Tag Archives: Dave Ramsey

The Change Crusade

Know it. Live it. Every day.

Do you ever have those times in your life that make you truly reflect? I’m not talking about the times where you’re washing dishes at the sink and stare out the window for two seconds and think, “I love my life,” or “I wish today would have gone better.” I’m talking about those moments that make you reflect so much that you actually change from them– moments or experiences where you can literally look back and say, “I’m changed for good because of…” (and yes, I stole that line from the “Wicked” soundtrack. What can I say? I’m hopelessly devoted to broadway shows.

For me, the past week hasn’t presented just one of these moments– there have been three. I think that’s God’s way of saying to me, “WAKE UP!” And the three…

“Amazing Grace”

Last Friday I attended a funeral for my friend’s mom. Although I didn’t know her well, I remember her being a woman of ultimate kindness and acceptance. She was one of those people who truly listened when you spoke. She didn’t just nod, waiting for her turn to speak her piece; she genuinely cared about what you had to say.

During the mass, the priest regarded this highly respected, loved and ultimately missed woman as an amazing grace. Those two words immediately brought tears to my eyes. Not only is that a song that “gets me” every time, but to hear him describe a person with this familiar adage was well, amazing to me. What a positive and unforgettable legacy to leave behind. I started to think about how proud my friend must have felt to be able to call himself her “son” and her his “mother.”

I began to think of the legacy I want to leave behind, how I want to be remembered when I’m gone.  Needless to say, there’s lots of work that needs to be done. But I’m willing to do it. And that’s half the battle.

Live and Give Like No One Else

This past Sunday was the last week of Financial Peace University. We had more than 50 people graduate from the class, and although I was helping to lead them all to true financial stability and confidence, I think I got more out of it than anyone else in the room.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Dave Ramsey’s plan, the last of his seven baby steps instructs you to GIVE. Whether it be your money, time or energy, GIVE to those around you who need it most. Being so caught up in budgeting, checking my spreadsheet and rechecking it about 10,000 times a day, the reason why we’ve been saving so diligently and spending so cautiously got lost. We’re doing this so later on in life we can GIVE to our church, GIVE to the organizations in our community that we feel led to support, GIVE to our neighbors who may find financial hardships or painstaking tragedy.

Sitting there last Sunday brought me back to the funeral and what was said about the precious woman this world lost. No, it’s not about your ability or inability to be philanthropic monetarily, but it’s about what you give and why you give. It’s about caring for your neighbor more than you care for yourself. Talk about leaving a legacy. Whether you can give $1 or $1,000 a week to a local charity, it’s where your giving nature is rooted from. Are you doing it to be recognized? Are you doing it because you feel like you have to? Or are you doing it because it’s the right thing to do? You’ll find that if you’re giving from your heart and not necessarily from your head, the rest will follow.

Do Unto Others…

The week couldn’t have ended any more ironically. After the two revelations I described above, a day later I found out a little girl who goes to the same babysitter as my daughter lost everything in a house fire. Not only was she left without any clothes, toys or furniture, her mom is expecting another baby in a few months, and they lost all the baby items they had been saving.

After finding this out, I immediately felt a pang in my heart. I needed to do something, something that would give this family a sense of hope and maybe even peace during this horrific time. I just kept picturing the little girl’s sweet face and how innocently she always looks up at me with her big, brown eyes. Although only 4 years old, too young to really understand, I know it’s something she will never forget. Not only will fire be branded in her mind forever, but I want those thoughts to be almost masked by the generosity and selflessness people demonstrated during an extremely difficult time for her family.

With that in mind, I spread the word as quickly as I could (thank you social media,) and I had friends and family donating everything they possibly could: clothes, toys, furniture, baby items, etc. People were so willing to GIVE. YAY! As I was feverishly trying to manage all the donations (what a great problem to have, right?,) I started to pose the same questions to myself as I asked above. Why was I doing this? Why was I investing so much effort and so much time? It boiled down to a simple rule, the golden rule actually. “Do unto others as you would have them to do you.” Such a simple concept, but not easy to authenticate each and every day. But it was enough to get me to swing into action, so it must have some type of moral weight to it, right?

I think we all stumble upon reflective moments in our lives that can lead to a true and permanent change. But I believe whole-heartedly we need to be mindful and accepting of those moments, otherwise they can easily go unnoticed. After all, the only thing that’s constant in this world is change. So be amazing. Spread grace. And give.


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Pleading the 5th


How can I not want two of these?!

I always imagined I’d have two children. Actually, that’s a lie. For several months before my daughter was born, I thought for sure I wanted three. Being one of three girls, I wanted my kids to have exactly what I had.

