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Freedom

Pronounced Freeeeeedoooommm!!! Screaming like William Wallace in Braveheart (you remember, before Mel went psycho off screen and tanked his reputation…).

braveheart

Jaim and I have been wearing war paint for four years now. You don’t see it, unless you go shopping with us, or listen to us budget every month (and hold emergency budget meetings once a week or so), or listen to either one of us when the other (or one of the kids) comes up with some silly spending idea… We’re debt free today.

Yes, except for our home mortgage, we owe nothing. No more student loans, credit cards, car loans, or hospital bills. Not even any couches or TVs on “no payments or interest for 36 months!” Not one red cent owed to anyone. It took us four years on the Dave Ramsey plan, budgeting and saving and scrounging, and the last payment to XLS Student Loans went out of the bank today.

How much did we pay off? Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on October 19, 2009 in money

 

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Free Cars!

Dump that car payment, silly rabbit. It’ll make you rich.

Learn how: check this out, or watch the video below.

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2009 in money

 

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The Stuff We Fall In Love With

We all get a little case of stuffitis once in a while. Some are afflicted most of the time. As for Jaimie and me, we’ve paired down our ‘wanting’ pretty significantly over the past few years (save for a patio set here and there; and if you want to send me one of these or this, I won’t be mad). It’s part of letting go of (most) stuff so we can get out of debt. And part of detaching in general from a lot of things for me.

I stumbled on this great post about Dragonsvamp‘s dilema. She’s desperately in love with a certain pair high-heeled shoes, but doesn’t have the cash to buy them. I love the list she makes–ways she might come up with the 25 bucks she needs to buy the shoes. Her ideas (from http://dragonsvamp.wordpress.com):

“Possible plans:
1. purchase no food for the week (then I could probably buy two pairs)
2. no driving for three days
3. cancel internet service for half a month
4. cancel text messaging service on my cell phone for a month and a half
5. no Starbucks or slurpees for a month
6. break into a bank
7. go through the streets and pick up all loose coins and save them up (may take a while)
8. sell soul
9. pray for trees to grow dollar bills and for rivers to run with gold and diamonds (will be able to buy many pairs of shoes)
10. sell life on ebay (renders enough mula to buy at least the left shoe. at least)
11. use credit card”

One big thing to pay attention to: she’ll go to some pretty far out extremes before she gets to the old plastic death. I’m not sure the author is really insinuating that the credit card is her last resort, but I hope so. And I’m urging you to take it totally off your list. We just got rid of our last ounce of credit card debt on June 25 (and chopped that Chase Visa into teeny tiny pieces). Sure feels good. Please don’t use your plastic to buy the shoes–or any other things you ‘need.’ I’m not an expert on what to do with your money, but I am an expert in doing some really stupid things with it, and we’ve been climbing out of that mess for two-plus years (still climbing). No matter how badly you need that couch or computer or minivan or pair of shoes, I promise debt is not worth it.

(Free tip: For more on all that stuff we ‘need’ in America, watch Story of Stuff.)

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2008 in going green, money, rants, Stuffitis

 

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Debt is holding you (and me) back

Seth Godin is a favorite blogger, author and entrepreneur of mine. And he’s the biggest no-b.s. marketing guy on the planet. Now he’s sharing some personal finance advice too, and it’s music to my ears. Seth says Only borrow money to pay for things that increase in value.”

His short list includes your house, your education and your business. That’s it. Dave Ramsey would disagree, putting only the house (maybe) on that list–bootstrapping your business and kicking old Sallie Mae to the curb. The point is pretty clear though–get rid of those car loans, credit cards and whatever other stupid debt is drowning you. If it’s not drowning you today, it will. And it is most certainly keeping you from doing things you would and could do if you had no payments. Think about that…NO PAYMENTS! What would be on your list if you had cash every month instead of all those payments?

I know Jaim and I would be doing some different things. And we will once we can scream “We’re debt free!!!!” in a few more months. We’ve been skipping all the extras and holding rummage sales (and shopping at them) since September 2005 to dump our stupid hefty debt. We’re almost there. Hope you’ll join us.

P.S.- I don’t mean for you to think we’re doing this to get more stuff. ‘Stuff’ is for sure not what we’re after. Getting debt free, for us, is about freedom of choice. Being able to make choices instead of them being made for us–to open doors that are thrown our way in life.  Like Jaimie becoming a full-time mom, or me leaving my job to start a business, or taking a month or two off for a learning journey, or maybe deciding we want to live somewhere else for a while. With those stinky debt payments hanging over us, we can’t make those choices without putting our kids at risk of losing the roof they sleep under or the van they ride in. It’s about life, not stuff.

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2008 in money

 

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Dumping Our Debt Dave Ramsey Style

I mentioned a couple of posts ago that we’re on track to be debt free (yippee!!!) by the end of this year. A bartblog reader sent me an email, and I thought I’d answer the question for everybody:

“I read on your blog that you will have all of our debt paid off by the end of the year. How did you do that? Did you use a program? I would love to find out.”

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We follow the Dave Ramsey plan. We started by reading his book “The Total Money Makeover,” and have been following his “Baby Steps” and listening to his radio program whenever we can. I subscribe to a podcast of the first hour of his show every day and listen on my ipod when I’m driving (get the free mp3 of Dave’s show here). The first thing is, you need to agree with each other that you won’t ever borrow money again, and to budget every penny every month before you spend it. That’s a hard thing to do! Then, you (temporarily) stop investing in 401 K, etc, and then make only minimum payments on everything. You save up a $1000 emergency fund in a savings account and then start the “Debt Snowball.” You pay as much as you can on your smallest debt and minimums on everything else until that smallest debt is paid off. Then you add the minimum payment of your next smallest debt to the biggest amount you can pay and attack your second smallest debt, and so on… If you have more than $1000 put away (not including 401K, etc) then use all but 1000 on your first debt.

We’ve made a list of all our debts smallest to largest and keep it taped to our kitchen cupboard door, and cross off each one we pay off. That way we can celebrate a little for each small win.

The biggest thing is learning to change your behavior with money. It means making every budgeting decision together and sticking to the budget, or agreeing how you’ll change it. And get rid of all those stupid credit cards and recognize the difference between what you need and want. You have to stop spending more than you make!!! If you dump your debt, then you’ll be able to have plenty of money to spend and give! Good luck!!!

(We’re sending our copy of Dave’s book to this reader–you can join the waiting list to get it next, or just go to the library and check it out, or buy one–if it’s in your budget!…)

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2008 in money

 

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