I didn’t need Dave Ramsey to get out of debt. I needed to change my behavior! Once I understood and committed to that, I realized that finding a scene like this (by Vashishtha Jogi from avid.photos):

Is harder than getting out of debt and having great finances and a great life. Recently we’ve been focusing on goal setting with W.A.Y. S.M.A.R.T. Goals in order to change and improve our habits. To better make use of our limited willpower and apply goalmentum.

The hard part about budgeting and personal finance isn’t knowing about money, finance, spreadsheets. The hard part is changing our behaviors. Dave says that it’s 20% head knowledge and 80% behavior. My behavior was out of control from that first “emergency” car repair to get new CV joints on my maroon Taurus Wagon. Until I admitted that “my life had become unmanageable”. What was the makeup of that life? My behaviors, habits, and actions. Those directly contributed to over $50,000 in debt. Don’t get focused on that number. It doesn’t matter if you have a $1.00 or a million, if you keep doing the same thing, you’ll keep getting the same result. You’ve got to change now!

I just started my first pass at Financial Peace University last Monday. Even though we are on Baby Step 3 I’m learning some things on a different level about finances.

Baby Step 1: Save $1,000 in a beginner emergency fund.

If you’re reading this and you haven’t completed baby step one, please contact me immediately and do it right now. I mean put it in writing as a W.A.Y. S.M.A.R.T. Goal to put away $1,000.00 ($500 if your income is less than $20,000 per year) in a separate account as an emergency fund. Almost anyone can do this in 30 days. Here are just a few places to find it:

  • Coffee 20 workdays times $5 is $100.
  • Eating lunch out 20 workdays times $10 is $200.
  • There is something in your garage or storage room you can craigslist or ebay for $100.
  • Scrape together the money in the couch, car, or lying around the house.
  • Stop buying stuff.

Just by doing it, you’re choosing to change your finances and your life.

My take away from the first meeting was to give and save first. We had the giving down but the saving was a bit willy nilly. So I went home and discussed it with my wife and readjusted the budget to fit that rule. Our giving was in order, we both agreed on that first thing but we (I–because I’m the nerd that does the first draft of the budget) kept whittling away little bits of our planned savings for “important” things. What is more important than putting ourselves in a position to help our kids go to college and give abundantly?

$1,000 isn’t very common to be lying around since most people live month to month. I know that feeling, I spent most of my life there. Not much fun. Though not common, it is easy to do so just do it now. Seriously, here it is, just cut it and paste it into your journal:

I, _______________________ will set aside $1,000 for my beginner emergency fund by __________________.

Send that to your accountability partner if you’re not married. Agree on it if you are. Email me as well. I’d love to hear how you’ve decided to change your life.

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