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financial freedom

DEBT FREE!

I have blogged, instagrammed, prayed, and blogged some more about the topic of debt. BUT I can officially announce we are DEBT free.

If you have followed this page at all, you are aware of the fact that the journey to becoming debt free was a tough one! It was full of sacrifice and hardships, tears and a ton of sweat and sleepless nights. (Okay it sounds more a prison than I meant for it too)…. but the bottom line is that it wasn’t easy. If it were easy we wouldn’t know ANYONE that had debt.

cars-paid off. credit cards-paid off. You name it-paid off. *EXCEPT THE HOUSE!!!*

Following Dave Ramsey’s steps means that during the debt snowball you pay off ALL of your debt from smallest to largest except the house. So while we have a mortgage- we are still considered to be DEBT FREE! And guys- that was not an easy 3 years. Well, more than 3 years but under 4. It was a challenge.

We gave up a LOT. We said No more times than I can count. We clipped coupons as a hobby. We sent every extra dime we had to paying off our debt and it officially paid off- PUN intended!

I LOVE all things debt free journey related so reach out with any questions or to discuss!!!

Love,

Cara Roxanne

Keeping that laser focus.

It’s so hard to stay focused, isn’t it?

There are a million and one distractions in our lives. I get so easily distracted so I HAVE to write things down. My planner is always with me, I am constantly writing notes or putting notes in my phone. It’s just so easy to get off focus.

The financial journey is the same. We HAVE to remember why in the heck we are doing this!!! Right? {Please don’t tell me it is JUST me.} I just finished an episode of “Divorce” on HBO. I totally love SJP but she will ALWAYS be Carrie Bradshaw to me. (SEEE!I just got distracted!) Anyway- the point is that while watching the show I am fascinated by the fashion and the homes. The show is set in New York but clearly not right in Manhattan like “Sex and the City” was. But still!! The homes are so open with huge windows and the kitchens are amazing. And Carrie (okay that’s not her name on the show but that is what I will call her #carriebradshawfan) shows up to an event at her daughters school in these AMAZING shoes! I didn’t let myself google them [totally curious as to what brand they are] because THAT is how it starts. I see something in the media-whatever the format may be- and I instantly feel this DESIRE to have it.

How do we stay focused when it is just so dang easy to lose focus?

  1. I keep my goals written and where I can see them.
  2. I go over them ALL the time! And I mean ALLLLL the time!

Short term goal:

  • Pay off the credit card!!!

We allowed ourselves to get sucked in to swiping there for a while. I have mentioned that before Dave Ramsey would NOT be happy with us for keeping a credit card. At this point it is JUST for my husbands work rental cars/hotels/etc (for which he is reimbursed) but there was a time when it was easier to swipe that card. The balance is much higher than I would ever want and the INTEREST! It’s crazy! For a couple with good credit I don’t understand how it is THIS high. No, it is not our “smallest” balance. We skipped ahead again. And Dave says no to that, and so does his daughter Rachel. {Just finished her book. It was so good! And I took it back to the library so if you’re local- go get it!!} But for us– we looked at the monthly interest and decided if we used our gazelle like intensity to pay this off FAST we would be money ahead in the long run. Based on what I have read the reason for using smallest to largest is to get those “wins” or victories along the way. And we have gotten a LOT of those! I don’t need a win to stay motivated– i’m MOTIVATED! So for us, we wanted to knock that out because the NEXT debt becomes our vehicles.

Point is– I check the balance on that card constantly! I click on payments JUST to be reminded of how much we have been paying and how far we have come. When I get distracted and want to swing by a boutique on the way home I click on that icon and look at how far we have come. CHECK YOUR GOALS!

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Long term goal: (5 *hopefully* years out)

NO DEBT except our home! And even in that 5 years I HOPE to see a LOT of progress on our home. But if my hand to paper calculations add up we will have 2 vehicles, student loans, and a large credit card paid off. The snowball will keep growing EACH month! I cannot lose sight of that.

