Tag Archives: Dave Ramsey

A Positively Wonderful 2014

1 Jan

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For some reason, as I start this post, I feel like I’ve already written something similar to this once.  I write my blogs mostly for me because I need to remind myself what I’m trying to do.  I’m trying to find financial peace. 

For me to do this, I must remain positive. I have to keep my finances positive.  I have to have more income than I do bills, and I have to increase the debt-to-income ratio as quickly as possible.  I’ve made remarkable strides in how I manage my finances.  I still have a long way to go, but I am improving.  I continuously ask the Lord to help me change the way I think about spending and saving.  I want Him to help me understand that it’s His money – not mine.

Last year, I posted 13 goals for 2013.  This year, I won’t do that.  I have only one goal this year.  I want to be more positive.  I want to be positive in my finances, and I want to be positive in how I think about myself and others.  One of the greatest barriers for me in relationships is my attitude. I still have plenty of growth to experience in my emotions.  I am not great at taking my thoughts captive (2 Cor 10:5).  That is yet another prayer of mine.  Many times, I allow a thought to run amok until it frustrates me.  This is not healthy and will not allow me to succeed in life.

Dave Ramsey talks consistently about how we need to tell our money what to do.  That is so true.  We also need to tell our thought life what to do.  We shouldn’t be ruled by our thoughts; we should rule our thought life.  Now, I am not quite sure how to manage this, but I’m on a quest to learn this year!  I know that we can ask the Lord to help us.  We can declare our thoughts based on His Word.  That is where I will start.  Please feel free to share your thoughts on how I can remain positive in this world where it’s far too easy to focus on the negative!

So, my goal for 2014 – to be positive.  And I’m positively sure I can do it because the Joy of the Lord is my strength (Neh 8:10), and I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil 4:13).   

How do you remain positive?

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I’m Back! Did You Miss Me?

7 Dec

Tigers

Wow! It’s been WEEKS since my last post.  I don’t even have a good excuse.  I’m just going to cover the latest events in my life as succinctly as possible.  Ready???

Continue reading

Turning It Over to God

30 Jun

20130630-170313.jpgI find that one of my greatest struggles as a Christian is turning over everything to Him. It sounds great, but when we operate out of our earthen vessels, it’s a very difficult concept to live from. I guess I have this tendency to think I can somehow manage to do it myself.

I am currently involved in Celebrate Recovery, and our lesson this week has been Turn. Turning our lives over to Him. I’ve made many turns in my life to Him, including giving my heart to Him on November 4, 2004. Yet, I still have issues in my life that I feel like I should be able to handle on my own.

BUT, that’s not the way God operates. He longs to connect with us and to help us; we only need to ask. Relationship with God is NOT about a one-time event. It’s about constant connection to Him and His will for our lives.

That’s so hard for me! I want to fix things myself. And to an extent, I have to get my hands dirty. “The sluggard buries his hand in the dish, But will not even bring it back to his mouth” (Proverbs 19:24 NASB). I don’t have to do it alone, though. I can ask God to help me over and over again. He doesn’t mind the persistence. “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16 NKJV). It’s so hard for me to give it over to Him and to trust Him to take care of me. He’s a powerful God; He can make up for my mistakes!

When I think about how I need to handle my finances, I need to do a better job of asking God how He wants me to handle getting out of debt and managing my financial future. I respect Dave Ramsey and what he has done to help people get out of debt. I believe firmly in his plan, but if I’m not seeking His will, I’m really just spinning my wheels. I have to ask Him, too.

Perhaps my, or should I say His, financial plan will be a hybrid Dave Ramsey plan. I am going to turn my finances over to God even more and ask Him to speak to me about what He wants me to do.

My prayer since I began this journey to clean up my financial mess (made because I didn’t ask Him what to do) has been that I would spend/save appropriately. That’s not enough! “God, I ask you to speak to me about how I should handle my finances. You know what’s best for me and my future. I ask that my financial mindset would align with your heart. I turn it over to you, Lord. I trust your plans for me. in Jesus mighty name, Amen.”

