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Money, Our Debt-Free Story

Our Debt-Free Story: Part 3 – WE’RE DEBT FREE!!!

September 2, 2014

This is Part 3 of a 3-part series. Be sure to read about Our “We’ve Had It!” Moment and Our Secret Weapon.

We left off in part two when we were knee-deep in debt but with gazelle intensity and a laser focus to pay it all off ASAP. We even shocked ourselves and beat our “debt-free date” by nearly five months!!

How did we do that?

Let me tell you…

So there we were, Spring 2012, with between $15,000-$18,000 of student loan debt left to go when we got the tax return funds and threw it towards the loan. The numbers fell significantly that month and momentum started rolling like crazy.

At this point, we sort of snapped and went scorched earth. We also found out we would likely be moving in two months time, so we started thinking about all the things we could purge from our household and turn into quick cash to pay towards our loans.

Sometime in April, I gathered up items from our house in the living room and began listing them on Craigslist left and right.

Bicycles. Nintendo. Lamps. Throw pillows. An HDTV Television. A desk we dug out of a dumpster. A chair we got for free.

If it wasn’t nailed down, it was on the “discuss to sell” list. In a two week window, we had people at our town house nightly, one after another, purchasing items from our living room garage sale. 🙂

We ended up with a couple thousand dollars from our sales…but still had to live in the place for a few weeks before moving. Yup, it was rather uncomfortable sleeping on a blow up mattress, having no lamps, furniture, or Nintendo to play with. But we were brimming with happiness and joy at seeing more progress on the student loans. It became like a game to sacrifice more and more so we could see the debt fall quicker…so we happily played board games under a light bulb on a string in the closet.

With this continued surge of momentum, we saw the debt fall below the $10,000 mark in early May 2012!!

To keep the gazelle-like intensity up, we decided to sell my car and drop down to a one car family. It sounds harder than it was, since we actually work together. The times we actually needed two cars was far and few between. This got us some extra cash to throw at the debt and lowered our car insurance bills and gas costs.

To top it all off, we had unusual circumstances that summer. We moved out of our apartment in May but didn’t find a place in Denver to live straight away so we put all our belongings in a storage unit. We traveled that summer working on our fundraising and staying with family. Upon moving to Colorado, a family invited us to stay with them while we searched for housing. With those circumstances, we didn’t have any rent and minimal food expenses from June through August, which was a MASSIVE help in our debt snowball.

In late July, we saw the numbers really plummeting and we were just ITCHING to get it all paid off the next month. We received a few special donations in larger lump sums which gave us the extra cash flow to pay the loans off earlier than we ever anticipated. We kept living on a bare bones budget and scraping money our of thin air, hoping we could have an August debt-free date.

On August 15, 2012 we had finally scrounged up enough to sink our last loan and become 100% debt-free!!!!

Wahoooo!! 🙂

To celebrate, we made doughnuts and started forming a plan for the next baby step, the fully-funded emergency fund! A few months later, we traveled to Nashville and did our Debt-Free Scream on the Dave Ramsey Show. Someday we will tell our “post-debt-free story” and the unique challanges and freedoms that come with each baby step.

Until then, here’s wishing financial peace for everyone reading this! You can enter our Financial Peace University Giveaway to jump start your journey!

Money, Our Debt-Free Story

Our Debt-Free Story: Part 2 – Our Secret Weapon

September 1, 2014

This is Part 2 of a 3-part series. Be sure to read about Our “We’ve Had It!” Moment.

Welcome back!

At the end of our Debt-Free Story Part One, we left you hanging with us having our “I’VE HAD IT!” moment.

We were officially sick and tired of being sick and tired. We didn’t want to see hundreds of dollars being shipped off to Sallie Mae on a monthly basis. We were inspired to kick her to the curb using Dave Ramsey’s baby steps.

There we were, fuming with excitement, so what did we do next?

The budget.

