Ah yes, right. Mr.C & I were unhappy, in debt, and at a standstill.
We knew we wanted to be financially healthy + secure; with the ability to save, pay down debt, all while staying sane and managing to still have fun. It seemed impossible! I mean, we’d tried budgeting in the past but it never seemed to stick, We’d pay extra on the student loans only to feel like we weren’t getting anywhere. Our intentions were good, but our follow-through, behavior, and attitude towards the situation (and one another) was definitely lacking.
What we needed was a plan, a mediator, a glimmer of hope.
So I turned to trusty Google. And it was there, after a few moments of searching, that I found Dave #1. Dave Jacobsen to be exact; Certified Financial Coach and owner of Financial Fitness.
Everything on his site spoke to me. I was stressed and upset and worried about our financial situation and the pressure it was putting on our marriage. Dave’s program offered up hope and financial peace; accountability and tools to get us on the right track and back in control of our situation.
As you’ll read on his website, Coach Dave markets himself as a personal trainer for financial health: “Similar to how a personal fitness trainer works one-on-one with clients to create customized solutions that will meet their specific needs, a financial coach helps individuals get from to where they are to where they want to be financially in the most efficient and effective manner possible.”
And guys? He’s doing just that!
We scheduled a free 40 minute consultation and after nodding our heads through the majority of our chat – we knew we had to commit to this. Dave understood where we were coming from, where we wanted to be, and he could help us (help ourselves) get there.
So, we agreed to his fee and began our 3 months of sessions. Why did we opt to pay for financial help you might be wondering, especially when money is tight?
Well, here’s our thought process. This is an investment in our future. We’ve been struggling along by ourselves for over a year and not getting anywhere. I’d read financial books and blogs but we had trouble implementing them. Plus, we’d reached the point where we kind of needed a middle-man, a mediator, someone to help us take the emotion out of our money talks, because folks it was gettin’ a little ugly on the home front. What really “sold us” was that Dave had also told us upfront that his goal is to provide his clients with the tools & knowledge to be able to do everything themselves. He doesn’t want you paying him forever – get a handle on things and then move on, that money can go to bigger and better things.
So, enter Coach Dave.
We met at his home office and spent a solid 2 hours talking about our goals, reviewing our financial situation, looking at projections for the future & debt solutions, creating a budget for December, and receiving action items to work on throughout the month. Mr.C & I left Coach Dave feeling hopeful + peaceful, with a plan and budget in hand, and a new outlook on life. Dave reminded us that this process would be just that, a process, and that it would be challenging at times but well-worth the hard work.
It’s December 15th which means we’re halfway through our first month of the program.
Here’s what we’ve been up to so far:
We’ve got a budget in place that we’re actively using. We’re consciously trying to spend less as well.
We’ve spoken with a financial associate about life insurance & investing who gave great, honest advice and didn’t try to push anything on us. Shocking right?! For an insurance guy not to try to sell you anything really says something. Chalk that up for yet another rad thing about Coach Dave – he does not sell investments, insurance, or receive any payments for the referrals he gives. This allows him to remain objective about his recommendations – plus he vets his referrals to make sure they are decent. Great, right?! So, yeah we did that.
We’ve also set aside the credit card and implemented Dave Ramsey’s envelope system instead. (If you caught on Dave Ramsey is Dave #2, hence the blog post title.)
The envelope system is basic. You have your budget, with specific amounts set aside for a variety of things. At the beginning of the month you withdraw what you need to pay your bills, groceries, etc and place the cash into coordinating envelopes. The goal is to only spend the money you’ve set aside in your envelopes for the intended purpose. If you have money left over it should be set aside in savings or used to pay down some debt. Other bloggers have posted wonderful examples of how they use the envelope system, pros/cons, and provide in depth details of the process/how to get started. Check those out here, here, here, and here.
We’ve started looking ahead to the New Year – brainstorming for our 2013 Bucket List and calculating costs of a new camera or couch, city outings, traveling home, to friends’ weddings, Duluth or Boundary Waters camping trip, etc.
We’ve posted a list of our loans on the fridge (the $43,000 is split into a bunch of smaller loans) so we can have the satisfaction of crossing them off one by one!
So, that’s where we are so far!
I’d also like to point out that just because we decided to go with a financial coach/planner does not mean that it’s an option or a desired route for everyone.
There are so many other things out there for those that feel they need help. There are many weekend retreats and workshops out there if that’s more your style. Some churches and community centers offer free financial programs or seminars. Check with your local bank or credit union too! And of course there is plethora of decent blogs, books, and podcasts available for those who prefer a more DIY approach.
All I know is that if debt is normal, then I wanna be weird! And if outside help is what it’s gonna take to get us there – then so be it, no shame here. :)
And since I’m curious – what steps have you taken (or are taking currently) to better your financial health?
P.S. Stay tuned for Part 3 of our Let’s Talk Money series – where I’ll talk about how we manage & organize our savings/checking/allowance/spending etc and provide an update on our progress.