DH = Dear Husband
DDF = Debt-Free Friend
There’s nothing like removing an infected gallbladder to make a man more pleasant. DH is home from the hospital and worthy of the D (for “Dear”) in his code name once again. We’ve created an August budget, and the amount we’ve set aside will either finish off Debt #1, our car debt, or pay off the VISA bill for DH’s emergency hospital visit in the U.S. (see last post) if it isn’t reimbursed in full or on time.
Even if our first debt-kill ends up being delayed by a month, it’s still a cause for celebration. Before we adopted the Ramsay way, we were paying off our car at $1,000 per month – which is impressive. We felt encouraged at the thought of having it fully paid in the spring of 2013. Now that we’ve applied Ramsay’s game plan, we might have it paid off this month. And if it’s next month, we’ll still be half a year ahead of schedule.
I plan to mark each significant milestone of our debt repayment with a dinner to honour the person who got us started on this journey. I’ll call her DFF for Debt-Free Friend. DFF has known us for years, and just as she has always been aware of our financial struggles, we have always been aware that when it comes to money, she functions outside the norm. She almost always uses cash. She knows prices and rates and sales and deals to an incredibly detailed degree. She maintains fierce boundaries defining what she will purchase and what she will not. She’s a stay-at-home mother of four, and after twenty years of one good but very middle-class income, she is not only mortgage-free, but has huge investments in mutual funds and her children’s post-secondary education. On top of this, her whole family has enjoyed adventures in travel that DH and I – with our higher income – can only wonder at. DFF was our friend when we suffered the storm of DH’s career crisis – a storm that brought us to our knees financially because we hadn’t set ourselves up to weather it. We were friends with DFF when she suffered her storm – but the difference was that her financial house was built on a rock instead of sand, and what a difference that makes!
Ramsey says that nobody is born with financial intelligence, but I think that DFF might be the exception to prove that rule. When she got her first babysitting job at age fourteen, she started keeping written track of her income and expenditures. At age twenty-one, earning a very small income, she made her first investment in real estate. She says her parents didn’t teach her to do this – she just did it. One thing with regards to her upbringing that I believe planted the seeds to her money-smarts is that she remembers going to the bank with her parents and being familiar with the ongoing dialogue of their budgeting. Money matters were not kept secret in her family. They were part of the conversation, and she joined in that conversation as a child.
DFF has tried to drop hints and give advice over the years, but I always considered the plane of her wisdom to be on such a different level from mine as to make it non-transferrable. I blanked out and didn’t take it in. I think it was in March of this year that she brought over Dave Ramsey’s book, Total Money Makeover, in both print and CD format, after asking if we’d be interested in taking a look/listen. She’d seen Ramsey on a video presentation at her church and had been impressed. It took two months before I slipped that CD into my car in May, but once I did, there was no turning back. DH was equally hooked. We both “got it”, and we started our journey out of debt in June. DFF has been our most enthusiastic cheerleader.
I sometimes wish that we had heard about Ramsey years ago, but then I think we might have blanked him out if we had. We were so consumed with worry over DH’s career. I don’t think we had the capacity to take it in – to “get it” – until this year. So the timing has been just right. And we are grateful to DFF who has been willing over the years to keep trying – persistently but gently – to help us adopt a new way. At last, it has taken. And here we are, close to celebrating our first significant milestone, looking forward to honouring our friend.