Not Keeping Up with the Joneses- If you’re Broke, do something about it!

I’ve recently witness a few situations which leave me a little flabbergasted.

Case Number One: The case of too much house.

We recently had some friends we know move into a bigger house.  It wasn’t unreasonable for them to want to move.  Their family had rapidly expanded and they felt they needed the space to accommodate the expansion of family.  They sold their old house and moved into the new house. It was only when tax time came around that they realized they might be in over their heads.  The housing market in our area right now is booming and most houses have gone up considerably in value.  The rise in home values is great, but it also comes a bigger tax bill.  These friends do not have an emergency fund in place and when they were hit with the increased tax bill discovered that they were drowning in a lack of funds.  Despite this money problems the friends have not seemed to change their lifestyle to accommodate for the problem.   They don’t seem to have cut down on extra curricular activities or outings and they haven’t picked up an extra job that we know about.  They continue mini vacations and shopping sprees, and then vent about how stressed they feel.  I think “trapped” is one of the words that was used.

Case Number Two: We’re financially strapped considering a move and career change.

In one of the groups I’m in a lady posted about moving to Texas from her current location.  She lives in California and would like to be closer to some family.  Her husband has a good job at which he makes $100.000 /year.  She said that between their mortgage, two car payments and medical bills it’s hard to make ends meet, because California is just expensive.  Her husband is older and doesn’t want to move unless he can get a job paying the same amount.  I don’t blame him, in fact I totally agree with him.  What I don’t understand is, if you can barely make ends meet how are you going to finance a trip to Texas to check things out?

It wasn’t too terribly long ago that I could have been one of these two people.  It seems like forever ago and yesterday that I felt like I was drowning in debt and would never live life without a payment plan.  Let me tell you a secret. . .The truth is you don’t have to be one of these people and if you are one of these people you can change your situation.  My journey started by reading The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey.  I will never forget reading about people who felt “sick and tired of feeling sick and tired”.  This resonated with me.  Thinking about finances and paying bills had been sucking the life out of me and I didn’t want to live that way any longer.  I shared the book with my husband and got us started on our own money make over.

I will warn you, it’s not easy and there are times that we falter and don’t stick exactly to our budget.  There are times when I feel like we don’t make progress with our debt because mayhem happens and we have to cash flow something instead of attaching our debt.  (But even being able to cash flow unexpected things like a $1000+ car repair bill wouldn’t have been possible without this plan). When I look at our progress over the past year (and really we didn’t even hit the plan hard until January) and see that we are almost to the half way mark (meaning half of our debt is GONE!) I get a little fluttery.  I feel so much more relaxed.  I actually enjoy life more knowing that I can and will be debt free soon.  I no longer stress and obsess over money like I did for so many years.  And recently a friend commented on how relaxed I seemed, and I shared what I was doing with her.  I feel blessed and you can too!  You can change your spending habits.  You can make a budget (Dave Ramsey makes it easy with his FREE budgeting tool http://everydollar.com) You can pay down your debt and become debt free.  You just have to take the first step!

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