Dream Big: Plans For After Dave Ramsey’s Debt Snowball

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When I was a little girl, the only thing I ever dreamed of was getting out of my small hometown. Where did I want to go? That was easy, New York City. I read everything about it, watched every show that set there. I even read the New York Times when I could get my hands on it.

This was probably because my mom traveled a lot with her job and New York was one of the places she went most often. She was even there when the city had the massive power outage in 2003 and came home to tell me how fun the street parties were. There was never a doubt in my mind that I would get there someday.

You could say I was obsessed.

But, as it often does, life happened. I got pregnant and married young. We did move out of our hometown, but it was where the Army sent us. When my husband got out we moved back home, then moved away again to Colorado when Austen got sick. I’ve spoken to my husband about my dreams of moving to New York continuously over the years, but we aren’t naive. We know to live even halfway comfortably in New York it takes money, a lot more money than Colorado or Texas. Especially when you have children and a family.

I’ve talked about why I want to get out of debt before, how I want to travel the world with my kids, how I want to retire comfortably. How I want to leave my children a legacy. Oh, and I want to move to New York City. Maybe not forever, but for a few years at least. One thing the military taught me is that you don’t really experience a new place by visiting. Instead, you want to live there.

I want to really experience New York.

But, I know New York is a long way away. We have to get our personal finances in order, pay off our debt, and make enough money a month so that we don’t get back into it. That might take a while! But it will happen. And it will be so worth it to be able to go there without worrying about having a creditor call me the day after we move in.

This is a big dream, I know that. But it is my dream and somehow, some way I know I will make it happen.

Now, it’s time I get back to our budget.

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I Could Kick Myself

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Three years ago we bought a van from a small dealership in Texas. Within a few days we realized it had a coolant leak, and vowed that if we ever bought another vehicle again we would get it looked at by a mechanic or it would come with a warranty.

Guess what I didn’t do when I bought my Honda Odyssey two weeks ago?

That’s right. You can yell at me now, I am definitely yelling at me.

Within a week I noticed the A/C not working. Dr. Google told me it was probably the compressor, but I prayed it was a smaller fix. It wasn’t.

1350.00 later (thanks to a deep discount from the dealership) it was fixed, but when I picked it up I was told even more was wrong with it.

First I was told, thanks to a communication error with the tech and secretary, that it was the drive belt tensioner that needed to be replaced. At only 300.00 I told them to go ahead since I had budgeted 1800 originally for the compressor. But yesterday I got a call saying the secretary was wrong, it’s really the timing belt tensioner that needs to be replaced, and that would be a 1200.00 fix.

That’s money I just don’t have.

So I called around, I’ve learned that lesson at least, and had a shop look at it yesterday who has great reviews online and told me it would only be 780.00. Would you believe when they looked inside it was neither the drive belt tensioner or the timing belt tensioner? Nope. Instead, it was the serpentine belt tensioner that was leaking and needed to be fixed.

So I did that and went ahead and had him do my back shocks, which I knew needed to be done, and both he and Honda had mentioned.

The work did need to be done, and I’m out another 780.00 but I know my car is safe.

Y’all, I want to cry. I cannot believe I didn’t learn my lesson. I even thought about getting checked out before I bought it but I was in too big of a hurry.

One thing is for sure, I’m learning exactly what they mean by patience is a virtue, and I think I might need to take some time to focus on that.

In the meantime I got a heck of a lot of work done this weekend because I wasn’t going anywhere and risking something worse happening to the van.

My Top 5 Favorite Financial YouTube Channels

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I make YouTube video’s because I want to help inspire others that taking hold of your finances is possible. And that you can make small and conscious decisions each day to work towards your goal while still living a full and happy life.

If you’ve ever looked beyond my channel on YouTube, which I am sure most of you have, you will know that I am not the only one with this goal in mind. There are several financial YouTube channels out there that can inspire you on your debt free journey.

Below are five of my favorites.

debtisdum

 

Christine and Josh, along with their three daughters, started daily vlogging way back in 2011 to show how they were working towards their debt free journey. They were the first Dave Ramsey related YouTube channel that I found and it quickly felt like they were my mentors guiding me along in the process.

Although they do not vlog much anymore it is so worth it go back and watch their videos. Their Debt Kickin’ Sunday series offers a ton of valuable information, as do their weekly dinner videos. Seriously, I still use Josh’s spaghetti sauce recipe as my go to.

