For the past few years one of my New Year’s Resolutions has been to create and stick to a budget. Joshua & I have gotten so far as to list all of our monthly expenses, but as far as budgeting goes, we needed a little extra help.
Our church was hosting Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, so we decided to sign up. I’ve already heard good things about Dave Ramsey via a couple bloggers, so I figured doing a financial class based around his principals is just what we needed!
The bulk of the class was learning about and following The Seven Baby Steps:
Each week we covered a Baby Step in depth and/or other important financial information like being a good shopper, insurance and investments. We had homework every week which included reading a chapter or two from Dave Ramsey’s Complete Guide to Money, and it would usually enforce the lesson we learned in class.
Last night we wrapped up our final class, and I have to say I am so glad we did it! It has truly changed our lives. In these past nine weeks we’ve been able to look at our finances in a whole new way and make changes for the better.
One of the big things I learned is that you need to have a newly written budget every month. That means Joshua and I sit down and have a Budget Committee Meeting at the end of every month to discuss the previous month and create the following month’s budget.
Prior to this class I thought you created a budget one time and stuck to it every month. We set ourselves up to fail with that one because finances change every month. One month you may need to budget for one category while the next month you don’t need but you need to budget for a different category.
Other changes we’ve made in the past nine weeks:
- Stuck to a written budget for a whole month. April is our second second month of being on a written budget. On average it takes about 2-3 months to get the budget right.
- Closed my Old Navy card account (haven’t used it since August of last year)
- Performed a plasectomy during our class by cutting up two credit cards (which we got right before we started the class)
- Went to AT&T and upgraded our family plan which took our monthly bill down by about $50
- Switched propane companies to reduce the cost of our propane bill
- Signed up for life insurance
- Made a conscious effort to use coupons more. I do 95% of my shopping at Target, and their Cartwheel app is awesome!
- Started using cash more and our cards less via the envelope system
- And our biggest change: we canceled our cruise that we would have been going on at the end of the month. It was a tough decision, but it was the right one. We still have our passports, so maybe one day when we are in a better financial situation we can go on a cruise.
Joshua & I are on Baby Step 2 – Pay off all debt using the Debt Snowball, and we’re hoping to be moving on to Baby Step 3 in 2015. The next class, The Legacy Journey, is coming to our church in the fall, so we might be taking that one as well.
Overall, this class was so well worth it, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to change their finances around. Seriously, this program is one of the best things that has ever happened to us.