I was pretty bad with money throughout my teens and twenties, despite having been through Financial Peace University with my folks right after college. I repeatedly deferred my undergrad student loans, and likely built a few Bank of America branches single-handedly, thanks to overdraft fees. In short, I was a mess.
Then, God gave me a really great reason to get my financial head on straight: I got married. I knew that my foolishness wasn’t going to fly when I had a wife and future children depending on me, so I re-took FPU, this time with my wife. It’s amazing how having someone sharing your last name in the seat next to you makes you pay better attention.
Now, I’ll warn you: this isn’t going to be a “We’re debt free!” story–not yet, anyway. The truth is, we haven’t been as “gazelle-intense” as you would counsel (which probably puts our story in the oft-maligned “Dave-ish” category). BUT we have taken your teaching and incorporated it in some specific and valuable ways:
- We write a budget every month, and stick to it as closely as possible. As a result, we haven’t overdrawn our accounts in 4 1/2 years. And as a nice bonus, we don’t fight about finances–like, EVER. Being on the same page is fantastic.
- We have an emergency fund–which is good, because we needed it! In the last few years, that emergency fund has been decimated by typical life stuff. But praise the Lord for His provision, in the form of an emergency fund that kept our car or dental emergencies from becoming money emergencies.
- We have paid off a bunch of debt. We’ve chopped credit cards, paid off personal loans, and cash-flowed education and family visits. Most of the debt we brought into our marriage has been knocked out. We still have a little ways to go, but we are making progress month-by-month. As my wife reminds me from time to time, while we aren’t burning the world down with our progress, every month we are better off than we were before.
Our “intensity level” for getting out of debt has sometimes been more “golden retriever” than “gazelle,” but nevertheless, we are grateful for how your wisdom and common-sense teaching have helped us avoid financial struggle and money fights.
So thank you, Dave Ramsey. Your materials have been a huge help, and your radio show is always an encouragement to keep focused. Your approach to finances is often intense, and sometimes a bit scary. But my family has benefited from your wisdom, and I hope to one day call you up and let you know that we’re debt free–even if we took the long way ’round.
Doing better than I deserve,