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Baby Steps:

Has anyone done Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University/Baby Steps? My wife and I are thinking about taking the class and trying the method. A few family members have done it and I have listened to and liked his radio show over a week.

We have 2K credit cards, 100K student loans (law school), 7K in car payments and owe about 120K on our house. Two kids. Salary is between 80-90K per year.
 

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because I like pictures. #1 has saved me numerous times from tapping into credit I'm trying to pay down.
 

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I like his rationale, but I'm stuck at step 1. I'm looking to downsize homes in the near future in order to have enough left over to put a plan like his into action, but it really doesn't appear to look there is much for cost savings unless I take on multiple roomates, whereas I could possibly do that in my current home already... But I want to move anyway, to be closer to my son's school... And if I sell and rent then I can use the equity to get caught up on the plan (assuming I can find somewhere with low enough rent), otherwise I need the cash from sale of house for down payment on the new place and I'm no further ahead on the plan.

Or other option, if I rent my own place and rent out my current house, except there is no peace of mind until I have contingency fund for expenses on my rental, plus of course there is capital gains to consider but since rent would be so much more than my current mortgage and taxes it wou;d be paying the mortgage off by itself... sigh too many options.
 

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It works. Definitely do it.

The other thing that works is his envelope system. $5 here and $10 there into envelopes for things you know you'll spend money on, you save it up in the envelopes so you don't have to resort to the credit card.
 

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Lon, I can't remember. Are you single? If so, why not just rent a room in some lady's house for 6 months, and put that money into getting in order?
 

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Lon, I can't remember. Are you single? If so, why not just rent a room in some lady's house for 6 months, and put that money into getting in order?
I wish it was that easy. Divorced, have my son half the time... I have a three bedroom two story home and rent the master bedroom (since it has its own ensuite, a lock on the door and is at the other end of the hall from my son's room) to my brother for $700 incl utils, if I rented it out to anyone else I'd charge $750-800. There is an unfinished basement, it's a newer home built in 2007. Mortgage is $1100/mo, taxes are $230/mo. Two bedroom apartments near my son's school go for $1100-1300/mo, three bedrooms start at $1400/mo. Electricity and gas at my house are equalized and are $220/mo, this is where I think I could save the most monthly, since gas is included in most apartments, and electricity usage would be less, probably save about $150/mo there.

My car payments are $250/mo drive a 2010 fusion and it has 2 years left on warranty, but I will always owe more than it is worth since I financed it at 72 months (stupid decision).

Credit card is maxed right now at $5k and loc at $6k, min. payments on these are just under $250 - if I could magically erase these debts I could make my budget work, but the problem is anytime I try to pay more than min. balance I always miss atleast one other bill so I have to juggle for the next couple months playing catchup. For the past three months I've been an utter hermit, no wasteful spending, except two weekends ago I went out for drinks and spent $30. This is depressing, living paycheck to paycheck, and it is making life go by faster than I can enjoy it.

I don't think there is enough equity in house to take much out without no longer qualifying for mortgage, though realtors are saying my house price is a lot higher than what I think it truly is (I think around $300k, they are saying average $350, but homes on my block have been listed for months in the $305k range and are not moving, and probably more sellable than mine in their current state). (and the gov't still tells us inflation is still around 2-3% - my ass)

In some ways I am jealous of how my ex got out of everything when she left - I bought her out of her share of house, and she just left all, ALL her stuff, she took a suitcase of of clothes and found a cheap basement suite, no loose ends to deal with, and I inherited all her crap, and have been too all over the place ever since emotionally to deal with it, I wish I could just leave it all behind (except my son of course) and start fresh, rent out a cheap room and go back to the bare basics, I'm working myself to getting there but there is the emotional baggage I'm working on with a counsellor... it just gets so overwhelming.

That was much too length a reply to your simple question.
 

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Lon,
Sell as much stuff in the house as you can on Ebay and Craigslist, then apply the proceeds to your bills beginning with the smallest one, get that one off the list.

Also ...

Do you have a smartphone? Dump it. Now. Buy a cheap flip phone at Walmart and check out talk and text plans from Tracphone, Tmobile, etc. Big savings there even if you have to pay a termination fee. Those smartphone data plans eat you alive. Can save up to $70/month vs Verizon smart phones depending on your usage.

Do you have a landline telephone? Consider replacing it with MagicJack or something similar that works off your internet. MagicJackPlus is $70 for a year, your landline is probably costing you $50 to $60/month.

Do you have cable or satellite TV? Dump it. Now. Use your internet to get your favorite shows via Hulu or Netflix or ... but restrict yourself to just one of these paid providers. Also Redbox is good for DVD rentals for 1 day. You're probably spending at least $50-$55/month for base service.

