Friday, May 13, 2011

Couldn’t You Have Picked a More Exciting Hobby? (5)

It's been just over a year since I started this series and now I can finally get back to it. If you missed any of the first four parts or would like a review, you can start here. Each of those posts has a "to be continued" statement at the end, which links to the next post in the series.

To summarize, where I left off in part four, I was discussing using Dave Ramsey's (DR) The Total Money Makeover (TMMO) plan for our finances in 2007. I mentioned that we were struggling through the year and would talk next about the focus we found in 2008.

When we looked back at 2007, we had paid off about $4000 during that year. Four thousand dollars is a good amount of money, but considering how much total debt we had, we were not making the kind of progress required. I knew we were doing something wrong because of the real life stories in the book. I thought, "if it worked for these families, then it has to work. I need to go back and figure out how to do this right." Part of me was still looking at the debt we had, and wishing it would just go away.

At the beginning of 2008, I reread TMMO and discovered my mistakes. Previously I mentioned, "through my impatience I was trying to apply at least four of the seven baby steps all at once, instead of concentrating on the step I was on." I was not focused on the one particular step we were on. This time when I read the book, I stopped after reading the step we were on and closed the book. I was going to focus on Baby Step #2, "Pay off all debt using the Debt Snowball."  I was not interested in what came after that. Until we finished Baby Step #2, it did not matter. This time I was focused and we were going to be Gazelle Intense. 

With my renewed determination, I got up early on a Saturday morning in February 2008. I started a brand new budget using DR's budgeting tool that morning. Up to that point, I was still using my budget spreadsheet, which did not cover all the expense categories we had. After setting up the whole budget, I put together our debt snowball by listing all of our debts, smallest to largest. The debt snowball automatically forecast how long it would take to pay off the remaining debt.

The answer it returned was not good. Instead, it was devastating. It immediately caused me to lose hope that we could ever get out of debt. At my current income, from a full-time job and a part-time job in the Army Reserve, the debt snowball would take EIGHT YEARS TO COMPLETE! At this point, after struggling to find a way out of debt since 1995 when I graduated from college, I was mentally done. Sitting in front of the computer, by myself, I knew I could not continue to live that life of sacrifice for EIGHT MORE YEARS. I felt completely defeated.

It was not too much longer and Mindy came downstairs. She could see I was upset and asked what I was doing. I showed her the numbers, the debt snowball and the eight year forecast. I explained to her, with tears in my eyes, that I could not do it any longer. I could not make the kind of sacrifices we had been making for another eight years. Lovingly, she took my hands, looked me in the eyes and said,

"Have you prayed about it?"

To be continued...

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