Jordan Page, FunCheapOrFree

 

Jordan Page is one of the most popular frugal YouTubers, having graced our screens in an episode of Cheapskates as well as on the Today Show, Rachael Ray, and many others. Her website, Fun Cheap or Free, offers a wide array of advice on anything from budgeting to organizing and even parenting. And since she has 5 kids with another on the way, and has managed to keep them all alive so far, I happily take any advice she can dish my way. One of my favorite series she has right now is her Q&A sessions with her husband.

Pennies into Pearls

 

Brittany from Pennies into Pearls is another YouTube channel that I follow, along with her blog. I love this channel because Brittany often gives us her budget with real numbers, to let families know that paying off debt can be done on just one income. On top of that she also has a ton of DIY crafting ideas that can be done for cheap on her website, and a lot of good meal planning tips too.

Our Life…On A Budget

 

Our Life…On A Budget is a Canadian family who are following Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps to get out of debt. Well, actually, they are out of debt (as is every channel I’ve posted if I remember correctly) but they still post videos on frugal living and how to handle life on a budget. I love to watch this channel because it lets me know that Dave Ramsey is not just for Americans. The principals are the same no matter what country you come from. I also like that they still post actively even though they are already out of deb.t

LiveLikeNoOneElse

 

Okay, let me tell you. Although this couple has not put up a new video in over a year, they are hands down my favorite financial YouTube family. I actually first found them through their birth vlog and then realized they were on a debt free journey.  Anna and Joel are just so real and relatable. Seriously from day one, I felt like Anna was a long lost best friend. Plus, they are doing this job on a freelance/ self-employed budget which is totally awesome.

We Paid Off Our First (And Second) Debt!

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I am so excited to be able to say we have paid off not only our first but our second debt as well. And in the process, we got rid of 15,095.00 of debt!

How did we do it?

Well, it’s kind of complicated-

First, we bought a “Dave van” with a small personal loan, a 2005 Honda Odyssey that is in really good condition actually and I am hoping can last us well beyond our debt free journey.

Then, we took both of our vehicles to Carmax. We sold my 2010 GMC Acadia and the Hubs’ truck. My Acadia was paid off, so we used what we got from it to pay what we were upside down in his truck.

We then had a bit left over, so we used that to pay off our smallest debt, the Hubs’ new iPhone.

So yes, we did semi use debt to help us out of this situation. Dave has said this was okay before in order to get out of a vehicle you are upside down in. And the loan is actually less than the amount we had to pay to get out from under his truck.

Some might ask why we didn’t save up each month to pay for the Dave van in cash, the answer is because his truck was costing us almost 900.00 a month between the payment and insurance. You read that right, 900 a month. We were having trouble making ends meet and that truck had a lot to do with it. It was seriously hindering out debt free journey.

This is why we also went to Carmax instead of selling the vehicles private party, which is something Dave also recommends. We simply could not wait any longer to get them sold.

Now we will take what we were paying on that truck and pay off our other debts, including the one we just took out, a lot faster instead of just treading water.

So here’s to progress! Now let’s see what we can do next month!

Monday’s With Meagan | Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps | Baby Step #1

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Hi Y’all,

Today I am doing a brief overview of Dave Ramsey’s 7 Baby Steps, and then really diving into the information on Baby Step #1.

Dave Ramsey’s 7 Baby Steps have provided a path to financial freedom for millions of people. It’s ‘God’s and Grandma’s guide to money’, meaning it’s simple and easy. It’s more about the motivation than the math…and it works.

Monday’s With Meagan: How To Get Your Spouse On Board With Getting Out Of Debt

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Hi Y’all,

So, you have decided that you want to get out of debt, but your spouse is not on board. What can you do?

I’ve been there, done that. For eight years actually. You read that right, EIGHT YEARS. I begged I pleaded, I demanded, and I threw fits that make my three-year-old look civil. And none of it worked. My husband just wasn’t interested, and I was defeated.

Luckily for me, today my husband is on board…at least I’m 98% sure he is. But it took me changing my strategy in order to get him there. In today’s video I’m discussing the mistakes I made, as well as what I did to help push him towards wanting to achieve financial freedom.