Do you usually hire out work at your house? Take as much of that in-house as you can. Do your own house cleaning, painting, gardening, gutter cleanup, etc.

Do you eat out 3, 4, heck 10 times a week? Start making more of your dinners at home, brown bag all your lunches. Save the going out for special occasions only. If your son is old enough, you can make this a team effort with him. Excellent way to bond with him. 6 years old is not too young for this.

When you date, are you taking your dates to venues that cost you some bank? Stop that. Go look for cheap and free date ideas. Being creative can get you points with many women.

Do you clip coupons or otherwise shop for deals? No time like now to get started with that.

Do you drive everywhere when you could be walking or riding a bike? 'Nuff said.

Do you absolutely positively have to have that gizmo? Think twice, then think again. Wouldn't you be better served using the money at your debt and let the gizmo be your reward at the end of the road?

Believe I might have found you $200-$300/month in savings ... now I want my commission ... haha just kidding. But seriously now you should have more money to throw at your debts.

search Google for more frugality tips...
 

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Hey Z, good suggestions, many of them I am doing/have done, many I am in process of...

been selling lots on kijiji, most of the easy to sell stuff is already gone, smartphone is under contract for 1 more year, it's $75/mo, once it is off contract I can cancel the data portion. Landline is $23/mo, I would have already cancelled it but my alarm company requires it for monitoring, though I will likely cancel it anyway and just keep paying alarm company until contract is up for that in a year also. Cable and internet are $100/mo, cable was a condition for my brother to rent, and I recently got him to agree to the basic, I am not willing to lose internet, though I could set up my smartphone as a WAP (because it is unlimited data) if it were not for my tenant also wanting internet at home. I don't hire anyone to do anything, I can't afford it - except when nec. (like when my furnace broke a few months ago - gasfitters regular rates are $125/hr here). I eat out for lunch almost every day, I know I can save money by packing leftovers except dinners are always so disorganized and whenever I try it usually costs me a whole lot more in groceries a month than what I spend eating out. I have a supplement bus pass through work and I take the bus on days I don't have to drive across town to pickup/dropoff my son at school. I don't remember the last time I bought a gizmo (well there was my smartphone 2 years ago for $100, and 4 years ago I bought a nice DSLR with some savings). OH WAIT SCRATCH THAT I DID BUY A 46" TV AFTER THE SETTLEMENT, I used it to break in the credit card that I had just finished paying off when we settled our equity, I've been paying stupid interest on it ever since :(

I know there is a little room for improvement, but I'm as frugal as I can be, problem is these damn contracts I signed up for before I realized the expense of being divorced. As for dating, I can't seem to get one (probably because I'm, couped up in my house all the time).
 

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It's just like losing weight (but reversed) and just as hard.

Take in more than you're expending. Some ideas are more difficult to enact than others. But if you at least continue to stay conscious of the problem you should notice SOME improvement.
 

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Diligently record all income and outflow using a tool like microsoft money (which you can now download legally for free - called 'sunset edition' since it's no longer marketed). GNU Cash is another free one or even use a spreadsheet. Unless you understand your spending, you can't fix it - period.

Scour your contracts and fixed expenses for reductions just as a business would. Call up your providers and tell them your story and see if you can downgrade things or go onto different plans, lower interest rates, etc. All are dealing with a lot of people with hardships now and most they have things they can offer. they will be tough but they also don't want to lose you as a customer through defaulting on payments. A few dollars saved here and there will add up. Also consider buying out of contracts, selling things you are paying off, etc if it will be better in the long run. Make sure you don't have insurance coverage you don't need.

Electricity and gas sounds expensive but this depends i guess on your area. Can you switch to other plans or providers? Reduce usage through avoiding waste - replace with low usage light bulbs and keep lights off when not in room. Insulate drafty things, etc.
 

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Other ideas -

Be creative. If you're only spending $100 for cable and internet because of your brother's tenancy, why not renegotiate with him? Propose charging him $650/month without internet and cable included. He may be better off sourcing this through his cell phone deal as you can.

Likewise, if you suspect that he may not be so diligent in saving on the heat, water, a/c, and overall electric, then reduce his rent in exchange for a bill sharing deal. As it stands, he has no incentive to reduce his usage since it's all included and he pays the same whether he lowers the thermostat and puts on a sweater or keeps it at 75 degrees F.

