Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Chocolate cake, Dave Ramsey, and Me

Wake me if I'm dreaming. Or perhaps I should stay asleep, for the dream is too good. I am feeling a bit light on my feet even though I've been adding more weight for them to bare. Note to self: Yes German Chocolate Cake is good, no you don't need to eat half of it by yourself to fully appreciate it's perfection. I am coming off of a bit of a hiatus if you will. Perhaps I've had nothing to say. Perhaps sometimes contentedness cannot be put into words. For that is what I am after all, content. This Christmas was unlike all others in the fact that I am not holding my breath waiting for the aftermath to hit. The dreaded bills that always came after Christmas,yelling to be heard year after year. Don't get excited about that coming tax check kid, you still have Christmas to pay for. This year the other shoe is not waiting to drop. The shoes walked together and this year Christmas was officially over on Christmas as this year we paid cash.

It's an interesting feeling really. In our society we are taught that everyone has debt. It would be unnatural to not have credit card bills or car payments. Everyone has them, it's just a part of life. Well perhaps it is but for this next section or season of my life I've or I should say we've decided to be unnatural. "Weird" if you will. A couple months ago we were introduced to a book called The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. To tell you that reading it has changed our lives would be an understatement. How do you describe the lifted of a weight from your shoulders? How do you describe to your family and friends that all this time you've only been playing grown up? Two college educated individuals have only been pretending that they knew what they were doing.

When we were first starting out as a newly married couple we were so excited about the future. What we found out eventually is that the future? Is now and it's hard. It's also perhaps not as difficult as we had made it. My husband has a good job for we have been blessed in that area. So good that I am able to stay home to raise our children. Yeah, they don't tell you this but kids are expensive. They also don't tell you that bored housewives enjoy spending money. Or perhaps they do and we just didn't listen. After all we were college educated we knew it all. Right? We, as well as everyone who knows us have lived under that illusion that because my husband has a good job and we have a nice house that we must have money. What I have tried to explain to some degree is that he would, had he not married me.

As a child growing up with my mother I knew a few things for certain. Groceries should only be bought with coupons or if they are on sale. Never buy anything retail. But buying whatever you want as long as it's on sale is OK. Also when buying things for yourself it's important to hide it in your closet and eliminate all evidence so your husband doesn't get mad at you for spending money. That is how my mother lived her life. I might add that for much of my childhood she was the only one in her marriage working. New clothes and shoes are OK, food is secondary. Now as a married woman who isn't married to a crazy person, I have no need to hide my purchases. Food is first and foremost and clothing a close second. While I do love clothes and accessories, I love to eat even more. I especially love to eat out and the prettier the food the better.

What I have learned from Dave Ramsey is that all those things are OK. But you have to pay cash for them. No cash? No pretty food or pretty clothes and shoes. You have to tell your money where to go. Ours always told us where it was going and it would see us (or not) on the other side. Now we tell it where to go. I still go out for a nice meal once in a while but we pay cash. I go grocery shopping with cash. My new buddy is Cash. Which is interesting as it's a new relationship. We are still getting to know each other. It hurts me to be separated from her. My best friend used to be my debit card. We still get along. But my old friends Visa and Discover and I have had a falling out. I got tired of having to work for the friendship. They always wanted something from me and never gave me anything in return. If they did give me something I had to earn it. Who wants friends like that?

If I want to go to lunch with a friend, I prefer that they truly want to go and spend time with me. Rather than I have to earn the time with them by paying them off on time. Would you pay a friend to have lunch with you? That's not a friendship I want to keep. As I get older I am learning to enjoy my own company more, so I don't mind so much being alone. So if my friends are unavailable I will be just fine by myself. I don't need Visa and Discover to keep me company.

This Christmas as I looked around at all God has blessed me with, the hotty hubby, the three beautiful kids and the comfortable home, I realized that this is all I really need. Sure I look forward to the day when I can walk on the grass and know that I fully own it. Sure I want to take a vacation to Disney that doesn't follow me home, but I'm OK waiting for those things. The best things in life are worth waiting for, saving for, and enjoying guilt free.

Yesterday I went to the dentist. A girl that works there asked me if I was working anywhere. I said no that I was staying at home because I don't work well and play well with others. At least not on a regular basis. Usually that is a joke I like to use as a reason for staying home. Do I think I would enjoy working in a place where everyone got along and enjoyed their job? Absolutely but I suppose I don't believe it's a reality in most cases. I prefer to work alone, that way the only person I upset is myself. I get my humor. This same girl was disappointed when she found out that I didn't get up to cook breakfast for my family. I suppose in that regard I'm just not that kind of mom. I'm lucky to get a dinner prepared in the evening that everyone will eat. Why on earth would I torture them with breakfast too? So while I'm not "that" kind of mom. I think I'm doing alright. The kids are fed and they are fine. My house is clean and at least once a week my cats are entertained with music and dancing by yours truly.

Maybe I don't have a monetary income. But as Dave would say I am a gazelle and I am intense. My husband and I are a team and we are working together to change our family tree. He goes out and works, I am learning to cook at home and finding ways to save money on the things we need. I am also getting quite fond of my new friend, Cash. She has a lot to offer and she never fails me as long as I treat her properly and with respect.

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