The beginning of 2013 has me reflecting back on the 2+ years I've been following Dave Ramsey's Program.
In June 2010 I started following Dave. I think my high school friend mentioned it and I decided to read his book. I was hooked! I remember when I lived in Richmond that I had heard of Dave's Financial Peace University program through the church. I thought it was ridiculous to pay $100 to sit through a class that teaches you how to manage money. I had money, it was being managed... I wasn't poor. After reading his book, I paid the $100 and took FPU in Aug - October 2010. Best money I ever spent!
Dave has 7 Baby Steps. Jason and I are on Baby Step 2. That's the hardest & longest one. There's some "Sub" steps also, such as saving for a house since we rent. That step comes after being debt free and having our 3-6 months in savings. I have a rough estimate that we will be able to purchase our forever home before the end of 2016.
My Debt History
I graduated college in May 2003 with $44,7728 in Student Loan Debt (3 Loans) and some Credit Card Debt.
In June 2010 my student loan debt was paid down a little, I had 2 credit cards, and a car loan.
Student Loan: $27,879
Toyota: $11,111 (I took a $15k loan in October 2008)
Credit Card: $10,040
For a grand total of $49,030. Which was more than my income!! Aye Aye Aye!!
Enter Dave. And a new budget, and cash only. Using Cash Only was my biggest savior. On the old budget, I would go to Wal-Mart each payday, and spend $200-300 on food, random things... more random things. So twice a month I was buying stuff I didn't need, just wanted. I can't even describe how much I was spending elsewhere also, online, Amazon. All wants, nothing really needed. Using cash only for groceries, toiletries, dog supplies, entertainment, clothing, and eating out made such a difference. I was now spending around $320 cash a month on all those things, allocated to their designated envelope.
I didn't keep as much track as I would have liked, but an old spreadsheet has that by February 2011 I had paid off around $7k in the 7 months since starting Dave's Financial Peace Program.
At the beginning of 2012 I had paid off one school loan and one credit card. I had converted the other credit card to a Lending Club Line of Credit to make it easier - the interest rate was lower and my payments were the same each month, unlike revolving CC payments.
January 2012 - I had paid off almost $20k in 18 months. My "Snowball" Payments had stopped as Jason and I were saving for a wedding. We stayed on top of all minimum payments but everything extra (Jason was on a budget too now!) went toward the wedding in July 2012.
August 2012 - We're one. Our bank account is one. We're not a joint partnership, we are a one unit. What's his is mine, and what's mine is still mine. :)
My debt in August 2012 was $26,927. Which means I had paid off $22,103 in two years. Now we're seeing some big progress!! I don't want to admit how much we cashed flowed for our wedding, but it was around $15k including the pictures & photo album purchase. My parents helped with an amount they had set aside, and so did Jason's mom, and in the end, her inheritance helped some also.
Jason had about the same debt as me, school loan, credit card, but no car loan. OUR total debt was now: $55,458. Luckily this was less then our combined incomes and not that scary, knowing what I had just tackled on my own.
So where are we now? $45,643. We've paid off another student loan, my Lending Club Line of Credit, and are almost done with my car loan. We're down to 2 school loans totalling $33,182, Jason's Line of Credit (where he combined his credit cards into a lower interest rate & payment) of $11,477, and $984 owed on my Toyota Highlander. Our estimated Debt Free Date is June 2014.
Our 2013 Budget includes a new line item - Baby. We really hope to have a baby in 2013 and need to start saving for supplies and day care. There's also a new line - dog training, so Monday doesn't eat the baby, and we increased Jason's car savings because we know we'll need to replace his vehicle sometime soon.
So that's my Dave story. It's worked well for me, for us, and we look forward to living a debt free life. We also are excited that we are able to give more. Give to church, Stray Rescue, whatever else comes along, We also have complete control and tell our money where to go. It doesn't consume us. When payday comes, we pay the bills, take out some cash for our envelopes, and most importantly, we don't worry. There's never a worry of having to double check the bank account before buying gas or paying a bill - the money is there because we control our money and where it goes. This is Financial Peace.