We and Mr. Ramsey

13 Oct

Since my last post made more than one person want to throw up in thier hat (talkin’ to you, Matty), thought I’d enlighten you with something new. Not sure why we’ve never blogged about this part of our lives before, ’cause it pretty much has dominated every decision we’ve made in the past 13+ months. I’m talking about a radio program called The Dave Ramsey Show. (We catch it on KSOO 1140 in Sioux Falls.)

Though we’ve never met Dave, I feel like he’s a close personal friend. We both listen to his show whenever possible, I download and listen to his podcast every single day, and we’ve read two of his books (The Total Money Makeover and Financial Peace).

I know: kind of sounds like stalking, or hero worship or something; but he has really become a valuable financial and spiritual advisor for us. Dave talks mostly about money, but also about life and faith and other stuff. He is truly a Godsend to us. We started his “Total Money Makeover” plan in September 2005. We’re on baby step 2: the “Debt Snowball” (step one is $1000 cash in the bank as an emergency fund). We tell every one of our dollars what to do, on paper, before each month starts (the dreaded budget!). We don’t spend a dime without planning for it (and talking about it together) first. We’ve cut up our credit cards and promised each other to never borrow money again! (That’s right–never.) We’ve transformed our lives. Really. (You can learn about Dave’s baby steps if you want to.)

So, the point of all this is to let you in on our little celebration. We figured out this morning that, using the debt snowball approach, we’ve paid off (are you ready?) $40,995.92 in debt since September of last year! A year ago, I would have been embarassed as hell to tell you that we had that much debt. Today, it still makes me uncomfortable to tell the world, but we’ve decided to do it so you know you can too. We figure we probably have done more stupid things with money than most people we know. You might be surprised to hear this (or maybe you’ve always known I’m a knucklhead).

The truth is, we’re roughly half way through our debt snowball now. Between student loans, car loans, credit cards and other stupid stuff, we found ourselves up to our eyeballs in a mess. We’ve paid lots of stupid tax (that’d be money we’ve spent/lost because we made some stupid decision). We bought a brand new van three years ago, and lost a bunch of money as soon as we drove it off the lot (if we had only listened to our Dads about cars! Neither of them has ever bought a new one). We borrowed way more than we needed all through college, cause it seemed like “free money.” We charged our whole wedding (except the parts our parents paid for) on a Visa card, cause we’d be getting jobs soon and would be able to pay it off easily. We bought furniture we couldn’t pay for, but those payments would be so easy. We built a house when we shouldn’t have, and bought lots of “stuff” to put in it. Before we knew it, the total was awful. So that brought us to September, 2005.

Paying off 40 grand in 13 months definitley was no fun. It sucked. In the first six months, we fought about it a lot and wanted to quit. Every day. Now we’re in the groove. We’ve sacrificed a lot, and will keep doing it until all that stupidity is paid for. But we’re changing our lives. We’re being really weird, and we’re proud of that. Normal is broke and spending more than you make. We never want to be normal again. Our goal is to be debt free, except our house, in two years or less. The house should be paid for in about seven years–or less. Then the fun begins.

I know what you’re thinking. We are blessed to make a good living. But we don’t make as much as you think. Jaimie works part time and I work for a non-profit. We just changed our habits. We finally realized that our income, no matter how big or small, is the most powerful tool we’ve got to build wealth. We know where our money will go before we ever spend it. We don’t waste any.We’ve had garage sales and sold all kinds of stuff on ebay. I worked two jobs (seemingly around the clock) for four months. We’ve (temporarily) stopped investing and put every penny into the debt snowball (once we pay it all off, we’ll have plenty of money to catch back up and invest like we really mean it). We’re weird and loving it. We get made fun of a lot by family and friends. That’s just fine by us. I think every single day about when we’ll call into Dave’s show and yell, at the top of our lungs, “WE’RE DEBT FREEEEEEEE!!!”

We tell all this because we’re changing our lives and our kids’ and grandkids’ lives. We hope you think about doing it too. My Mom has our Total Money Makeover book right now, but you can borrow it as soon as she’s done. Or, you can ask us what we know any time. Maybe we can share advice and some “stupid tax” stories with each other.

We started all this because we really want Jaimie to be able to be a full time Mommy. Without all these dumb payments, we could do that. We really want to be able to give a lot of money away someday too. Now, I think that will be a reality instead of a dream. It doesn’t matter if you make $20,000 or $200,000. If all your money is going right back out the door in payments, you’ll never build wealth. Money doesn’t buy happiness, but taking care of the money you earn does allow you to do things and help people you can’t otherwise do. Take that car payment you think you’ll just always have (we’ve had lots of people tell us that). If you were to save up and pay cash for a car, and invest 200 bucks a month into a decent mutual fund from age 20 to age 60, guess what you’d have…How about 2.4 million dollars? Hope you like that car!

Comments are always open!


Posted by on October 13, 2006 in Celebrations, money


5 responses to “We and Mr. Ramsey

  1. Kelly (mom)

    October 14, 2006 at 9:23 pm

    Yes, I have the book, & I am finally reading it. The other day I had to apologize (sort of)to your Dad for not listening to him for a big part of the last 30 years, because I realized the Dave Ramsey is really only Pat Bartmann with a vengeance and an audiance. This book really makes sense! I wish we would have started paying attention to that stuff 25 years ago. I’m glad you guys are planning ahead.

    PS I thought your entry last entry about Jaimie was sweet.

  2. DEBTective

    October 16, 2006 at 11:50 am

    Bub, I’m ultra-proud of you and your dame for deep-sixing your debt. Great job and way to go! Dave’s plan makes tons of sense, doesn’t it? Good luck to you and thanks for spreading Dave’s debt-free word. Great job!

  3. joe bart

    October 16, 2006 at 12:04 pm

    Thanks for the pep talk. We’re kickin’ butt and eatin’ beans n rice. Checked out your site and subbed to your blog. Great stuff. Love your work and your taste in music! Like you, we’re compelled to pay Dave’s advice forward.

  4. Carrie

    October 16, 2006 at 1:21 pm

    CONGRATULATIONS! We have now been on the debt diet for 9 months (started in Feb ’06) and we are proud to also say that we have paid off our $7,000 car, my $5,000 in college loans, our $7,000 in landscaping, and almost $10,000 in purchasing items for our new home and paying for our wedding. That’s right…in just 9 months we have conquered $29,000 of our debt! We too have cut up our credit cards, have no more car payment and have only our mortgage and Paul’s students loans left to go (which is still a lot, but we’ll get there). 9 months ago we were hurting and now we see the light at the end of the tunnel. IT DOES WORK! We NEVER argue about money because we COMMUNICATE each month before it is spent. This has been wonderful for us and Paul also listens to Dave on a regular basis.
    Thanks Joe and Jaimie for telling us about the program last Christmas at the Black Hills. You inspired us to begin the program!

  5. joe bart

    October 16, 2006 at 1:36 pm

    Congrats right back at ya. Never thought my little bro could hack that. You must bring out the best in him. Funny part of the story is that night we were talking about it in the car on our way from the cabin on a ski mountain to the casinos in Deadwood. hmmm… Guess we weren’t beans n ricing it very well that weekend 🙂 (Although we did search for the cheapest breakfast in town!)


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