Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Debt to Love

I never thought it would happen, but I've been brainwashed by Dave Ramsey. I resisted for a long time. We have friends that have been under the Ramsey spell, but I promised myself I would never cave. Sure, he had some good ideas, but who wants to actually implement them? Debt-free? Whatever. No one is debt free and why does it matter anyway? My generation knows little about sacrifice or delayed gratification because we have plastic that we allow to bring us both security and happiness. We're slaves, but well-fed ones. And really, I'm better off than most people my age. Thank goodness I married a nerd.

I've spent years as a slave to stuff without even noticing my chains. I've chosen to be a slave to marketers who tell me that their products will in some way make my life better, instead of going to the One whom I know makes life rich and meaningful. I've settled for instant gratification and laziness. It's not even that we had exuberant amounts of debt; we just don't have freedom. Matt was always worried about money and I was always guilty about spending it. On top of that, I've had this thought of being blessed to bless others swirling around in my head for months now. Except when it comes to money I'm pretty selfish, which is an ugly thing to be. I certainly don't want to be an ugly woman. I don't want money to be about accumulating stuff, I truly want it to be about how I can use it to love God and others. That thought is slowly making it from my head to my heart.
I started tracking where my money went on a monthly basis and it honestly makes me sick. We (mostly me) spend thousands of dollars every year on straight up ish. Seriously, I don't know what I've been thinking. I mean, there's weeks where I've spent $30 a week on smoothies. That's a direct result of not using my brain. When I swipe my plastic card, it doesn't register with my little brain that I'm actually spending money. It only registers when I look at our credit card statement and see just how much money has trickled down my throat. I never thought I would become a cash carrier because I get points on my credit card. I wasn't going to allow Dave Ramsey to take my points away from me! Cash can't compete with that. Except statistically people spend an average of 12-18% more when they pay with a card instead of cash. Hmmm... I could probably call myself a statistic. Dangit. I now pay with cash and feel the burn of the six dollar smoothie. It's not like I can't ever have my overpriced drinks either. We just stick to a budget now. We plan for where our money goes. We tell it where to go. It's been hard work figuring all this out but is actually incredibly rewarding and freeing. In a couple months we'll be completely debt free. Then the only debt we will have will be the debt to love others. To bless as we've been blessed. 
We're planning ahead and are on the same page. We're both actually involved in the process, which also means we both have a say in where our money goes. We're having healthy discussions about money which essentially lead to a better marriage. Winning! It's a lifestyle choice that takes discipline but feels oh so good. Sort of. I mean, I know it'll bring peace that spending foolishly won't bring, and who doesn't want just a little peace?


Emory Bragg said...

Way to go Kelly...and you don't even know me! Well put....We've been paying cash for a little over 2 years and it is SUPER painful sometimes, but like you said a destresser at the same time. I'm trying to go a little radical with my grocery bill and found this site... groceryshrink.com...it has nothing to do with coupons...enjoy! Dikola

Kristi said...

What a great post...from someone I actually know (not one of those magical couples out there stating they are almost debt=free)! Phil and I have been dancing around Ramsey...a budget...going cash, etc. My issue...implementing it! What is the best budgeting tool you have found helpful? WAY TO GO!

Dave Van Camp said...

Kelly, good words, Jane & I implemented the envelope system early on in our marriage and cash was king. Over the years we have moved to quicken which requires weekly/monthly updating to keep all the accounting up to date. We like ot call it living within our box...who ever thought living in a box would be freeing, but God has more than honored His principles over the years and the best part is passing "it" on to our kids! thx. dvc

Kelly said...

Dikola- I checked out that site and it's CRAZY!! $200 a month for groceries?? I didn't see how it could be possible, but I'm intrigued now. I've never been a make it at home kind of person, but it's amazing how making changes in one area of your life seems to effect a whole bunch of other areas too. Thanks so much for that!

Kristi- We've bee using the Dave Ramsey budgeting tool, but it's essentially just an excel sheet. It's helpful for Matt but to be honest- what's most helpful to me is just sitting down together and talking about what the week holds and what our upcoming expenses are and what we need to be saving for. We're trying to do it every week- hopefully we'll stick to it! Using cash is by far the best thing we're doing though. It seriously cut our expenses so much right away!

Emory4 said...

When I was in your stage of life, money was very abstract to me. Now I don't count every penny, but I realize that if I save even $150/month on what I normally spend, over 5 years that's $9000 in savings. Then if you make a budget, it's fun to try to stay within your boundaries and add up the savings in every area. I even try to only by a tank of gas every two weeks.....that means I don't go everywhere I want to go and consolidate on "errand" trips.
As far as food goes...hmm...some would disagree, but I don't buy organic much, I try to eat fresh and plan my meals ahead. If we don't have something we make due...such a hard concept for our generation. This may sound funny, but works for us. Emory and I have separate debt accounts....he puts a certain amount in every two weeks and that works great for me because I can not go over....I can rearrange my budget, but when it's gone, it's gone. God is our provider and sustainer...He isn't honored when we insist on demanding what and when we want things. Believe me, I'm very stubborn, and it's taken a LONG time to get to this point, and we still have a ways to go.

Emory4 said...

I said Emory and I have seperate debt accounts....I was trying to say debit! Hah!

Emilie said...

Miss Kelly:

I love your little blog page! It's awesome and very inspiring!

How do Alan and I get in on the Dave Ramsey thing? We need it! I can relate to the $30 in smoothies. LOL

God Bless,

Annie said...

You go girl! Who knows where you will be next, you could be one of those crazies on that coupon show....okay, forgive me...that was wrong.

We love Ramsey! Hope you guys are well! The kids are getting so big!!