How do you turn things over to The Lord? What would you like to turn over to Him?

It will Get Messy

23 May

messy-deskLife will get messy, and I’m sure I’m preaching  to the choir here. It can be perfectly neat for a while, but rest assured, something will change. You may find a new job, or you might get a new boss.  A family member may get sick, or you may lose someone close to you. Perhaps a move is required, or maybe you’ll go to a new church.  A marriage might begin or end, or a child might graduate. A variety of things can come along that will inevitably cause a mess.

But there’s a way to handle the mess. Sometimes, you just have to clean up one mess at a time. It’s certainly easier but not always feasible. When it’s possible, I always prefer to clean up my messes at home one at a time. Dave Ramsey recommends that with his debt snowball. Pay on all your debts, but focus all your extra money on one debt, and then move on to the next. When I clean my house, I tend to start in one room at a time and work my way out. When it’s possible, this is the best method of cleanup.

It doesn’t always work this way, though. Sometimes several messes occur at once. If you have children, you know exactly what I mean. How do you clean up a mess that just never seems to go away? Well, the first option is to remove the source of the mess so that it can’t continue to pile on the mess. That’s why Dave recommends cutting up the credit cards. You can’t clean up a mess until you quit contributing to the mess.

I’m notorious for adding onto a mess. I can take a problem and magnify it in my head until I make it larger than life. I’m aware that I do it. I just don’t know how to quit adding to the mess right now.  However, I am in the process of going through Celebrate Recovery right now. I believe it’s one of the best ways to stop piling up the garbage. I will continue to update you as I work through this program. It won’t be easy, but it will be fruitful.

Another way to clean up multiple messes is to ask for help. Wives, if you’re struggling with getting your housework done, ask the kids or your husband to help you. If your finances are a mess, find an accountability partner to help you or work with your spouse to tackle the problem. If your life feels messy right now, get your friends and family to help you. Join a Bible study or find a close group of friends you can trust to help you. In Celebrate Recovery, you have a group of people that are walking the same journey you are. They are all there to clean up something, and it makes the cleaning a little easier if you know someone is on their way to help, even if you get started a little earlier.

Another way to clean up multiple messes is to find someone with more experience in the area of your struggles. If you’re struggling to change the way you handle your money, find someone who has succeeded financially. They may not have the same exact journey, but they are in the place you want to be. If you want to have a successful marriage, find someone who has been married for more than 30 years and pick their brain!!!! In Celebrate Recovery, you’re required to find a sponsor – someone who has walked the same walk you’ve walked and is on the other side. It’s an important part of the Celebrate Recovery process, and it works.

And the most important person to turn to to clean up a mess of any kind is God. He doesn’t care what it is; He just knows that you need the help.  No problem is too big or small for Him because He knows that no problem is small to us. “For I cried out to him for help, praising him as I spoke. If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer. Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me.” (Psalms 66:17-20 NLT)

How do you clean up your messes? How do you ask others for help?

What You See is what You Get

7 Apr

bella-reading-glasses-pink-25-p

We’ve all heard this phrase many times.  Most of the time, we hear this in regards to a person who is transparent.  What you see with that person is what you get.  I won’t go into a diatribe about how that’s probably not true ever because people are deeper than we ever give them credit for.  I will, however, take a look at this statement from a different angle.

Have you ever noticed that your perception of yourself, another person, or a situation can determine how you react to the situation?  Sometimes an innocent or harmful statement made by someone can actually be interpreted differently by the person who hears it.  It’s the age old battle of sender/receiver.  Men joke that women often take a compliment offered by their mate and turn it into an insult.  “You look nice today, dear” can quickly turn into “Are you saying I don’t look nice every day?”  How much fun are those conversations, guys?  

