We believe in celebrating success. Life can be all about the hustle, but slowing down for just a moment to celebrate small and big wins is huge for us. Win’s include being able to speak at conferences, marking family goals off our list, or celebrating new jobs. Honestly, there is something special to celebrate every day, but there are sometimes when there are BIG WINs.
For today’s #moneymondays post, we share with you a big, HUGE win. We achieved baby step #2 on the Dave Ramsey Financial Plan! For those of you who don’t know of the DR plan, check out his website. He makes sense of cents so that you can honor God with your money while setting yourself up for success. Early in our marriage, Conner and I knew we wanted to get out of consumer debt. We worked hard the past 2 1/2 years, together, to pay off our student loans and this past weekend we celebrated with a bon voyage of sorts to Sallie Mae. See ya, wouldn’t wanna be ya!Finances are hard, let alone combining finances with your spouse and having to mutually agree on goals/budget. No wonder finances are what cause the biggest fights in marriage. Truth be told, when Conner and I first got married and we decided to combine our bank accounts- I cried. I was loyal to my bank, I was scared of losing control of the money, and I cried. Not much makes me cry- but that did. Yikes! One of the big things Dave talks about is one person in the relationship is usually the spender, and one of the spouses is the saver. I was/am the saver and Conner was the spender. Early we had to discover and teach each other about the ways of the other.
With that being said, because of our strengths together in holding each other accountable, we knocked out the student loans. It really was a partnership between three people… Big G, Conner, and Me. The budget held us in place, Conner’s thumb print on the pulse of the money flowing in and out, and both of us holding each other accountable in getting creative with spending money rather than just going out to eat every night. Dave’s plan is very strict in the sense that you eat rice and beans so that you can pay everything off that much quicker. Conner and I chose a modified route where we had a budget for eating out and a budget for meals at home. Here are a few things we did to keep our finances on track and make progress towards our goal:
1)Pantry Dumps: We got creative some nights in “pantry dumps” where we would try to create meals without having to go to the grocery store. This was one of my favorite things to do because it allowed us to be creative and really use up what we had. It made me feel like we were not wasting an ounce of what we had been given.
2)Weekly Grocery Runs: We would only go to the store once a week which made us intentional about the meals for the week and the items we would need. We went in with a list and didn’t stray from it. This was hard. When Conner goes to the store, he would grab random things and our basket would be full before we knew it. For me, I would miss items and end up having to go back to the store later in the week. On my return trip to the store I would end up picking up more items and this doubled our grocery bill. We found a system that worked for us: Throughout the week we would put our meal ideas on a Google Doc and the coordinating groceries. This was a place for us to list items we had run out of or the random treats we wanted on the next grocery store run. This made us both be intentional about the groceries in our cart and the money being spent. It also meant we could use the same ingredients throughout the week like having a bulk pack of chicken to use for tacos, grilled night, or chicken sandwiches.
3)Written budget: This is one of the big things Dave credits for success, and it is so true. The written budget allowed us to see and know where our money was going. It also helped us in terms of being the spender/saver. We each have a personal account with a few dollars in it to spend however we see fit for the month. I used to get frustrated when I would make a purchase and instantly get a text from Conner of “um why did you go to Target today??”. This allowed us both to freely spend our personal funds in whatever way we saw fit, or to save up for a larger purchase that we had in mind for ourselves. I think budgeting is all about putting aside your selfish desires to achieve a common, bigger goal. Our personal funds allowed us to ease in to that mindset and still allow us the freedom of being uniquely individual.
4) Non Essential Purchases: We held off on non-essential purchases. There are a lot of wants for our family. We wanted a mansion. We want a new truck, new wardobes, new “fill in the blank here”. It wasn’t easy (still isn’t) but we held off on those things and said no more times than yes in order to achieve this goal. It is easy to play the comparison game and think “well they have a new car, why can’t we”, but we had to remind ourselves that our goals look different. Saying no meant freedom in the long run. We got creative on some of these things. Like the wardrobe. I learned how to do a quick sew to trim down some of my clothes during our healthy lifestyle transition. Creativity and sticking to a budget is the name of the game when it comes to combating the desire to purchase non-essential stuff.
This is a big win. It doesn’t mean we have it all figured out or that we are millionaires. What it does mean is that we can move on to our next financial goal and pausing to celebrate this milestone gives us encouragement to keep going. What financial goals are you currently working towards? Make sure you subscribe up on the top right hand corner so that you can receive the #moneymondays updates straight to your inbox!