My wife and I graduated in May 2011 and got married the following July. We both have a desire to do full-time ministry overseas, but we needed to take care of loans first. I graduated with about $6,000 in federal loans and my wife graduated with nearly $50,000. That figure was a bit overwhelming for me the first time I heard it.
During our marriage counseling, Dave Ramsey’s budget system was offered to us as an example for us to follow. I immediately put my salary in the worksheet and calculated our budget for each category. As we got married and began paying bills, I had to adjust these categories a bit to fit our lifestyle (for example, we had trouble staying in our automobile budget with gas prices, but we didn’t spend nearly as much as what was in our house budget, so we moved some of that). But the other categories like entertainment and clothing, I left alone.
For us, this was a great thing to put in place before we got married. I am typically someone who hates to spend money but this freed me up by helping me see that it is okay to spend money on clothes and entertainment. My wife comes from a background where she never tracked her spending, and so this has helped her to know how much she is spending in certain categories.
My wife and I live completely off of my salary with a good amount still going to loans. As my salary has increased, instead of increasing each category, instead we just put that extra money to loans (after our tithe). When my wife got a job as a full-time teacher, instead of incorporating her salary into our budget, we simply just tithed 10%% and then put the rest to loans.
It has been amazing seeing our loans disappear! Currently we are on pace to pay off loans by February, which will be our 15th month of paying off loans. Of course, the provided schedule was to pay it off in 25 years, but I can’t imagine paying that much in interest! Dave Ramsey’s tools helped me to setup a budget and discover how much we could say by paying it off faster. Yes, that’s about $50,000+ that we could spend on entertainment and dining, etc., but who needs that much?? These tools helped us to budget so that we could pay off loans quicker and now we are almost debt-free.
I’ve also learned a lot about credit cards and other financial tools through this site and they have been of great benefit to me. I have passed on a lot of my learned knowledge and have seen it to be successful for others also. Now that I have been using this budget system and loan repayment plan, I would almost classify it as an essential for every person. This stuff should be taught in schools.