Broke But Not Broken

16 11 2009

broke

Gosh, we’ve been through a whole-heckuv-alot since we’ve started our journey to get out of debt. Of the $100,000+ in non-mortgage debt we started with, $65,000 has been paid off in the last 2 years and 1 month. I don’t have time to tell it all, and there are things I may NEVER get to tell about our experience cause my wife won’t let me. There have been many momentum swings up and down and many motivation shifts from good to bad, better, best and worst again. And most of what I’m talking about has absolutely nothing to do with the dollars and cents side, but the emotional side instead. But through it all, I’ve never had a week like the one I just came out of.

I just really feel the need to share a moment of transparency, honesty, and vulnerability with you in this post. Is that alright?

This week I learned there is a HUGE difference between doing something out of habit vs. doing something out of conviction.

This week I was consumed by a level of depression that left me with virtually nothing to work with. No energy, no desire – not even for things I genuinely love to do. I felt deserted by my purpose, truly afraid for maybe the first real time since we started knocking out crazy amounts of debt way back in October 2007.

THAT was a fear like I’d never known. In October of that year I was a brand new husband 3 months into a fantastic marriage (still is…) faced with a financial situation we simply couldn’t find a way out of. There I was the new head of a household, and already felt like an utter failure because I couldn’t just ‘pay the problem away’. How can you call yourself a provider for you family when you can’t even provide the simplest form of security for your wife? THAT is the kind of fear I faced before we were introduced to Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover and Financial Peace University.

Fast forward to today and as a family we are so many things we never knew we’d become. And today in numerous ways I was given reminders of that fact:

At our FPU class today, we decided to do one-on-one checkups with each family individually just to see where they are and where we can help them be better. During those checkups we were told by each family how much our time and effort and passion have meant to them. They praised us for being quality leaders and people willing to lead against the tidal wave our society is being swept into. I never knew how powerful that all was to others until I heard it today in the depths of what I was feeling.

Then, at the Wal-Mart while I was in the car waiting my wife had a full conversation with the checkout lady about the envelopes she pulled out to pay for her items. When the lady said “I could never do something like that, I can barely pay my current bills!” My wife took it as an opportunity to encourage the lady to take a fresh look at turning her finances around. My wife basically said this: “I used to say we could never do it either, but now we’re DOING never!”

Then when we got home, our neighbor upstairs – who also recently joined the Financial Peace class with his wife –  knocked on our door with the Disney movie “UP” for us to check out… Big deal you might say, but I can’t even BEGIN to tell you how far our relationship as neighbors has come in the 5 months they’ve lived above us! While he was there, we gave him their FPU kit that had been donated by a church member. They’ve come a LONG way in just the few weeks they’ve been involved. I wish I could tell the story, but one day that will be their story to tell! PRAISE GOD!

I walked into this week’s class in full possession of the habit required to teach them how to get out of debt, build wealth and give… but I had lost the conviction. I had come to a place where my wins were coming only on a vicarious basis. I was motivated seeing them win, but no longer seeing those same types of wins in our personal journey.

So much has changed in the last 2 years… and it’s changed even more in light of the fact that I’ve been unemployed since the beginning of August.

But again, I just praise God that even though we’ve been Broke ($) we’ve never been Broken! Not even with the things we faced this week. We’ve still got another $45,000 left of debt to erase, and countless hearts to teach this stuff to.

I’m recharged and ready to try once again to…

Live Invincibly,

@W

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Fear Free Finances: Halloween Edition

29 10 2009

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“Fear is the greatest diminishing return.” – Adrian Wright

THE MYTH – Mo Money, Mo Problems

I do NOT support Halloween or what it represents, but many do and I feel the need to use this as a teachable moment. See, too many of us are treating our money as something to be FEARED because many of us deal with our money from a place of fear.

“Where am I going to get the money to pay for that?”

“That’s not in the budget, what am I gonna do?!”

“What’s going to happen to my credit score now?!”

THE FEAR – I’m trapped, how do I get out of this?

Too many of us deal with our finances from a reactionary stance.

“Ultimately we know deeply that the other side of every fear is a freedom.” – Marilyn Ferguson

Well, today I say it’s high time you come out of that place. I’ve been out of it myself for over 2 years. The stress and tension is completely GONE in regards to matters of money in my life.

I’ll admit, our society is not designed to let you think you can make it to the place where your money no longer pulls on your emotions, but I now know that is no longer a myth. I’m THERE! Where are you?

THE PEACE – Financial Peace…

Because of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, I’ve discovered the tools to help me get over my fear of money and the stress that comes with either not having enough to pay the bills or managing it well enough that it works for you, instead of you for it!

For more information on HOW I made it to this place please go to Dave Ramsey’s site.

Live Invincibly,

@W

Photo courtesy of thetempo




Spark Your Debt Reduction with a Firesale

21 10 2009

match strike

During the past 2 1/2 years that we’ve been trying to get out of debt, my wife and I have exhibited all of the true hallmarks of a “Gazelle Intense” couple… well all except for one. We’ve worked extra jobs, we’ve trimmed our budget to the bare minimum necessities, we’ve just about done it all except SELL some stuff.

