Sometimes I complain about the amount of punctuation DFF uses in her e-mails.

DFF = Debt-free friend, and she is the one who got us started on our journey out of debt. In several posts, I have referred to the friend who brought over a CD version of Dave Ramsey’s book, The Total Money Makeover. That book shifted our course, and that friend was DFF. She is not someone who can relate to our struggles with money because she has never had any. With a much lower income than our combined earnings, this stay-at-home mom of four is far wealthier than most people I know. “I’m not a writer,” she said to me when I asked her to write this post. “I’ll edit,” I assured her. “Just use your own voice.” DFF is a force of nature, and I believe her voice is loud and clear. (Just look at her opening line.)

Acknowledging strength in $-management (without boasting)

I promise I’m not boasting. I’m just telling it like it is. When it comes to managing money, saving money, finding good deals, and getting the biggest bang for the buck – it all comes naturally for me. My parents taught me well, and I got it!! So it’s been automatic for a long time. I only ever had debt in the past for a mortgage (11 years) and vehicles (1-2 years when I’ve chosen not to take money out of investments that are doing well). I have been mortgage-free, completely debt-free, since before I hit my mid-thirties. And savings have been growing and growing.

A brief history of DFF’s money-management

I am the youngest of 5 kids – all grown with families of our own now. I started babysitting at 14 and kept very good records of the hours I worked, the money I made, and where it was spent. By the age of 21, I had bought a rental property. By the age of 23, I had bought a house of my own too. The rental property paid for itself and proved to be a good investment when I sold it after 13 years. I have never once paid interest on consumer debt. I never bought a consumer item unless I had the money to pay for it. I chose NOT to do all the things everyone else was doing to get deeper into debt … and often I stood alone in doing so. I was OK with that though. It was never a problem for me to say, “No – because I have to pay my bills.” My 4 kids range in age from 14 to 19, and I am trying to instill good money sense into them. I tell them, “It is easier to be tight with money and loosen up later than to be loose with money and try to tighten up later.”
I always know exactly how much I am spending and where it goes!! Every 2 weeks, I withdraw cash from the bank according to my budget. I not only ask for a specific amount, but for a specific denominations breakdown – fifteen $20-bills, for instance, and twenty $10-bills. I like it all in order with the bills going the same way. I often hear myself saying to a bank teller, “Well … no one is going to look after it (the money) for me.” I regularly have money left over at the end of a 2-week period.

DFF – accountability partner for debtors

I always say, “It’s not how much money you make, but what you do with what you have.” I can easily find ways to save money, and I can easily see where others can too. Even though the whole money thing comes naturally for me, I still love to listen or be in conversations with others about this stuff. I get new ideas that I can use or pass along to others who might find it helpful. I have had the opportunity to work alongside some people who wanted the accountability to get rid of their debts. For me, it’s a real privilege to take on this role. I love cheering people on! Not everybody wants help with their finances though – not even the ones who need it most. I find so often that people don’t even admit to having weaknesses with money.

DFF’s areas of struggle

I think I have some understanding of their struggle though. There are times when I am annoyed with myself when I do not choose to use the same principles and disciplines that I have with money in other areas of my life. For example, “Do I really need to have that cookie? I am not hungry, so why am I eating? I am full … but it tastes so good!! I really should go for a bike ride, a walk, or a work-out.” My struggle is in this question: How can I be so effective at “taking care of business” but not apply all of those good qualities and that self-control in the areas of eating, exercising, and getting other stuff done?

One of the biggest things I have observed that is helpful today for people in any area of challenge is … to acknowledge it, and have someone who you trust to be accountable to, and who will keep you on track and ask the tough questions.

Do you have someone to be accountable to in finances or other areas? Do you find that, for some reason, you don’t transfer your effectiveness in one area of life to another?

Comments are welcome!!!!!



Join the Conversation


  1. Managing money is a great skill to be good at. It will help you in all aspects of your life. Right now, my blog is really, besides myself, the only thing holding me accountable. I’m more dilligent in paying off debt right now and losing weight and eating healthy have fallen by the wayside..

    1. DFF says:
      Brandy, thank you for your encouragement. It sounds like you are enjoying short term pain for long term gain…looking at the bigger, longer picture being executed is very fulfilling.
      Keep on keeping on!

  2. “It is easier to be tight with money and loosen up later than to be loose with money and try to tighten up later.” So true! Congrats on having such incredible financial discipline! I wish I would have known you in my 20’s! 🙂 I don’t have anyone I’m accountable to, but at the same time, I also don’t have anyone to fall back on which keeps me a lot more disciplined now, especially with a very tight income!

    1. DFF says:
      Tonya, a very happy birthday to you. Congratulations on your due diligence!! =o) And good for you, that you understand, that it is never too late to do what is right.
      Try to live every day like it was your last but plan like you are going to live forever!!! (that too is applicable to every aspect of our lives!!)
      May you have a wonderful growth experience on this journey.

  3. What a great money mindset you adopted and so early on in life. I came to the same financial conclusions but I learned the hard way with piles of consumer debt and a few years of working hard to get rid of it. Thanks for sharing your perspective!

    1. DFF says:
      Kassandra, thank you for the compliment, but you deserve to be complimented on your willingness to see a problem and deal with it realistically. The freedom that you have given yourself through this management of your money will become greater with each passing year. Stay the course!

  4. I am amazed at your diligence at such a young age – owning a rental property at 21 and a home at 23! I thought I was pretty good buying my first home at 27 as a single woman. Raising 4 kids and doing all that too is amazing. We have 4 as well. I wish I had managed the money from the beginning and we’d be in much better shape now.

    1. DFF says:
      Today I would have been celebrating my 24th wedding anniversary…but…my husband walked away from our marriage and family about 3 1/2 years ago.
      Some things just do not make sense…however…in hind sight…having such diligence early on has allowed for nothing else to change during this time of single parenting and being a stay at home Mom. I have been able to keep all else stable for our kids during this time of significant change. And for that I am truly thankful.
      Just know that it is never too late to get it right. I would encourage you to keep on keeping on. When you arrive at debt freedom, you will be amazed at the freedom it has to offer you. And remember that the most valuable things in life are the relationships you build and those people we go through this journey we call life with.

      1. So sorry to hear about your marriage and thank you for sharing that. It is a blessing that you had the fortitude to have you finances well established to help you to weather this period. Your message has reminded me to value my husband more. It took both of us to get to where we are, and I have owned my part and responsibility in it. Sometimes when debt fatigue sets in it’s easy to go back to just blaming him and don’t want to do that.

        1. DFF says:
          Hey Debs…thank you again and I do encourage you and your husband to be on the same side/team in order to make huge strides and be respectful to each other.
          Acting towards each other with love and respect is choice and a necessity.
          All the very best in your journey – and you will find some nice unexpected things along the way if you take the time to look. =o)

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