I'm sure after yesterday's post, some of you are asking, "How did they become debt free? They're like 16 years old." Well, I want to answer the question that has probably been on y'alls mind with the steps we followed and will continue to follow.
1. We took Dave Ramsey's advice. He is an excellent financial adviser and before we took the plunge I read his book Total Money Make-Over. He walks you through the steps of getting out of debt, how to save/budget and the wisest way to purchase big items, like a house and cars. His main motto that I think about when dealing with finances is "Live like no one else NOW, so that you can live like no one else LATER." Which brings me to #2:
2. Jason and I have what we want, but want what we have. We never buy things on impulse. NEVER. If I see, for example, a cute top at Target, I won't buy it right away. If I'm still thinking about that top two three months after-the-fact, THEN I'll purchase it and chances are, it's now on sale. Also, because we're living like no one else NOW, we opt out of dining out most of the time. Now, I will say, when all of our friends are going out to eat dinner and we choose to eat at home, yeah, it kind of sucks; however, as much as we can, we'll still go for the fellowship/environment factor and just eat a head of time. We have fantastic friends and love spending time with them!
3. We budget! Every month we know exactly how much we have to spend on groceries, gas, bills, etc. I look at our statement every month and make sure we're on track. And just to let you know, we typically allow ourselves around three dining out meals(including fast food) and one 'fun thing' a month. Going to the movies or going out ever week can add up, so try for one month to have movie night at home or buy a frozen pizza rather than order out. Seriously, it adds up! Be careful! (We don't do the envelope system but we've heard that works too.) We're doing this NOW, so that LATER in life we can freely go to dinners, events and spoil our kids without worrying about breaking the bank.
4. We paid for our car mostly in cash. We saved for a whole year and was able to put $10,000 towards a car. We also applied for Texas's AirCheck initiative program that paid us $3,000 to take Jason's old, clunker Pontiac off the streets. Look for things of that nature in your area!
5. We saved! Every month, automatically, we put around 12% of our paychecks into saving. Dave Ramsey says that people should save from 10 - 15%, so we followed his advice.
THE LAST AND MOST IMPORTANT THING WE DID.....
6. We tithed 10% every month! As Christians and members of a church, Jason and I both feel it is crucial for us to tithe. Jason even had us give 10% of our wedding money towards to church. (I was originally not too thrilled about it at first, but am SO glad we did!) The money we have is not ours, it's Gods. That's just how we feel. Period. And His word commands us to tithe and it also says you reap what you sow, so.....do the math!
So, if you're in a really tough spot financially, maybe even mentally, give today. Give someone an unexpected gift or card. Give someone your time by eating lunch with them. Give a stranger that extra bottle of water you carry in your car. Seriously! Fight the tendencies of this modern, materialistic world and GIVE rather than RECEIVE!
And those Christians out there that are reading this that don't tithe, I want to challenge you to give 10% to your church or ministry. If you're thinking, "I use that money towards bills and other things", just do it for three months and I promise you, the Lord will provide. He might even bless you more abundantly! Make a conscience effort to do it and, trust me, your obedience will be honored.