Dave Ramsey has a saying that goes like this “Sell so much stuff that the kids think they’re next!”

We’ve – or at least I have — always been on the fence about selling things to raise extra cash. Now, I’ll freely admit that some, no most of the issue is pride. It’s hard letting go of things you worked so hard to purchase. And that is especially the case if you are selling the items because you either need the cash, need the extra space or if the items are in perfect working order. All of the previous 3 examples apply in our case and in some ways that adds to the challenge.

But in all actuality we really do need the space, we have a 2 bedroom condo stuffed to the gills with various items that we are not using. Only 2 people live in this house but somehow we have 3 bikes lol. And up until a few weeks ago our 2nd bedroom was serving as on-site storage for everything that we either didn’t have a staged place for, or didn’t want to use, but also didn’t want to lose.

Then comes the challenge (at least for me) of finding the motivation to come up with a price list, take pictures, and then post a compelling ad on Craigslist and the local want ads and the other various channels (church bulletins, ect)

But alas the time has come to put add a notch to our belt of Gazelle Intensity. We could use the proceeds to pad our Emergency Fund at this time since I’m still unemployed.

And as an added benefit my mother is preparing to move to Florida next month and she’s already offering for us to post anything she’s not taking down there with her AND we get to keep those proceeds as well!

In truth maybe this won’t be so bad. And besides we know this is only temporary. So if you’re in the market for a bunch of gently used stuff (we take really good care of our things, which is a blessing.) hit me up lol! I’ve got a leather office chair, L-shaped glass desk, high-powered telescope, set of 2 grey video chairs, printer-copier-scanner, stainless-steel mini-fridge (perfect for a man cave), Full-sized bed frame/mattress/box-spring, 27-inch tv, M&F mountain bikes, and a whole lot more that’s getting ready to be posted.

The 2009 Invincible Living Firesale… get it while it’s HOTT!! Lol

Live Invincibly,

@W

Photo courtesy of mad_airbrush





Financial Peace University Week 1: Super Savers

29 09 2009

financialpeace

Financial Peace University Week 1: Super Savers

Today we officially kicked off our Financial Peace University class in Sterling VA! This is literally a dream come true for my wife and I. And we are completely ecstatic about the group we’ll be leading through this class.

It’s absolutely amazing how blessed we have been to be a part of this particular group of FPU participants. I’m already expecting GREAT things for each family involved now that I’ve seen how the group will interact.

The thing I love most is that nobody had to be ‘sold’ to be here, each person/family WANTS this for their family. And that is precisely what is going to be required to win.

Like Dave Ramsey said during this first session, “Starting is the easiest part, but also the hardest part”. I know it may not be easy deciding between vegging-out, watching NFL games, falling asleep mid-way through the pre-game show, waking up at half-time only to find out your team is trailing by 16 points… doh, sorry I got side-tracked lol. But the point I was trying to make is that as far as they are concerned, they’ve made the decision that nothing is more important than getting their families to a truly safe financial place again.

Now that they’ve made the decision to get out, very little is going to stop them.

Anytime YOU are ready, I invite you to heavily consider making the same decision for your family and your future.

If you don’t already have it, you NEED financial peace. And we’ll be here to show you how… whenever you’re ready.

Live Invinicibly,

@W





Simple Secrets: Paying on it vs. Paying it OFF

28 05 2009


Photo courtesy of Tea & Jam

Ok folks. In my last post we went over the basics of the 7 Baby Steps that have helped us pay off over $53,000 in debt in the last 20 months. But today, I’m going to let you in on a little secret: There should actually be 8 baby steps!

Step Zero: Stop using currently established and available forms of credit, and also stop accepting NEW forms of credit.

This step contains the key to your Total Money Makeover, and it’s such a radical shift from ‘the norm’ that it causes many to fail even before they start. Some folks just cant get their head around living off of CASH.

When you really get the point of this program, you will soon realize that you really don’t need credit at all. Not for credit reports, or FICO scores, or for your cash back rewards. You don’t need it.

Minor tangent: Speaking of cash back rewards… how much CASH are you really getting BACK when the creditor is charging you interest for the use of your credit line? Think about it!

Now, in my last post I promised to tell you why we REALLY chose to stick with this system, and here is the reason: Because at first we felt like we were doing something WRONG. And when I say ‘wrong’ I mean we felt like we were being disloyal to the credit industry in some way. It’s hard to articulate, but Visa and MasterCard have become so prevalent in our society and in our spending habits, that it felt truly odd to simply make the decision not to use our charge cards! How sick is that?

The entire credit system is propped upon the fact that they NEED you to NEED them. They constantly send the message that if you aren’t using credit in some way, you simply will not be able to ‘compete’ with or keep up with the average consumer. It’s a very Pied Piper mentality!

Once we realized why it felt so wrong, it lit a fire in us! And it opened our eyes to the many tactics and tricks that are pressed upon the average consumer.

