I will not go through each class or the 7 baby steps he teaches here. But if you are interested you can learn more here. I will tell you that I was a little nervous not knowing who was teaching the class or who my peers would be. The coordinator is an alum of Financial Peace University who guides you through the workbook. Our coordinator was someone who went to my high school.My classmates were a variety of sweet people:an older couple close to retirement age who weren't sure how they would retire, newlyweds, a struggling single mom on disability, and another couple in a similar situation as ours. What is our situation? We my friends, we are people who make a good living and are not accountable for our spending. We throw our money away while people who make less than us live the life we should be living. We don't use credit cards but have no savings outside of our 401k. Loss of income would financially disable us.
We took about 60 days to get through baby step 1,$1000 in savings. Devin sold a car trailer from his racing days and pushed us into baby step 2,dumping debt. I said we don't do credit cards. Neither of us has had a credit card in about 10 years.BUT I did get one last Christmas when both kids wanted Nintendo ds game consoles. I got a Wal-mart credit card. I used it in December and then again in May to buy a gift card for a family whose home caught fire. I paid the balance in full when I received my statement but I knew that card had to go. So in week 2 of class I cut that sucker up. Wal-mart immediately invited me back with a higher limit. No thanks. Misty-1, retail giant-0.
The best part of his plan for us is the debt snowball. You list all your debts from smallest to largest. Make the minimum payments on everything but the smallest. You work extra, sell stuff, and cut your budget to throw a ton of money at that debt until it is gone. Then you add the amount you were paying on debt 1 to debt number two, continuing the cycle until you are debt free. To not have credit cards we sure have a lot of debt. I was afraid to make the list,fearful of how much my student loans would add up to and if my husband would still love me after seeing how much I owe. Most of the balances are small but the consolidation I did through Sallie Mae is huge thanks to two semesters at a private school.Other than my student loans we have a couple small medical bills and one vehicle payment. The software said we can be debt free by 2013.I can soooo live with that.
I am counting the Wal-mart card as debt one of our snowball payoff. The second was a monthly $66 payment for our fridge that we financed at no interest about 6 months ago at a local home owned furniture and appliance store. So 2 debts down.Woo-hoo. Not touching our baby emergency fund has been less sunshiney. Why do we spend all of our money? I guess 10 years of reckless spending is a hard habit to break. I will be working diligently to pump that account back up so we can keep our snowball rolling.
I have worked hard to resolve some unnecessary expenses. Our electric bill was scheduled to draft 10 days early so I called the company to see if something fishy was going on. It wasn't but while she had me on the line the rep cut our rate from 14 cents per KWH to 9 cents; that ended up saving us $110 last month. I stopped our dish network service because they would not give me the new customer rate,which makes no sense because a loyal customer should be valued more than a new one. That's $75 a month. I bought the kids 4 pairs of pants at a consignment store (that I will NOT share the name of because I get $150 jeans there for $25 and don't want anyone else to beat me to 'em) for $31. I have just generally started questioning wants vs needs. Some DR enthusiasts literally eat beans and rice and avoid vacations during baby step two. While I respect their choice, I have not chosen that route. Mostly because I don't want my kids to think they are poor.
Now for some shocking numbers:
- our monthly debt payments excluding the mortgage:$1329.88
- our monthly payments(utilities, memberships,etc):$551.05
The moral of the story is this-if we didn't have debt we could choose to work about 5 months a year and live a very comfortable life. That is what financial peace is about...FREEDOM!
Anybody else ready to put a stake in the ground and say they are DONE with debt?