By this time on Friday 6/1 we will have done our debt free scream. I call it scream but the coordinators at Financial Peace Plaza have been calling it “yell” in the logistics email to me. I wonder if that’s a regional thing. Or is “yell” more polite than scream? Or less scary to those not in the know?
Anyhoo, we’ve been in communication with Lara Johnson and her assistant on the logistics. We’ll be on the air as Troy & Lucy 2-3 PM Central Standard Time (CST). So for folks in Atlanta, that’s the 2nd hour of the show so it will probably be 11 PM – 12 Midnight? Well listen to the whole thing just to be sure
I’ve been “rehearsing” the conversation with Dave for a while now. Either I will do the below “script” because I’ve run through it in my head a bazillion times or I will flub it and sound like a bonehead in front of 6 million people. No pressure.
PREDICTION OF DEBT FREE YELL CONVERSATION
Dave: Starting this hour we have live in the lobby of Financial Peace Plaza we have Troy & Lucy from Atlanta! What brings you here guys?
Me: We drove up from Atlanta to do our Debt Free Scream!
Dave: That’s awesome! How much did you pay off?
Me: 62 thousand…debt free except for the house…
Dave: And how long did that take?
Me: 23 months
Dave: Making what kind of income?
Me: A little over 100k
Dave: Very well done. What kind of debt was it?
Me: 40 thousand was IRS and the rest was medical bills and credit card debt. Before we knew about you we did something stupid and cashed out a large portion of our 401k to refinance our house because our payment was 50% of our take home pay.It was a really stupid move but we learned our lesson.
Dave: I’ll say! So what was the hardest thing about paying off 62 thousand in 23 months?
…at this point I’ll hand the conversation over to Lucy. I don’t know what she’ll say.
I haven’t predicted the rest of call other than WEEEEEEREEEEEEEEDEEEEEEEBTFREEEEEEEE ringing your ears!
This coming Thursday will be our last week coordinating about 35 or so people in the Financial Peace University (FPU) class at our church. It’s been a wonderful time and I’ve learned a lot from revisiting the lessons and hearing people’s stories.
I found that by sharing our story people realize “hey weren’t not alone in this”. In fact, I was really surprised by how much people were inspired by our dumb mistakes. Hopefully I won’t continue to inspire them in that way.
About halfway into the class we realized that we needed some additional voices in the mix. So we got people in the class to share their success stories. Also we got some Endorsed Local Providers (ELPs) from Investing and Real Estate to attend. Finally, we got some FPU graduates to share their successes and provide some hope to others. That variety really helped energize the group.
My wife and I are really blessed to be able to work with such a great group of people and be supported by our church. I plan on presenting the new curriculum in 2013!
Yesterday we paid off the credit card which was our last debt (except for the mortgage). That completes Baby Step 2 in the Dave Ramsey 7 Baby Steps. We filled out the form to set up a “Debt Free” scream on the Dave Ramsey Radio Show.
It’s been a long two years but it’s been worth it.
No A/C in the car for 2 years…worth it
Broken dishwasher for 4 years…worth it
Spending time doing a budget every two weeks…worth it
Saying “no” when you didn’t want to…worth it
Sacrificing the near term for the long term…totally worth it
Also this week we started teaching Financial Peace University at our church. What a great way to reinforce the teaching and reminding ourselves to stay on track.
I recently came across a gaggle of receipts from 2000-2001. My wife and I pawed through them like archeologists to discern “who was this family…and what on earth did they do with their money?” For some reason, I saved all of the receipts but DIDN’T DO A BUDGET. I’m bewildered why I would save receipts “after the fact” without planning on where to spend the money on the front end.
For some background, in 2000-2001 we lived in Andover, MA, which is a beautiful classic New England town. I was working as an engineer at Philips Medical Systems and had a 5 minute commute to work (and sometimes rode my bike to work before it was cool). Although the house was tiny (800 sq ft) we invested in Andover since it was a desirable town and home values went up. It was a great starter home. We had one child at the time so that configuration worked.
Looking at the receipts, we recalled how we lived back then:
- We shopped local before it was hip. We felt the allegiance to the local shoe stores, health food stores, etc. But we obviously weren’t price-conscience to go along with that.
- We definitely had “it’s our first child and we’re going to give him the best we can” syndrome. It’s common with first time parents and there’s nothing inherently wrong with it. But now I realize that a 2 year old does not know if the book was from a yard sale or the independent bookstore downtown. We’ve proven that with our 3rd child. She’s content and we probably have spent 1/20 on her compared to our first.
- We didn’t think about prioritizing things. I saw a receipt for yard word (mulch delivery). I know it’s important to keep your yard looking nice but that should be a low priority if you have debt and other things to clean up first.
- We had an interest-only equity loan to fix up some things on the house. We paid over $400 a month on it for an interest-only loan. Can you say “stoopid”? Yipes. We saved that statement to remind us how we acted back then.
But if you saw us back then you’d think that we were completely normal. We lived in a nice albeit small house in a quaint New England town. He’s an engineer and she stays at home with their adorable toddler. And look they have wooden toys and eat organic food from the health food store! They must be all set…
This weekend I manned the Narthex at our church, St. Thomas More in Decatur, GA to create interest in Financial Peace University (FPU) class coming on 2/23.
I was overwhelmed with the interest. Over 30 names were collected and even if less than half of those end up attending, it will be a full class for sure. I’m grateful that there’s been a lot of interest in the program. Sometimes you get so isolated just working your own plan and listening to the Dave Ramsey show podcast. I want to make this class a lot of fun and engaging for people!
I’ve had an OUTPOURING of interest and support and I feel really blessed for that!
Happy New Year!