We had our very first “Teixeira Budget Committee Meeting” on December 30th, 2011 to plan our January budget.It was quite simple back then. We grabbed a pencil, paper, and some envelopes for cash. (vital to all beginner budgeters…since when cash is gone it’s gone and it’s a built it “stop” to spending)

Looking back, it was actually hilarious since we fumbled our way through varying categories and were bad at estimating the cost of things. I think we budgeted $50 for groceries for the month. Yea…that needed adjusting! 🙂

Despite being bad at budgeting from the first go, we had tremendous amounts of zeal and passion for it. We were finally a team. We were on the same page. Nothing could stop us from getting that very first baby step done – $1,000 in a mini emergency fund.

We found a way to shuffle the budget around to compensate for our under-funding certain categories and over-funding others and by the end of January we had baby step one completed! We were on track to paying off our student loans within one year’s time.

We then turned our gaze towards that pile of debt. As the months crept by, we not only got better at creating a budget but also sticking to the budget! We found that the more realistic we were about our budget and stuck mostly with cash, we were having great success not over-spending or feeling guilty for the spending we did do. By cutting discretionary spending, it allowed us to begin throwing more lumps of mula towards our loans.

We cut our lifestyle. HARD. We wanted to literally live like no one else…so later we could give and live like no one else.

Here’s what I mean by cutting our lifestyle based on a typical monthly budget back then:

  • Blow money: $0
  • Entertainment: $5 (a couple red box dvd’s)
  • Restaurants: $0
  • Vacation: $0
  • Groceries $120
  • Gas: $50
  • Clothing: $0
  • Date Night: $5 (an ice cream cone to share)
  • Birthday gifts: $0
  • Vacation: $0

Obviously we had some fixed expenses like rent and healthcare but every category relating to our lifestyle was bare bones. It actually was barely enough. Sometimes we rode bikes to work when we were almost out of gas money. Or we would make pb&j sandwiches for days on end with baby carrots and celery on the side when we wanted to stretch the grocery funds. Or instead of buying a new mattress, we slept on a (clean!!) donated mattress from someone’s old RV.

Did we need to do this?

No.

We were squeezing thousands of dollars from our budget every month. We could have decided to be a little softer on ourselves. Seen more movies. Gone out to eat. Taken a road trip. Bought whatever we wanted at the grocery store.

But at what cost? Months and possibly years longer to get out of debt. 

We wanted it done NOW. Our desire to become debt free was so intense we literally were willing to sacrifice everything but necessities to meet that goal. We would rather suffer a short but intense time of delaying gratification than several years of lukewarm spending/paying debt.

In March, we got tax refund and combined it to the funds we’d scraped up our of that month’s budget for an extra large payment towards the student loans. That is when we started to really feel momentum pulling us. Dave calls it the “debt snowball” since it starts small and over time gets larger and larger with more momentum.

We were officially weird and gazelle-intense. Friends and family thought we were taking things just a little too far….and that is exactly where we wanted to be! 🙂

The debt started falling rapidly and with every dollar thrown at it, our confidence and excitement grew. We quickly went from first-time fumbling budgeters to budget pros with a goal no one could stop us from reaching!

Stay tuned for next time as we talk about how we were able to beat our initial goal of a one-year debt payoff by nearly five months! And jump over to win a FREE Financial Peace University class membership!

Money, Our Debt-Free Story

Our Debt-Free Story: Part 1 – “We’ve Had It!”

August 29, 2014

This is Part 1 of a 3-part series. Be sure to read the whole story!

Since we are running a Financial Peace Giveaway, it only seemed right that we formally share the story of how we became debt free.

This will be a three-part series and this post is the first installment. We hope to offer encouragement in sharing our experiences and perhaps a few laughs along the way.

So, let’s take a trip down memory lane back to yesteryear….

name-my-car-3In a Delorean.

Since we’ve all not-so-secretly wished we could travel in one.

The story begins on  warm summer’s eve when a guy with long hair walked up and  asked me to get ice cream later that night. I said, “sure.” He then high-fived me and ran away.

That guy was Jonathan and we’ve been inseparable ever since that first ice cream cone.

Our first conversations about money began that Fall. We both declared we had some students loans and had them on auto payments…student loans we likely never needed to take if we had both saved and worked through college. Whoops. Not a very deep or informative conversation but it got the ball rolling.

