Goal Setting

I happen to be very good at letting tangents get in the way of my goal setting but I am starting up the process yet again.  I don’t like ambling through life…I just don’t like it.  It doesn’t matter (sometimes) if I keep those goals, but I have to at least put them on my list to say I thought about them. That they were important to me.

I find that tackling our financial goals gives me great stress and also joy (when I’m done paying off our debts).  It is important to me to reduce the burdens that are on my family and it’s great to see that by making sacrifices in our lifestyle we are able to accomplish our financial goals.  Since 2011, we have put most of our tax returns onto different debts as it has been one of the easiest ways to bring our debt down without adding extra work hours or yard sales into our work habits. 

As we continue to look towards the future, we are taking more deliberate steps to reducing our debts and also thinking of ways to avoid taking on debts to accomplish specific goals (i.e. my husband wants to go to law school and someday I want to tackle a Master’s degree).  I found this wonderful website about a young couple who paid cash for their house.  It’s not the first time I’ve heard of someone doing so, but I am enamored with their open and lighthearted thoughts about doing things differently.  The website, WhatTheSohnsDo, describes a little bit of their journey and how they are just like us (money squabbles, car accidents, and that desire to be homeowners) and how they found Dave Ramsey’s approach to money management to fit their particular needs.

Reading their story reminds me that if I put certain aspects of my home desire aside (i.e. a new construction home) and look at the bare bones of the issue (I just want to own a home), I can take a more realistic approach (and a more financially sound approach) to this goal.  I know if we save up, we can pay for a house with cash.  Arizona is one of those housing markets where you can find a good home for under $200,000, which means we can save up in a few years time.  We are already in this position of waiting out two years for a lender to approve us for a mortgage, so why not take it a bit more seriously and bring cash to the table.

I don’t want to detail too much about our scrimping habits because I barely like doing the budget as it is, but here is a brief explanation to what I hope to do/what we have been doing so financially we can make progress on our goal of becoming homeowners:

-Live with the in-laws (we are still recuperating financially from my yearlong unemployment spell)

-Consider pulling our daughter out of daycare next year to save $670/month (this option is still under review) and have Thomas take night/weekend/online classes to make it work

-If we don’t pull our daughter out of daycare, when she’s old enough to go to school, that monthly amount will be added to our home goal and later to pay for law school

-Tax returns (onto debt and add to home account)

-Not buying any new cars until later on when there is cash to support that option

-When we do move out (my hope is December, my husband’s is by next May), we are getting the smallest apartment we can comfortably move into and not renting a house like we did in Wyoming

-Paying only for Netflix and the internet when we move into our own place (we like cable but we’d save almost $1,000 a year but not getting it)

-We are also working on sticking to our food budget a bit better (he overspends on drinks and fast food lunches and grocery shopping is my vice….I have since posted our Gazelle budget, it’s a Dave Ramsey tool, onto the bedroom wall so I see it before I walk out the door each time

And I am holding off on choosing a Master’s program until we can pay for it in cash and/or the school loves me enough as an applicant that they’d be willing to pay for my education

And here is the information the Sohns posted on the Success Stories forum for the Total Money Makeover site that I subscribe to; I love hearing how they managed to be successful through their hard work and patience:

To all of our fellow Dave Ramsey fans,

We want to encourage you with our story. My wife and I recently paid $180,000 in cash for our very first house – we are 28 and 33 years old and now, we are living like no one else!

Was it easy? NO WAY!

Was it worth it? You be the judge.

Our 3.5 year journey required a LOT of personal sacrifice, humility and intensity.

SACRIFICE
Our sacrifices included renting a tiny apartment, cutting cable, cutting gym membership, avoiding the malls, working extra jobs, driving only one car (a used minivan), and saying ‘NO’ to a lot of social gatherings. Immediately after we got married and looked at our combined paychecks, we were earning what seemed like tons and tons of money, yet we refused to let our income dictate our lifestyle.

HUMILITY
It also required a lot of humility to admit that Dave Ramsey was much smarter than I was. After my first time reading through the TMMO, I thought the entire thing was a scam because it seemed way too simple. About a year later, we were in the process of making some decisions about life insurance. Through our research online, we kept seeing Dave Ramsey’s name pop up, and the advice he was giving about Term Life Insurance made perfect sense. Hmmm… maybe Dave Ramsey did know a thing or two about a thing or two.

So, my wife and I read the TMMO together and that’s when I realized that there was something profound about the simplicity and clarity of his plan. Game time.

INTENSITY
We cut up our credit cards, paused our retirement, held monthly budget committee fights/meetings, did the envelope (we used jars) system, and basically went ALL OUT on Baby Step 3B. For added inspiration, we saved up every single credit card offer we received in the mail for a full year to remind ourselves of how desperately the credit card companies wanted us back as their slaves, I mean, customers.

Although Dave doesn’t scream at people for taking out mortgages within his guidelines (15 yr fixed, less than 25% of take home pay), we kept coming back to one question:

“What would Dave do?”

Everyone here knows the answer to that. Dave Ramsey doesn’t borrow money. Dave Ramsey would pay cash for his house. Well, if that’s what Dave would do, then that’s what we were going to do too!

SPREADING THE WORD
Through our journey, we’ve taught 2 FPU courses, and 2 Generation Change courses. Currently, we are in the middle of our third round of Generation Change with our Youth Group students at our church. Recently, we’ve also had a chance to speak to a group of 500 local high school students about Financial Literacy. Everyone had a blast!

CELEBRATION!
We also called the Dave Ramsey radio show to celebrate our accomplishment of paying cash for our house, and guess what: Dave Ramsey called us WEIRDOS!

When Dave Ramsey calls you weird, you take it as the ultimate compliment. Here are some examples that may help you relate to how we were feeling.

Just imagine, it’s like:
-Michael Jordan saying you got game.
-Chris Rock saying you’re funny.
-Batman gawking over your gadgets.
-Dwight Schrute admiring your beets.

WHAT’S NEXT?
Stick to the principles. Live on less that we make. GIVE, SAVE, SPEND. Live like no one else.

Be Different. Be Awesome.

————————-
Mike Sohn

http://www.WhatTheSohnsDo.com

TMMO Start: December 2010
BS1 & 2: completed before my TMMO
BS3: 12/2009
BS3B: 10/2012, saved 100% for house
BS4: In progress
BS5: N/A
BS6: skipped
BS7: November 2012

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