Thursday, October 16, 2014

An Open Letter To Dave Ramsey

Dear Dave,

First of all, thank you very much.  Of all the things I have to say, that is the most important.

For several years (OK, decades if you want to be exact), my husband listened to you and tried to get me on board with your plan.  I resisted.  I did read the book, Total Money Makeover and it just made me angry.  In retrospect, I think it is because your plan was so radically different from my plan which meant that you (and my husband) were not smart enough to realize that my plan was the best plan.

A lot of life happened, including a 50% reduction in income when I had to quit working due to illness, several moves, a job loss, some medical crises, getting out of debt only to get back in again.

On December 5, 2012, I suddenly became sick and tired of being sick and tired.  I went online and found your website and started reading.  I discovered that you were having a Christmas give-away and I thought, “why not?” and registered for it.  It seemed terribly rude to (potentially) accept money from you without listening to you, so I turned on the radio.  Suddenly, everything started making sense.  I heard you ask someone if their plan was working and since it wasn’t, were they willing to give your plan a try?  I almost yelled “YES I AM!”  

When my long-suffering husband came home, I’m sure I made his head spin with my sudden dedication to all things Dave Ramsey.  Bless his heart!

Since we began this journey we have done the following:
  1. Started listening to the radio show
  2. Attended Financial Peace University class ~ one of the best things we have ever done
  3. Learned to view life and choices a little differently
  4. Reset some priorities
  5. Accumulated a baby-step emergency fund
  6. Started doing a monthly budget BEFORE the month started, instead of waiting until after the month was over and saying, “Hmm.  Now where did the money go this month?”
  7. Cut up all the credit cards
  8. Started paying down the debt
  9. Started paying cash for ALL purchases
Some tough stuff has happened along the way, and some good stuff.  But we have learned that it is all a matter of how you look at things.  For instance

  1. We totaled a car.  Bad thing?  Not really.  We took the insurance money, put some of it aside to be able to buy a replacement vehicle (affectionately referred to as Mama’s Little Red(neck) Truck) and used the rest to buy some household necessaries.  After we finished that baby-step emergency fund, that is.
  2. The husband had a work related injury that kept him off work for 6 weeks.  While the income was tax-free, (worker’s comp) it was only 66% of his regular income.  Bad thing?  Not really.  You see, my envelopes were already stuffed for the month.  I knew what things on the budget form could be cut back and they got cut back.  We paid minimum payments on debt and just kept plugging away.  It happened at Christmas time, but that wasn’t a problem.  We had an envelope for that!
  3. The husband got a new job (this was a huge big deal/answer to prayer).  This came with a 20% salary increase, but we suddenly had to buy another car as he would no longer have a company car.  We had been keeping a storm cloud fund for potential knee surgery for him.  The new job dramatically decreased the likelihood that surgery would be needed this year, so we renamed that envelope “Car”.  Through a rather convoluted set of mixed blessings, two different family members each decided to give us a car.  When we told the second one that another family member had given us a car already, the response was, “Great!  Now you both have reliable transportation.  Just use your little unreliable red(neck) truck for hauling stuff”. 
  4. In the course of changing jobs we were not at all sure how the pay schedules were going to work out.  I simply budgeted a month with no income and the storm cloud  car envelope became that months’ budget needs. 
  5. When we did get some payment from both jobs that month, instead of being frustrated on the income decrease for the month (since they were both only partial payments), we rejoiced that even more had been provided for our needs.  Remember?  I had budgeted a “No Income” month.
All of these things are rather new for us, the old us would have just charged up the credit cards and applied for a personal loan, after financing a car loan for a new car.  In addition to that, we have been able to gently advise friends who have asked us financial questions, and share the precepts that we have learned from your class and your daily radio show.

Yup.  Life is rather different for us now.  Easy?  Not really.  We still have debt and it is still going to take us a while to pay it off.  I still get nervous when I think about the fact that we are in our 50’s and have no retirement set aside.  When that happens I remind myself of how God has provided for all our needs over the past 27 years of marriage.  We are working hard now to be more faithful stewards of what He entrusts to us.  We are confident that He is not going to let us down!  We are determined to finish well.  

Thank you!  One of these days we will be calling to schedule our own Debt Free Scream.  Until then, we remain thankful for all you have done for us in the areas of finance, stewardship, and marriage.

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