Three Month Follow~Up After Taking Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University

It’s now February 2016. My husband and I began Financial Peace University in September and finished the class in November, 2015. We’ve been working the budget together every month. We’ve been using cash more, and our envelopes. But now it’s time to get real with what’s going on with our finances and how things have changed for us since enrolling in the class. Consider this post a review on Financial Peace University and how it has changed how we work our monthly finances.

We’re definitely more conscious of where our money is going now. It’s easier to track since everything is budgeted. Gone are the days in which we reach the end of the week or month and ask where did all of our money go. That in itself is a nice feeling.

However, there is a feeling of hesitation that I cannot get past. If you’ve read back to my post on Relating With Money, you’ll know that I’m the “Nerd” of my marriage, with the budget spreadsheets, calculations and financial plans galore. So I prepare our budget each month and then my husband and I discuss it together, making some changes and doing some additional planning together. The Zero Based Budget does help – it’s more or less the key to everything in the Dave Ramsey plan. But instead of properly treating that Zero-Based Budget as I should, and ensuring that literally all of our surplus funds after paying our bills and setting aside money for the other things we need to pay for, like food and daycare…this is where I haven’t been maximizing our efforts.

I’m straight scared to deplete all of the funds in our account. Even though I’m tracking things fairly nicely, I’m terrified that some additional auto pay charges are going to come through that I had forgotten to account for. Or that one of us will get sick and we will have a doctor’s visit and a prescription to pay for. There’s tons of possibilities…and so at the end of each pay period we usually have excess funds sitting in our checking account that I know could be working harder for us, but sit there, and occasionally get spent on other things.

So, we’re not following the budget perfectly. Maybe one of these days, this Chicken Little will suck it up and decide to shove off a bunch of our funds to our current debt payoff and then not leave more than $50 or so in our checking account until the next payday. We’ll see how we’ll manage then, and I’m sure we will. It still just scares the bejeezus out of me to do that.

In the meantime, we have made traction with our debt payoffs. One of my other recent posts, How We Paid Off And Closed Four Credit Cards in Three Month’s Time, discusses just that – how we took those stinking credit cards and decided to attack them and get them GONE. Bye bye credit cards. Those accounts are all paid and closed. And I don’t intend to ever take out a credit card again. It was a really nice feeling knowing that those credit cards are behind us and we’ve tackled ALL of the credit cards.

The next debts we’re tackling are big ones…yes, we will be in Baby Step 2 for awhile. Two student loans and my auto loan. My calculations show that we will payoff the auto this year. How intense we get with the payoff and how much money we will throw at it, will determine exactly when we will pay it off. I’m throwing some money at it this month and plan to throw any tax refund money we get at it as well, and so with those two variables, along with however much we plan to put towards the debt on a monthly basis, will determine how quickly it will be paid. My earliest projection is for it to be completed in July and my latest is October, and I’m honestly okay with either one of those dates. It still shows we are making progress and I couldn’t be happier about that.

Now to discuss cash and our envelope system. The envelope system was working out REALLY well for groceries. I was thoroughly enjoying taking out a set amount of funds and making sure I stayed within that budget. And then there weren’t a bunch of random grocery store visits to track on our banking (that’s another nice thing about the envelope system, it makes it that much easier to do a review of your banking and reconcile your statements, if you are using cash more and have few debit card charges!).

However, I kind of threw a wrench in the mix when I started utilizing our grocery store’s online ordering option…in which they only take credit or debit. So that cash I had pulled out to put into envelopes for our grocery budget? Sort of became moot point. At first I would take some of the cash and deposit it back in the bank. So if I spent $85 at the grocery store on debit I would put $100 back into our bank, thinking I had given myself a $15 surplus and covered the groceries I’d ordered, but I’m not sure this is a great system either. The online ordering has been a good time saver for me though, so I’d really like to continue doing it…but back to my original problem, that defeats the purpose of grocery cash/envelope for this purpose…still weighing out how to address this matter the best for our budget.

In short, we definitely think of our finances differently than we used to and aren’t as wasteful with money. I hope to get even more strict with the budget going forward so we can crank down on some of these debts and be completely debt free in the next few years! There’s way better things I’d rather be spending our money on, such as a family vacation and saving for OURSELVES, not sending money to other companies to pay on debts. Soon, I keep telling myself…..soon 🙂