Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Savings and Goals (and our love for DR!)

I've never written a blog post about finances and our love for Dave Ramsey (Mike listens to his talk show all the time!), but lately I've been following this blog and just love their determination, passion and how open they are with sharing their experiences. It's very motivating! Mike and I are both very passionate about our finances and saving for the future. He has always been a saver and extremely...let's call it frugal. ;) On the other hand, I haven't always been the best with saving. I loved shopping, I guess you could have called it my hobby? He's definitely taught me how to be better at saving and I've definitely taught him that it's ok to spend money every once in a while for a good experience and quality clothes (of course from the sale rack, my parents taught me well).

While we were engaged we took Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University class and we fell in love with his methods for saving and spending money. It was something we could both relate to and agree that it was a method that made sense. Seriously, everything he teaches is completely common sense, but it's like everyone has thrown common sense out the window when it comes to finances. He really brings you back to earth and hits you over the head with it (in a good way). We also love that he comes from a Christian background with his lessons.

Since taking FPU, we set up budgets for everything we spend and came up with methods that work for us in tracking it. We also have budget meetings twice a month and regularly talk about our plans for saving and how we're going to reach our goals. But while we know Dave Ramsey's ideas, we still struggle with a few of his methods.

1) We still use a credit card. We have always paid it off completely and never carried debt, but he hates credit cards! We are looking at using the envelope method he recommends and trying it out with a few of our budget items. Maybe one day we will be able to completely eliminate our credit card (he should at least be happy we only have one, right?!) and use our debit card when we absolutely have to use a card to purchase items online, etc.

2) We have a car payment...and we are not in any rush to pay it off. We are finally done paying off our car next June and there is no incentive with the interest at this point to have it paid off early, so we are just letting it run its course. Honestly, the car payment has never bothered me and I know it should. Guess I need to change my mindset on that (see link to an awesome video below).

3) We have jumped around with his baby steps. We've found that we are really good at saving, but there have been so many big things happening for us, that we can't seem to have the time where we just sit and fill up a full emergency fund.

In 2010/2011, our big goal was to save for our wedding. While my parents were extremely generous in paying for the majority of it, we were responsible for some big ticket items including my dress, hair, makeup, gifts for bridal party, the honeymoon, etc. It was completely worth it though and we wouldn't have done anything different, but this was our main focus during that time.

After we got married, we started saving for a big trip to Europe, but after eyeing the housing market and seeing the possibility of upgrading our house and neighborhood, we were sold. So we took our Europe fund and turned it into a house fund. 2012 was entirely focused on saving for and building our dream home and we were determined to have a large down payment. We even lived with our parents and didn't take any vacations that summer so we could save, save, save! While it was difficult at times, that was the best experience. It taught us how our determination can really lead to things we never thought possible. Hey, maybe Dave is on to something here. ;)

And now 2013 is the year of saving for Baby B! We are looking closely at necessities for baby and making decisions on what we are buying new and what we will look for second hand (thanks to our siblings for the most part!). One example is we are selecting a less expensive stroller that does the same functions as a super expensive "celebrity" strollers and being content with our decisions. Before getting pregnant I had all these grand ideas of cool things we'd buy for baby, but now that I'm actually pregnant, I'm finding that all I want is to have a healthy baby, a strong connection with baby and Mike, to do everything we can to raise them in the best possible way (this doesn't have to include expensive gadgets) and for them to be comfortable (cute outfits are fun, but I'm learning they probably aren't necessary). We're also looking into cloth diapering, we won't need daycare and we are hoping to breastfeed. Not only are these great things for baby's health, but they also save a lot of money! Isn't it crazy that our due date is one day before we closed on our house last year? We're feeling pretty blessed that the timing of everything has really worked out for us.

After baby is born and into 2014, we already have big plans. We are ready and determined to get our emergency fund fully funded! Now that we will have a baby to care for, we see how having that emergency fund is even more important than ever. Another huge item that we have already started saving for is a new car. Mike is driving the same vehicle from when he was 20 years old and we're sure it is on it's last leg. I'm quite blessed to be married to a man who doesn't care what vehicle he drives, I'm not sure I know many men like that! But, once baby is here, we won't be able to take them in that vehicle and there will be times that the truck will become a hassle, even if it is still running. At first we thought about getting a slightly used crossover SUV and just having another car payment once our current payment is done, but after watching this video from Dave Ramsey, I'm not so sure (seriously, you should watch it!). I'm definitely the one who struggles with the vehicle side of things and Dave's method definitely makes sense, but I'm not sure I can do it. This will be something we'll have to discuss more.

So this turned into an insanely long post, but I think it's so good to share and ponder goals and ambitions. It's something we are so passionate about with each other, but never really share with our friends or family. Plus I find that when I share things out there with others, I'm more inclined to do it. :) There are times when we say no to certain events or invites from friends because we just know it doesn't fit in the budget, but as Dave says, we are trying to work at a "gazelle intensity" with our budget. Another thing we always say to each other when we're feeling down about not being able to go out to eat or do certain things is that we are "living like no one else, so later we can LIVE like no one else" (another Dave saying). We would DEFINITELY recommend the FPU courses to everyone we know, it will change your life, no joke!

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