Looooong term goal: (10 years and beyond)

Owe nobody NOTHIN’! The ultimate plan is that my 44th birthday will be celebrated by 15 days in Europe. We will be celebrating owing NOTHING!! I want my bills to be:

insurance, water bill, electricity, cell phone, internet, Netflix. That’s it! {And who knows? Maybe I will feel like I can splurge for cable by then!}

I understand that is somewhat of a stretch. Things happen. At some point a car will break down or we will need a new roof. Or God forbid something worse that would drain our finances. But living with REAL goals {and doable with hard work and motivation} keeps us going. I am a traveler. If I could travel to a new place each month I would. In fact, last year I nearly did. ALL I want to do is hop on a plane and go somewhere new and exciting. (Or visit the coolest places I have already been.) But I am {almost…and literally ALMOST} as excited to only have one trip planned this year. Ya know why? Because that means I am that many thousands of dollars ahead on reaching my GOALS!

Keeping that laser focus is hard. But it is MUCH easier when you know what the heck this all for! With every time we pass up going out to eat (which happened Friday night), with every NO we have to say to an outing, and with every extra dime going towards debt we are reminded of the purpose.

How do you keep focused on your financial goals? I’d love to hear!

Thanks for reading!

For now,

Cara Roxanne

 

 

$603.25

That doesn’t seem like that big of a number… does it?

debt

To me, it seems like a really REALLY big number. The weekend of November 9th (I’ve written about that here) is the weekend that my husband and I decided to get serious about our finances. We both make a decent living and have grown accustom to having some debt. That is JUST how we lived. We never felt the need to do anything different because it felt like it was “working.” When I challenged my husband (and y’all-I kinda begged) to hop on board and let’s do this “get out of debt thing” he was all in. And I was too. But I truly had NO idea what this was going to mean.

I decided the first thing to do was start on the budget. That was ridiculous. I hate doing a budget. Like I always KNEW what I needed to pay and what was due but I was NOT faithful to put pen to paper and do it on a monthly basis. While doing the budget I did some digging. I looked into bank and credit card statements and HOLY MOLY! What we were doing was NOT working at ALL!

*Let me say to check your credit card/debit card balances NOW. I found where a hotel had charged us twice and we hadn’t even caught it**

We needed to get it together! We were two grown and educated human beings who were making stupid mistakes on a daily basis. (SHAME SHAME!) I began to dissect bills that I normally didn’t even open. I knew Entergy would text me and remind me my bill was due in the next few days and what that happened-i’d pay it. Once I started going through months of statements I realized that we had some areas we could cut back in!

Through phone calls, chatting with customer representatives, and going into places saying NO MORE, I have managed to lower our monthly expenses by $603.25!!!!

Cutting the cable cord, begging Verizon for a better deal, paying off our cell phones (they get ya on the phone thing, don’t they?), canceling Amazon Prime, getting rid of the Country Club and saying goodbye to our house cleaners has freed up $603.25 EACH month!

And the BEST part is– I don’t have $603.25 left over to go blow! I have $603.25 to pay on debt!!!! I cannot BELIEVE I just said that was the best part! ­čÖé We are able to kick this Debt Snowball program into HIGH gear.

The grand total debt pay off since that road trip conversation took place in November= $6392.25.

Thank you Jesus! Slowly but surely we are on the way to financial freedom. It has NOT been easy but it is getting easier. It didn’t take long on this┬á┬ásocial media fast to get used to NOT clicking on Facebook or Instagram. And it hasn’t taken long on this financial freedom journey to say NO to things that I know I don’t need. You CAN DO IT!

Thanks for reading!

For Now,

Cara Roxanne

Oh Dave, Shmave!

Dave Ramsey, I tell ya… this love/hate relationship has gone on LONG enough.

Every time someone says Dave Ramsey in my house, they KNOW to expect me to say “Dave Shmave.” He has some REALLY good points and I apply ALL that I can to my financial life. But sometimes he and I just part ways.

dave

I DO want to “live like no one else so that one day I can live like no one else”. So many of Dave’s principles have been incorporated into my family’s financial world. But others- well, Dave Shmave.

  1. He is all about some cash. And I am too! “CASH IS KING” as he says. I cash out money every Friday and divide it up into my envelopes. I have my envelopes in hand when I go to the grocery store, the gas station, or {gulp} the mall. BUT– we see a LOT of advantages in credit. (OH THE HORROR!) Hear me out… I pay whatever bill I can with the credit card. Every Friday when it’s time to sit down and pay bills I will use our American Airlines card to pay any bill that will take credit. And THEN I go straight to the credit card app and pay that amount on the card. No harm no foul! I pay it RIGHT away but in return I got miles. Now I don’t know about your credit card miles but OURS is too legit to quit! Last year we went to NYC on miles at ZERO cost to us. And we have purchased airline tickets for next summers vacation at ZERO cost to us…using strictly our points! So for us, using that card on things we have to pay anyway has a HUGE benefit!

