Dave Ramsey has given us a series of 7 steps that are meant to make your finances easier. It helps if you start out from not making bad choices and decide at 18 that this is a good path.
That doesn’t mean you stay on this path.
Two years ago, I knew I was leaving a job. I was leaving an apartment. Hell, I was leaving the state. I didn’t know where I was going or what I was going to do. I wasn’t following my passion, I was filling in the hole I’d dug and figuring out where I actually was. I was extremely lucky (we’ll stick with this definition) that I had made financially savvy decisions in college and had always held onto an amount of savings. I’d expanded past the initial $1000. I realized I had more surprise expenses coming up so I’d made sure that I always had $1500 in my checking account. I had a shaking fit if I spent more than a hundred dollars at a time (the time I bought a microwave in college with my dad standing there looking confused). Trust me, I think the cashiers knew what was going on and didn’t say anything.
But at the time, I knew I was in a hole and had to get out. I had savings. It wasn’t going to last me long and I knew I had to come up with a plan, but I knew I needed space to figure things out. I had been pushing hard since I’d graduated high school and vacation days had been used as sick days (I wasn’t given that many of them). The closest to ‘vacation’ I’d had was the two weeks I was unemployed from moving home to get out of Lubbock, TX after I’d graduated and finished everything. The land of should says I should have held out longer for something better, but eh, I learned things at that job that I don’t think I would have seen about myself anywhere else.
So cue the move halfway across the country. I didn’t know that was what I was doing when I got to Charlotte, NC. I just knew I was taking a break and surveying my situation without my glasses (rose-colored or shades) on.
I went through those savings in two months. But I got a lot out of myself. I am very good at learning a city and streets and finding secret squirrel routes. I have a sense of time that frightens people and yet proves useful time and time again.
It’s taken me two years to put my savings at a point that I could pay an overnight stay in the ER and my deductible. It’ll be a while yet till I remove the 40K in debt I still have (student loans and a car loan) but I like the progress I see every month when I document my net worth.
Personally, I’m going to treat these steps in the order that makes the most sense to me. I’m not going to pay off debt when I really have nothing in savings. It’s impractical with the way the world is working. My stress levels have drastically lowered since my balance doesn’t swoop as closely to zero as it was on bill days.
I like being back on track. It makes decisions easier to make and less about how much money I have to make and what projects are really fun. I can take a half day for a concert instead of skipping the whole thing that would actually energize me.
So I’ll continue to save, to reduce my debt by paying it just a little bit faster, and write more.It might not be the best money in the world, but it’s enough.
That’s the best part.