{ a day in the life of ME }

Today's guest blogger is by Heather...I got to know Heather recently and was inspired by her plan to be entirely debt free (including their mortgage) within 8 years!! Here's how they are doing it....Thanks Heather for sharing! Enjoy!

I suppose my husband and I always thought we had the same goals in mind when it came to money. We both liked small luxuries in life such as getting coffee and a breakfast burrito on the way to work or taking part in fun activities with family and friends, even traveling to do so. Somehow we managed to get by without any major financial setbacks until we purchased a business that we operated for two years longer than we should have. Don't get me wrong. It wasn't all bad. I liked what I did each day, so did my husband for awhile. Life was good.

Fast forward a couple years. Somehow, discussions about our money were getting harder. Accusations would fly. Feelings were hurt. Unresolved issues festered. Our goals seemed clouded. How did our credit cards, student loans, and business expenses get so out of hand? We could not communicate effectively about our finances. Thank goodness for organization! My husband and I love to be organized. On a regular basis, we organize our garage, our camping gear, our kitchen shelves, our refrigerator, our closets, well...you get the idea. We derive sheer pleasure from clearing our lives of clutter. It's kind of a family thing - so much so that my father-in-law termed it "Otterizing" (our last name is Otter). Funny thing though....money never got organized. Infact, it pretty much got ignored. Unfortunately, ignoring it didn't make the "spent" part go away. We are not extravagant people, although, we lived beyond our means. Even the non-extravagant lifestyle has wants. The lines between need and want blur easily.

One weekend while camping with our neighbors, they mentioned this guy, Dave Ramsey - some financial guru. Long story short, the neighbors' story appealed to my husband in such a way that within two weeks of the camping trip, he'd gone "gazelle" about our finances. If you know Ramsey, you know about getting gazelle intense. Anyway, Dave Ramsey's debt snowball concept clicked with us. We read his book "Total Money Makeover' and we downloaded a free debt reduction calculator - a spreadsheet tool. Talk about cool! This spreadsheet is Otterizing at its best! We are so organized about our finances now - and it's actually fun. We have discussions weekly - no exceptions. We haven't had an argument about money in months and it feels great.

To top it off, we no longer buy breakfast burritos and coffee in the mornings. We make our own. Every Sunday our kitchen becomes an assembly line for burritos. We roll up about two dozen - breakfast and lunch variety. We set our coffee maker to "delayed brew" mode before bed every night so it's piping hot at 5:30 a.m in the morning. I haven't missed Starbucks a bit! When you're affording your life, even Folgers tastes good. If you're interested, here are links to Dave Ramsey's website as well as a site you can get the spreadsheet for debt payoff. We don't follow every single thing Ramsey suggests, but many of his concepts have been life changing for us.

Daily ME:

My Blackberry signals that morning has arrived, yet again, around 5 a.m. When it comes to consistency, the morning never skips a beat. If I made good choices the night before, I jump out of bed by 5:15. Good choices include ironing work outfits, my husband preparing lunches, and getting to bed by 10 p.m. Not so good choices like watching a movie or hanging out till midnight, blowing off lunches and setting out the next day's outfits result in dragging out of bed later and rushing through the morning. We enjoy eating our breakfasts together, so usually, we make good choices at night so that's possible.

During the week, we stick pretty close to home. I commute an hour each way to work, so I leave by 7 or 7:30 and don't get home until 6 p.m. This means I only have a few hours to spend with "my guys" each day. I usually do the morning routine with our son and drop him off at daycare. My husband picks him up and makes dinner every night. Yep - that wasn't a type-o. My husband makes dinner every night! He's a wonderful cook. My schedule wasn't always like this. I worked part time until 3 weeks ago. I always had 2 days at home with my son and my household. Getting chores done is harder now, but we adjust. My husband and I are a great team. I can't imagine doing "life" without him. Part of my reasoning for working full time goes back to our financial decisions. We finally concluded that although it's wonderful to be at home with our son, it's also wonderful to provide a stable financial ground for our family to survive and thrive on. It's more than just "making more money" - that's good, but the big picture for us is twofold: creating new habits that we can pass on to our son so that he won't make the same mistakes we did. Or, at least, if he makes them, he'll have the tools to fix them much earlier than we did. The second goal is to be completely debt free, mortgage and all in 8 years. This will allow us to make more choices - choices that are not dictated by a mortgage payment, car payments, student loan payments - DEBT! Running our household is a second full time job for both of us, and we take alot of pride in doing it well. When our marriage and the household are running successfully, everything else falls into place. Working full time doesn't necessarily have to be a burden on the time and quality we give to our family. It does, however, take effort to make it all work.

Three basic tenets guide my day to day existence: take care of each other and myself, leave things better than I found them, and listen more than I speak. When I'm able to follow all three, life is good!


debbiem said...

Great post and great financial goals! We are on the Dave Ramsy plan too!

Anonymous said...

I love your last little paragraph. So very true.

Dave Ramsy is one smart man. Good luck to your family!

Jennifer Olds said...

Thanks for sharing! I was afraid Chris and I were the only ones who have felt the horrible strain of financial woes and having to deal with several years of poor financial decisions. Thank you so much. May God bless you!

tommysmommy said...

Great post - glad to know there are others of us who are on a live like no one else so we can live like no one else plan.
P.S. Can you share your burrito recipes?