THIS IS A WAR PEOPLE! And if you haven’t noticed, take a look at what this nation has been through in the last 16 months as proof. The housing market collapse, the banking and financial institution implosions, the economy woes, the employment issues. They are all mutations of one virus: CREDIT…

Credit tells you it’s ok to spend more than you actually possess. Credit tells you it’s ok to borrow against your future, to acquire something today. Credit can erode your character and your sense of delayed gratification, and it can also ease you into a place of irresponsibility and ‘living for the moment’ emotional purchasing.

Because of this, you are required to make a change in your approach toward money. This is where the title of my post comes in. People who are comfortable with debt, have no problem “paying on” something far longer then they ever intended to, because they get lulled to sleep by the convenience factor of a payment plan.

Meanwhile, those who have had enough of this game of debt become addicted to “paying off” things as quickly as possible so that they can free up their income and truly live a life that’s not dictated by a three digit score, and the limits on their cards.

Thanks for tuning in, I hope you’re enjoying this expose’ series.

Next up: “The $1,000 Scramble”

You are worthy of the journey!

@W

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These "Baby Steps" AIN’T for Babies!

28 04 2009


Photo coutesy of Bettina.Schwarz

In the last 2 posts I’ve kind of gone thru a sort of ‘reset’. Maybe it’s a second wind of sorts? I dont know. But I’ve felt the need to simplify the emotions and actions WE (my wife and I) faced when we first started out so that YOU can duplicate them as much as possible.

In the first post of this mini-series, I laid out exactly what we’re doing and how it has helped us pay off $49,000 in debt in only 19 months! In the second post I continued to zoom in on the mindset and underlying philosophy of “Living Like No One Else”.

Luckily we never felt overwhelmed with the process, and I think that is in part due to what I intend to share with you in this post. In his book The Total Money Makeover, Dave Ramsey calls them the Baby Steps. They are meant to be simple bullet points on your journey to debt freedom.

But please dont sleep! Just because these steps are simple, doesnt mean they’re for ‘simple’ people. It takes vision, committment, and perseverance to see these steps through to completion!

I want to take a few moments to list them out below, but I’ll delve deeper into each step in future posts.

Step One: Save $1000.00 CASH as quickly as you can to start “Emergency Fund”

Step Two: Pay off ALL debt in order from smallest to largest using “Debt Snowball”.

Step Three: Save 3-6 months worth of expenses, to fully fund “Emergency Fund”.

Step Four: Invest 15% of income into Roth IRA’s and Pre-tax retirement.

Step Five: Begin funding your childrens’ College Educations.

Step Six: Pay off your home early

Step Seven: Build Wealth & GIVE! (Mutual Funds, Real Estate, ect.)

Step “Zero”: STOP using any forms of credit and accepting new forms of credit.
Pretty simple and straight forward right? Well yes, and no. Yes, because they set a framework for you to follow. No, because if you dont follow the framework that has been set… you’ll only be making it harder for yourself. In addition, these steps can’t tell you how aggressive to be in your Total Money Makeover. The intensity level must be left up to you.
The downfall to the simplicity of this plan is that so many “SMART” people in this world think they need to re-invent the wheel and make it more sophisticated. But as the saying goes “K-I-S-S” (Keep It Simple Stupid).
As I said before, I’ll be breaking each step down and explaining why the order is so important. I’ll also be sharing exactly why we REALLY chose to stick with this system. As you become more and more familiar with the steps, you will inevitably feel that something is “wrong” about them. This is natural! At first, I did too, until I realized how CONDITIONED i had become by the FICO scores and the credit card industry! They NEED you to NEED them, and they’re NOT going to make it EASY for you to cut them loose!
We’ll talk about that further in my next post where I’ll address the ‘objections’ I’ve heard toward getting out of debt. The reason objections is in quotes is because the people objecting were spitting out all the BS that is fed to them daily by the media and credit card industry.
Next Episode: “Paying On It VS. Paying it Off”

You are worthy of the journey!

@W

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What the HECK are you DOING?!?!

16 04 2009


Photo courtesy of Whysteriastar

The title says it all… it’s the number one question I get from family and friends when they ask how we’re doing with “the debt thing”.

Four years ago, my financial routine was as follows: To spend nearly all of my money on multiple pairs of the same sneaker in the same color, a PlayStation game or two, and the latest DVD release from Best Buy for that week. Once those major priorities were taken care of I’d make sure I had enough money left to cover breakfast, lunch, and dinner from McDonald’s, and enough gas money to get me back and forth to work. No savings, no 401k, no responsibility. I didn’t even know HOW to budget, let alone consider following one! But me? Man, I was living THEE LIFE! …Right?

My how life has changed! Before we started this journey to evict our debt, I was barely making a salary above $40 Grand… but flash forward to today and we’ve paid off $46.5k! (Stop it, you’re making that face again.)

So what changed? In short, it’s a simple phrase but in practice it’s anything but simple:

“Live like no one else, so that one day you can LIVE like no one else.”

Over the next few posts I’m going to introduce you to what that really looks like in my everyday life.

In the next episode: “You want me to do WHAT?!?”

@W

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