The philosopher John Locke said that words have no power until we assign them the power.  I believe that firmly.  And I believe that the power of the words spend and save have to change if I am ever going to have Financial Peace.  When I am out ready to make a purchase, what power controls me? Is it my desire to be debt free? Or is it my desire to have what I want without waiting?  The answer is most likely, “YES!!!”  Sometimes I choose to answer the debt free question, and sometimes I choose to want without waiting.  Last year, I would have simply “wanted” without worrying about my debt.  I’m growing every day in the way I spend and save.  I still feel like a newborn horse stumbling around and trying to get my feet underneath me.  But I will be galloping before I know it, readers!  I look forward to sharing those gallops with each of you.

I am enrolled in Financial Peace University right now, and Dave Ramsey talked about the power of the emergency fund.  He says that when the emergency fund is in place, emergencies just don’t seem to happen.  Perhaps that is true, or maybe emergencies just have a different appearance when an emergency fund is in place.  I can’t really speak on this because I don’t have the 3-6 month emergency fund Dave recommends – yet.  I think there’s a chance that what you see in an emergency is indeed what you get.  As an example, before I had my small emergency fund set aside, a major car repair would have been a major setback.  Now, I have some peace knowing that if a minor emergency came up I would be okay. 

I’m walking this journey to be debt free, and I’m changing the lexicon of my life.  I will continue to redefine spending and saving for myself until they actually match up to the definition of someone who has financial success.  So…how do you define spending? Saving?

Big News, Everyone

24 Mar

20130324-051906.jpgI hope my readers who have watched Futurama enjoy the reference to the old man! For those of you who are unfamiliar with the show, there’s still big news to share!

My FAP has been offered a job that she’s been waiting for for a LONG time! She’s baited many hooks and had many nibbles, but she finally got one to bite! I am so happy for her. No one deserves this more than she does. She will go far in whatever she does for her new employer, and they are lucky to have her. Oh, the places she’ll go! 20130324-051723.jpg

I will have an opportunity to see if I’ve grown in the way that I think about money. It’s been great having my FAP around daily. It’s almost like Linus with his security blanket. With the new job, I will have to take all the work and training we’ve done together and apply it daily. She and I are still going to discuss my spending and my finances, but my access to her won’t be quite so close. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to see how I’ve grown.

My FAP actually works in my office for our budget department. In FPU last week, Dave Ramsey said that people who understand how to manage their money end up managing other people’s money. Well, that’s what my FAP does at work, and she does a great job. Our office will miss her work ethic and her productivity (and her friendship).

I have been offered a chance to move from my department to the budget department to help fill her role (as If that’s possible). I am excited for the opportunity because I think it will make me a better employee in the long term. I’m also extremely nervous because it’s a completely new field for me, with completely different policies and procedures, and I just got used to the policies and procedures of my last department! I think it’s a great opportunity for me to grow, though, so I have to take it!

There is a major concern for me, and I’m just being honest. I don’t always handle uncertainty well. I have a tendency to take my own feelings of uncertainty and verbalize them to my coworkers. I’ve been very guilty of that in the past. But, God has done a lot of work in my soul, and I believe He will help me handle this transition the right way if I let Him! I have another opportunity to see how I’ve grown emotionally. My prayer is that I will give myself Grace to make mistakes and learn from them. Please join me in those prayers, and feel free to share scriptures with me that may be helpful!

How do you handle changes in your life?

Star Wars of My Finances

9 Mar

Star Wars of My Finances

I’m not the biggest Star Wars fan out there, but I do enjoy the movies. My favorite episode is Empire Strikes Back. My Financial Accountability Partner (FAP)’s husband shared a quote with me from the movie, …”you have taken your first step into a larger world,” and I responded with my own quote.

“You Must Unlearn What You Have Learned”

He said that I must unlearn what I have leaned if I want to control my finances. And how true is that? I went through adolescence and most of my adult life living paycheck to paycheck (and still am currently). I didn’t care about saving. I only cared about spending, and boy did I enjoy that! But, if I want to give like no one else, as Dave Ramsey says, I MUST unlearn what I’ve learned about money these last 20+ years. So, how do I do that?

