Welcome to the Marriage & Money series, aka M&M! Statistically, finances and money are the cause of contention in a lot of marriages across the country and can even lead to divorce. In our marriage, talking about money, budgets or finances has just the opposite affect. Instead of being a sore spot, it motivates us and makes us excited for the future and I actually think it makes our relationship stronger. We're a little weird, but we love talking about our budget, money and finances, and I wanted to share with you why it is our favorite thing to talk about!
Our favorite money advice comes from Dave Ramsey, he is awesome! Joe listens to his show every day, we love his Total Money Makeover (this is an affiliate link) book, and I enjoy seeing his advice on Facebook every day. Dave Ramsey posted this awesome free download a few weeks ago. If any of you are working on getting a budget started so that you can take control of your money and need some pointers or someplace to start, you should check it out.
At the start of 2012, Joe and I made a goal to pay off both of our car loans and if possible, the personal loan that husband got for his lawn equipment/trailer the year before. Looking at that total was overwhelming and I was thinking that we would succeed in paying off my car, most likely get close to paying off husband's truck, and probably not make much of a dent in our other loan. Boy did I underestimate our abilities! By Christmas, all three of our debts were paid off and out of the way! I am so proud of us!!!
How did we do it? The first thing we did was start our Debt Snowball, part of Dave Ramsey's Seven Baby Steps to Financial Peace. We started it when we first got married, but it wasn't until we got our budget figured out and purchased everything we needed for married life, that we really got things going. The hardest part for me, when we set our goal, was having the self control to put all of our extra money toward debt instead of spending it on things that seemed more fun. But when we made our goal, I knew that we would have to tighten our budget and just go for it so I tried to be good!
I love this article that Dave Ramsey posted on Facebook a week or so ago about using your tax refund wisely. Dave says, "...if you're in debt, you should use that extra cash to pay it off." That was key for us to pay off our first debt/car. When we were waiting for our tax refund last year, I was busy making plans to use some of it for a new laptop, or a fun little date night, and then the rest could go toward the car. But Joe is so great and such a good example to me when it comes to money, saving, debt, etc. He got me excited about the idea of just getting rid of that debt with our tax return instead of using some of it for something fun and frivolous. So that's what we did, we paid off a car and got our debt snowball rolling!
From there it was a little slow because of school tuition, a lot of car maintenance that we had to do, our Disneyland trip, etc. We kept up with our base debt snowball plan and tried to put any extra cash toward the truck (husband got money toward debt from me for an anniversary present), but I think at some point we kind of gave up on the idea of being debt free by 2013. Getting one debt out of the way and paying down a lot of our other debt was a good compromise, right? Wrong! While we drove home from Disneyland, we we decided to listen to Total Money Makeover so that we could be inspired and get back on track with paying off our debt.
Our slow but steady debt snowball had gotten us really close to paying off another debt, so the week before Christmas, we decided to jump in and go for it. Our plan was just to pay off Joe's truck, but we realized that if we were willing to make some sacrifices for a few months, we could accomplish the goal that we set for ourselves at the beginning of the year and pay off the other debt as well. So, the weekend before Christmas, I gave up the idea of doing something fun with my bonus, we tightened our budget a lot and we paid off two debts. I felt a little crazy doing it, but we were done with our holiday shopping, so I figured it wasn't a huge problem. And I was so proud of us for accomplishing a goal that seemed a little out of our reach!
We were not "gazelle intense" when it came to paying of debt like Dave Ramsey suggests people to be. We still ate out a lot, spent money on some wants, planned for bigger vacations, did fun things, and we didn't eat just rice and beans. Sometimes I wish we had been better and got those debts paid off faster because being debt free is a good feeling, and now we can use our money for bigger and better things!
What secrets do you have for paying off debt?
I was not compensated in any way for my opinions of Dave Ramsey products and services. I just love them and wanted to share them with all of you.