  I won’t buy on impulse now.  Not easy-peasy, but the reward of not having to check the bank account everyday to see if you’ve overdrafted (a huge relief) makes it worth it.

There is so much freedom when you radically change your mindset about your finances. They aren’t your enemy, the way you use them makes you your own enemy.  

In my next post I will go over some ways I have actively saved money outside of deferred gratification.  🙂

Peace and love, everyone!

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