Until next time,
Meagan

How I Earned 239.98 In A Single Phone Call

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the-moogie-how-i-made-239.98-in-a-single-phone-call
To tell you this story I actually have to take you back in time a bit first. To 2013 when my husband upgraded his Xbox 360 to a shiny new Xbox One. He plugged it in, he got all excited, and then he realized he didn’t remember his login for his Xbox 360.

That fall, though, I noticed that we had a charge in our bank account for an Xbox live membership, and told my husband we had been charged again, and then it happened the next March, and again the next September. Every time my husband basically told me he thought I was insane, they weren’t charging us twice a year. I was just imagining it.

Y’all, this is where it gets embarrassing. I let it go on, for four years! Four freaking years!

It was pure laziness on my part, I wanted my husband to make the call…it’s his Xbox after all. He wanted me to make the call because I’m the main one who handles the finances. We were both stubborn and it could have cost us a lot of money.

Note I said could have.

This past March, when it happened again, I finally got annoyed enough to make the call. It turned out that Xbox Live payments are made like an ACH payment. Many banks, my bank included, allow recurring ACH payments to go through on a card even if the card is expired. They just push it through like it is the new card number.

Thankfully, since we were being billed from two completely different Xbox Live accounts, they could prove that we had been paying for two subscriptions the last four years and agreed to pay us back all of the money we had been charged in that time for our original account. It was 239.98 to be exact, in one 15-minute phone call.

I think it was well worth my time.

And I’m glad I learned that lesson then because in April we discovered that another company also had us on recurring ACH payments that we were unaware of. It was something my husband had accidentally signed up for when he was setting up his business. We caught this one after only two months and that 30-minute phone call earned us over 500.00.

Have you ever experienced a situation like this? Tell me your story in the comments section below!

Blow Money – The Budget Category You Should Not Be Slacking On

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blow-money-The-Moodie
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Were you the person creating your budget and wondering if blow money was really something you could justify? Have you ever found yourself in the midst of your debt free journey and found yourself thinking, “well I’m doing so great now, if I gave up my blow money I could put all that towards my snowball and get done with my debt x amount of times faster?”

Don’t do it!

I was you, and it was a huge mistake, seriously.

While blow money might seem like an easy thing to cut in order to reach your goals faster, in my experience it actually did the opposite.

That’s because while blow money also provides you a little bit of freedom, it also provides you with structure. The structure of having a set amount of money you can spend on you is often a huge motivator in continuing your journey.

It allows you to get that Venti Starbucks Caramel Mochiato you’ve been craving.

It allows you to buy that fancy CC Cream that’s the only thing you like on your skin.

It allows you to take the kids to grab a snowcone as a treat on a hot summers day.

It allows you to say yes to the new Melissa & Doug Puzzle your kids have been drooling over.

And it allows you to do it all guilt free.

Let me tell you a secret: taking away your blow money is not going to stop you from spending money on yourself. All it does is take away the structure, the boundaries, and the that it’s line in the budget creates. Taking it away is a breeding ground for guilt, and it’s not a fun way to live.

So allow yourself a little bit of freedom, your conscience and your wallet will thank you. I promise.

Life Updating: Moving Forward

I feel like it’s been forever since I sat down to post. So many things have gone on in the last few months, both financial and personal, and my brain has been living in constant overload. If I am being honest I feel like I’ve been living in a cloud of guilt and shame that my financial goals, as well as my household and family goals, are not coming to fruition. And it’s lead to a revolving door of anxiety and depression.

For example, while I am happy to say that we have not taken on any more debt since May, it comes with a sense of shame that it took me that long to get my husband on board with doing so. And on top of that our debt has still increased from then to now because of interest and such, and we’ve also had to pull money from savings several times since May to make ends meet.

We are making progress in our income, the hubs’ business is now up and running and doing good, we started it with no debt, and were even able to pay ourselves a bit each month since our second month being open. I am hopeful that this month we will be able to fully fulfill our budget with income from my job and the business, meaning no more money coming out of savings.

On top of finances, my house is a mess, and my kids are constantly going insane. Flu season is kicking our butts this year. We battled a PICU stay with Austen due to the adenovirus in November, influenza A in Atlas right after that, and so many rounds of the norovirus that I can’t honestly count. I’ve become so desperate I no longer let people wear shoes inside and everyone has to use hand sanitizer as soon as they come in, then I sanitize doorknobs each day. But the everyday clutter? It has me beat.

