We've probably earned that

It's a surprise to none of you, I'm sure, that we are at this point - this do-over, start-again, once-more point. We are dramatic people, people of passion, we know that and acknowledge that, and dramatic people tend to act in fits and starts. We deserve your skeptical glances, we've earned your doubtful sighs.

But, people of passion, once steered and provided the tools for the task, are also capable of crazy, passion-driven things. This year behind us has served as both rudder and depot. We find ourselves another year into our lives but still unable to live the lives we want, the lives we are called into, because of the choices we've made to jump into our holes of debt. We also, however, have a system in place that, with the addition of more than a little determination, perhaps even a lot of passion, equips us to plunge headlong into the task. We've mastered the art of cash-living in a plastic world. We've tweaked and tuned our spreadsheets and charts. Now, it's just a matter of choosing and changing; saying yes to living with less. When all is said and done - and it will be said and done because it must be said and done, we have too much living to live to let it be otherwise - our hope is to lift our heads from our work and realize that we are free, not only free of this load but really, wholly free. I don't think anyone can earn that; that is grace.

So, I come to you again, dear friends, to seek your support, your solidarity. Sigh all you'd like in the privacy of your homes, glance skeptically, just do it behind our backs. I'm not asking for financial contributions or standing dinner invitations, I'm asking for encouraging pats on the back, a shared understanding that it is difficult to change a lifestyle but that change is possible and good. We definitely have not earned that, your support, but we're hoping for a bit more grace.

Like I said, we're dramatic people. Thanks for loving us anyway.


Change is in the air...

We're back! And in normal Rule fashion we're diving in head first.

Spring is here, and that makes us itchy for change. What we've been doing just doesn't work anymore. We're "sick and tired of being sick and tired" as Dave Ramsey so lovingly puts it. I've been crunching numbers...we can do this. We've moved, we're still living out of boxes and our current bedroom has got to be the ugliest bedroom on the planet, but I don't care. No more expensive house projects. I will live in that ugly room for 3 1/2 years until that last debt is paid off. We can do it.

I've recently started a new job that has me in my car driving quite a bit. I, not realizing what I was in for, loaded up the iphone (which is now a glorified ipod...more on that later) with about 25 podcasts of the Dave Ramsey show. I've plowed through about 12 of them already. I'm ready to start over. Sam and I have both realized that when we thought we were doing the Dave Ramsey plan, we were slowly working up to the Dave Ramsey plan. We were not intense and intense is what it takes to make this work.

We're intense. We've got a plan and we're sticking to it. Some realizations:

  1. We can't have everything and we're not entitled to anything. Just because other people live a certain way does not mean we can or are entitled to. We have got to pay off those student loans before we can choose our lifestyle.
  2. "We've got to live like no one else so that later we can live like no one else." Yes, Dave said that. It's so true, though. So, we live without cable tv, we don't go out to dinner, we rent out our basement for some income...we do those things now so that we can be who we want to be as a family later.
  3. I didn't spend $25,000 in student loans to be a stay-at-home mama. Yeah, it sounds a bit harsh but it's true. When the $25,000 is paid in full, than I can justify staying home. I don't plan on working ALL the time but I need to work more to bring up our income level to create that gigantic debt bomb we need per payperiod. And then, I can be home with my loves...

Part of our plan: (yes, it includes haircuts by mama).
  1. $93,000 (our new total) paid off in 3.5 years = roughly $1020 per payperiod.
  2. Rent out our basement by June. We've got some fixing up to do down there but here's hoping some reliable person finds it too good a deal to pass up.
  3. Nicole works more. More income = more debt bomb.
  4. Live on less. No more iphone. I'm mourning already. We got rid of our at&t plan and switched to us cellular allowing us to get rid of our home phone, too. (at&t cell phones don't work well in the woods). We're getting rid of direct tv. We're cutting our budget down to bare bones and attempting to live on Sam's salary only. This shouldn't be that difficult as family's often live on less. No more eating out. No more frivolous spending. Really, we're broke. You can't have $93,000 in debt and live like you're rich. It's ridiculous. It's going to be difficult...but it has to be done.
  5. No more house projects. I keep telling myself, once those debts are paid off, it'll be so easy to save up for a project and get it paid for with cash. It'll take no time at all because our income will be so much larger without those pesky loans. Small projects will still be happening but I have got to contain myself and learn to decorate on a very, very, very tight budget. Another challenge, I can do it!
We'd love to hear what ya'll have to say. Crazy? Brilliant? Somewhere in-between? Any good ideas?