Monday, August 31, 2009

What's green and hurts when you spend it?


I have heard it said that when you spend actual cash, it gives the same sensation as pain! And, man, we are feeling the pain :)

We decided as apart of our new budgeting strategy and new life, we would enlist Dave Ramsey again and follow his envelope system. Simply put, we are cash-flowing our monthly expenses instead of credit is an amazing thing to actually "THINK" about what you are spending..instead of pulling out the card!

Not everyone is on board with this system. We were at Wal-Mart this weekend for some shopping. The people behind us in line were none to happy when we made the cashier ring up our "gifts" separately, our household cleaner separately, our clothings and other items separately. I have a feeling that the cashier has been through this before..because she was very patient with us. But, I tell you this...doing this made us really think about what we were buying and where the money was coming from. We looked at prices...we put stuff back..we actually had to think what we had at home and what we could do without.

We have easily spent $200.00 at Wal-Mart without a thought. By using the envelope system...we spent $20.54 on our gift, $64.30 on our household supplies, and $3.49 on an infant tooth brush.

I would encourage you to make a list...set a budget...and carry cash into any store. You will become very wise to how these stores are trying to get all the money they can..and you'll get wiser on how to keep it for yourself!

A budget? You've got to be kidding!

John Maxwell says, "A budget is telling your money where to go, instead of wondering where it went."

Let me start with this: I hate budgeting! I hate sitting down at the beginning of a month and trying to figure out where our money is going to go and have to think about: medication, gifts to friends and family, can we get a babysitter, can we go out to get a burger....and on and on. It is better now..but, still not my favorite way to spend time.

We started budgeting last year (2008) and it quickly dropped off our radar due to a family illness and chaos. But, we have gotten back on track with in the last month and we are making our money "sit down and pay attention". Strangely, it really does feel like we have more money! We are budgeting $200.00/month for clothes (and before you think that's a lot...we are a family of 5 and 3 of them are growing like crazy!) We have money set aside for babysitters and a little dining out and fun! It's get more disciplined and you have more money. Where did it all go before???

I have to give credit to my wife...she has become the grocery-shopping dynamo and has not broken her budget AT ALL! She carries here little pink calculator (bought for $1 at Wal-Mart around and makes every dollar count! SHE ROCKS!!

We would love to hear any of your budget-stretching suggestions attached to this comment.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Who is this Dave Ramsey character??

We have been in some kind of debt as long as we have been married. There have been those time when we were a little better off..and certainly worse off. The best time was November 2003 when we were completely debt free...except for the new house we purchased...and we had $30,000 in debt. And, that was just about 6 years ago....what did we do??

Sometime around July 2008, I was on in Oregon on business and driving around. I was listening to talk radio and heard this "folksy" guy with a thick southern accent talking about baby steps. - and a light bulb went off. That's what we needed...some little bite sized chunks to get ourselves out of this mess.

Dave's approach is really basic:

Step 1. build a $1,000 emergency fund so you stop using credit cards immediately!.

Step 2. List all debts smallest to largest (regardless of interest rate) and start throwing everything at #1 while making minimum payments on the rest until they are your top debt. This is referred to as the "debt snowball".

Step 3. Build a 3 to 6 month emergency fund after you are debt free (not including the mortgage).

Step 4. Invest in retirement

Step 5. Fund College

Step 6. Pay off your home early

Step 7. Build wealth

To be honest, step 4-7 isn't even on our radar yet. But, as you can see from our debt reduction section the left side of this blog...we are killing our debt. And, right now..that's the babystep we take!

I would encourage any of you to get Dave Ramsey's "The Total Money Makeover" ( If you are so far in debt..buying a book seems like an impossible dream - I checked mine out at the library for free! Remember that place? The library - yeah you pay taxes to have it - use it!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Not living here!

So, let's take a moment to clarify the title of the blog: "NotLivingHere". As we have become more intense in our debt reduction plans and actions, the tougher it seems to get. You'll read on in this blog how we sold our 2004 Lincoln Navigator ( and bought a 1999 Green Jeep with 144,000 miles on it and it spent the first weeks going from shop to shop. We would take a deep breath and look at each other in agreement and say "It's OK, we're not living here!" Remember, poor is a state of mind..broke is a temporary situation!

Uh oh! How'd we do that?

Can you imagine waking up to find that you have spent $59,023.20 and you really didn't know where? You don't see bags from Bloomingdales ( or Macy's ( in the bedroom. You walk out to the living room and there is no 58" plasma screen that you picked up at Best Buy ( that past weekend. And, then, there it walk out and see the nice shiny 2004 Lincoln Navigator out in the garage. But, that cost $33,000.00 and you bought it in 2007 (because you were doing the right thing - you bought used and let someone else take the equity hit, right?). So, where else did it go???

Well, that is what this blog is going to be all about. Not so much about how we spent ourselves into debt...but how we are getting ourselves out of debt and how we are going to stay out. We welcome you along for the ride and if there is anything you can glean from this and not follow the same path..or lessons that you have learned and can share with the blogsphere...then we have left the world a little better (and a little less in debt) than we entered it!

So, a little about ourselves: Jeff is a 39 year old project-manager for a large IT company. Melissa is a 37 year old work at home mom (taking care of our 6, 4, and 18month old is WORK! - make no mistake). And we are the parent's of three wonderful children who live near South Lake Tahoe in California. Hey...if you are going to be in debt...pick a good spot, right?

So, over the next couple of days, we hope to get you caught up on:

1. How we found Dave Ramsey (
2. A budget? You want a budget?
3. Ummm, I am not going to carry around envelopes!
4. I cannot shop on $600.00/month for a family of 5!!
5. You sold the Navigator for that piece of crap?
6. Did you know that "Murphy" was in the back seat of the Jeep?

So, be patient as we get you caught up and move forward! It will be a fun ride!