I can be a bit obsessive at times (ok, a lot), so when I get stuck on something, my hard headed genes (that my sweet child inherited on both sides) will not let me give up until I see it to fruition. My life has swung the pendulum, though, in the last decade. While I have always been a list maker, doodling in class and in meetings, making lists of what exactly I need to get done, my lists have changed a bit. Pre-motherhood, my lists would typically consist of where I was going shopping that weekend, maybe friends to meet with, etc. Now, I have harnessed my selective OCD (it is extremely selective, sometimes my desk makes my work friends nervous with the mess) and am pushing all of my energy towards shoving my debt snowball off the side of the mountain.
Two years ago I discovered Dave Ramsey, who sounds cleverly like my very rational father (who finds my obsession with my finances quite hilarious now, since he survived my decadent years), and all of the information and tools he shares that just make so much stinking sense. Dave Ramsey is kind of like the gateway drug of finance, so on my pathway I discovered Ruth Soukup (a former retail addict herself), Abby from justagirlandherblog.com, and Jen Hatmaker, who speaks to my need for simplicity and humor as a mama.
If you are struggling with your finances, the most painful, gut wrenching thing you simply have to do is sit down and write down every dime that you owe someone.
Do it, right now.
I will wait.
Next, you need to cry it out, pray it out, get a snack if your blood sugar dropped, put your big girl panties on and sit yourself back down. Now, here is what you need to do (This is merely a prescription from me to you, and what has given me peace of mind).
- If you are a techie, go to everydollar.com, or download one of the free Debt Snowball apps available (I have both of these). If you are not a techie, simply write down your debts in either smallest to largest order, or highest APR to lowest, or lowest to highest, etc.
- I have two tools I use every day, my planner, with my daily and weekly goals, and monthly finance goals, and my Budget Binder. I know it sounds crazy, but I find solace in writing out my budget every month. Like I said, if you are techie, there are so many free apps that will do this for you. The Budget binder I use is from Justagirlandherblog.com. It has lots of pretty fonts, yearly financial goals, and just a obnoxiously wonderful collection of printables.
- If you do not already, sign up for mobile banking. I used to be the queen of irresponsibility when it came to my own checking and savings accounts (with MY money, how silly??). Mobile banking allows you to keep an eye on your money, your balances, any fees or charges.
- I also love Ruth Soukup’s Home Planner, from livingwellspendingless.com. She includes weekly goals and meal plans. I have found that if I sit down and plan out our meals for the week, then my shopping list is drastically smaller (and my shopping bill is lower!).
- Pray. Managing debt is all about self control, and being content and thankful for what you have right now. It is so difficult to see what others have and not want that too, especially with social media. I have had to change the way I think about my money, and set my six month goals, while thinking about how this is simply a season for us. Seasons change. Having a modest Christmas (my child is the only grandbaby, there is not going to probably be anything modest about that) in exchange for a working dishwasher in a month, and then a week at the beach in July seems like a pretty fair trade to me (and my kiddo will have so many more memories from the beach vacation than whatever trinket he is craving right now, at this moment).
Please share your struggles with a like minded friend. I have found in my journey that when I share (not facebook overshare…just share) with my friends, so many can relate, and are in the same boat as we are paddling feverishly (towards the beach, HOLLA). Remember, it is only a season, and managing your debt now is just the first step in having less anxiety and stress six months from now (when you are on the beach next to me and my wild little man!).