|Sorry for the lack of make-up, and that really awkward face.|
Allow me to introduce you to the man who changed my life: Dave Ramsey. I'm one of those people who listens to his talk radio show for inspiration and has read this book at least ten times. Seriously, listen to that radio show on a Friday afternoon and tell me you don't want to jump on his awesome bandwagon and work towards doing the debt free scream someday.
Dave's been rocking my world for just about a year now, and we're debt free except for the house and have a $10,000 emergency fund (well, $9,000 but that last $1,000 is going in this month!). Our next step is some serious retirement investing then setting up a solid college fund for Lucas. Then paying off the house, and being rich as hell. Boom, done (you know, in like ten years or so).
I would seriously love for each and every person I know to pick up this book or do his program online, because it really is life changing. It has given me serious peace of mind about my financial future and, more importantly, Lucas' future. Investing is going to help us retire with dignity. We won't be a financial burden on our child(ren). It will allow us to pay for college. It will help us teach our child(ren) how to be responsible with money. It will give us peace of mind and take the stress of money out of our marriage (it has actually done this already, and let me tell you, it is an amazing blessing). Seriously, when you look at the benefits, there is no other option. Investing in your future is a necessity.
Since I know not all of you are going to run off and buy Dave's book (though I hope at least some of you will), let me share some money tips that have really helped me in getting and staying out of debt. Because you all should know by now, I can't resist a good list.
- Set up a monthly budget - I can't stress this enough. I have been doing budget spreadsheets for myself since the day I moved out of my parents house. I used to live on less than $700 a month, and still found $100 a month to put into savings. Once you look at every item you're spending money on, you'll be amazed at how much fat there is to trim. (Friends, if you need help with this, I would love to help you. Just ask.)
- Plan your meals - I plan my meals a couple weeks in advance so I don't end up wasting money on groceries. I write out all the meals I want to make for the upcoming week, go through the recipes to see what ingredients I need, and shop according to a very strict list. It keeps costs way down and ensures that I'm not letting food go bad in the fridge. I find we eat healthier this way too.
- Savings First - If you wait to set aside money for savings/investing until the end of the month, there won't be anything left. Trust me. Set aside that money at the beginning of your month and stick to your budget. You can do it.
- If you can't afford it, don't buy it - If you have to put something on a credit card, you do not need it. Seriously, no, you don't. I don't care if it's clothes, or out of budget food, or a night out with friends that's going to be too pricey. Unless you are paying for something you will literally die without (ER care or the like), the answer is no. Sticking to a budget isn't easy, but it's worth it.
- Get on the same page - If you are married or living with a partner, you need to agree on a budget together. If you can't come to a mutual agreement on managing money, it's going to be bad news. You can't move forward toward your financial future unless you're both on the same page.