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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Our year with Dave Ramsey

I don't even know where to start with this crazy freakin' topic, but we've hit a big milestone over here in the Cisneros house and I'd like to record it. As of September 5th, we punched in one years' time with the guy who has become the third member to our marriage: Dave Ramsey.

Prior to September 5th, 2013, we sort of prided ourselves on being badass money handlers. I know - cringing right now. (It's sort of painful to write this out because it has to do with that all-sensitive discourse: personal finances - even though I joke on here all the time that I'm a cheapo. Just had to get that out there.) Anyway, I know. Totally like us - we who in hindsight always seem too cocky for our own good. At one point, we actually were great cash jugglers! ...And then came half of our student loan payments. ...Then came the other half of our student loan payments. ...Then came the day where we realized somewhere along the way we stopped paying off our credit card in full each month and it had morphed into credit cardSSS. ...Then came the days where our oldest babe started participating in extra curriculars. ...Then came the day where our youngest babe wanted to participate in extra curriculars. ...Then came the day where I realized that my business finances were very different from our home finances and I wondered what the heck was up with that.

...Then came the day where while lounging around my parents' house, I picked up the book. I started flipping through, stopping on the italicized personal stories of couples young and old slaying astronomical amounts of debt. $200,000 here, $110,000 there. $45,000 left, entire home mortgages right. After spending a lengthy afternoon absorbed, I ran through Barnes & Noble to buy it (all while wondering if it was a good idea to spend money that day... It had an immediate effect!). Over the next few days, I jammed through the whole thing then quickly turned on Chad to get to readin'. He was not so into it, which made me into a crazy woman.

Case in point: I told Chad how I was so happy that we had paid off the one credit card I had had since 18 and, casually, he said that thing was definitely NOT paid off. I said, "No, no. Remember we paid that off like last year?" And he said, "No babe, that thing is almost maxed out." WHAT WAS HE TALKING ABOUT? Then I looked inside my purse and realized that my Bank of America CREDIT CARD looked almost identical to my Bank of America DEBIT CARD - I had been using the two simultaneously all while thinking I was being "good" by just using the debit option! I (loudly) cursed America and whoever the hell had invented credit, then grabbed scissors and cut my card in half! Chad was wondering what the freakin' hell was wrong with me and why that fact had been the one to break the camels back. I told him that either he read the book or I will be taking over the finances (which sort of offended him, sorry babe! And let's be honest - a little unrealistic), so following a teensy argument, he went up to read. After a few days, we were a reformed couple.

On September 5th last year, we sat down to figure out what was up with us. Well. BOTH our minds were blown at the total amount going toward the categories of student loan payments, credit card payments, grocery shopping, eating out, etc., and BOTH our minds were blown after surveying our several bank accounts (not in a good way. Also I'd like to point out that when your husband works at a bank, several bank accounts are opened over the span of several banking institutions. I don't know why this is, but it's a - rather dumb - fact).

Anyway, first thing was first, we had to create our "emergency fund" which, thanks to selling off a few choice baby items, grew very quickly. Then came us trying to figure out leverage for our "debt snowball." The immediate and only realistic option was to sell our brand-spankin'-new Kia Sorento, the action that ultimately got us flying. Severe budgets were put in place and ongoing mom-to-mom sales were continued. Birthday, baby shower and wedding gifts got a massive mark down and Christmas last year? I want to say that 75% of the gifts were purchased through mentioned mom-to-mom sale sites. It was a huge, GIGANTOR change for us. Prior to this, I never really understood people who had to turn down going to a dinner or a night out because "they couldn't afford it." Truly it wasn't a judgement thing, I just honestly didn't get it. After that first night, I GOT IT. Within the several months that followed, never in my life had I thought about money as much as I had during 2013-2014.

(Now, I say this with trepidation...) A few days prior to September 5th of this year, I told Chad that I literally had never felt so poor in my life. I knew I felt this way because every single, teensy tiny dime was spoken for, all with great causes now that we had undergone so many months of painstaking analysis, but it was a fact. Every penny was going toward the debt snowball, the newfound down payment we'll be shelling out (hopefully) within the next few days/weeks/months, our constant, extremely strict weekly budgets and small bursts of fun. It sounds hard to believe, but the "poor" I spoke of came from a place of pride: I've never been more sure of the "real" status of our personal finances (I've come to refer to the credit purchases of the world as "fake" - but genuinely understand those purchases if you have enough cash to cover them! Not that it's any of my business. Ahh! See? Hard to talk about!), even if that means planning ahead for events several weeks in advance and/or thinking about price tags way more than one could imagine. "Poor" really could have been interchangeable with "money conscious" within that particular conversation, but would have been ridiculously redundant considering our daily budget talks. (I'm really not trying to sound righteous! These are just the facts after following the Rams' common sense advice.)

On September 5th, just a few days ago, I did the numbers - took a look at exactly what we had accomplished over our 1 year. It was all right there in black and white: serious hard work, partnership and new understandings. We've come a very far way in terms of our crazy, school induced, credit card happy, we-want-our-kids-to-participate-in-every-activity-on-the-face-of-the-planet-if-they-want-to debt and I couldn't be more happy to say we set out, stuck to a plan and will keep on going. In case you're wondering, we're still in the "debt snowball" arena and will be there for quite awhile, but hey! That's cool with me, man!

I don't want to put any pressure on myself, but I think I'll write all the facts and figs out at the very end, when we can move on from "debt snowball" to the next baby step (or maybe not. Maybe by then I'll have so much respect for the power of the dollar that my own bank account would slap my wrist for even thinking of casually slinging around things of such magnitude! Magnitude = great importance, not dolla bills - heyo, banking jokes!). I know - lame way to end the longest post ever, but I just don't want to put actual numeros out there as we continue down the path towards freedom. It's been a cool ride, only bearable because Chad's a pretty awesome dude to do just about anything with in the name of marriage and awesomeness. Without him I'd surely have shot my brains out.

But anyhoo! Go out and get the book, I say! I can hardly believe a single human being read to the end of this long freakin' post, but if you did, Dave is calling your name. Woohoo for one year down!

*And by the way, I still feel like a major deuche-o for publishing this considering what it's about - dough. On the other hand though, it's been such a large part of our lives it would be weird not to, you know? Okay, had to say that! 
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