Make a plan, Stan

Pedar affectionately calls me the CFO (Chief Financial Officer) because I pay our bills. It isn't difficult to keep organized because we share one checking account and have two savings accounts. One for household and one for travel and everything else. We both put money into our retirement accounts and we finally set up automatic payments (although tiny) towards the boys college funds.

We also have one credit card that we use. This has been the biggest life-changer for us. I have watched so many people with several credit cards become overwhelmed. When you only have one, you can see what debt you have. According to a study in the Boston Fed, only 35% of credit card users pay off their bill in full every month. That means 65% of people don’t pay their credit cards off every month. What about cards with points or airline miles? It is all a nut game to me. Cash is everything.

"Instead of spending your time and energy managing all your miles, why not consider investing the same amount of effort cultivating better money habits? Taking the time to save for the items you want to buy is a way better use of your time anyway!," Dave Ramsey.

Before we moved five years ago, we worked hard to pay off our cars, my student loan and credit debt. We used Dave Ramsey's 7 Baby Steps as our guide. Five years later, we keep acquiring credit debt and our savings is close to null. We have an equity loan for our pool project and I hate being in debt. It isn't a healthy way to live. I have a lot of financial fear, so security is paramount to me.

I know finances are an icky topic for most people. It is hard to take a LONG look at habits. What I keep putting off is a real budget. I am really great at short term goals. I can save money and pay debt off, but then something will happen, like our water heater or the deck and it creeps right back up. We've taken trips and spent money when we should have been saving. I don't regret those trips, but now I want to take them and return home without that yucky feeling in my stomach.

I want the boys to learn to wait to buy something until you can afford it. There is so much we don't NEED. More is caught than taught, right? They are catching so much just by watching our habits.

I am ready to make a plan, Stan. I'm ready to make it happen, Captain. Something is always going to happen where we will need to spend money. We need to lock down a budget and make a plan for home improvements, cars, travel, kids, basically every-damn-thing. It isn't sexy or fun, but feeling great about our finances makes me feel REALLY GOOD and we all know that financial stress is THE killjoy of it all.

My goal is to have no credit debt by Nov. 1. What have we done? We removed the credit card from Amazon. The amount of spending on that was lame. We have committed to not eating out and are cooking all of our meals and taking lunch to work. No home projects or new items until credit debt is done.  Once that goal is reached we will pump up our savings and then we can make a plan on travel, home projects, etc.

This is so not easy. I want to go to the nursery right now and drop a bunch of money on plants and hire someone for irrigation help. Too bad yard, you've got to wait.

Here we go. Wish us luck.