Sure there were times in my life where I wish I didn’t have any siblings. Those mornings rushing around before the bus came looking for my essential hair products and the new navy sweater with the tags still on it. Those nights where I had to stay home and babysit them as they ran around and screamed like two banshees on the Discovery Channel while all my other friends were at the movies. Yea, I could have done without those. But then I think about the relationship we have now, and I could never live without that. My sisters are my best friends. They are two people I always know I can trust– and that says a lot, considering I can only count the trustworthy people in my life on one hand, a recent and scarring revelation for me come to think of it.

But I digress (what else is new…) Now that Maryn has been here for 14 months, it’s finally settling in that she’s a permanent (and welcomed) fixture in our lives. I think for several months I was in denial, thinking this whole mommy thing was just temporary. Oh no, she’s here to stay. It’s taken me quite awhile to get used to the idea, being depressed for several weeks after coming home from the hospital. I just could not get over the fact that it would never be just my husband and I again– there would always be three of us. AHHHH! How was I supposed to process all of that?! But here I am many months later, and I love being a mom. The real question: do I love it enough to be a mom of two? I’m not so sure…

…so when people ask me “When are you going to start trying for #2?,” I get this nasty pit in my stomach and my throat starts to close up. How do I tell someone I’m just not sure that I want another baby, that I may be part of the one and done club? Especially when many people surrounding me who have children the same age or even younger than Maryn are pregnant again?!!! Instead of stuttering and feeling the potential burning of tears in my eyes, I shut down. That’s right. For at least 10-20 seconds (which seems like a lifetime in “waiting for a response” land,) I don’t say a word. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?!

I don’t know why I stress about letting the askers down. I mean, let’s face it, they’re not going through the physical, mental and emotional turmoil of it all. And it’s my decision, right? Maybe it’s about letting myself down. Maybe it’s about not following “the plan” I had always latched onto in my own mind.

Instead of really facing the question head on and dealing with it, I’ve decided I have an answer: I will not start thinking about having another baby until we are completely debt free. Hopefully in the listener’s mind, this will seem to be a sensible answer, skirting around all the other ancillary issues surrounding this question that sends me into death-grip mode. And I can’t say it’s all for deflection sake. Thinking about having another baby freaks me out enough on principle. Then once I start thinking about the financial implications, my skin gets blotchy, my heart starts racing, and my eyelids start to flutter, all from the sheer panic I’m enduring.

I understand the love you have and the bond you share with a child is priceless. And I wouldn’t change anything in my life for a second when it comes to Maryn and how much she’s impacted my life. But as Dave would say, it’s just not in the budget…


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For the Love of the Game


I am going to start this post out by making myself perfectly clear: I love football. There’s just something about watching it on a crisp, autumn day, with the windows open just a crack in the family room, enough to let the sound of rustling leaves and the smell of the cool yet comfortable breeze drift through the opening. And fantasy football has made it all the more entertaining. Not only do I watch Steelers game religiously every week to see how my beloved team fares against its rivals, but I pay close attention to other games that leave my week’s stats hanging in the balance. But I have to say, all of this interim referee bashing and NFL-hating slander has ruined the experience for me this season.

Now before anyone starts pointing a finger, I’m not a Green Bay Packers hater. I’m sure some of you jumped directly to that conclusion, especially after the team beat the Steelers in the 2011 Superbowl. I have respect for the green and gold ( I mean hey, I watched Donald Driver on Dancing with the Stars– who wouldn’t?!) No but seriously, it’s not about that. And it’s defintiely not about being a Seahawks lover. Seattle is one of those teams I always feel bad for, because I don’t feel like it has any fans. But that’s about as far as my empathy goes.

So why am I exceptionally riled up and less than thrilled about all of this referee nonsense? Let’s see… there’s a presidential election coming up in a little more than 30 days, one that will stand to change all of our lives in one aspect or another, there are people dying for our country each and every day, the nation’s debt is at an all-time high, and people just can’t seem to keep up with their bills. Must I go on?

I can’t tell you how frustrated I was when I woke up Tuesday morning and was bombarded with Facebook status updates, news headlines, and tweets, 95 percent of which were originated to relay their utmost disgust and disappointment with what is now being badged as one of the worst calls in professional sports history. Maybe it’s just me, but I think our priorities are a bit skewed.

To be honest, this all started for me Sunday evening, prior to the “call heard around the world” even happening. I just arrived at the Financial Peace Unviersity class I’m helping to coordinate, and I ran into a woman I know. I hadn’t seen in her quite sometime, so we got chatting about the class and how I was so excited to see her there. She proceeded to introduce me to her husband, who stared blankly at me and looked extremely irritated. It was wildly obvious that he did not want to be there. The woman then went on to tell me that she and her husband didn’t know the class was nine weeks, and was freaking out because it’s at 7 p.m. on Sunday nights during football season. At that point, I had to graciously walk away and distract myself by starting another conversation with the couple behind them.

