Okay, I’m a long time Dave Ramsey listener, and I know it is a family show and all … but I’ve always been amazed that caller after caller fails to mention one of the best side affects of doing a budget – increased marital bliss and intimacy! Just as original researchers of Sildenafil failed at first to see the potential of the now tiny blue pill known as Viagra first failed in attempts to curb heart disease and high blood pressure (but succeeded in other ares), many men today fail to see that romance and intimacy begins in the back of the pants where the wallet is located, and not in the front.
Perhaps it stems back to our Neanderthal days when the mark of a man was how large a beast he was able to kill and drag home. Maybe it is due to the desensitization of communications in an era where you may text your significant other more than you may converse in person – but regardless the past, let me clue men into how to fix their future love life – before getting busy, try budgeting!
I happen chanced on this wondrous phenomenon after months (okay, years) of marital discord due to overspending on both parties, but I was winning the race. We were getting to a critical mass of bills which were about to take on a life of their own and end the easy-train life of “spend now, pay later,” of which I had become accustomed. It was a mild mid-August afternoon, I was sitting on the back of my very expensive, beloved, and financially leveraged SUV talking to a neighbor whom we had all chided for many moons about his beat up cars when he told me he and his wife’s path to live debt free and how they were almost halfway through the process. Suddenly the smug look on my face vanished and the large SUV felt more like a large weight hung around my neck dragging me to the bottom of the ocean of debt I had created.
That afternoon something happened that had not happened willingly before; I told my wife I wanted to sit down and understand our budget. We laid out a seven-year plan to pay off the SUV, the travel trailer, the student loans, the debt to my parents, and all the other miscellaneous “stuff” we had (or no longer had but were still paying for). And as we communicated and I committed, I noticed a change in Steph; she and I were connecting. She was feeling understood,. She saw that I was taking interest. And my attention to her needs paid back great dividends in many areas of our marriage.
After a week or so of honeymooning our new budget plan, I realized it was all a bit silly to keep everything and try to pay it off over seven years. So over the next few months we sold the SUV – eventually buying our current “gently-loved” (by gently I mean 10 years and 100,000 miles) truck with a check instead of a payment book – sold the trailer online, and dumped everything that could be sold and budgeting the rest of the debt to a 30-month plan. We created our emergency plan and made a list of “enemies” I carried with me for the next 30 months, taking great exhilaration with being able to mark a large black “X” through each debt as it was eliminated.
One of the greatest moments in our marriage was a year ago this month when we were able to shout “We’re Debt Free” and then celebrate with a cash vacation with the family to Disneyland.
So men, if you haven’t handled Quicken or a simple spreadsheet before, it’s time to take charge. If you have been too over domineering, the reverse approach will have the same desired outcome – let her have an equal say in where the money goes – you will be pleased with the results!
Start the Dave Ramsey way:
- Put $1,000 in an Emergency Fund — which is ONLY used for EMERGENCIES.
- Write down all of your debts, smallest to largest. Then cross of anything you can sell, stop eating out except to celebrate milestones, and tackle the little suckers first, one at a time. Once you’ve beaten those guys into submission and out of your life, it’s time to hunker down and go after the bigger fish. The good news is that now you’ve cleared up the little debts, you should have more money to throw at the gnarly beasts. The harder part for me was during the period where we paid the larger debts it felt like we were chipping away at an iceberg with a spoon, but then one month I’d realize we were 50% completed, then 75% and then 100% paid in full.
- Rinse and repeat until you can shout “I’m Debt FREE!!!”
For lots of free resources and great advice, go to http://www.daveramsey.com. For inspiration, subscribe to Dave’s free podcast, take a long hard look in the mirror and realize you are not impressing anyone with your fake spending, and then “act your wage,” grab your wife, and get busy … budgeting!
LEARN: Read all you can from Dave’s website — ACT: Make a plan and start today! — SHARE: Talk to everyone who will listen about your plan, they will become your accountability coaches and celebrate your successes after they get over how “weird” you are for wanting to unplug from the debt matrix.
Thoughts, comments? Please post below.
Disclaimer: Not all users of “budgeting” may experience similar results. In clinical trials men undertaking the following activities experienced fewer positive results and had to apply determined budgeting and financial constraints for greater periods of time: living in their mother’s basements, playing with action figures and video games, knowing more about sporting events than their wife’s interests. If any (or heaven forbid all) of these activities apply to you, apply additional budgeting and create action plans for romantic but inexpensive dates, reading books together, taking walks, and planing out dreams.