Monday, October 25, 2010

Learning About Money… The Hard Way

In 2005, Columbia Pictures released a comedic remake of the 1977 movie, Fun with Dick and Jane. For those of you who have not watched the movie, it is about an upper middle class family whose world is shattered when Dick becomes the face of corporate disaster. After a few months without work and a few humiliating attempts to work blue collar jobs, the family turns to a life of crime to keep their house and car repossessed. Does anyone identify? I hope not.
Okay, my life has never gotten that ridiculous, but there was a time that balancing the checking account made me break out in a cold sweat, the sight of the car payment could put a knot in my stomach and if the secretary forgot to send our paycheck on time, again... Well, look out!
But, how did we get to this point? Apparently ten plus years of making a few (well, more than a few) financially questionable (well, horrible) decisions will do that to you. Some we made ignorantly, and some we made with the full knowledge of the long-term consequence. We bought into the myths of debt, the money myths, and tried to keep up with the “Joneses”. The long and short of it is- we created a mountainous burden out of what could have been a small rock.
Not all was lost, though. Eventually we had the denial of our situation knocked out of us. (A very painful experience, I do not recommend anyone wait that long to take charge of their finances.) Fortunately, we had some very smart friends. These younger, wiser friends were listening to a radio program called “The Dave Ramsey Show” and applying the principles they learned to their own life. Not only did they commit to it privately, they committed publicly, announcing that they were living on a budget. We smiled and said, “Let us know if it works.” We figured they would be over it in a couple of months.
Instead, they stuck to it passionately. If a suggestion was made to go shopping or eat out, and they did not have money for it in the budget, they simply said, “No, thank-you.” If my friend accidentally gathered too many items in the grocery store and went over budget, she put some of them back. So simple, but so hard. Their tenacity paid off in spades. After about three years, they gave us a call and shrieked in my ear: “WE’RE DEBT FREEEEEE!” And rightfully so. It was no small feat for a couple who had about $35,000.00 of debt.
Anyhow, we called them and they gave us some tips on budgeting and using the envelope system. I bought The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey, and we started our financial restructuring. Little by little, we began chipping away at the mountain.
We are not debt free, but I know it is a battle we can win. It does not take an extraordinary job, or winning lottery ticket. It takes extraordinary determination. It takes commitment and sacrifice. Dave has written along the bottom of every page in his book: If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.
Care to share? What’s your money comment or story?

frugal pal note- This is written by a friend of mine who got me started on the cash envelope system and then I got my sisters involved.


Roger&Elaine said...

To the older sister-are you going to share how you save on cat food?:0)

Frugal Pals said...

I'll let you know when I figure it out!!

Anonymous said...

Great Post!!!


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