I figure that after months of talking about starting the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University that it would be a good exercise in accountability to discuss our journey.
Financial Peace University is a weekly course that takes place over the course of 9 weeks; if you're interested in checking it out, you can go to his website www.DaveRamsey.com and search for nearby classes. We're taking ours through our church.
We had a date last night to do the Week 1 homework, which included in completing the quick start budget and totaling up our debt & cash on hand. We also read the first chapter of The Complete Guide to Money. I figured this was going to be a rough exercise, but necessary.
I'm not comfortable sharing the exact numbers of our situation, but I will say that our cash on hand is about 10% of the debt, which is a very unsettling thought. However, we both knew that if we want to get debt-free we would have to come face-to-face with the facts.
So after dealing with the hard numbers, we made a nice dinner and drank some wine. The toast was to "Financial Freedom." We started our marriage debt free, and we're both ready to get back to that.
Then we decided to focus on the positive steps we've already taken. Since we knew that we'd be taking this class, we started working on a few things last month. Here's where we've done so far:
- We've completed Baby Step 1. If you're unfamiliar with the Dave Ramsey's Baby Steps, the first step is to save $1000. Luckily, we've had that sitting in a money market for years; we just had to declare it the Emergency Fund.
- We're already meal planning and shopping the grocery sales with coupons. For us, food is one of the biggest discretionary parts of our budget. We decided a while ago that we were eating out way too often; so, we're working on reducing it. I wrote a post about meal planning a while ago if you want to see what we do.
- We've started working on the debt snowball. I know this is a couple lessons/chapters down the road, but my former business partner had explained the concept to me so we decided to start throwing all the extra money that we could at the credit card statements, starting with the highest interest card.
- What can we do to grow our income to help pay the debt down faster?
So, here are a few things that we need to figure out over the next few weeks:
- What is the big "why;" are we on the same page about long-term goals? Do we need to adjust timelines on any of these goals?
- What constitutes an emergency?
- What parts of our current monthly expenses can we start reducing? How much do we want to allow for some of the discretionary expenses such as clothing and entertainment?
What's one financial goal your family has? If you have to give up one splurge to get on track financially, what would it be?