So let’s recap… yes, of course I’m glad they’re in the class and  they’ve made the commitment to be there each week, albeit extremely heartwrenching for the husband (cry me a river.) But how is this the way priorities are set? How is it that your bank account and your retirement future can be in dire straits, but you’re fine with sitting and watching football to your heart’s content on a flat screen that was probably not in your budget and put on credit?

If I’m describing you, I don’t want you to think I don’t like you, or that I’m mad at you, I’m just trying to put things into perspective. Let’s reevalute and readjust today. Forget the flat screen– five or ten years down the road you can buy season tickets for your favorite team and even travel around the country for the away games! Who needs instant replay when you’re in the stands, watching plays like the one Monday night, right before your eyes?


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Everyone Needs a Special Day

Who would pay thousands of dollars for this dog? This girl.

September 16 is only eight days away! I have been counting down the days until next Sunday for the past several weeks. No, it’s not my birthday, or my anniversary, or the start of an exotic vacation. But because of my genuine and unstoppable excitement, I’ve done everything short of create a paper chain to symbolize the arrival of this special day. I know, I know, the suspense is killing you. So what IS September 16?

Well my friends, September 16 marks the day that I will embark on a journey, along with 20 or so strangers, to change their financial mindsets, practicalities, and futures. Yes, that’s right, I will be leading one of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University classes, showing them what it’s like to live like no one else, so later they can live like no one else (I just HAD to insert Dave’s famous tagline in here somewhere.)

As if you couldn’t tell by now, I’m ECSTATIC about this opportunity. But as I sat in my family room, leafing through the pages of the course book, I began to get anxious. I started to remember how I felt when I sat in those same seats. Hopeful, nervous, guilty, and most of all embarrassed. I’m sure these emotions, along with dozens of others, will flood the classroom each and every week. Of course as the class progresses, each week people will get more and more comfortable talking about their own personal anecdotes; their past financial mistakes, their current budgeting plan, their future investing goals. And I in turn am expected to share all of the same details. Two years ago, I would have been like a seagull, burying my head in the sand. Today, I’m that same seagull, only soaring above the ocean, feeling more free than ever before.

I’ve learned to not be ashamed of the rabid spending habits that haunt my past. Sure I get a little red in the face when I tell people I bought a $2,300 dog and charged it on the way to the gym (and yes, that’s a true story– she was on sale!,) but I remind myself that I should be proud of the fact that I can now laugh at that story, instead of pretending like it never happened. Whether financial mistakes come in the form of a $100 pair of Nike sneakers or a $40,000 Mercedes CLK, we all need to remember these lapses in judgement are how we learn and grow. It’s just like when reminiscing about a regrettable night of heavy drinking or a relationship that had gone stale weeks, months or even years before you actually ended it.

The hard truth is we can’t change the past. It’s over. It’s done. It’s gone. Thank God. So look ahead. Straight ahead. And when you happen upon an awakening in your personal, professional, or financial life, celebrate it. Mark it on the calendar. Pop a bottle of champagne. And quickly reflect, only to recognize and appreciate you’ve changed your mindset and are NEVER willing to go back to being simply content, or in my case, simply broke.


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FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real


Bring on the spiders!

In looking at my blog stats, I can’t help but notice when I mention the word “budget” or “finances” my readership sinks WAYYY down to a depressing low. In my opinion, I think this is because of two things: 1) It’s snoozerifically boring and/or 2) it totally freaks people out. Even though I understand both of those reasons, I have one harsh yet real phrase for those of you who fall into either or both of those categories: get over it.

Believe it or not, I’m more sympathetic towards those who think the topic is boring. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m part of an extremely small percentage of people on this earth who think budgeting is fun and exciting. And I get that. I also get that many would rather be closed in a casket with a million spiders than talk about money and bugeting. It’s uncomfortable. It’s at times embarrassing. It’s SCARY. Well, let me enlighten you: so is being broke (thank you, Dave Ramsey.)

I’m not saying  you should broadcast a screenshot of your bank account on the evening news, or that you should display the amount of debt you have in skywriting. What I am saying is you should face your financial woes head on (and yes, EVERYONE has them.) Ignoring them and secretly praying that you’ll win the lottery is NOT a good financial plan. In fact, it’s not a plan at all.

