By Peggy Moore
Seven months have passed since I wrote A New Year, A New Financial You (01/04/13) where I summarize Dave Ramsey’s book The Total Money Makeover and set personal goals for 2013. Even though I posted a blog update on 04/12/13 called A New Year, A New Financial You Revisited, I’ve accomplished even more of my goals and want to share more of what I’ve learned and how I’m continuing to strive for financial peace.
I read a statement by Dave Ramsey that really resonated with me: “personal finance is 20% head knowledge and 80% behavior.” With this in mind, I found that I had to change one certain behavior that was hindering my financial goals: shopping. In the past I was spending money that I didn’t have, using credit cards like cash and was unable to pay off the balances. I had a decision to make. If I wanted to accomplish my financial goals, I needed something better to do with my free time, so I picked up additional hours at my part time job. No longer is the majority of my free time spent shopping.
Keep in mind that shopping wasn’t the only change that I had to make. I also had to set a budget and stick with it. I had set budgets in the past but those budgets were mainly just to make sure I paid my bills on time. Budgeting this time around meant allocating all of my pennies so that I knew how much I had to spend on clothing, food, gas, bills, etc. and when that money was gone for that category, there was no more spending. Dave Ramsey uses the “envelope system” where you have a separate envelope for each category, put the allocated amount of cash in that envelope and when the envelope is empty, you spend no more money in that category. I found that system harder to use because I use a debit card for most all transactions. An online tool I found that has helped me stay on budget is mint.com. Mint.com allows you to see all of your accounts in one place, including balances and transactions. You can even set up your account to send you reminders when bills are due, when you are over-budget in a category, set goals, etc. There’s even an app for my smart phone which allows me to see how I’m doing at any time. Mint.com really has helped me stay focused on the end goal: financial peace!
The other major challenge for me was learning to be honest with people. I thought my friends and family would judge me if they knew about my money and financial troubles. But trying to stick to my restaurant and entertainment budget without being honest was weighing on me mentally and financially. I wanted to have a social life but I had to make additional changes if my budget was going to stay on track. It was at this point that we had “the talk.” To my surprise, they were very supportive. Now we do low-budget evenings, such as going out for dinner and then watching a movie at someone’s house instead of at the theater. This has not only helped keep my restaurant and entertainment budget on track, it has brought us closer!
At this point I’ve outlined the major changes I’ve made in my life since January 1st but you are probably wondering where I sit financially. After months of hard work and perseverance, I can proudly say that I am credit card debt free! How much credit card debt have I paid off? I personally was surprised by the amount – $4,000.00. Before the total money makeover I really thought I was living paycheck to paycheck. Clearly I wasn’t. I needed to make some changes in my life and Dave Ramsey helped me see that.
Was it hard work to get where I am today? Of course! Did I have to make sacrifices? Yes! But was it worth it? Absolutely!
I don’t look at my success up to this point as one hurdle that I’ve surpassed – this will be a complete lifestyle change. This isn’t only about paying off debt: it’s about making smarter choices in my life and making the decision to change my life for the better.
Are you willing to make a lifestyle change? Do you want to strive for bigger and better things for yourself, your children and your future? Read The Total Money Makeover, set your own goals and strive to achieve them. Will it be hard work? Yes. Will there be set backs? Yes. Will you have to make sacrifices? Yes. But in the end you will be on the same road I’m on, the road to financial peace!
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