Monday, February 3, 2014

Reflecting On Our Debt Free Journey...Our Highlights!

Dave Ramsey or some other special budgeting app can teach you how to budget. We'll let them handle that one. But what we will let you in on is our journey to becoming debt free...the learning process, how our lives changed, tips, etc.

it takes time.
Budgeting will take some time to get use to. For one, you may find that you didn't budget enough for a certain category, 5 months down the road you'll realize you may need to start putting more into you car fund savings, or it may just be you blow through your monthly allowance in the first week. Don't worry, your budget can be updated month to month! Take Ty for our first month, he spent his monthly allowance within the first two weeks and I had to share my allowance with him to get us both by for the rest of the month. Know your plans for the month in case you need to save a certain amount for the end of the month (sure as heck don't want to end up spending it all at the beginning!).

don't OVERWORK yourself.
I say this in the context of don't feel like you need to work a million extra shifts and/or spend all your time at work to gather up as much money as you can. If you want to work an extra shift on occasion, sure. But seriously, live your life outside of work while becoming debt free. Let your paychecks be what they are suppose to be and live off just that.

surround yourself with those in the same boat.
We all have friends that make a ton of money, but we also have friends who get by with the minimum. Surround yourself with those who have similar interests, similar goals, and are bound and determined to becoming debt free. Trust us...they are ones who likely love all those "free activities" as much as you do.

free activities.
you'll find yourself searching for any FREE to get you by as much as possible. Fortunately for all of us in the Pacific NW, we can hike, bike, snowshoe, head to the beach, go out on the river....all for FREE! Outdoor activities will become your new favorite friend during this debt free journey. And for those looking to drop some pounds, going debt free will also help the waist line...less eating out, free outdoor active activities all equal better health!

get togethers.
Yeah, those are going to have to happen more often. And within your own home. Going out to dinner, drinks, etc. are a little more limited if you are ready to bear down and knock away your debt (unless that's all you want your budgeted money to go to each month). Nothing says budget friendly more than at home pot lucks with friends, game nights, couples hikes, movie nights (at home of course), or camping (if you're meeting family and friends halfway someplace). What better than in your own home anyway, right?

Biking becomes more than just a way of exercising. When you're on the Dave Ramsey budget, biking becomes a money saver. Nothing like pinching those pennies! Plus it's great on the environment, not just your monthly budget. That makes three great things for biking.

date nights.
We get it, taking your girlfriend or wife out to a nice, expensive restaurant is great. Going out often in the month takes away from the budget as all as the excitement in going out. Rather than going to on dates often, get creative...set out your budget with the idea in mind to only go out for one breakfast or lunch, one dinner, and one activity (i.e. rock climbing). Use that date money for trying new things. It's amazing how special date nights become!

plan meals and don't shop hungry.
There will no longer be any excuse to have to "run and grab a quick bite". There will no longer be any reason you don't have lunch for the next day. You WILL plan meals, not just to be organized but to avoid just buying random things off the shelves. You WILL buy what is necessary plus a few things to splurge on. You WILL make your meals for dinner and be sure to have lunch packed along with it. And Ty's advice, don't shop hungry. Things can get out of hand.

gift giving.
If you're a gift giver (as I have always loved buying lots of things for others), your budget will crimp your style. However, it will teach you some wonderful things. For one, you begin to realize there is never any reason to spend as much as we once did on gifts. Secondly, you learn to get creative on a tight budget. And thirdly, we have learned giving a gift of an experience comes as a much better price than most other gifts. So start planning ahead...take your mom to lunch and window shop, pick up your best friend for a hike in the Gorge and stop at a food cart of their choice, or get your nephew and niece passes to the zoo and Children's Museum. You'll thank us later.

monthly allowance.
You'll begin to feel like you're 17 again with an allowance from your parents. And that's exactly what it is. The realization will set in that you don't "need" majority of the things you nearly subconsciously pick up. That new shirt you're eyeing on the rack, probably don't need it. Those shoes, forget probably won't even have a big enough allowance for shoes (or at least we didn't!). Our budgeted $75 per person doesn't go very far in the 21st century and you'll figure that one out quick! But trust us, it's like a sugar detox diet...eventually you don't have those cravings and barely even notice those things at the store. Your focus will no longer be on the clothing section and instead, the more important "needs" for life.

don't give up.
There's no, "I'll just buy this one thing outside my budget." You set a budget, you make it happen, you get debt free. Nothing else to it. It's kinda like a diet. If you don't stick to it, you won't see results. So don't give up!

the best part.
There is so much more to becoming debt free than budgeting. The way you see life starts to change: priorities, your focuses, your lifestyle, etc. And when life starts to change in those ways, you will change. You will change in some wonderful ways. We hope you begin to think outside the box, budget for what makes you most happy, live within your means, and can find the best in the simple things in life.

I'm sure if we weren't doing this at 10 o'clock at night, we'd come up with a few more reflections. But because we are, it looks like we may be cutting this a bit short for some shut eye. We are more than happy to answer questions, be a resource or support person for your journey, or provide you with some of our tools we used during this Dave Ramsey becoming debt free process. We wish you well on your journey!

♡The Stanleys