One of my favorite radio personalities is a man named Dave Ramsey.
Maybe you’ve heard of him?
He lives right up the road from me in Nashville, Tennessee, and heads up Ramsey Solutions.
There’s a particular feature on Dave’s radio show that I really love. It’s when he has listeners call in (or come in) and give their “Debt Free” scream.
Everyone counts down—3-2-1—and then these people yell like crazy into the phone or the microphone, “I’M DEBT FREE!!”
Every time I hear it, I get goosebumps and tear up a little bit.
Because we’ve walked through our own debt issues until we could also scream, “We’re Debt Free!”
(We never made it to the show, but maybe one day.)
How to Be More Healthy and Happy Financially
When we discovered Dave Ramsey eight years ago, we had thousands and thousands of dollars of debt. Credit card debt. Car loans. A short sale on a home we had owned. Medical bills.
We were in over our heads in debt!
Slowly and steadily, we began the climb out of the pit of debt! And, today, we live completely debt-free except for our home. We pay cash for things or we don’t buy them.
It’s a kind of crazy way to live.
People think (and have thought) we are little nuts! But, it’s actually been the most amazing and most freeing thing we have ever done.
What about you?
- How healthy are your finances?
- Are you in some serious debt—over your head in what you owe?
- Would you like for things to get better?
I’ve discovered that when you talk to people about money, things get funny and sometimes a little strained. But, I don’t think we should avoid the discussion.
So, today, I am sharing some of the very best tips that helped us to become debt-free.
Some of these come from Dave Ramsey, others from men like Ron Blue and Larry Burkett. Also, friends and family members have shared their ideas which I’ve also added to the list.
Maybe you could try a few of these things to begin to be more healthy and happy in your financial life. You don’t have to do all of these things at once, but you could get started.
You can learn how to have a more healthy and happy financial life!
1] Make a budget – and start using it.
With all of the wonderful tools and software packages, anyone can have an easy to use budget. If you are not living on one, start one.
Give every dollar a name and a job. Tell your money what you want it to do.
A few budget plans that might work for you:
2] Try a budget app on your mobile device.
If you are on your phone all the time (which most of us are) you might set up a budget app. You can track spending and keep up with your money at all times on your cell phone.
A few phone apps to try:
3] Sign up for online banking and/or phone app that your bank has in place.
You can keep up with your dollars by having all of the best tools in place. Most banks now offer online banking, online bill pay, and banking apps for your phone.
Find out if your bank has these and get them!
4] Start saving using the “Keep the Change” program that most banks offer.
The bank will round up your spending and send the change over to your savings account.
Also, this is a great way to allow your pocket change to work for you!
In addition, be sure to clip or apply coupons whenever you are able. Many stores offer great coupons for customers.
For example, you may be able to find a Bass Pro Shops coupon to get a great deal on your next purchase of outdoor equipment.
5] To be more FINANCIALLY healthy and happy, start an emergency fund of at least $1000.
As quickly as you can, save up to $1000. This is money that will stay in your account for emergencies and unexpected expenses.
Having $1000 extra in your account will help you not to use your credit cards!
6] Cut up your credit cards and go to cash and debit cards only.
This may seem impossible, but if you are in serious debt, this will be a very freeing thing for you!
It’s like an alcoholic getting all traces of alcohol out of his or her home. If you will cut up your credit cards, then you will not be as tempted or as able to use them.
Some have called this, “plastic surgery.” For us, this step helped tremendously.
“To love God is to love His will. It is to be content with His timing and wise appointment.”
7] To be more FINANCIALLY healthy and happy, refuse to charge any more purchases.
Stop adding more debt.
No matter how good that next offer may sound, don’t do it. It’s time to get serious about getting out of debt. To do this, you must quit spending so much.
It’s okay to drive your cars longer, to take simpler vacations, and to wear your clothes for another season! You can do this!
“You can’t get out of debt while keeping the same lifestyle that got you there. Cut out everything except the basics.”
8] Try to pay off the smallest debt you have first.
Then, move to the next debt.
When we started, we had a credit card bill of $300. First, we paid this bill, and then we moved to the next largest bill.
Dave Ramsey calls this, “The Snowball Method.” You start the snowball rolling with a little debt, and then you will pick up steam and move to the next largest debt.
I even made a sign for the frig listing all of our debts. As we’d pay off one, we’d cross it off and move to the next one.
Eventually, we made it through all of the debts on our list.
“Whether we like it or not, God intends to give us what we need, not what we now think we want.”
C. S. Lewis
9] Tithe – give to God at least 10% of your income.
I’ve heard financial counselors suggest that people stop giving while they are getting out of debt, however, I think this is terrible advice.
God is our ultimate Provider. It’s all His anyway. So, giving Him a small 10% is the least we can do.
Malachi 3:10 tells us:
Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!
Pastor Charles Stanley puts it this way, “It’s just a fact: you can never outgive God.”
10] Pray about your money, your debt, and your savings.
Ask God to bless your efforts and make you wise beyond your years. Look to God as your provider. Thank Him for sending you all that you need.
A great verse about praying for wisdom is James 1:5, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”
11] Stay out of the mall and stores. Going only makes you want more stuff.
One of my Sunday school teachers had a famous lesson she taught.
It was entitled, “The Call of the Mall.”
Her advice was to stay away from the mall unless you had the money and had something specific to buy!
12] Sell everything you can possibly sell.
When you can’t sell it, give it away to charity. Allow others to enjoy what you don’t need.
“Contentment is an attitude that says, ‘I will be satisfied with what God has given me.'”
13] Live on less than you make!
You may have to cut out some things like cable or get rid of some subscriptions or services that you have in place. You may have to eat out very little and take your own lunch to work.
Drive-through Starbucks may need to only be a special treat. Coffee made at home or the office will just have to do for awhile.
“Living on less than you make is a matter of controlling yourself, not a matter of math.”
14] To be more FINANCIALLY healthy and happy, find the little money leaks!
Sometimes you are getting dinged to death by small charges. $2.99 here and $3.99 there begin to add up.
Look at your iTunes bill. Check your Amazon bill. Double check all of your bills and invoices to make sure you aren’t wasting money.
Just last week, I discovered a $6.99 monthly charge that I didn’t even remember setting up. It was for an app on my phone that I really wasn’t using. That small amount may not seem like much, but these charges can really add up.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.”
15] You may have to say “NO” more often.
During the time that we were getting out of debt, we had to use the word, “NO” much more often.
People would invite us to travel with them, to go to conferences or events, and we would just have to say, “No, thank you.”
This was one of the hardest parts to me in getting out of debt. But, it was only for a season. Now, I can say, “YES” with much greater regularity. The sacrifice was worth it to get out of debt!
16] Learn to be content with what you have now.
You may have to become okay with…
- Older model cars.
- Less prestigious colleges for your children.
- A more modest home.
- Less fancy vacations.
Blogger Stephen Goodwin shares, “Contentment is the most important money principle.” Read more from Stephen HERE.
17] To be more FINANCIALLY healthy and happy, learn all you can about money, debt, and savings.
Read great books and listen to podcasts on these topics. Education yourself and take charge of your personal finances.
A few financial sites to bookmark:
“In every area of our lives, we must determine to follow God’s way, whatever the cost.”
Want more ideas on saving money and getting out of debt?
Here are a few:
So, what positive suggestions do you have to share today?
What have you learned about finances, debt, and money?
I’d love to hear your ideas…
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