Simplicity in Kansas suggested in a comment yesterday, taking a look at a post about how my family has changed since we began our journey together in October. A reflection on five changes I have noticed as we work our Success Map and through the Dave Ramsey Baby Steps.
It hit me immediately as a great idea, since a lot has changed in less than 6 months. In fact, regarding finance, nearly a 180 degree turn-around. It might be easiest to explain by listing some positive advances, and contrasting them to how they were being done before.
Change #1 Bill Paying:
- Then: We haven't had a 30-day late pay in a long time, but it was very close. Basically we paid them as they came in without a plan. This led to silly $20, $30 late charges from the cards. It also lead at times charging a payment to a credit card, or having wave after wave of Ninja Bills.
- Now: We track every bill in MS Money including yearly ones and know exactly when we are going to pay them to maximize cash flow and eliminate late-fees.
Change #2 Spending Habits:
- Then: It kind of used to be first come first served! If I wanted to go Golf, I checked to see which credit card had some credit and I was off. The kids would hit up their Mom for everything with little thought of earning or saving for what they wanted.
- Now: Everyone in the house know where a bill is allocated, down to getting a Tea on the way to work. All of us are on allowances, we can spend it on what we want, but when it is gone, its gone! We try to pay with cash anything that we can...oh yeah, the Credit Cards are chopped and haven't been used in four months!
Change 3# Success Plan:
- Then: Don't worry, we'll always make more money...It will work out. Hey, there is the sand, I am going to be over there with my head in it!
- Now: Each person, including the kids, has a good idea to where the money is going. They know we didn't handle our finances well and we are now cleaning them up. They now know that a budget is a lifestyle, not a prison sentence to be paroled from. We all know that whatever we want...we have to save for it. A great example is with the tax return that we are getting. While questions came up about vacations, etc., when I explained that we were putting it away for taxes, everyone understood why. My oldest daughter told me to find the best interest rate, so there would be more for Christmas! (Both Girls are budding CFOs)
Change #4 Attitude Towards Money:
- Then: When my 10 year old daughter was four, she asked for a credit card for Christmas...so she could shop whenever she wanted.
- Now: Just last weekend she said she never wanted one because it was silly to pay extra just to get it now! Today I was with my 7-year old son at the bank getting the cash for our envelope system and he asked if we could go to McDonald's for lunch...just us two. I said sure, but reminded him that since the family wasn't all there, we each have to use our allowances to pay for our meal, because that was fair. He turned to me and said, well, how about I save this for a Bionicle instead...Good choice Son!
Change #5 Stress:
- Then: Never knowing what would turn up next, always waiting for our next check. Everyday felt like a rainy day.
- Now: Never is everything perfect. But the stress level around money is 10% of what it was. What stress there is really due to our understanding of what opportunities we blew by not having our stuff together...
So looking back we really have turned 180 degrees in less than 180 days. We are not perfect by a long shot but we got a budget, planned out our Success Map, are working our baby steps, built our snowball, and the light at the end of the tunnel isn't a train anymore!
If you haven't started, start. If you stopped, restart. If you are doing well, look for improvement! You can do it!