Tag Archives: Dave Ramsey

Dave-A-Versary

Memorial Day Weekend 2007 was our first exposure to Dave Ramsey.   CNBC was running his “Dave Ramsey Roadshow” — most likely to fill time during a holiday weekend.  I don’t recall how I landed on the channel, but I know my husband was working on the computer at the dining room table and able to hear what I was watching.

We had been doing many good things with our money – investing, saving for our 2 year old’s college tuition, paying bills on time.  We were also spending a ton of money — on daycare ($10,000/year), on loan interest, and on take-out meals from California Pizza Kitchen because I was working full-time.  We were starting to hate the day care lifestyle.

Seeing the show (YouTube version above) gave us the VISION for what we could be doing with our money.  To read about the full plan of action we took, go here.  

Ten years have passed since that life-changing Memorial Day.  Some of the foundational elements of our current family life, such as having me home when our daughter is not in school, would not be possible if we hadn’t seen this program and acted on it.  If you could use a change in lifestyle and want more freedom, it would be amazing if I could pass this gift on to you.

 

 

 

 

Debt Free Anniversary

Pink Roses

Stopping to smell the roses….

We were relaxing on the couch last night and I remembered that this Thursday is our debt-free anniversary.  My husband and I had to think back to how many years have elapsed since we paid off our house.  Six!  Every year I have to count back to figure it out.  DD was in kindergarten when we sent that last check off to Wells Fargo, and now she is in middle school.

It takes hard work to pay off your house and credit cards, but it is just as big of a challenge to stay out of debt afterwards because there is no “end” goal to count down to.  It’s just — stay out of debt and keep staying out of debt.

Over the past 6 years we managed to re-side our house, buy a new car, and added  a bathroom to the basement without going into debt.  To accomplish these required a lot of saving and budget meetings week in and week out.  It’s possible to pay cash for these expenses though when you aren’t making payments.  Our next major expense is hopefully a trip to the UK in 2017.  To accomplish this… saving, budget meetings every Saturday night, and using my part-time employment to put towards the vacation budget line.

If you are currently in the debt payoff process, keep at it with that gazelle-like intensity.  Efforts like clipping coupons and having no spend days are fine, but none of these things can rival the amount of money you save when you aren’t paying interest on car, home, college and credit cards.

Thursday we will probably celebrate by getting take-out dinner of some sort, and perhaps a family activity this weekend like going for ice cream. . .  or Chik Fil A 🙂

 

 

Working Mom to SAHM… And Back Again

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When I was a kid, the one thing I never expected about being an adult is how many different lives you can lead all within the same life.  Parenthood, it turns out, is one event that can be a life-shifter.

I worked in an educational sales field before being a mom, and never expected that I would want to stay home full time as a parent.  I wrote about our transition to a single income here.  The days spent reading nursery rhymes on the couch and playing “Dinosaur Train” in the driveway were unforgettable and such a blessing.

I wondered if I would ever go back to work, and if I did, how hard would it be to transition back?  It turned out that the hours spent reading with my daughter were the foundation to my return to work.  We read books about American Girl characters, classics like The Wind in the Willows, and many, many dinosaur books.

My husband and I are not willing to give up having me home in summers, so that has limited my work choices.  When my daughter was in 1st grade, I started back to work at her school as a substitute cafeteria worker.  This was hard, physical work, but it gave me experience interacting with all kinds of children.  I met amazing, hard working, ladies who worked at the cafeteria and then went to work at other physically demanding, low paying jobs.

Taking a very entry-level job in a school was my starting point for other school opportunities that didn’t involve lifting 25 pounds of mashed potatoes.  I got to know the principal which allowed me to step into a reading paraprofessional position.   I have found that to increase your wage in these part-time positions, you have to be willing to move around a little and try other school districts.  Each position increased my hourly rate and gave me more experience.

This fall I was looking on the teachers’ job positing website to read about a position a friend was applying for, and I happened upon the holy grail for me… a school library position.  I silently showed it to my husband and he was fully unboard.  It was 3 miles from home, paid about 20% more, and had benefits like paid holidays.

I got a call back for an interview quickly, but it was a strange interview and I didn’t think I had a chance.  At the end, I handed them a list of the 50 or so kids’ fiction books I read in 2016.  

I got the job.  I think the knowledge of kid lit was the clincher.

So, I am happily at a school library every day, home before the bus drops DD off, and making enough that I get matching retirement benefits and an opportunity to contribute to a 403b which I definitely am taking advantage of.

It felt like a long road back, but every job I took contributed to the next job.  As soon as I got the library job I emailed my cafeteria boss and thanked her for my time there…without that job I would have never have landed the other ones.

My advice to a parent choosing to stay home with small children is to do it if your finances and heart are telling you to.  You may find that being home gives you new skills and interests that take you in a career direction you would never have anticipated 📚!
 

 

 

 

 

It Started Frugal . . .

RetroLaceHeartValentineGraphicsFairyThe week started out frugal.  I had a “Secret Valentine” at work (like Secret Santa) and I made her Cupid Crunch (popcorn and pretzels coated in Wilton confectionary coating with added pink M n M’s and sprinkles for bling).  I also gave her stargazer lilies in a vase from Goodwill which I swear was leaded crystal.  I got it for .49 during a “yellow ticket happy hour” of sorts.

We also had a breakfast social at work and I made my Irish soda bread, which is delicious and uses ingredients I have on hand.

We ate at home and used a lot of pantry items.

How was your Valentine’s Day?  I made “black magic” cupcakes, which is one of those famous recipes that I believe originated with Hershey’s cocoa.  My husband picked up our traditional heart-shaped pizza from a local restaurant.

