Friday, January 30, 2009

Are You a Dave Fan?

I have seen a lot of posts about New Years resolutions to try to get their spending under control by following Dave Ramsey. I just want to stand as a prior Dave listener and follower to tell that because of his teaching we are where we are. We never took out credit card debt but we were charging everything and paying the balance each month. Because we did not make a lot of money we were just living paycheck to paycheck. It was not bad spending, I have always lived by a budget and spent less than whatever we made. But, we did not have an emergency fund and I always felt the pressure of that. Darryl could care less about worrying about finances. If we had just enough he was okay with that. Me, being a planner, would see that at the smallest medical bill or car repair we would be thrown into a negative state. One thing I have learned from Darryl is that we take each day as it comes and not to worry about tomorrow. I have learned more how to trust in God for our future. We have gone through many tough times, but always been given what we need- even if sometimes that giving required wearing our bodies to the bone in hard work.

We were living 20 miles from anyone in the country trying to change our life. We could not afford any home in Niceville so we bought 10 acres in the country. I am talking country like- the neighbors had no teeth. The saving grace was that church friends bought the land next to us and our kids played all day in the woods. We lived there for a year and finally decided that this life was not for us. We wanted to be back in town, but knew we couldn't move yet. We stayed four years total because our expenses were low and we were able to save for a different life. We took on a paper route- the biggest in Niceville. It paid really well but the hours getting up at 3:30 were awful. We used the income from the paper route to move into town. Without that extra income we could not afford the life. Stupid tax was paid and we were stuck having to work that job to afford our life. We weren't living extravogantly- we had a 2100 square foot house built in 1986. It was in a nice neighborhood, but nothing "fancy." We would alternate doing the papers except on Sunday- we had to both deliver the Sunday paper since it was so big.

Then, stupid tax was paid again. We had a paid for van. It was side swiped while parked at a garage sale and repaired. We went to Disney and backed into someone (a small car that was up on our bumper so you could not see them) and it was repaired, then I was sitting at a stop light and a guy rear ended me. Well, my husband saw that the frame did not look right and felt we needed to get rid of it. We bought our 2001 YukonXL (In 2003) and financed $23000 after a trade in and down payment. It was over $32000 for it. I love my Yukon but we were stupid to go into a car payment. We listened to Dave every morning while delivering papers and just totally ignored him. We thought we were working hard and we deserved it. We had to have a reliable car. We had the money for the payment (after the $450 payment we had $800 left each month) Whew, stupid , stupid, stupid.

We decided to get really serious and follow Dave. What did we do? Added more work to our schedule. My husband got his handyman license and worked for a lady at his real job that had about 20 rental houses. When she bought a new one or someone moved out he would paint, replaced plumbing and drywall, and did remodeling type work. Another guy that was flipping houses also used him to remodel for the flips. He also got with another guy and they boarded up the windows on the luxury beach houses in Destin when hurricanes were coming. I took over three homes that a friend cleaned when she moved away. One I did every week. One was once a month. And one was every two weeks. We were making a lot of money. The paper job brought in $2300 a month. He was paid $30 an hour for handyman stuff. And I made $25-$30 an hour cleaning the houses. We totally wore ourselves out. We went gazelle and got stuck running at gazelle intensity for a long time. We had money, but at what cost?

We finally got to the point that we had to find a way to stop the ride. Dave says that he suffered from thinking he could out earn his spending. Well, we were like that. We weren't spending crazily but we were able to find ways to earn more and work to live a life that really we couldn't afford- it doesn't matter that it was not a luxury lifestyle. We were not a slave to debt- we were a slave to work.

The solution is to either make more or spend less. We couldn't spend less- I really was still frugal and not overspending in any way ;other than the car payment or house payment was $1300 a month so it was not too big in most worlds. The housing market had gone crazy in Okaloosa county in Florida. Houses on our street were selling for $389K (we paid $152K) The good was that we had a lot of equity in our home and could change our lives if we sold. The bad was that we could not afford another home there. A 3000 square foot home was over $600K. We had lived in Huntsville for 5 years and talking to friends found that the market was still very reasonably priced. Jobs are really good in Huntsville with all the technical and defence jobs supporting the Arsenol. So, we began to seek moving here. We had hoped to make almost $200K and almost pay cash for our house, but that was not God's plan. I guess He had some other lessons for us to learn.