In late Spring…Holy Thursday to be exact, we got engaged and that is when the real shackles of debt began to rear their ugly heads. Now we had a wedding to plan with varying expenses and a honeymoon to pay for. Naturally we began to talk more details about what sort of financial means and baggage we were carrying at the time.

We were sitting in my car when the bomb dropped.

Between the two of us we had $24,500 in debt!!!

displeasedHere’s the breakdown:

Amanda: $8,000 student loans 

Jonathan: $13,000 student loans + $3,500 on a credit card 

What’s weird is I didn’t freak out about the $21,000 in student loans but I FREAKED about Jonathan’s credit card debt. Something about credit cards has always scared me and I just cringe at the thought of paying 17.235% interest or whatever they are. Gross. 

At that point, I had some savings I was holding onto. Why was I sitting on student loan debt with savings in the bank? Don’t ask. I really have no idea. Upon arriving back at my house, we got out of the car and I logged into my bank and transferred Jonathan the funds to pay off the credit card immediately

Later on I learned  Dave Ramsey says I shouldn’t have done that until we were hitched. Whoops.

It was paid. I felt instantly better.

Throughout our engagement we both began to read Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover. It rocked our world. All the testimonies from individuals and families who have worked Dave’s plan and obtained financial freedom were inspiring. We started listening to the radio show and with every “debt-free scream” that aired, I would start to cry. We felt the weight and burden of debt and knew we wanted it gone as soon as possible.

But.

We had that thing called a wedding to plan.

We wanted to apply all of Dave’s principles right away but we were waiting to merge bank accounts until after the wedding and there were too many urgent tasks in the way that kept preventing us from starting to budget on our own.

We let the principles take a back seat and knew that after the wedding, there was no turning back.

We were going to do this.

We were going to kick Sallie Mae to the curb and never look back.

We were going to be debt-free and that is all there was too it.

We were finally “mad” about our debt.

And Dave Ramsey always says the first step to getting our of debt is saying, “I’VE HAD IT!” and being sick and tired of being sick and tired. We had arrived at that point.

In Part 2, we will talk you through how we got started working the baby steps as a married couple.

See you next time! Until then, jump over to our FPU Giveaway post to enter for a chance to win one of three FPU memberships!

Money

Financial Peace University Giveaway!

August 27, 2014

Drum roll please….

It’s time for a giveaway around the True Good and Beautiful blog!

What are we giving away, you ask? (just in case you didn’t see the title…)

3 FINANCIAL PEACE UNIVERSITY MEMBERSHIPS!!!!

If you know our story, you are well aware that Dave Ramsey has a huge influence on how we choose to live. Using his materials and methods are the sole reasons we are debt-free and living on a budget today. Dave Ramsey’s message has literally changed out entire life.

And we can’t help but pass along this opportunity to others.

No, we weren’t given these by Dave Ramsey’s company.

We are simply a family who believes so powerfully in the freedom that comes in handling money God’s way that we want to pay it forward to someone else. We want to bless an individual or family who would benefit from going through this class.

What is Financial Peace University (FPU)?

“Financial Peace University is a nine-week class on money taught by America’s most trusted financial guru, Dave Ramsey. Dave and his teaching team will walk you through the basics of budgeting, dumping debt, planning for the future, and much more!”

www.youtube.com/watch?v=62emrljp03c

You can see a sample of all nine lessons here.

Most classes start up in a couple of weeks, hence the giveaway. You can see a list of locations, dates, and times at the FPU website.

Jonathan and I have attended and facilitated Financial Peace University and it’s been a huge blessing in our life and parish. If you could benefit from sprucing up your finances or demolishing old habits and starting over, then sign up to win one of these classes we are giving away.

It literally can change your life and the lives of those around you.

Lastly – I shouldn’t have to say this but…if you know you will not complete all nine classes and take the class seriously, DO NOT ENTER THIS CONTEST! If you are ready to dive in and apply yourself in class, ENTER ALL YOU CAN! We want to make sure the people with the right attitudes are the ones who win this opportunity.