I grew up with my mom telling me FEAR was an acronym for “false evidence appearing real.” And trust me, there are times when I have to repeat that to myself hourly. It’s not easy to face your fears, whether they be needles and blood or ghosts and extra terrestrial life. Fears allow your mind to wander and your imagination to become completely overworked. Of course there are things that deserve to be feared, like losing a loved one or growing old and being alone. But I think what my mom was always trying to tell me was most of the things you fear will never come to fruition. Sure if you’re claustrophobic there are times when you’re going to be faced with a teeny tiny space (like going down a tube slide at the playground or being stuffed into an elevator.) But being buried alive? Or having to crawl from New York to California through a tunnel with a 3-foot circumference? Probably never going to happen.

So whatever scares you, whether it be birds, clowns, bugs or your checking account balance, know that your fear is bigger than life, and it could most likely be scaled down significantly. I understand facing your fears takes baby steps, so I’m not suggesting you sit in the front row at the circus if Bozo is your worst nightmare. But start thinking about how you can settle your fears in small doses. That way when your child wants to have a clown at his/her birthday party to ride a unicycle and make balloon animals, you won’t start having heart palpitations. And more importantly, when it’s time to sit down and do retirement or estate planning, you don’t wear headphones and a blind fold to the meeting, or worse, keep rescheduling the meeting with your financial planner until it’s too late.


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Warning: Lady with the Envelopes Ahead!


Pretend it’s written down in stone!

If you’ve ever been waiting impatiently in line at Target or Wegman’s or even J. Crew behind a woman who had to sift through a bunch of envelopes to pull out cash and count out the exact change for her purchase, that woman was probably me.

Yes, that’s right. I’m one of those “nerds” who carries around an envelope system, strongly advocated for and created by Dave Ramsey. No, the concept wasn’t created by Dave; as he would say, our grandmothers invented the idea. But he has expanded upon it with his own stylish wallets, with slots for your license, debit card, (notice I didn’t say credit cards,) etc.

For those of you who may not be familiar with the envelope system, it’s a way to keep yourself honest with your spending habits. Each pay period, you take out the exact amount of money you know you’re going to need for, let’s say, food (and yes, this means you must budget. I know, GASP!) Then, once the money in the designated envelope is gone, you cannot spend any more money in that category until the next pay day. So, if you only have $12 in your envelope and you’re really craving a dinner from your favorite restaurant, too bad, so sad. This keeps you from “twenty-dollaring yourself to death” (another Dave-ism,) not keeping track of how much you’ve spent, whether it be on food, gas, clothes, etc.

Before the envelope system entered our lives, I had a HUGE spending problem. I would walk into Target to buy a birthday card and a Rubbermaid bin, and I’d walk out with $200 worth of home goods, scrapbooking supplies, and candles (no joke.) So I was in DESPERATE NEED of a system, one that was black and white, without any loop holes. Because if there was even one, I’d find it and throw another six summer place settings in my cart. The envelope system is perfect, because it’s simple. If it’s not in the envelope, it can’t be spent. Period.

Now of course this concept is a simple one, but it’s not easy to do. It takes a TON of discipline. And I’m not going to say I haven’t wavered. But since adopting what I like to call a way of life, things have gotten SO much better financially for me and my family.

While filling my envelopes this past week, I couldn’t help but think about how this relates to the career book I’m continuing to read, “48 Days to the Work You Love,” by Dan Miller (see previous posts for more details.) One of the days in the book is dedicated to analyzing the seven areas of your life that need to be balanced for true fulfillment: career, financial, social, family, physical, personal development, and spiritual. Miller goes on to say you must deposit enough energy into each of these areas with the motivation to be consistent and passionate about it.

So how does this even parallel with the envelope system I’m so obsessed with? Well, think about it. In the envelope system, if you don’t put enough money in the gas envelope to last you two weeks, you’re going to be sitting on your butt at home, feeling sorry for yourself because you can’t afford to drive to your friend’s house across town. In the scenario Miller depicts, if you don’t exercise enough, dedicating time and effort to your physical well being, you’ll be sitting on your butt at home, feeling sorry for yourself because you don’t look or feel as good as you know you could.

Take a moment to think about those seven areas of your life. Where are you completely fulfilled? Or maybe overflowing? What facets are at an all-time low? I’m sure this isn’t something you think about often (I know for me it’s not,) but if you focus on it for just a few moments, it’s not difficult to see where there’s excess and where there’s deficiency. Take Miller’s advice– do everything you can to stay in balance!

And as for those envelopes, try it out. Even if it’s not Dave’s official system, try making your own (following the same principles of course.) It’s going to seem crazy at first– your friends will make fun of you, the people in lines behind you will mock you. But after 21 days (they say that’s how long it takes to successfully create a habit,) you, your family, and your bank account will be better for it.


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