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10 surprising side effects to money management

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.

7. We’re actually aware of where we are financially.

We know our net worth. We know exactly how much we’ll have set aside for Christmas this year. That’s a great feeling. Such peace.

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.

I normally post a new poll each Thursday, but I’m going to leave the current one up one more day, since it pertains to this topic. I’d love to hear your answer!

Coming soon on Simple Mom – a step-by-step, fool-proof method for making and maintaining a budget for your family’s finances. And a big giveaway for a great tool that – get this – will even make budgeting fun. It’s a big one – the prize is for life! You won’t want to miss it.

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  1. Emily

    Great post! I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I feel today and I think a lot of it is tied to having really taken control of our finances and given ourselves a purpose with our money. The benefits of being financially aware are really great. Thanks for verbalizing it so perfectly here.

    Emilys last blog post..A Simple Girl

  2. simplemom

    Thanks, Emily. I didn’t know I was going to write about this when I woke up this morning, actually. I loved reading people’s posts about just being introduced to all these concepts, and it reminded me of all the extras that go with being financially healthy. That’s awesome that you’re feeling it, too.

  3. Julia

    Dave Ramsey really helped me when we first got married. The first thing we did was pay off all of our college/grad school loans. Even though some relatives, etc. thought it would have been wiser to keep the loans and invest in a house, I have always felt so great about being debt-free and slowly saving again for that 20% down. I even called and was on the Dave Ramsey radio show a couple years ago! I was so nervous! Haha.

    Julias last blog post..New from BlaBlaKids: Boogaloo Dolls

  4. simplemom

    @Julia – That’s so cool! Did you call to ask a question, or did you scream “I’m debt free!”?

  5. Julia

    I called to ask a question- whether I should be doing the IRA part before I had my 20% down for the house- the answer was no- I could skip that until I had the 20% down. But I also said we were debt-free and I suddenly realized he might make me scream that but he didn’t! Thank God- I’m not the screaming type. Actually, I first emailed my question (you know how he sometimes reads emailed questions), but his producer called me and asked if I’d like to ask it on the air.

    Julias last blog post..New from BlaBlaKids: Boogaloo Dolls

  6. Rachel@SmallNotebook

    I think for me it was a revelation to know it was ok to spend money guilt-free if you had planned for it and had it. I had always been so frugal, so it was a relief to find a balance.

    Rachel@SmallNotebooks last blog post..Flavorful Food without Milk

  7. sevenjobs

    Great! Everything you wrote is fine with me! Our german Mr. Ramsey called Bodo Schäfer, but he teaches the same.
    My husband and I are reading his book in the evening and restructured our financial goals.
    We have very good experience in takling with our children about money we have and money we do not have. So they accept a ‘No’ if they asked for a second ice or a McDonalds hamburger.

    sevenjobss last blog post..Wieviel Schlaf braucht eigentlich ein Kind?

  8. Pete

    Thanks for this post, its encouraging to see some of the positive side-effects of becoming more financially aware. We’re currently taking Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, and it is eye opening, and a whole new way to look at finances.
    Great post, thank you for the pick-me-up!

    Petes last blog post..Reaching the tipping point

  9. Sarah Bray

    I love Dave Ramsey’s system, but the problem we’ve had is that we don’t have any more time or any more income potential right now (full time school/full time work/full time kids!) so we’re pretty limited as far as paying down debt goes. There are some months when we HAVE to use the credit card, because we just don’t make enough to cover expenses. We don’t have a car payment, but we definitely have debt. Ughh.

    I can’t wait to get started when my husband gets a “real” job! Right now, he has a job mowing lawns at the university that he goes to…it doesn’t pay much, but it has the benefit of paying for 75% of his tuition. So we just focus on being as frugal as possible for now.

    Sarah Brays last blog post..An anniversary of meager proportions

  10. Amy

    We are trying to cut down on our clutter and what I am finding is that our life is so much richer without it. I try to be more choosy about what we bring into our home and that has saved us a great deal of money. Looking around, I am seeing that we have all we really need right now.

    I really like Dave Ramsey, although I am not a die-hard like some people. I have found great advice from Mary Hunt though and she seems to fit with my family’s personality and lifestyle just a little better. What is important is that you find a plan that you can work with and try- that’s all anyone can do 🙂

    Great post!

    Amys last blog post..Notebook Experiments: Blueberry Muffins & Loving Your Neighbors

  11. Carissa

    My husband and I went through Financial Peace University last summer and we also have a whole new way of looking at money and our short term desires versus long term plans. I have a couple of co-workers who had talked about having 6 months of expenses saved up, but I didn’t think we could ever get there. Now that I know how to do a budget and see where the money is going, I can see that not only is it possible, but we have a plan to get there! Dave is really a great teacher who is doing great things for so many of us! Glad to see someone else singing the praises of the principles he teaches and how many other areas of your life they end up impacting!

    Carissas last blog post..Update on the hit and run

  12. Kristi

    I just bought Dave Ramsey’s book “total money makeover” because you kept mentioning it so much. I bought it tuesday, finished it ALL by wednesday afternoon and stayed up late working out a budget. I cant tell you how excited I am that I CAN do this and it’s not complicated. I’m only 24 and my husband and I don’t have much debt but we never had a written budget so money just flew out the window to who knows where but with this system I know my 10 month old son will grow up never having to know the time when mommy & daddy lived paycheck to paycheck. THANK YOU SO MUCH for introducing me to this wonderful book/LIFESTYLE!!