Best wishes and “may the odds be ever in your favor!” 🙂

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Uncategorized

Little Happies: BY JONATHAN

June 2, 2014

Time for this week’s Little Happies, and I thought I’d take a turn recalling some the things that made me smile this week.

-one-

Memorial Day. We office was closed and we spent the day with another missionary couple.

We spend the day by:
Playing Bocce (lost and then found 2 balls in the last round!)
Grilling burgers and dogs
Playing Dominion.

A good day.

 

-two-

What’s better than a 3-Day Weekend? (thanks Memorial Day!)

A 5-Day Weekend.

Not sure what this smells like, but it smells good.

Not sure what this smells like, but I’m guessing top notes of fresh laundered pillows and maple-topped pancakes, followed by a base of playing cards, with slight under notes of sweaty runs. Mmmmm!

Working at the FOCUS office has some cool advantages. Among those are a chapel, daily Mass, fun coworkers, and days off. We get a certain number of days we can use when we’re sick, vacationing, or just need a day to chill. The policy governing these days states we must use 10 days per year. The FOCUS fiscal year runs June-May (aligned with the academic year), so the year ended this week. Turns out I had only used 7 days so far this year. If I didn’t use 3 more, I’d lose ’em. So, after being at work one day (Tuesday) I took the rest of the week off.

And I’m glad I did, because we have a MOUNTAIN of paperwork to do as part of our adoption process. Thanks to the time off, we have most of it done. I also had a great time hanging out with Amanda a ton. A lot of our adventures lately have been related to Happy #4.

 

-three-

Running again.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKRHW-6M3zQ

I love running. I was a sprinter in High School, but got lured onto the cross country team with the offer of delicious brownies after practice every Friday. To this day, Coach Berkowitz’ wife’s brownies are the best I’ve ever tasted. By a long shot. Anyway, that turned me into a runner. The weather started getting nice around my birthday at the beginning of May, but then I got sick for 2 weeks, then it snowed, but now it’s sunny and I feel great, so I laced up my shoes (a great pair courtesy of our mission partners at Greg Baum’s Flying Feet) and hit the road. I downloaded a new running app, Zombies, Run! which is an audio story that unfolds between songs. I am “Runner 5” and I go get supplies for our base. Of course, throughout the missions, I encounter “Zombs” and have to increase my pace 20% for a minute or so to outrun them. It’s really fun, AND it can run at the same time as Nike+ (which I’ve been using for years to track my runs) and Stitcher, which I use to stream podcasts.

 

-four-

SWIMMING!

The complex in which we currently live HAS A POOL. We finally took the plunge and visited the pool. You might think we were hesitant, but regarding this decision, we jumped in with both feet. Aaaaaaaand that’s all the pool puns I have.

Anyway, it’s been really hot this week in Denver, and it was quite refreshing to take a dip in the pool. Our friend Lindsay came over so Amanda, Lindsay and I hit the pool. We hung out at poolside, swam around a bit, and then when the girls went back to lay poolside, I grabbed my kindle in it’s waterproof case (A.K.A. a ziplock bag) and read IN THE POOL. I started reading Zero to Maker, a book that chronicles a man’s journey from passive consumer of technology to active maker and co-creator of openROV, an open-source underwater robot project. After that, I paged through an Arduino project book, Make: Simple Arduino Projects to get some ideas for my next project.

Pool Books:

-five-

DEAL CITY.

As you may have seen in some of our other posts, we bought a townhouse and will be moving in about a month. As of late, we’ve been doing our best to sniff out deals for furnishing the new house. Hunting for these deals has been a lot of fun and the bulk of our fun adventures lately. I’ll hold off on most of the details because we’ve got a full post coming up explaining “How We Furnished Our New Home for Only 1/X the Cost!” It’s felt like a game trying to get that fraction as small as possible. Each little success there has certainly been a happy, but I won’t share them all and ruin the upcoming post.

