It was some time around 2010 or 2011 that I became aware of The Dave Ramsey book The Total Money Makeover. I had recently gotten a job as the HR Director at a small tech company on the south side of Denver. I was excited about my job! It wasn’t particularly well paying though, and I had spent a few months, that is, for about a year previously, being unemployed while I finished my master’s degree. One thing I will say about getting my degree, even though I earned it fairly late in my life and career, it did help me to get a job easier. I graduated in May of 2008, and I started my job search right away. I was employed again a month later. I liked the job too, although once again, it was part time and not particularly well paying. But I was getting my feet wet at the management level in my chosen career. Unfortunately, I got laid off during The Great Recession, as the company I was working for lost a major contract and the workforce was reduced by half. Once I got everyone else laid off, (WARN Act and all), I got laid off myself. That’s the way it works in HR. You get to do the dirty work and then you get it done to you. Oh joy! But despite this, I really liked the field of HR, and I liked my jobs, and the relative ease with which I was able to stay employed when I wanted to be.
Nevertheless, it was during the time that I was unemployed that I became aware of my rather precarious financial situation. It wasn’t super terrible, I mean, I think some people have had it worse. I was never in any fear of losing my home or anything. I got unemployment and my husband was still working as an attorney in private practice and bringing in money that was more than sufficient to pay the bills, including the mortgage and the second year of my school tuition for my master’s degree, which we paid for as I went. No student loans.
My credit rating took a bit of a hit at that time though, as creditors were tightening up the reigns on who they would grant credit to. Some of my accounts were closed, and on others, they increased the interest rate. Yes, I had credit cards of various kinds. I made the minimum payments every month, but the balances were growing as I was unemployed. I got to where I was feeling a bit uncertain about whether I wanted to continue with that lifestyle. What I really wanted to do was become debt-free and enjoy my life, doing whatever it is I wanted to do. I still liked HR, but what I wanted to do personally was travel more, and by 2013 I had become very interested in landscape and nature photography. One thing I didn’t want to do was go into further debt to feed this obsession. Ah! The dilemmas of the working middle class. Either you have a job and money but no time, or you’re unemployed and have plenty of time, but no money.
So anyway, once I became employed again, I made it a priority to bring my financial situation to heel. It took me about 2 years to pay everything off, (except my mortgage) using what Dave Ramsey calls “The Debt Snowball Plan.” Two years seems like a long time when you’re going through it, but it’s not really a long time in the overall scheme of things. I liked watching my debt level go down after I got the snowball rolling. Paying off a debt was a great relief! In retrospect, what seemed like a huge tidal wave hanging over my head at one time, soon became a much more manageable calm lake, like the lake outside the front door of my then-home.
This plan works. That’s all I can tell you. It worked for me, and I proved it. Eventually I became entirely debt free. Without going into too much detail about this right now, suffice it to say that I have created/enjoyed/and/or suffered through many life changes since that time. I’ll share more about all that later, as I want to keep these posts short.
My current plan is to post about this frequently, perhaps even daily. I hope you’ll follow me as I share my experiences with you. I’ll try to keep the posts short. I can be a bit verbose at times, especially when I’m writing.
I would love to know what you think and what your experiences have been along the way as well. I’m planning to put an 8-week book study together so that we can talk about this plan – which I’ve already proven to myself works – and share with those who want to be part of a small group of people who also want to bring their budgets under control.
I think we could be ready to roll on this by October 1st. That’s my goal, anyway. There will likely be a SMALL charge to join this group, that is, to attend the Zoom meetings and help offset my personal expenses in creating and running it. I think that’s fair. As The Bible says, “A workman is worthy of his wages” (1 Timothy 5:18). This will NOT be like taking a class you pay out the wazoo for. Just a small token to keep the thing running. People who are already struggling with their finances don’t need additional financial stress put on them, but I do think it’s fair for a person who organizes and leads a study group to be compensated for what they’re doing at some level, even if small. The group will be run on Zoom, and there are fees and charges associated with that, to keep it up and running.
I am not a Ramsey Certified Coach, just another person – maybe like you? – who would like to work a proven plan that gets results – and share support with other like-minded people while doing it. What I’m NOT looking for currently is anyone who is a certified financial coach, or any other kind of certified coach, who sees this post as a possible lead. I’m NOT looking for a person such as this to help me for a price, or to join my group to get clients. If that’s what you do, you’ll be cut from the group. I want this to be a safe space for people to feel comfortable sharing on equal footing with others. We’re going to support one another, not prey on one another. After going through the Ramsey book, we may continue to support one another by studying other books. Fair enough?