If you have a card that would allow you to go on a free vacation somewhere– use it! I know what Dave says. I listen to the Podcasts, I read the books, and I am constantly reading his articles online…BUT for us we are essentially STILL paying cash for everything because we aren’t carrying a balance…but we ARE reaping the benefits of credit card miles.

2. Dave says sell your car. But CAR-UH {that’s me} says no. I should, but i’m not going to. I have done that before. I sold my car, paid it off, and took the money I made beyond what I owed and purchased an older car. It didn’t even have cruise control! Now there was nothing wrong with that car. It worked, it got me from point A to point B. Maybe i’m a brat (I mean just MAYYYBE), but I don’t want to do that. I will clip coupons, I will do my own pedicures, I will cancel cable and make my own detergent… but I am standing firm in keeping my vehicle. We all have that one thing we just won’t do for whatever reason…and for me, it’s the car. I don’t have to drive a fancy car but I want a newer, reliable, fully covered by warranty/insurance, vehicle to drive. Now I will work like a dang gazelle to pay it off long before the loan is due, but i’m keeping it!

3. I won’t sell things that I may use later. Dave tells you to sell so much stuff “that the kids are afraid they are next!” I have sold several things on eBay recently. And after the first of the year I have some MK purses that I intend to go through and sell. But if I have a shirt that I only wear 1-2 times per year, I am not going to sell it to get $1.00. I just refuse to do it. It’s worth more to me to keep it. That being said, stay tuned for some things I do to help de-clutter and keep my life organized. Selling my daughter’s Wii for $10 dollars is just not worth it. I’d rather keep it.. or give it away!

4. Dave tells me to use any savings I have (except $1,000) to pay on debt. That sounds great and if that is how you do things-then you GO! My husband and I struggled with this one. We knew we had enough in savings to really get that debt snowball going, but it meant more to US to keep our savings higher than Dave’s recommendation. That meant starting a bit slower on the debt snowball, but it also meant our peace of mind was at a comfortable level for us.

5. Dave paints this picture of saying NO to anything fun. Now granted he does suggest having money for going out to eat, fun stuff, etc., but then he also reminds you to keep it to a minimum. I can understand that! If you are trying desperately to get out of debt and save money then I can see the logic he brings to the table. HOWEVER- I have learned that if I don’t have a trip coming up or something to look forward to then i’m going to go on a shopping spree and undo MONTHS of hard work! I don’t want to say NO to meeting friends for dinner or going to watch a musical. So we BUDGET for those things!┬á I mentioned those airline points earlier…same applies to hotel points! Those add up! And this weekend we spent the night out of town in a hotel at no cost to us. (Thank you Hilton Honors!!) That night away meant more to our sanity and our marriage than I can even explain. We NEED those things. So while I may not say NO to everything, I may have to make different suggestions. If our “FUN” envelope is down to $12 bucks and we get invited out to eat I might instead suggest everyone come to our house for a game night. We smoke some good meat and play board games that we already own! It’s a win-win! We had fun, spent time with friends, and spent little to no money. Saying NO over and over will cause you to lose your motivation and in turn will be counter productive to your financial health.

6. That brings me to this… view this process of budgeting, getting out of debt, saving money as Financial “health.” We all know that healthy means balance. Moderate exercise, days of rest and relaxation, meditation, vigorous exercise…. a balance of all of those! Financial health is the same thing. It means keeping good track of your spending while enjoying a treat from Starbucks. It could be buying some new jeans while forgoing a movie night. It is BALANCE! Keep that in mind throughout this process because let me tell you– as a professional stopper/starter of Dave’s plan I can tell you that keeping balance is what will keep you motivated! And isn’t that what its all about?

Sometimes you have to say yes… sometimes you have to say “nope that won’t work for me.” But at the end of the day what matters is that you stay focused and motivated while working on your financial health!

What is the one thing that YOU won’t do? Or the one that has/hasn’t worked for you in the past? I’d love to hear! Comment or email roxyrambles02@gmail.com

Thanks for reading!

For Now,

Cara Roxanne

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