Friday, August 11, 2006

My budget cheerleader

I am at the end of my rope financially. Being sick for so many months coupled with crummy financial management skills, I have finally hit bottom. So when I heard about a Dave Ramsey class coming to town, I decided to sign up. I had heard about Ramsey from a few friends and read his columns in our local paper.

Ramsey's class, Financial Peace University, is 13 weeks long and is usually sponsored by a local church. The first session we watch a video and "get-to-know each other." By the end of the night, I didn't feel so bad about my situation. There's some other people in way worse shape than me. (A few of them looked like they should cut their food budget, but I digress.)

Last night, session two, it was time to dig into my own financial plight. I was up until about 2 a.m. this morning doing an on-line budget available to students. Before I adjusted ruthlessly my budget, I was in the red about $900 per month, which explains why I keep going deeper into debt. So now I can drive seven miles a month, eat about $100 worth a month, and have to sell my second car and a gun and perhaps the dogs -- never mind, no one would want them.

When I grew up, we didn't talk much about money in our family. My family seemed to assume I would learn good money management skills by osmosis and all they did was teach me to balance a checkbook. I remember some terse conversations between my parents because my father was generous to a fault and my mom seemed to live in fear of economic catastrophe. They were both depression-era children, so they definitely knew how to make a nickel stretch. They managed to live pretty frugally, although with their kids they were very extravagent, which was no help to a couple of us, in the long run.

Anyway, I'll probably blog about my financial "digging out" as I go along because this is a major change for me and one that's long overdue (Step One). I always had a good income after I got clean and I spent it all. I traveled, bought a house I wasn't sure I could afford (I lost it when I got sick), and blew through my entire inheritance (which wasn't huge by any means) because I had no cash saved when I got sick, nor did I have disability insurance.

After my surgery, I had to borrow money from a brother who, as my mother said, "would squeeze a nickel 'til the buffalo s---." But over the years, while we made fun of him, one of my other brothers and I have both had to go to him to borrow money. Talk about embarrassing.
I refuse to let this happen again. I have hit my financial bottom and I'm more than willing to dig my way out.

I know I'm not alone. Debt is an American way of life and our vulture banking system will continue to encourage us to spend way more than we make. I thought my bank was so nice because they gave me automatic bounce protection. I had a moment of clarity the other day when I realized that this only encourages me to write a "warm" check because if it bounces, the bank will pay it and only at the small cost of $29 or some ridiculous charge.

If you're in my boat, or worried that you'll end up there, check out Dave's website or his radio show. It streams every day from 2-5 EST and is also on many stations throughout the US. I was going to a meeting tonight, but I think I'll save the gas. I spend quality time with Romy, instead.

1 comment:

DEBTective said...

I'm proud of you, baby. Sorry that you had to go through the hard times, but you're on your way to getting out and staying out. Dave's plan does make a lot of sense, so you'll deep-six your debt and connect with your cash before you know it. Great job, kid!

P.S. Cute doggie!