But, since you asked nicely, here’s one (very) small preview:

We wanted a sectional for the basement. We found one on Craigslist that would perfectly fit our smaller space down there, so we jumped at it. Here’s what it looked like on Craigslist:

couchclist

And here’s what it looked like when we finally got it in the small SUV we borrowed from friends to haul it home:

couchcar

It fit! Kind of…

We made it safely home and the couch is chilling in our garage (along with a number of other sweet deals waiting until they move into their (and our) new home.

 

Thanks for checking out my week! How was yours? Leave it in the comments below.

Money

7 Paths to Financial Freedom in 2014

February 20, 2014

Many of you enjoyed the last post on 7 Ways to Go Broke in 2014. Or now you are mad at me for exposing that your habitual behavior will actually lead to your financial destruction over time. Sorry, not sorry. I wanted to follow up with that post by diving into what you can do to begin a path towards financial peace this upcoming year. We want everyone to experience this blessing.

How do you get started though? Below are 7 Paths to Financial Peace:

1. Acknowledge the problem in the mirror.

dog in mirror

Anytime I can work in a dog photo, I am happy.

“I’m Starting With The Man In The Mirror I’m Asking Him To Change His Ways And No Message Could Have Been Any Clearer If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place (If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place) Take A Look At Yourself, And Then Make A Change…..” Michael Jackson

The first step in changing anything let alone your financial world, is to stop and ackowledge the problem: You. Personal finance is 20% head knowledge and 80% behavior. If you aren’t experiencing financial freedom, you gotta look at you and your behavior first. Therein you will find your problem. Owning that is the first step towards any healthy changes to come.

2. Attend Financial Peace University – FPU

fpuThis past Fall Jonathan and I coordinated our very first Financial Peace University class. It was awesome!!!

We had a group of about 35 people who met once a week for 9 weeks. In that time we watched videos, reviewed our budgets, had great discussions, and held one another accountable. This class is completely worth signing up for! Visit this website to find a class beginning near you today. And no, we didn’t get paid to host the class or to endorse it in any way whatsoever.

3. Read The Total Money Makeover

tmmmoIf you haven’t read this book…you need to. Get it here today. Super easy read with lots of inspiring stories to motivate along the way!

4. Begin walking through the 7 Baby Steps

baby stepsRemember Doctor Leo Marvin from “What about Bob?” Possibly the world’s most hilarious movie. Well, his Baby Steps book has absolutely zero to do with the Baby Steps I am referring to.

Dave Ramsey’s materials will walk you through the 7 Baby Steps on the journey towards Financial Freedom. Walking up these steps is a lot of fun and are incredibly motivating.

5. Embrace the budgeting process.

YNAB

 

The very first thing to do after you assess your financial situation and get a grasp on how much money you have and or owe is to set up a monthly budget and begin implementing the budget process. Why do you need a budget? Visit this blog post for a few reasons. Now, do you have to use software like You Need A Budget (YNAB)? No but we have chosen to utilize that tool and have completely fallen in love with it. Pen and paper, envelopes, budgeting apps, etc. are perfectly fine but you need SOMETHING to help you implement your budgets once you create them.

6. Learn how to say “No.”

no cat

 

This is pretty self explanatory. There will undoubtedly be 1,000 opportunities, desires, temptations, reasons, etc. to NOT follow your budget, attend FPU, read the Total Money Makeover, etc. Matthew Kelly once said, “If you can’t say no, your yes means nothing.” Or maybe he said, “You can’t say no unless you have a deeper yes.” One of those…but both are good and true. You will not haphazardly improve any area of your life. Saying “no” to lots of things that come up and “yes” to intentional decisions that will aide you in your goals will be vital to changing your life.

7. Live like no one else.

live like no one else

 

“Live like no one else so later you can live and give like no one else.” Dave Ramsey

Jonathan and I didn’t sell our Nintendo, eat rice and beans, tell friends no, or sleep on a donated RV mattress for nothing. We lived like no one else so we could live and give like no one else. We’ve already begun to see the effects of this in our life and are pumped to see many more ways down the road.

There you have it folks. PLEASE keep in touch with me if you begin implementing any of these! I would love to be your cheerleader, coach, accountability partner, etc. Whatever you need me to be, I will be it! 🙂