Well, to unlearn something, I have to learn something. The best way I know how to learn something is to immerse myself in the subject matter. Writing this blog helps me to do that. I’m always thinking about what I can write about, and I know that I better have positive reports for all my readers out there (all five of you). Believe it or not, making my bed helps me to do that, too. I think about my finances every time I make my bed! It’s a great way to start my day!

I also think reviewing my spending with my FAP keeps me immersed in my financial health. She will not let me get away with anything! And I’ve tried to sneak some things by her. She’s not having it. I’m glad she’s not either. When I spend money, I ask myself what she would say. It really makes me think about what I’m doing with my money!

Reading books is another way I can unlearn what I have learned in the past. I am currently reading Necessary Endings by Dr. Henry Cloud. The book talks about how to handle the various types of endings we encounter in life and reminds me that endings are truly a necessary part of life, even if they are painful.

I’m also reading Complete Guide to Money by Dave Ramsey. It’s the handbook for Financial Peace University (FPU). I’ve only read the first chapter, but I’m looking forward to reading it. I think it will help me gain even more understanding of how to handle money and finances.

Speaking of FPU, I attended my first class on Monday. I had heard or read some of the information before, but I really enjoy how Dave teaches his lessons. He’s humorous and down to earth and loves the Lord. A perfect combination. I’m looking forward to next week’s lesson!

I was a little discouraged after the class. They did a group snapshot of everyone’s financial situation. I have more debt than the class average. Hearing that was a reminder of the mess I got myself into. BUT I also know I can get myself out. And all this immersion will be helpful. Woohoo for the hope to accomplish my goals!

I also realized that while I may have been using a decent budget, it is incomplete. I have a car maintenance line, but it’s not extensive enough. I need to modify my budget to include unexpected car repairs. I also need a more complete beauty care line. I should include haircuts and makeup in that line on my budget.

The good news is that I can adjust my budget at any time, and I’ve already done just that. I am so thankful that I am able to make changes to my budget. I’m also thankful that I can make changes to my behavior. And the best way for me to change my behavior is to unlearn what I have learned.

So, how do you learn/unlearn?

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A Final Tally

20 Feb

ImageWell, income tax has come and gone.  Overall, I am pleased with how I handled things, but I sure did fall back into my old habits.  I handled most of my money pretty well, but there was some spending that occurred that shouldn’t have. Each dollar should have had a purpose, and I allowed some of my dollars to just be spent. 

I won’t go into specific details about how much I spent that I shouldn’t have.  I did make a final tally for myself, which is something I’ve never done before. I also reminded myself what I could have done with that money, which is a reminder I desperately need! I think it would have been okay for me to spend some of the money for fun, although my Financial Accountability Partner (FAP) had a different idea.  If I wanted to have spending money, I should have designated a set amount, instead of spending whatever I wanted.  I knew how much I needed to set aside for this expense or for that need.  I have done a better job of sticking to my budget, but I made the mistake of not budgeting every dollar of my income tax.  My FAP asked me when I was going to get back on the wagon.  I told her I was forced to get back on the wagon because my discretionary money has been spent.  I think we’re both relieved!

I’m still amazed at what God does – even if we fall short.  I have been in desperate need of a new pair of running shoes and knew I didn’t want to spend my income tax on it.  I was talking with a friend of mine who offered to help me buy some new shoes.  It was a totally unsolicited offer, and I couldn’t be more grateful.  I can’t wait to run in them!

I did run a 5k last Monday.  I ran it in 30:19, which is 3:00 faster than my first 5k.  My goal after my first 5k was to get below 30:00.  I’m much closer than I expected, especially considering I didn’t train like I wanted to.  I have a couple of 5k races scheduled this year and plan to run in a 10k this summer.  I will keep you posted on my results on the 5k races, and I will also update you on my training for the 10k.  I plan on adding a “racing fee” line on my budget.  Woohoo!

