This post was first published on June 5, 2008.
I love reading your blogs full of excitement about looking into Dave Ramsey’s concept of financial freedom. The idea of a “total money makeover” truly has been eye-opening and freeing for our little family. We never relied heavily on debt, but we still never thought we could actually be financially fit. It always seemed like something other people were able to do, but not us.
You know what else? Working this plan has provided other unexpected side effects. And they’re wonderful. Here are a few:
1. My husband and I both work out our finances together. I’m still the budget maker and bill payer in the family, but since we make the decisions on how the money is allotted, we have to make the time to communicate, come to an agreement, and project our monthly financial plans. We’re more unified in our marriage than we’ve ever been.
2. We eat healthier. Again, this has never been a major issue, since I prefer cooking from scratch, but because fresh ingredients are cheaper (in the long run) than boxed food, we eat well. And we eat frugally! I’ll write more on our monthly menu plans in the near future.
3. We have less stuff. Because every dollar is accounted for in our zero-based budget, we know whether we have the funds to buy that random coffee cup or candle. More often than not, we don’t even want that kind of clutter-fying stuff because we have written down financial goals. And those are far more important than those cute dessert plates at Target. Every cent counts.
4. Because we have less stuff, our home is easier to clean. Our small amount of storage space (in our one closet) is mostly well-organized, we know where things are, and surfaces are basically empty. This makes cleaning much quicker.
5. And because we have less stuff, our home is also more visually serene. It’s a simple place without much clutter, so it’s usually peaceful.
6. We talk about money with our daughter. Sure, she’s only 3, but she can understand basic concepts. She’ll be aware of our family’s financial goals because we’re okay with talking out loud about money with her. It’s not a taboo topic, because money’s not scary to us.
8. We have goals – financial goals – and they’re reachable! It might take awhile, but I don’t doubt we’ll have 6 months of expenses in savings, at least a 20% down payment for a house, and plenty for retirement when the time comes. Knowing that they are possible breeds excitement about the future and contentment in the present.
9. We have some money to spend on whatever we want, guilt-free. In our monthly budget we’ve allotted a small amount for each of us to spend on anything at any time. Passing by a Starbucks and craving a latte? If I have personal money left still in the month’s budget, I can buy one without feeling like I’m blowing cash on stuff I should be using for the electric bill. It’s in the budget.
10. I know more financial stuff. Before my introduction to Dave Ramsey, Roth IRAs, escrow, mutual funds, ESAs and 529s, and even sinking funds were really confusing. But because he targets the average American with little financial knowledge, it’s simple enough for me to understand. And cooler than that, I actually enjoy flexing my financial smarts. I feel in control because I get it.
I’m not saying all this to specifically advocate Dave Ramsey. I’m just encouraging you to take control of your family’s finances. But I also want to convince you that you can understand money – and Dave Ramsey just might be the best teacher for you.
And if you find a workable plan for handling your money, you might also be surprised to find other unexpected blessings flowing your way.
What’s the hardest part of money management, in your opinion? What’s been your experience with budgeting, good or bad?