  13. Lynn

    I am a new Dave Ramsey fan too. I had never heard of him until last November when I was flipping channels and came across him on the Fox Business network. Ironically I poo-pooed him and thought he was boring (at least not as interesting as Suze Orman) but something with him resonated with me and I just kept going back to that channel at 8PM every night. Until listening to him, I actually never realized that my husband and I were in so much debt. We use credit cards (the one place I disagree with Dave) and pay them off every month so we had no credit card debt. But we had a car payment, a HELOC, and my husband’s school loan. I honestly just thought it was “normal”. However, when I added those three loans up it was over 72K and I almost had a heart attack. Since January 1, we have been plugging away at the HELOC debt and we are down to just over 61K total. I truly can’t imagine our lives without these debts nor without our huge mortgage (we live in the northeast) but I know that it is possible. We have tweaked Dave’s plan a little (we just cut down our contribution to my husband’s 401K just to the match and we also are putting a little away each month in the twins’ 529) but I am so happy to have found Dave and the pf blogosphere!

    Now, my question is how to balance life when you are gung-ho to get out of debt and addicted to pf blogs . Sometimes I feel like I think about money too much and its not a good thing. But I don’t obsess about having more money, just how to make our money work better for us.

  14. Leslie

    I wish my husband and I were on the same page here…

  15. bee

    Oh, I couldn’t agree more! Hubby and I are so much better at communicating, not to mention Dave got us handling our finances like we’re running a business. That takes a lot of the emotion out of it. Not all of it, mind you, but a healthy chunk.

    We are still working on the simplification of our stuff. We’ve done a great job of not acquiring new stuff (easy to do when you don’t have a lot of extra money lying around). We’re slowly working on getting rid of our excess stuff. And it feels great to make a little extra $$ on a garage sale or (what we’re doing this summer) donating it to our church’s fundraising rummage sale!

    bees last blog post..Right About Now, It’s Good To Be A Renter


    Dave Ramsey’s concept of financial freedom and his show on the Fox Business channel. He is so straight forward and down to the basics. i’m still working on getting my ‘stuff’ in order, having two teen daughters doesn’t help, lol.

    howmommakesmoneyonline.coms last blog post..How I Use Google Adsense on the Blog

  17. Rocks In My Dryer

    Awesome post! Mind if I link to you in my Saturday linkage column?

  18. Simple Mom

    Hey all – Glad all this has been an encouragement to you! I really, truly believe all this, and have seen the overwhelmingly positive side effects personally.

    @alicia – Yep, we went through a major decluttering stage when we moved overseas. We took absolutely only the things we loved or things we needed. It changed my perspective on “stuff,” and I’m so happy that we’ve hardly amassed much more.

  19. JoLynn Braley from The Fit Shack

    Hi, I’ve heard a lot of good things about Dave Ramsey, doesn’t he have a radio show, too? If that’s him, I’ve listened to him before.

    I’m really with ya on only keeping the things that you really love and need, too. For several years I’ve only been buying things that I really love or else need to use – still working on the decluttering though, but at least I’m not brining in a bunch of extra clutter.

    Also, I’m glad to see someone else writing about how it really is cheaper to eat healthy than not – I’ve heard the argument that processed gunk is cheaper to eat but in my experience I’ve always spent way more when I’ve been eating unhealthy as opposed to when I’m just eating regular, whole (“real”) foods. 😉


    JoLynn Braley from The Fit Shacks last blog post..Your Weight Loss Excuses – Write Em Down & Ship Em Out!

  20. christy

    i just wanted to say I loved your blog on the Dave Ramsey, principles I too just wished my husband and I where on the same page where this was concerned. Great Blog

  21. simplemom

    @JoLynn – You could also argue that eating whole foods is healthier because of less medical intervention down the road from filling your body with chemicals and processed food! The whole “apple a day” bit. 😉

    Thanks for the great comments and kind words, all!

  22. Debt Free Hispanic

    Love the blog, I too started a blog about finance. My wife and I are on baby step 5 of the Dave Ramsey plan. The plan works and it does bring us closer together. I’ll be on the show on Oct 24, 2008 listen in for Debt Free Hispanic.

    Debt Free Hispanic’s last blog post…Purchasing Rental Car Insurance

  23. Ray The Money Man

    It’s great that young people have somebody to teach them about money. Look to Warren to make money though.

    Great Blog!

  24. David Wilson

    Very good advice. A lot of people still don’t realize that by making small, simple changes in their habits, it will affect their financial status in the end.

  25. Nico

    Great points! Being aware of your finances just makes your life better!

  26. Bizu

    that is very true all of you that is good point time is mony wecan maneg our mony and give more time for family god bless all of you

  27. paulkim

    “True wisdom comes to each of us when we realise how little we understand about life, ourselves and the world around us.” – Socrates

    You only have to take a stroll through any bookstore to get an idea of just how many different books there are related to all aspects of finances. It can be overwhelming but at the end of the day the core advice boils down to much the same thing:

    Keep track of your money,
    spend less than you earn and,
    saving money
    pay yourself first.

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