Total Money Makeover Recap

This past week was difficult for me. The past two have felt like failure at the grocery store, even though I did as I planned and spent what I had meant to spend. Compared to the $5 Dinner Mom, who feeds a family of 5 on $60 a week, I feel like a failure for not being able to feed 2 on that amount.

Well, I guess, the thing to remember is that you start where you are and move forward from there since the past can’t be undone. It’s all baby steps, anyway. Each week is progress – lunches taken instead eaten out, meals planned and thought ought, taking the lunch break to walk down the street and back.

Also, the exciting prospect -besides being debt free – is the fact that we’re changing the family tree…we’re able to show Burly Man’s kids that we can go do things that are fun that don’t cost anything, like Sunday afternoon in the park, watching the sailboats in Charleston Harbor, watching the sun come up over Sullivan’s Island, or walking through the neighborhood and seeing how many different wildflowers (weeds) we can find. This weekend visit, we’re going over the envelope system, and we’re creating one for Blackbeard’s Cove. We’re making the kids contribute to it, too, so they can see that if they want to do something ‘big’ that has a price tag, we have to plan for it. and then when we’ve saved enough, we can go have fun. We’re also doing the ‘plasticomy’, i.e., cutting up the credit cards, with the kids this weekend, too. I want to do for these kids what my parents didn’t do for me: teach me how to be wise about money.

The first week doing the cash-only envelope system was overwhelming. This week, I find it much more easy to accomplish, and I’m amazed that we’ve been able to put what we have into the emergency fund without really trying. Truly, if you take the money for savings first, there still is room left for everything else. I haven’t had to put it towards a light bill or anything. Amazing.

Recap:

  • weeks without eating out: 6
  • weeks on the envelope system: 4
  • emergency fund: $480
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Flibbertigibbet Attempts to Reform

If you talked to my mother – by the way, how is she doing? I haven’t talked to her in over a year – you would get a horrible picture of me: I’m irresponsible, I’m flighty, I’m a spendthrift, I’m a flibbertigibbet. (She’d also tell you about how great my father was, but 5 years ago, she’d tell you how awful he was … I suppose it’s all a matter of perspective and who she’s turned her vitriol on this week. This is all besides the point I want to make, though. <g>)

I may be all the things my mother says I am. I have been a spendthrift. I have been irresponsible, or at least careless, which is not quite the same thing. I do not cop to being flighty. I do own up to being a flibbertigibbet. Mainly because flibbertigibbet is a such a stinking cool word.

Now, for the attempt to reform…. am I suddenly going to start speaking to my mother again? Um, no. It is foolishness and akin to sticking one’s hand in a burlap sack of rattlesnakes; one is going to get bitten, plain and simple. Where I am trying to reform, is with my money and my surroundings, as I believe the two go hand in hand. I’ve been trying to get Burly Man on the wagon too – he’s a mess, an Absentminded Professor who will leave his wallet in the medicine cabinet and the remote control on top of the fridge and whose closet appears to be the floor in the office.  (Okay, I’m getting sidetracked, again…sorry.) If one is disorganized in one’s daily surroundings, it is a logical leap that one will be disorganized in other areas of life.

So…if, as according to Dave Ramsey, you have to cut expenses to the bone, be austere and gazelle-like intense to get the debt paid down, don’t we need to get austere and pared down to the bone in our surroundings? Won’t actual clutter tend to bleed into mental and spiritual clutter?

I’m trying to be organized. I’m trying to keep shopping lists that are cross-referenced to sales flyers and my coupons. I’m trying couponing! I’m trying this written budget thing with every dollar named and accounted for. What I’m realizing is that as I try to accomplish this, the actual physical clutter is starting to annoy the living daylights out of me.

Oh, noes! We can’t have actual, life changing events going on around here…that would make my mother wrong when it comes to me.

… wait a minute!

… Oh!

… Exactly!

Where Has Ann Been?

Working my tail off at a Toyota dealership. I can’t mention which one. I’m not totally sure I should even mention the manufacturer at all. So, I’ve been silent for the most part, over-worked and unsure of what mention of the company, my employer, and my experiences is even ethical on the blogosphere. I can say this, the woes of Toyota have been a double-edged sword: 1) job security for the customer service manager – me, and 2) overwhelming hours and numbers of people calling in afraid their vehicles are going to kill them. I think I could get graduate credit in psychology for the time I’ve spent on the phone with scared, angry, and upset customers.

The hysteria has past. Life has somewhat returned to normal, although I’m not really sure what normal is at this point. I’m getting exercise again. I’m keeping track of my blood sugar and the effects of my medicine. I’m focused again on following Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover ($745 to go in the emergency fund! WOOT!)

Speaking of the TMM, we were able to go see Dave Ramsey live in Charleston. It was a great motivator, and got me and Burly Man on the same page with the same level of intensity and enthusiasm.  We moved from Summerville to Charleston in February, to a place that’s closer to work, has cheaper rent, and rent includes all utilities. It’s a walk-up attic apartment over a business. It is certainly not my dream home, but it will get me out of debt and into my dream home.

Moving was step one of our journey into financial adulthood and freedom. The recall fiasco at Toyota took my eyes off that goal for a bit. And then Dave came to town and gave us a much needed booster shot. Burly Man has been checking out books about cheap grocery shopping, cheap living, etc. He even crossed 6 lanes of busy traffic to get me a Sunday paper today to check out the coupons.

It’s coming together…we will do this…we will be gazelles that outrun the cheetah.

So, TMM recap:

weeks of not eating out: 4

weeks on the envelope system: 2

emergency fund balance: $255