Monday, February 13, 2017

Our Financial Plan

Updated February 2017  First published November 2010.

A year and a half Eight years ago we took Dave Ramsey financial peace class.  Four Eleven years ago we become debt free.  Ten Many years ago we started paying down our debts faster than the minimum payments.  To manage our money we have used Quicken, MS money, Donor Manager, Everydollar software, Dave's paper forms, Crown Financial's software, and Crown's paper forms.  We are on our second seventh year of using our own simple one page paper budget each month.   A second quarterly paper form tracks our savings and investing.  A third form, which we have not used since 2006, tracked how much debt we had, principle, interest, and number of payments remaining for each loan.  All three of these forms are Excel documents printable and readable on one page and in our opinion are the best tools for us to manage our money.

For the most part we follow the Ramsey Baby steps.  I STRONGLY recommend following his plan as close as possible, it is a proven, successful method.  The closer we followed his plan the better our life has gone.  

The best money management plan I can recommend is the Baby Steps by Dave Ramsey.  

With that being said for myself, if I could go back and tell my 18 year old self what to do it would be:

0. Make a will, and get a 5 year term life insurance 5x your annual income if you are married or have someone to support.
1. Get and use The Household Money Organizer Workbook.  (sadly I think this is out of print so finding one will cost you)
2. Quickly get to the point that you live on last months income.  What is made in May is spent in June.  What is made in June is spent in July. (This is different than what DR recommends, see #4 below)
3. Have a spending plan.  Each month write a new one. Remember 1/12th of the yearly bills.
4. Have an emergency fund of of $1000 to 1 month income.
5. Pay off every single debt except the house.  Use Dave Ramsey's debt snowball.  While doing this read Dave Ramsey and others to get educated on God's way of handling money.
6. After all the consumer debt (baby step 3) is paid off Boost the term life insurance to 10x your annual income, the end of the term should be about the same time you plan to retire.  Correct me here... I would love to know what he thinks of this.
7. Expand item #2 to be six months.  What is made in January is spent in June, what is made in February is spent in July.
8. Make that emergency fund 6 mo to a year of income.
9. Create sinking funds for the next car / other big purchases.
10. 15% of your pretax income to retirement. Use Gail Jarvis's Saving For Retirement Without Living Like a Pauper method.
11. Help out the kids for college.
12. Pay off the mortgage.
13. Build sinking fund accounts into super-fund accounts. 
14. Retire wealthy.  Be reasonable, if you find yourself with insane amounts of money you need to:

15. Give give give.  Because really that is the goal goal goal of doing this whole thing for me.

I admit I am so frugal I have trouble spending a free gift certificate so having conservative financial practices is not hard for me.

In the fall of 2016 we bought a house, for the past 10 years we were renting.  That puts us in the step 7 - 8 - 10 of our plan.  We used our sinking fund to put down on the house.  I picked up a more expensive hobby, lost my job twice, broke a leg, etc etc... the more faithful we have been to the no debt stance the happier we have been, but I am driving the same car from 1999, wear older clothes, bought less house than we could "afford," the list goes on.  It is a lifestyle, we are not choosing to live like paupers but we don't live like engineers either.

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