Each week we have a set amount of money we can spend, and when we don’t spend it all, we like to allocate it to savings or other budget areas we are focusing on.  Today we went to Target.  Need I say more?  I think we had 10.00 left at the end of the week.  Much of what we purchased at Target was organic frozen meals which Mr. Saver takes for lunch.  Fortunately, we don’t get to Target very often which minimizes the damage.

At this time we are pretty set budget-wise for kid summer activities.  Our main budget focus is saving for family vacation and overall savings.

 

 

Nissan Giveth, Nissan Taketh Away

Last year I came back from dropping our daughter off at school, only to find Mr. Saver in the driveway holding a chunk of metal from the bottom of our car.  Not good… And a resulting repair that was over $1,000.  Fast forward to this winter, when we got a recall notice from Nissan. Yes, it was a recall for the problem we had experienced.  

  • Lesson One… Open mail and read!
  • Lesson Two… Get on the phone and find out what to do if you already fixed the recall 

Nissan said we still needed to go through the recall process and then we could request a refund for the repair. They would determine what could be reimbursed after we faxed all the work orders.

  • Lesson three… Have a place you can find your receipts.

We took care of everything and submitted the paperwork for a refund of the original repair.  Good news!  A check for about $1,000!

Do your kids ever read those “choose your own ending” books?  

You receive a $1,000 refund from Nissan.  

If you take the $1,000 and hit the mall–surprise money!–go to page 46.

If you take the money and book a spring break trip–you deserve it!– go to page 112.

If you take the money and put most of it back into your car repair budget line, go to page 130.

Guess what?  All the choices end in the same place!  Four weeks after receiving the check your car now needs a new muffler.  Are you left wondering whether you can still return that new purse, or are you grateful that you topped up the car repair budget?  We were grateful for the car repair budget, because Nissan Giveth and Nissan Taketh Away.  

Living Baby Step 7: The House

Would you believe this month will be our anniversary of 5 years debt-free? You can read about our final mortgage payoff here.  Dave Ramsey’s final baby step is to “build wealth and give like no one else” and I thought over the coming weeks I would examine what Baby Step 7 looks like for us.

While it would be fun to tell you about a yacht or a luxury berth on the QE2, as the kind of practical people that follow Dave Ramsey, those are not choices we have made.  A major amount of the money that would normally be spent on a mortgage payment has been directed towards saving for largish home renovations and repairs.  A siding project that also required masonry work… flooring… painting that required patching… floor refinishing…and currently we are saving to add a bathroom in the basement.

When you have committed to being debt free and never paying interest, you have to save a lot to be able to pay for home renovations and repairs without financing. Sure we have 100% equity in our house, but we don’t view our home equity as a bank account to tap into.

Other Dave/Mr Money Mustache fans might choose to do some of this work themselves, and more power to you if that sounds like you.  For us, a choice we can make being debt-free is to have someone else do the work and hire people whom we believe to be trustworthy and conscientious.

If you are following Dave, what are your priorities for Baby Step 7?

I’ll have some additional thoughts on living step 7 throughout the month.

Teaching Moment… Back to School Budgeting

KIDS AND MONEYOur daughter is headed to 5th grade this year, and this summer has been a great opportunity to ratchet up her role in the back-to-school finances.

Currently our school budget category has about $ 450 in it.  We deposit $10-20.00 a week into the category whenever we have a chance.  This is an ongoing budget category because inevitably there are purchases that come up throughout the year.  This fund covers school fees (yes, public schools have them), clothes, shoes, and school supplies.

The first budgeting opportunity was giving her the responsibility of looking at the school supply lists in July and combining all supplies required into one master list (if you take French, you need additional items; if you take Spanish, something else is required, and so on).  She did that at the start of July which allowed us to go to OfficeMax and get a bunch of supplies for .25 a piece when they started early-bird sales.  We focused only on the items with deep discounts and weren’t tempted by the full-priced items.  Still time for other sales!

A word on school supplies… or maybe more than a word.  When your kid is in Kindergarten if the teacher says you need a Bic pen in blue, by God, you will cross the earth to make sure you buy a Bic pen, lest your child’s blue pen be different than another kid’s pen.  By 5th grade, that is all out the window.  If the teacher wants Pink Pearl erasers, no way am I turning my back on Office Depot brand erasers for .01 as a loss leader.  Ditto on the markers.  If it is a reasonable-quality brand, we are going to live on the edge and get the ones on sale for .25.

Also, can we talk about #2 pencils?  How many #2 pencils do you think a 10 year old could use in roughly 9 months.  Now, about 1/2 the  school day consists of non-pencil using activities like lunch, band, PE, etc.  I would love for you to put your guess in the comments.  Is it anywhere near…. wait for it…. 79 pencils?!?!?!  We should have started sharpening these babies weeks ago! (Note for parents of small kids… start hoarding Ticonderoga pencils immediately)!

Another finance area for her to get involved was to see the amount we had budgeted for school needs and make some decisions about “optional” items like a new backpack and new lunch bag.  I supported her wish for something a little more grown-up and let her look through some catalogs.  She opted to get both items new for next year, knowing that choice may require some economizing down the road. Perhaps by being on top of the school supply sales we created more wiggle room for these “optional” items.

You may want to save on back to school because you have to… funds are tight and perhaps you are working Dave Ramsey’s steps.  On the other hand, you may not need to save on school supplies, but this could be a space to teach your kids about financial decision making in an area that concerns them directly.  My husband and I always say it’s important for kids to have some “skin in the game.”  Now is the time to have money experiences when the stakes are low.  Today’s backpack or Air Jordan decision is tomorrow’s decision about credit cards and college loans.  I’ll let you know how our purchases work out.  How is the back-to-school budgeting at your house?

Side note… if you are hoping to catch information on school supply sales I recommend the blog Hip2Save.