Creating New Habits

Rob and I don’t save a lot of money.  We also don’t borrow a lot of money.  What we do, though, is spend a lot of money.  Let’s be honest – we haven’t been as good stewards of our finances as we could have been.  Comparatively, we’re mildly in debt, and our mortgage is lower than most of our peers (that live in our city).  Our only debt right now (mortgage aside), is for our car that we bought nearly 2 years ago.  So as you can see – not dying from the debt. 

That said, when I decided to work out a budget of how we’re going to spend next month when my maternity leave ends (gulp!), it was shocking to see how little money we will have.  We will still pay all our bills, and be able to get food on the table.  We will even have a little spending money.  However, we’ve had to cut our grocery budget down, downgrade our home phone plan, and I’ve even considered giving up my cell phone (double gulp!!).  All in the name of having a few extra dollars at the end of the month to pay off our car. 

See, I’ve been reading this book that my sis lent to me.  It’s called The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey.  I had only heard of him by reading a few threads on him on the Diaper Swappersforum, but other than that, he was a total fresh face.  Some of you may listen to his show, have attended his speaking engagements, or maybe even have been through his program.  I also understand that some people really hate Dave Ramsey.  That is totally fine by me, but I would really appreciate NOT hearing about how dumb he is (or I am for taking some of his advice).  Anyway, he gives an outline on how to get debt-free, and how you should prioritize your money.  This book has really got me thinking about how we can get some extra cash-flow, so we can get our income back by not being tied to a car payment.

As you saw in my last post, we claimed a little portion of our income back last week – I paid off my credit card.  I am so thrilled that I do not have the bad decisions of my past hanging over my head any longer!  I called Visa today and requested that they close my account.  The gentleman at Visa seemed really curious as to why I would want to do that!  I mean, really – I can just keep the card and not use it!  But truthfully, I can’t.  It seems like any time I free up the balance, I just fill it up again.  I’ve done it twice, and this second time?  It will be my last time, ever.  I refuse to have credit card debt ever again!  So after I cancelled it, I cut it up into little pieces, and did a happy dance on them.  I feel so free, like I was able to cut one temptation out of my life. 

This means that we have one major task ahead of us – cutting out our car payment.  How I rue the day we signed up for a new car!  I wish that I could go back in time and shake my former self.  We would have been just as happy with a 2 year old same model car with a portion of the payments!  Let me tell you – I will never buy a brand new car again.  I knew that cars depreciated, and that they weren’t an investment.  The car that we have now, we pretty much drive it until it dies to get as much value out of it as possible.  While I love my dear Ginny (the car), I despise our payments.  I’m even considering taking on a part-time job a couple nights a week to help us pay it down more quickly.  Once the car is paid off, the amount that we would have had tied up in car payments will be more than I would be making for those few evenings.  It will be like I get paid to quit my job!  🙂

In order to start our “debt snowball” as Dave calls it, we’re going to try to sell a few things, and just.stop.buying.  This means no more fancy diapers for Kitten (gulp!).  No more Starbucks every week for me (gulp!).  No more videogames for Rob (gulp!).  No more eating out 2x a week (gulp!).  It also means that we’re going to start to sell some of our stuff.  We have a lot of it, and if I have my way, our second car will be the first to go.  Truthfully, we drive it maybe once every 3 months, and we’re just maintaining it.  There aren’t any payments on it, so even if we got $1000 for it, that would go straight towards our loan!  That would be amazing!  I’m also considering selling some of my books.  I know.  I love my books, but truthfully, I wonder why I have some of them.  The Terry Goodkind series?  While I loved it when I read it, I’ll bet you dollars to buttons I’ll never pick it up again.  The same with some of my Guy Gavriel Kay books.  This has been a hard realization for me, but I honestly think that it will do me some good to thin out my bookcases.  And due to the fact that we haven’t budgeted for new books?  It looks like it’s back to the library for me! 

I’m really excited about attacking our debt and starting to live a more free life.