I also received an offer to attend Financial Peace University.  Some awesome people I know offered to sponsor me!  I’m excited to learn more about how to handle my finances.  I think it will be very beneficial to me as I continue to climb this mountain.  I’ve been at the bottom of the mountain for a long time.  I want to get to the peak!  I start my classes on March 4.  I am sure I will have some blog fodder from the classes.  

My main problem with my finances is my spending mindset.  I’ve shared this fact with you before, and it is still a struggle for me.  No class will help with this problem.  What will help is prayer, and a continued effort to shift my focus.  I make my bed to remind myself every morning how important it is to spend correctly.  I listen to Dave Ramsey podcasts to shift the way I think about money, and now I am ready for Financial Peace University!  I will continue to work on this area of my life, until I get it right, and then I will work on it some more!

So, I didn’t handle things perfectly these last two weeks.  But I did improve on bad habits.  I should have some good news coming up in the next couple of weeks, and I am sure I will have plenty to report from Financial Peace University.  Here’s to a new two weeks!

Big Steps

7 Feb

If you’ve been to my blog before, you know I’m walking trough the Dave Ramsey plan right now. I started this blog as I started this plan, and I am happy to report that I have made it to Baby Step 1, which is my emergency fund.

I am so excited because I’ve always struggled with saving money. It was so important to me to have a firm goal in mind when I decided to start this plan. I’ve made goals to save before and always faltered for one reason or another. The firm goal was a big help.

As I got closer to the goal, I became more excited. And I wanted to find ways to get there faster. My snowball was building momentum! I started trimming other areas of my spending and changing some of my spending habits so I could put that money towards my emergency fund. It actually started to become fun!

A challenge for me at the beginning of this process was how I handled the money in my envelopes. If there was money left in one of those envelopes, I would spend it on me. Now, I am trying to spend less than that envelope because I want to put that money towards my snowball!

I have to thank my financial accountability partner here. We will call her “Courtney.” She’s challenged me and encouraged me through this whole process. I have immense respect for her and the way she handles her money. She is humble and gracious, and I owe her a debt (pun intended) of gratitude for all her help. Of course, I’m not going to pay her to make up for it! And she wouldn’t want me to anyway! So, I will thank her here instead!

I’m on to the second step and the first debt. By my calculations, I should have that paid off soon. Check back soon for details! I will keep you posted!

What methods do you use to keep yourself motivated to save? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

Cost of Financial Freedom

31 Jan

What is the cost of financial freedom? I would probably say it is incalculable. I can’t tell you how many times I have found myself ruminating over my financial situation. I’ve caught myself driving down the road wondering what I would do if I wrecked my car because I wouldn’t have the money to pay for my deductible. And how would I get to work? A myriad of questions run through my mind at all times regarding my financial situation. I could go on and on about my – and there’s really not a better word -worries, but we are called to put our trust in Him. Jesus was very clear about worrying in Matthew 6:34, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

As I’ve begun to refocus my mentality on my finances, I’ve realized just how valuable financial freedom is. The borrower truly is slave to the lender (Prov 22:7)! At this point in my baby steps, I am still miles away from being out of debt. It could be several years before I pay off the debt I have. And every single time I spend money, I find myself thinking about how that expense will impact my debt free goal date.

Now, that’s progress for me. I used to not think that far ahead. I would swipe so quickly just so I could have what I wanted right that moment. I am very thankful for the progress. But I still fight shame about the situation I’m currently in. I’m paying my “stupid tax,” as Dave Ramsey says. And I will be for several more years.

I see my friends who have financial freedom. They have little to no debt, and I can see the lack of burden in their lives. I long for that. I want that. I want to be able to freely give. And yes, I want to have some freedom in the way I spend, too. Not too much freedom there, though! After all, that free spending mindset got me where I am right now!

For now, I will put my nose to the grindstone and continue to ask the Lord to help me understand how to spend and save my money. Or maybe I should say His money. And when I have a true understanding that it is all His money, then I will have true financial freedom!

What does financial freedoms look like to you?

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