Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Dave Ramsey Project. Volume 4: We've Made It A Game
In this, the second week of our trip to financial freedom, I have taken a closer look at our spending habits and I'll share them with you here because I don't think what we do is too much different than what you do with your money. This is going to blow you away.
We tend to buy things in our every day lives without thinking of the cost. A Starbucks here, a pack of cigarettes there for example. These are the things I have been focusing on for the past few days. I buy a Monster Energy Drink on my way to the train station every morning. It's only $2.70 and it helps me get going. $2.70 is nothing right? On that same morning, "The Boss" stops at that same gas station and drops $1.50 on her cup of coffee. I'll buy a hot dog and a soda at work because it's quick, cheap and easy, only $1.63. Again $1.63 is no big deal right? I have more than $1.63 under my couch cushions. Those three meaningless items tally up a grand total of $1800 per year. Crazy huh? Now I know that $1800 a year isn't going to make or break anyone. But that's just two drinks and a hot dog. That doesn't count the cheap $7 bottle of wine that we drink 6 days a week. That only amounts to a little over $2000 a year. Our little family of four eats out at a fast food joint at least once a week. On the average we spend about $25. Not bad for a family of four to eat for $25 huh? That's only $1200 per year. Now we're getting somewhere. That's $5000 baby, and I'm just getting started. Every two weeks, I buy a case of beer for around $25. Now let's not get crazy, I'm not giving up my sweet nectar, but that's $600 a year. In my last post, I told you that we had the cable company knock us down to local channels. That saves us $1200 a year too. I have two train stations equal distance to my house. One of them is one stop closer to work but is in a less desirable part of town. By getting on at that station, I save $2 a day. Not a big deal until you do the math. $384 per year in my pocket. Add it all up and we spend roughly $7200 per year on worthless crap. Add credit cards to the mix which I wont get into here, and what you have is a recipe for disaster. This is how we've been living our lives for years. Scary huh?
As a household we make approximately $30,000 more per year than the average family, (I Googled it). We do live in Southern California where the cost of living is higher than in many parts of the country but how long can I use that as my excuse? No more! We have made the decision to manage our money instead of continuing to let it manage us. We've made it a sort of game to see how much money we can not spend instead of how much we can spend. There will be time for playing with our loot down the road. But for now we are focused on fixing our mistakes.
In Dave Ramsey's book, he writes about a man who was known in his community as "The Secret Santa." Every year, this guy would walk through the streets of his town handing out $100 bills to random people and wishing them Happy Holidays. It is my Christmas wish to one day be able to do the same thing. This guy didn't reveal his identity until he was diagnosed with cancer. He then held a press conference and stated that his only wish was that once he was gone, that those who he had helped would one day pay it forward. The people were grateful for the gifts that he had given them. But what a gift it must have been for him to be able to help those less fortunate. That to me is what it's all about. How about you?