Life and Debt: How We Got Here

Larry Winget is like Dave Ramsey, except he’s brutally honest and really annoying. LOL. He knows it too. He refers to himself as the world’s leading “irritational” (instead of inspirational) speaker. Larry Winget may be annoying, but he speaks the truth. There’s a lot of value in his philosophies.

Anyway, I listen to pros like Dave Ramsey, Suze Orman, Larry Winget and the like because they make sense. Brian and I went into credit counseling in 2004 because we were tens of thousands of dollars in debt. We made some changes to our lifestyle and now we have the financial freedom we have today. The advice really does work.

Brian and I haven’t carried any credit card debt for about seven years. We pay our credit cards (we used to only have one, but now I have one that I specifically use for my Amazon purchases because I shop on Amazon quite a bit) off to zero each month because we don’t believe in paying any interest. Interest is money you pay that gets you nothing. Blech. If I could have gotten around paying mortgage interest, I would have. But who does that? The only way to pay cash for a house is to either win the lottery or buy a mobile home. LOL.

We haven’t had a car payment for about five years. When we bought my car in 2006, we financed it through Toyota Financial who charged 4% interest over a 60 month term. I wasn’t about to have that so we paid off the car as soon as we could. It took a couple of years. When we bought Brian’s ’04 little Mazda truck in 2007, we didn’t finance it at all. It was used so we just wrote a check for it.

Even though my student loans had very low interest, I still didn’t like it so we paid them all off earlier this year. Our goal was actually to pay them off in 2012, but Christmas happened so we missed making our goal by a couple of months.

Monthly payments tie you down. No car payments, no more student loans, and no credit card debt means Brian and I have more freedom to do the things we really want to do because we’re not wasting money on interest. Believe it or not, at one point in our lives (about ten years ago) we were paying over $600 a month on interest between various creditors. Never again.

Anyway, we don’t follow any one philosophy. We read and listen and watch and we do what makes sense for us. Here’s a funny one from Larry Winget.

This video made me reconsider having a gym membership. At one point Brian and I had four different gyms we could workout at — we were members of both Genesis and our local YMCA and our wellness center at my work and our apartment complex had a pretty good gym at the apartment clubhouse. Seriously. Now that Brian and I have our finances under control (read: no more debt) we have relaxed our spending a little. We are still very frugal in a lot of ways, though.

Brian and I realize that we have gotten a bit too relaxed over the last couple of years and we need to start following our budget more strictly. We are still putting money away in savings, but not as much as we could if we were really putting our heart and soul into it as we did back in the days when we were trying to get out of debt.

The first step was to trade our pricey Genesis Health Clubs gym membership for a cheaper alternative. Enter the YMCA. This also helps me because as a YMCA member, I saved $100 on the 8-week land instructor training that I started this week. Although, I’m thinking, why stop there? Our YMCA membership cost us almost $600 for the year (we prefer to pre-pay on things as much as possible because we don’t like monthly commitments) but my membership to the gym at my work only cost $240 for both me and Brian. So I’ve decided not to renew our YMCA membership when it expires next year. I think Brian is on board with that. Besides, if I teach at least two classes a month there I get my membership for free anyways. And isn’t that part of the plan? That’s why I’m sacrificing eight weeks of my life to get certified as YMCA instructor.

Speaking of plans, those who know us know that we are planners. We are constantly setting and achieving goals. I think Dave Ramsey has a quote that goes, “If you aim at nothing you will hit it every time.” That is so true. I’m really kind of anal about my goal setting. I reflect on my life at least once a year (sometimes every few months) to see how I’m doing relative to my goals and I’m not satisfied if I don’t see any personal or professional growth of some sort. Luckily for me, that hasn’t been the case over the last decade so I’m trucking along the somewhat predictable path that I’ve created.

Sometimes we obliterate our goals (like when I finished my MBA in two years while holding a full-time job and when we set a three-year goal to buy our house after moving to the townhouse in 2010 and we did it in less time), sometimes we miss them (like when my student loans took longer to pay off than we anticipated); however, one thing remains constant. We are always setting goals.

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One Response to “Life and Debt: How We Got Here”

  1. Ching wrote on September 14th, 2013 at 11:01 pm

    Our next financial goal is to pay enough on our mortgage so the we will no longer have to pay PMI each month. Target date: December 2013. Wish us luck!