Basically this a whiney, I can’t do anything right kind of post, and I’m sorry. I want to be upbeat and happy all the time, but lately, I just can’t.

What I can tell you is that I am taking steps to get on top of things. I am human, I fall, we all do. I’m a real mom, a real person, and if you’re wanting to read a blog about a perfect wife, with a perfect house, and perfect kids and finances…well you need to look somewhere else. I will always try, but I will fail a lot and I know that it’s life.

So what am I doing? A new approach to therapy for one. I switched to a therapist who focuses on CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) to get ahold of my anxiety. I think that will be a big thing to allow me to focus on other aspects of my life. If I can get past my ‘stinkin thinkin’ I can move on top more positive thoughts and move on with my days instead of spending all day fixating on one mistake and the next on all the things I didn’t accomplish while I was fixating on that thought (I told you it was a brutal cycle). I’m also working on my internal health. I’m exercising, and making sure to take my vitamins, I’m eating healthier, and taking time to myself each day. I’ve also found a natural antidepressant supplement that I am giving a try, to hope that takes the edge off of my really bad days.

And thanks to marriage therapy (yep, we’re in it and I’m not ashamed) my marriage is starting to improve. We’re on the same page with our finances, we’re going over our budgets and spending together, and we’re starting to get on the same page with parenting as well. Thanks to our awesome therapist we are on the same page in so many areas, where before I don’t even think we were reading the same book…or sitting in the same library. It’s amazing to see what progress can be made when we are working together. Who would have thought?!

Finally, to jump start my new mindset I’ve given up extra spending for Lent. No more picking up this or that in my Target trips. So far I’ve been successful, although I’ve mostly been avoiding going shopping. I did actually go to Target on Sunday and come out with exactly the six items on my list, nothing more. I was very proud.

I think 2018 has some pretty good things in store for me, despite all the muck of the last few years. I’m excited. I’m persisting. And I’m moving forward into a brighter future.

 

 

The Budget: Why It Is Your Most Important Financial Tool

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Ah, the dreaded budget. The list of rules that dictates your life and your wallet. Most people hate the idea of a budget, many say that they do not need it, they are doing fine without it, it’s just not a necessity. They are wrong.

If there is anything, anything at all you take from this blog in regards to financial advice, I hope it is the importance of a budget. Not because I want to you to live a life restricted by the numbers on a list, but because I want to experience the freedom that a budget can give you.

Freedom, from a budget? You heard me, the budget is your number one tool to gaining financial freedom, and here is why.

It shows you where your money is going.

We made our first budget by analyzing our last three months of expenses and averaging out what we spent in different areas each month. Things like rent, internet, and our utilities were not a surprise. They rarely changed each month anyway. The fact that we spent almost 200.00 eating out in one month, yea that we didn’t expect. By seeing where exactly our money had gone in the past we were able to see what changes we could make to achieve bigger goals in the future.

You are in charge of your budget, not the other way around.

You tell your money where to go, you set the rules. Your budget isn’t this big bully trying to confine you into a rigid set of rules. You can choose how much money you want to spend each month eating out, or going on dates, or on that awesome new toy you’ve been eyeing for the kids.. All that matters is that it fits into your budget, that it equals zero when your done. Seriously, that’s the only rule, the rest is up to you.

Your budget is fluid.

Our needs change monthly. Sometimes unexpected events come up, last minute plans are made, or spontaneous opportunities arise. These things do not have to be budget killers, only budget changers. Did you just get invited to see Hanson on tour? I can only dream. Well, you don’t have to say no, you just have to adjust the budget to make it fit. Spend a little less eating out, save up your blow money, don’t buy that new mascara you’ve been dreaming of. It’s all about the give and take. It’s up to you.

Your budget is an asset, not a jail sentence. Simply take charge, be vigilant, and chances are you will discover your money can go a lot farther than you thought.

Want a copy of my free budget planning printable? Simply sign up for my email list to gain access to the free resources page!

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Are you still confused about your financial situation, or are completely overwhelmed by the idea of a budget and just don’t know where to start? Adam Hagerman, a certified financial planner, has set up a program designed to help. Adam will walk you through the steps of why you need a budget, how to implement it, as well as how to go beyond it to the path of financial freedom. And the best part? Whether you go with his payment plan option or pay upfront the whole 97.00  fee for the class, Adam’s Budgeting for Budget Haters Class will help you control your finances without emptying your wallet in the process.