Your brother's steady tenancy is very important to your overall finances and he seems to be paying a fair amount as compared to having to rent it out to strangers that will come and go. So you don't want to drive him out but at the same time you can explain that he is paying under market value (which you agree SHOULD be the case), however, your taxes, utilities, etc may have gone up since you made that deal so a small increase (along with any other renegotiation as mentioned) might be fair.

You also mentioned a monitored alarm system that both costs you money for the monitoring and the fixed phone line that you otherwise do not need. What can you do to delete both of these bills? Sure everyone likes the peace of mind of a monitored alarm system and it does reduce your homeowner's insurance expense but likely you can still save a lot by getting rid of it. Instead, upgrade your locks, look at an unmonitored alarm solution, put up alarm warning sticker, etc. If you are locked into the contract with the alarm company, call up with your sob story and see what your options are to downgrade, buy out of contract, etc. Plan to get out of it as soon as you can.

What about selling the car? You have a 2-3 year old car and you can get away with an 8-10 year old japanese car (high reliability, low maint, insurance costs). do the math and see what you can save with this.
 

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Couple, thanks for the encouragement and suggestions, I do appreciate your help! I have been using mint.com and I find it really has helped me zero in on where the dollars come and go, but the problem I think is how depressing it is to see so much coming in and going out, and all the little changes I would have to do that would mean somewhat significant changes in my lifestyle are so small financially in comparison.

I was about to write a comment on here that it doesn't seem fair for me to complain about anything, because I truly am fotunate, just that seems money was so much less stressful when I was younger.

There are still some things I'm going to do to get myself over the hump and try to get the credit under control, it's not far off I just have to be careful and responsible and I should be ok.
 

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Use the envelope system. $5 here, $10 there, once you have it saved up in the 'envelope' categories, you no longer have to borrow money to pay for things.
 

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I eat out for lunch almost every day, I know I can save money by packing leftovers except dinners are always so disorganized and whenever I try it usually costs me a whole lot more in groceries a month than what I spend eating out.
I think you can fix this. Figure out how much you spend a week eating out on average. Put half of that money toward bills, the other half toward groceries.

One key thing to remember is that right now, money needs to be more valuable than time in a lot of ways. Much of the costs are based on making things easy to save you time. Getting a bag of carrots to peel and cut is cheaper than getting the small packets of those already prepared, but it takes time to do that. Be focused and organized when you shop and plan your meals ahead. Make a list and don't deviate from it.

You need to focus on being organized and not wasting. I had to do that when I put myself through a couple years of school. It absolutely was painful, and I don't envy you, but you will find it of great value.
 

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Well looking at the numbers from this year and last, my overall living arrangements are pretty much identical, however this year I told myself it was cheaper to eat out than buy groceries, and last year I was making more effort to shop and plan meals better.

this year I spent $3019 on groceries (and sundries) and $1355 on fast food, restaurants,.coffee shops and bars for a total food expenditure of $4374 (with a few more weeks to go)

The year before, when I was making more effort to plan home made meals I spent $4346 on groceries and $662 on everything else for a total of $5008. Granted I was also buying groceries for the ex w for the first few months but she almost exclusively ate out using money from her business.

So I think its pretty much break even, but yes I will admit that there are ways I can save a few critical dollars, and I will try to.
 

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Dave Ramsey is like Extreme couponing!! If living like a pauper is appealing to you by all means go for it!!

Without credit and the use of it the WORLD stops, GROWTH stops, and Wealth is much harder to amass!!

There is nothing earth shattering about his class or his plan. Live frugal, cut excesses, pay down debt snowball effect, and pretty much don't use credit for anything.
 

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. . . .
I was about to write a comment on here that it doesn't seem fair for me to complain about anything, because I truly am fotunate, just that seems money was so much less stressful when I was younger.
. . . .
Amen Brother, but now we got peeps who are counting on us.
 

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Amen Brother, but now we got peeps who are counting on us.
tru dat, I could live on rice and KD in a hole in the ground if I had to (like I did for most of my young adult life), but I don't want my son to know what that is like.

Like I said, I am fortunate for what I do have, and what hard work has provided, but you know when you realize things are tight and you have to scrimp and save? Well when does it stop, how long is that supposed to be for? Cause seriously it's been almost 2 decades with the occasional uncontrollable splurge. It's like I went into extreme coupon mode but then I didn't set a time to come out, because I STILL have never reached my goal of having positive cash flow - feels a lot like slavery, except the oppression doesn't come at the end of a whip. The lack of financial freedom really takes a lot of the joy out of the luxuries I have splurged on, instead its a feeling of guilt.
 

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Have you ever read Robert Kayasaki's books? Best say I know to get out of the rut you describe. Start with Rich Dad Poor Dad.
 
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