We moved and got a rental for the cheapest we could find without worrying about the area- $1000 a month. We needed to be in the city limits for our daughter to attend the high school. (Our high school is in the top 3% in the nation.) Our house in Florida took 15 months to sell. During that time our Florida house payment went to $1600 because taxes went up. We were paying $7300 a year for taxes and insurance alone. We lowered the price $114K total to get it sold. For whatever reason we weren't financially where we had hoped but God had a purpose for our waiting. We have a nice 3000 square foot home and were able to put money into an emergency fund and live off of Darryl's ONE income. We have three cars- all paid for. No, we no longer have over $800 a month left over after paying our bills, but we are not a slave to working either. I have to be more careful to watch our budget but not to a point of worrying. We have what we need.

It is because of Dave and our continuing to work and have hope and a dream for a better life. We had $10K in savings when we moved. Man, did Murphy ever come. We had to put in a new lawn pump and then our air conditioner went out. That was almost $4500. Then, we had to pay to have our home cleaned and yard done while it was on the market. We did everything that we could to survive that 15 months- cut out contributing to 401-K, I spent $300 on groceries a month, no clothes, no cable, no eating out, no activities that cost money-the boys did baseball but did not do basketball or football. My husband changed jobs after we moved and went from having to wear jeans and polos to pants and ties. I went to the thrift store and found expensive name brand shirts and pants for him then we supplemented with JCPenney sales (fabulous sales) when we got birthday or Christmas money. If we had not had the original $10 K saved we would have gone under. My MIL kept asking if we needed money, and we did accept $3000 at the end - then paid it back when we sold our home. She could not believe we were paying $2600 a month for house payments and making it. Man, did it kill me to have to accept that money! It just got to the point where we had $10 in our account and just could not go any further. Our house payment was going up another $300 the month after we sold for the increase in insurance. When we sold in Florida you are required to do any repairs for anything found on the inspection. Guess what they found? Termites. We had to repair and treat for termites. Then, we had to pay $1000 to take down a hundred year old oak that was next to the house because the insurance company would not insure them with it that close to the house. I handled the waiting during the 15 months pretty well. I think the last month of repairs and all really about made me go coo-coo. God really allowed us to be pushed really far so I am anxious to know for WHAT REASON!

There are a lot of things that can become slaves- living in a home, working, continuing to buy things you don't really have the money for. You may see the money,but is it there because you have made working for it a requirement? I would rather have less with time with our family over all the things and a big beautiful house. I look around and feel blessed beyond imagination because I do have a beautiful home and all we need. I, at times, can see bigger and better and forget that, then sometimes I feel embarrassed that we have so much more than others. It is weird to have that feeling of being embarrassed for having things. I guess there are times when you don't want people to think you think you are better than them or for them to feel like what they have is not good enough. Believe me when I say I have lived there. We started out in a 1000 square foot home and just tried to make each one the best we could. Don't let things take any priority- make whatever you have clean and neat. Find things at garage sales to make it a beautiful homey place. Take care of what you do have, no matter how ugly it really is. You are creating a home and that is not what it is furnished with but who it is furnished with.


Tami said...

That was a great story. I'm so glad you shared that. We went through the two house payments thing too. Ours weren't quite as expensive as yours but it all worked out in the end. God will provide. I have seen it many many times.

Christy said...

I've been extremely thankful for God bringing Dave Ramsey into our lives. Just this past week with my root canal coming up; a couple of years ago that would've put a lot of stress on us. But since we've been following Dave's advice and have our emergency fund, praise God, the money is there! Not that I WANT to spend it on a root canal, but you know it's so nice not stressing about it on top of having the pain and all. God is good!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing this post. It is very encouraging to see how you did not give up or give in. God always provides. Thanks again.

Becc said...

This is great! (Somehow I missed this post.) How could I!? lol))))
The stories I hear over and over are amazing!
Thank you!