My guess is that saying “Happy New Year” will become blase next week so I’m going to squeeze it while it’s socially acceptable.
I’m glad that 2011 is gone. While it was great that we paid off a lot of debt, it was year of sacrifice to make that happen. I started the blog in May 2011 and we were in the thick of it at that time. Murphy made a few visits with broken A/C in the car, dental work, broken refrigerator, etc. But now I see Baby Step 3 in the horizon and I’m excited about the future.
I’m now a believer in the powerful of purposeful written down goals and as such I’ve created my 2012 goals:
- Be debt free but the house by end of Feb 2012 (Baby Step 2)
- Have at least $10k in the emergency fund by 12/31/2012 (Baby Step 3)
In the spirit of transparency, here are my additional personal goals
- Exercise 3x a week for at least 30 minutes at a time during 2012
- Weigh 170 lbs by 6/1/2012
- Put up insulation and plywood in basement by 12/31/201
- Finish walkway by 12/31/2012
- Be hired into a new position by 12/31/2012
What are your 2012 goals? I hope that you have a wonderful 2012 and continue to check in with blog posts during the year.
I’m continually amazed at how much effort is put into the message of “buy things because things = happiness” during November & December. As a result, there’s real effort involved in staying disciplined this time of year. With that effort, you can enjoy spending and giving but staying within budget and not going into debt.
Here’s how our family has made it happen since our TMMO journey began. I have to attribute this all to my wife because if Christmas shopping was left up to me, I’d be one of those losers at Walmart or the QT gas station on the way home from work the day before Christmas scrapping the bottom of the gift barrel for our 2, 8, and 12 year old children.
1. Save up the gift cards you get during the year and use them at Christmas for gifts: My wife and I got some gift cards during the year for various holidays and such. This is the delayed / no pleasure part of the Total Money Makeover that must look really weird to people. Here’s what we do: we don’t use the gift cards on ourselves but save them to use on the kids. Bingo! Instant money. Of course watch for expiration dates or fees for no usage.
2. If you child is 0-3, they don’t need new or expensive things: Here’s another tactic that must appear odd: our 2 year old doesn’t care if the pony toy came from Target, Walmart, or a neighbor’s yard sale. So we pick up various small things during the year at yard sales or bargain basement prices for the little one. She’ll be delighted with the bounty. We will probably spend no more than $20 on her this Christmas. She’s 2 years old and she can’t read the Learning Express catalog yet.
3. Save up for Christmas when you get a surplus at another time during the year: We get paid bi-weekly and there are a couple of months with 3 paychecks. We put away some extra money into a Christmas fund and ear-mark it. Then when December hits…voila!…Santa’s sack o’ cash.
4. Make it a short list: As any parent will tell you, once you have children the theme is “it’s not about YOU anymore.” And that is especially true at Christmas. We don’t buy gifts for relatives (which was an easy sell because I’ve been laid off twice, each time in early December) and I don’t exchange gifts with my wife. Another “how freakin’ odd!” part of doing a TMMO. I don’t need anything other than the basics that we already budget for. Sure it’d be nice to get a pressure washer or a Keurig coffee maker (I love those things) but is it critical right now since we still have credit card debt? People always think that’s the “guy” talking and that my wife would really prefer to be lavished with gifts and resents me for being frugal. Not the case. Even though the income I make has my name on the paycheck it’s really OUR money. But she feels odd taking that money and buying me something. If there’s something I need, we save for it, budget for it, and buy it. I am blessed with a practical wife.
For full disclosure here’s what we’ve spent on our three children for Christmas gifts: $200 total. Supplementing that is about $60 in gift cards that represented no outlay on our part.
I haven’t posted in a while. I’ve violated my original goal of a post a week. I won’t list the excuses because who wants to hear that garble!
The latest news is that we’ve paid off 90% of our debt! The guitar I sold netted $3,500 which was applied to the snowball “toot sweet”. We have$6.4k left on credit card debt. Boy does THAT feel good!
Our monthly snowball amount is $800 so that would be 8+ months of continued payments but my annual bonus is delivered in February and that will polish off the remaining portion like the Cookie Monster attending Thanksgiving Dinner at the Keebler Elves’ House. I dunno…that’s what came to mind.
Here’s some current thoughts around our Total Money Makeover Journey.
- This is still basic work…doing the budget, tracking the spending, adjusting the budget when life happens. But it’s completely worth it!
- This is about changing behavior. And once we are debt free we won’t go back to the previous behavior. That’s why this program works.
- I’m thankful that I have a good paying job to make this happen.
- We are truly blessed.
We’ve paid off 84% of our debt (except for the house). Now we’re slogging away at the last 16%. Feels like we’ve been “in the final mile” for a while now. Here’s why it feels like it’s taking forever to finish
- We haven’t had any large surplus / windfalls to accelerate the debt snowball, like when I sold a lot of music equipment in the span of a few months
- We’ve had a few “Murphy” visits in the form of car repairs that have chewed up the emergency fund several times
Our goal is to be debt free by the end of February 2012. And that feels like it’s just around the corner! But it’s like driving on the flat plains and there are mountains in view…after 6 hours of driving you’d think that the mountains would be in front of your grill but they are still quite a distance away.
This is what I’ve heard Dave Ramsey describe as the 18th mile in a marathon. So we have to just keep plugging away. This is probably the least glamorous part of the total money makeover but the most important. So for everyone in the 18th mile…just keep running!
Our goal is to be debt free by the end of February 2012.
To date we’ve paid off:
Credit Card: $6,000
What’s left: $10,500 left on the credit card. It will be great to see that move to 4 digits next month with the debt snowball.
This is the 18th mile in the marathon (not that I’ve ever run a marathon). Feels slow as molasses but have to keep going!