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For a solid decade, we’ve been on a journey to financial freedom.
Ten years ago, I was getting up and going to a job every day, not one that I hated or even disliked, but one that took me away from my babies.
It was 10 Christmases ago that the Lord took me to an actual graveyard and showed me that I wasn’t not promised tomorrow with these little treasures.
I knew right then that we had to do whatever it took for me to be able to be with my babies more. While we had already begun the journey to financial freedom, it was then that we knew it was time to get serious! Enter, Dave Ramsey and The Total Money Makeover. We committed ourselves to giving it an honest go.
The only problem is that when money is already tight, saving money and cutting more corners seems impossible. When you look at the baby steps that Dave recommends as a whole, you feel overwhelmed and you wonder how in the WORLD you can ever actually do the things he talks about.
Ten years ago if you had told me we could have paid cash for not one but two vehicles over the course of a decade, I would have told you how impossible that was.
I would have told you it was impossible to pay all the credit card debt and student loan debt, to move forward without using said credit cards, and save at the same time.
I’m here today to tell you that it is totally possible!
You may be thinking, “They must have had great jobs and made lots of money.” Ya’ll, that can’t be further from the truth.
When I left my profession as a middle school teacher, my husband’s salary matched mine. That means that our income was cut in half, and what was left was not a huge income. It was an average income at best, supporting a family of six, which quickly became a family of 8.
3 Vital Pieces of the Financial Freedom Puzzle
So how is financial freedom possible in such situations? Three very simple, but BIG things come to mind. These things seriously will make or break you.
Get rid of credit card(s)
First, you have to nix the credit card. Cut. it. up!
The card doesn’t have to be in your wallet or even in whole form in order for you to continue to pay on it. If it’s cut up, you can’t use it.
And don’t. Use it, that is — not even for online purchases. For online shopping use your debit card, PayPal, or an electronic check.
It’s necessary for you to stop spending.
Except for true needs, do not buy anything. It takes time to figure out what true needs are because oftentimes our wants get mixed up with needs. Like the time my dryer died. True, it is a legitimate want, but I didn’t have to have a working dryer in order for life to go on. Hanging laundry on the line wasn’t what I wanted to do, but until we had extra money to pay cash for one, that’s exactly what I did.
An added bonus is the what you may learn about yourself in your process and how strong you really are! 😉
Related: Get On Track With Your Finances, Part 1: Stop Spending
Save, friend, with all your might! Every single little bit you can save, do!
Dave Ramsey calls this Baby Step #1: $1,000 emergency fund. You might have extra money left after paying bills you can save, but if you are like we were, there is no extra. None. We were barely paying our bills and eating, much less having extra to put in a savings account.
So, how did we get $1,000 in our emergency fund?
We sold stuff. Lots of stuff. Furniture, clothes, appliances we weren’t using, odds and ends. Anything we weren’t using, we got rid of, and we put the money into our emergency fund.
If we got birthday money or worked an odd job, that money also went into the emergency fund. We rolled coins, stopped eating out, and shopped thrift and consignment stores in order to scrape by. Oh, and ate beans and rice. Did I mention that before? 😉
Related: Get on Track With Your Finances, Part 2: How to Save When You Are Broke
Saving – The Game Changer
This is the single most life-changing part of the Baby Step process. When you have actual money in your savings account and something comes up, which it will, you have your own money ready and waiting for you to calmly take care of the problem.
Many times we had to redo this step because stuff will happen. Your car will need work, the a/c will stop working, or the washer will die. These are emergencies, and that’s what the emergency fund is for.
On the other hand, forgetting to lay out hamburger meat for supper, realizing you need an oil change, or a poorly functioning television is not. The truth is, once you see that you actually can have money in your savings account, your mindset will begin to shift and you will be more conservative in your wants vs. needs assessment.
Related: Get on Track With Your Finances, Part 3: 10 Ways to Dig Out of the Hole
Start with these three simple steps.
Chris and I always tell one another, “We didn’t get into this financial mess overnight, and we aren’t getting out of it overnight.” It’s going to take lots of time, and a determined, maybe a little stubborn mindset. Set your sights and don’t waiver. You can do this! I’m rooting for you!
And I’m here for you! Leave a comment or shoot me an email if I can help! firstname.lastname@example.org
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