The last time I updated my blog about our journey to financial peace was in October (read about it here). We were still in Financial Peace University and had just started developing our budget. I had just began working full time again after a 5 month hiatus while finishing graduate school and so we were excited to start Dave’s Baby Steps. While we started with a mountain of debt, we have been diligent to work hard every month to shrink it.
By no means have we done things perfectly. We have gone over budget several times. But we are getting better and each month we are constantly learning something new.
The biggest difference in our post-FPU marriage is that now we are on the same page about our finances. That has truly transformed our marriage. We meet monthly (but we met more frequently at the start of the process) to review the past month and discuss the coming month. We draw cash for almost every category and have committed to only using cash to pay for those things. We certainly feel the pain more when we use cash and don’t swipe our card.
And yes, we cut up our credit cards.
So what has changed about our lives since we started this journey over 8 months ago?
1. We got on a budget. We use Mint.com which tracks every dollar that goes through our banking accounts. It’s a safe and secure service that I have been using for years (well the bank account was linked years ago but we didn’t stick to the budget). We also have all our loans entered so we can track them there and watch them dwindle! Mint helps us keep track of our budget and we love it. We both have mobile apps and can track our budget all the time.
2. We use cash. Like I mentioned above, we try to minimize using our DEBIT cards for anything. All our bills are auto-pay and the only thing I can think of that we swipe for is gas. For everything else we draw cash at the beginning or middle of the month. This helps us hold ourselves accountable to our budget. Have you done this before? You sure do value every dollar when paying with cash. It makes the money feel so much more real.
3. We made budget cuts. Our grocery budget is slim. We have the bare minimum for clothes. I do have a “home décor” budget, but it’s not much compared to what we used to spend. But whenever I wish we had more money (or allowed ourselves to spend it), I remind myself of how much better we feel since we started. And the end goal- of having no debt, changing our family tree, and living and giving like never before- is going to be worth it.
4. Our marriage. We didn’t fight much before, but when we did, it was about money. You can read my husband’s blog post about that here. Our communication about money has improved because we are united about our goals. We are both striving to save and live by the budget. There is no more tension about how one of us is spending. We don’t dread looking at our bank account and wonder where all our money went.
We have been working on the baby steps for about 9 months now. We are done with baby step 1- $1,000 emergency fund. We are working hard on baby step 2- the debt snowball. We have paid off a significant amount!
And let me tell you, it’s addicting.
We fight over who gets to pay off the debt snowball at the end of the month! We are done with both credit cards and are working on my husband’s car now. Since our debt total is so much, we keep a chalkboard in our laundry room with a thermometer of the current debt we are focusing on. Every time we make a payment we fill in more. It’s exciting to see the amount we have paid off increase. But the best part is wiping it off and starting on a new one.
This journey has been the best thing we have ever done for our marriage. I wish we would have done it before we got married and would encourage any married couple, and definitely any engaged couple, to go through FPU. But we are excited about it now and love the progress we have made!
Whether you have a mountain of debt like we do or none but don’t have a working budget, I encourage you to take Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. You truly will feel peace about your financial life and will regain control of your money. We feel like we are finally honoring God with our money by exercising self-control and preparing for the future instead of letting it happen to us.
Do you have any debt stories to share?
What are your money saving tips?
I would love to hear from you and love for others to be encouraged by your story!
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