Testimony from Carolynn of My Little Bit of Life
We took Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University in January of 2007 and are very pleased with our efforts. We have finished Baby Step #3 and are currently working on saving up for a down payment on a bigger house.
However, I was thinking the other day of how my mindset has changed over these past five years.
Our Old Mindset: Buy Whatever We Want or Think We Need
Appearances used to mean a lot more to me. I do still care, but in different ways… and honestly, not as much.
I did not grow up with good financial role modeling. Growing up, if I wanted something, I usually got it. If my mom thought we needed it, we got it. It didn’t matter if it was really a need or even if there was money for it.
After I got married, I brought this mindset with me. If I wanted new workout shoes, I bought them. I spent tons of money on groceries for two people and we ate out a lot more than we should have.
When we got pregnant, we bought a house (I wanted to get a house for the amount that the bank would loan to us. Thankfully, my husband put this foot down, and we got a house that was $55K less than what the bank would loan us!), and of course when the baby came, he had to have everything.
Before long baby #2 came along and I was close to having to buy groceries using a credit card. That’s when we went to Financial Peace University and started turning our lives (and little did we know, our minds and values, too!) around.
Our New Mindset: Consider Whether Each Purchase is Truly a Need
Now, before we make a purchase — especially a big purchase — we think about if it’s really a need and if it’s really worth it to us to part with our hard earned money. For example, my husband got into a car accident and the car got banged up pretty bad (the hood was bent up). My husband got home, hooked the car to our tow hitch and pulled the hood back down, then took a piece of wood, placed it in certain spots on the car, and used a hammer to even out the rest.
There is also a hole in the front. This happened about six months ago, and we still haven’t gotten the car fixed. It works just fine, it just doesn’t look pretty! (Five years ago, I would have been very adamant about getting it fixed right away!)
Having pictures taken of my kids and family is very important to me. I sometimes go overboard when it comes to pictures and it can add up fast; not only on the pictures themselves, but the outfits that the pictures are taken in.
This past Christmas, we were getting our family picture taken. I had already bought all of the outfits for my children. I found a shirt for me that I really liked and that went perfectly with the other outfits. I also found a sweater for my husband that was a perfect match to one of our son’s outfits.
The only problem: This sweater was over $50. My husband hates sweaters, he never wears them, and I have to bribe him to wear them for pictures. He also had another sweater (that he had only worn once), up in the closet that would work for our family picture. As much as I really wanted to buy him the sweater, I didn’t.
I didn’t want to spend that much money for something that he’d never wear again, that would be stashed in the back of the closet, when I could just go to the back of his closet and get another sweater that would suffice. (This also would not have happened five years ago. I would have just bought the sweater!)
The Irony: Now That We Have More Money, We Spend Less
I find it ironic that when we didn’t have the money, these things were so important and I would have gone ahead and bought them. Now that we have the money for these things, we didn’t buy them.
I find it amazing how much I have changed in five years when it comes to finances. I no longer agonize about money, I handle it. I no longer check how much money we have in our checking account five times a day (as if it gets updated that often, I know, but I did it).
Now do I wish we had more money? Honestly, yes, I do. But money is no longer as stressful as it used to be.
I find it funny that now that we have a savings, we don’t want to part with that money. If something comes up that’s not in the budget, we usually will cut other areas before dipping into our savings. We have a goal of a bigger house and we are being very careful to stay on track.
Carolynn is a former teacher turned stay at home mom of four: ages 6, 5, 4, & 2. She blogs about parenting and life at My Little Bit of Life.