DH = Dear Husband
DD3 = Dear Third Daughter
DH and I assign different marks to our June debt reduction. I give it a C- because we missed our goal by $1,500, but he gives it an A+. Go figure. Relative to my husband, I’m the positive one. DH, the worrier, generally has a mission to dampen my enthusiasm if it passes a certain point. So I was surprised by the elation he demonstrated at the end of June. “It’s so great to be up-to-date with our money! To know exactly how much we have and to know exactly where and when it’s all going.”
Ramsey calls it “getting current”, and it’s something I didn’t really understand and didn’t at all appreciate when I first heard of it. DH is the one who has been balancing the accounts and tracking our finances through the years, and it was always a burden for him to have to deal with things like unexpected VISA bills, lost receipts, and other slip ups that kept things chronically out of balance and one step out of time. That burden completely lifted with our June budget and our vigilant timeliness in keeping track. It didn’t matter to DH that we had less to put against our debt than hoped for; the relief of becoming current more than made up for it.
And so, fuelled by DH’s pumped attitude, on we go with July. Ramsey uses the expression “gazelle intensity” to refer to the focus that is necessary to get out of debt. He gets the term from the Bible, Proverbs 6, which says, “Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hunter . . .” in reference to debt. The gazelle is slower and weaker than its hunter the cheetah, just as each one of us is less powerful than the agents of debt that permeate our society. But nineteen times out of twenty, says Ramsey, the gazelle can outmanoeuver the cheetah and stay clear of it. Similarly, those of us trying to get out of debt must strategize our way out and away from it.
In response to Ramsey’s call to be intentional, I applied to teach summer school this July. Summer school is most often the domain of new teachers who want to work their way into the system, and of thirty-something teachers who have bought homes and started families and need the extra money. The last time I taught summer school was fourteen years ago – the summer we moved into our current house. Priority is given to the regular teachers of summer school, which I am not, but I did get a position. It’s a half-time, afternoon assignment teaching students who need to make up their credit.
The response I got from my colleagues when I told them I had applied to teach summer school was one I have given to others over the years. “Why are you doing that?” “Are you crazy?” “No! Enjoy your summer! We only have so much time on this planet, you know.” Others just stared wide-eyed and jaw-dropped. To each, I gave the same response: “My husband and I are trying to get out of debt.” That worked. I don’t know if they felt compassion or respect, or if they were reflecting upon their own debts, but they graciously accepted my straightforward explanation.
My biggest concern about teaching summer school is DD3. Her older sisters are busy with jobs, their sports, and their friends, but she is still too young to get a summer job or to go places on her own. I prayed about teaching summer school with this concern in mind, and I feel blessed in that the position I was offered is half-time. I started this week, and so far, DD3 is doing just fine. Yesterday, she spent the afternoon at the home of a friend who has a swimming pool. The day before was a quieter day at home, but since DH works at home, she wasn’t alone. So without compromising too much, I’m helping to set up for a significant debt reduction in July.
If all goes well (if our ‘99 van holds up) we will be putting $3,700 against Debt #1 at the end of the month. In June, Debt #1 went from $8,600 to $6,100. By the end of July, there’s a good chance it will sit at $2,400. I’m so grateful that DH and I are on the same page, the same paragraph, the same word. We’re in this thing together – I would have to say more so than for any other venture we’ve taken on as a team – and I believe we will free ourselves from “the hunter”.