Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wants, Needs, and What We're Getting For Christmas

Christmas is around the corner.

The lists are starting to come in.

"Mom -- I want a DS" ($149). 

"Me too!" ($149)

"Mom -- we need a new portable DVD player" ($99)

"Honey -- we really should replace that computer." ($500) "What we really need for Christmas is for #3 to have his own bed" ($300)  "I need new school shoes" ($50) "Air Conditioner needs to be replaced!" ($3000) "Tuition is due for the big kids" ($605)  "Also, the after care bill" ($140)  "Also #3's daycare" ($460)  "I'm taking Management 5311 next semester.  The university wants $1100 by November if I'm going to get the good rate."  ($1100)  "School Fundraising is due!" ($350) "The Saturn needs new tires!" ($600) "What do you mean our portion of the MRI cost $350?!"($350). . . . .

"They cut my hours again"


I know we are not alone here.  The "I wants" are part of the season.  The "I needs" are part of life.

Funny enough, I am not worried.

Stressed, yes.  Worried, no.

Greg & I have been following Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University since 2006.  If you don't know about Dave, check him out here.

Dave is all about getting out of debt and building wealth.  I hate debt.  I love wealth.

When I first started listening to him, we had about $3,000.00 in credit card debt.  That's a lot.  But I thought that was all the debt we really had.  I couldn't figure out why with both of us working full time, professional jobs, we could never find any "extra" money.

Imagine my surprise when I added up all of our debt and discovered that we actually owed about $96,000.


We had credit card debt, car loans, and student loans.  Oh yeah -- and we have a mortgage -- but that's on top of the $96K.


That was 2006.

As we head into 2012, We owe less than $20K on the student loan, and we still owe about $40K on our house.    That's pretty good progress.  We aren't handling it perfectly. Honestly, if we cut everything to the bone, we could pay off that $60K by 2013. But that would mean public schools for the kids, no school for me, no scouts, no sports, no workouts, no eating in restaurants all year, no nothing.

We could do that. We will do that -- if we have to.

We don't have credit cards anymore.  We don't have car payments.  We bought our last car with cash.  I am paying cash for grad school.  I used to drive a BMW.  Now I drive a Saturn.

We simply don't borrow money.

That's why I am not worried. 

We have a plan.

We have a backup plan too.

Funny enough, when we were $96,000 in debt, we barely gave any money to charity.  Now we are tithers.  That means that 10% of our income goes to our church. 

It might seem like giving 10% of your income away is a stupid thing when you are trying to get out of debt.  Turns out that it is the smartest thing we could have done. 

Once we started tithing, weird things started happening.

Like --I got a better job.  I mean a REALLY better job.  We got pregnant with #3 and he was perfectly healthy despite the fact that the doctors told me I was too old and too fat to have another baby. Greg got a better job.  The debt started shrinking, even though we weren't following the plan perfectly.  Weird.  It gave us. . .peace. 

We know that by the time #1 son finishes high school, we will have ZERO debt including the house.  We'll be in our early 50's.  Young enough to build enough wealth to secure retirement.  Young enough to save enough money to take a big trip to Europe.  Or Asia.  Or Africa.  Or wherever we want to go. 

That's the light at the end of the tunnel that makes me say "no" to things like a DS for a 6 year old. 

We'll have a very merry Christmas anyway.


  1. Congratulations on your success in this area. Even though I've never heard of Dave Ramsey, I pretty much follow the same philosophy. Mine was born out of being a single mother, living check-to-check for far too long. Right now, the only debt I have is my mortgage. I, too, bought my last car for cash. I do use my credit card, but it's really just to rack up the points. I use it to pay almost all my monthly expenses, so those points add up quickly. I do, however, pay my bill IN FULL every month. Those points have allowed me to get some pretty nice 'toys' for myself, like an iPod Touch, Margarita Machine, Jack LaLanne Juicer, and other things I NEVER would have bought, but always wanted. It's really a win-win for me. :)

  2. One child in college. Another one going next year. Oh, my. Sure hope that book I'm writing sells. Sure hope I can get around to finishing it, too.
    Congratulations on your success!

  3. You go, girl! I love hearing success stories such as this!

  4. Preach!

    I love this. Reminds me that I WILL emerge on the other side of whatever we are going through right now.

  5. Yeah yeah yeah! I LOVE stories like this! I'm pretty squeaky-clean in the debt game (which makes sense since my income is too laughable to even be considered 'income'), but Derrick is up to his ears in med school debt. It's beyond frustrating. This is exactly what we needed to hear. Christmas can come without ribbons! It can come without tags! It can come without packages, boxes, or bags!


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