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When You Fall Off The Financial Band Wagon

Have you ever felt like you hit rock bottom financially? For us, that was just about 3 years ago. All of my student loans had kicked in and we realized just how bad our financial situation was. We were barely scraping by and it was nobody’s fault except our own. We had been overspending and over borrowing for a long time.
Thankfully it was about that same time that we discovered Dave Ramsey and his Total Money Makeover program, available on Amazon, (affiliate links help support my site – thank you!) We started listening to him on the radio, reading his books & taking Financial Peace University. Between the three, he managed to straighten us out, and for the next two and a half years we were doing pretty well. Then 2015 hit….
For the last few weeks I’ve been struggling with figuring out HOW to write this post. Honestly, I’ve been hiding from it and trying to avoid it like the plague.
Meanwhile this post hasn’t stopped staring me in the face. I know deep in my heart I need to write it to start moving forward, but as someone that blogs about budgets and following the Dave Ramsey program, I’ve felt a little like a sham this Spring. We started this year off great – paying off a last consumer debt but then… things fell apart. For the last 3 months we’ve been making bad financial choices.

But the turning point was when I reminded myself that you guys don’t just want to hear about my financial wins – you want to hear about the tough stuff too. No one is perfect, and that includes me, so today I’m airing it all out, every transgression from the last couple months that has lead us down a bad financial detour: In the last 10 weeks we have been…

  • Not finalizing our monthly budget like we should
  • Not checking in with regular budget update meetings to keep our money on track
  • Going out to eat multiple times each month
  • Making purchases on a whim instead of talking them out & sleeping on it
  • Buying things we didn’t actually need at that moment
Deep breath. Please excuse me while I go hit my head against the wall forgive myself and move forward.
I can’t help but look at that list and think of all the dollars wasted. Money that could have been spent towards paying off debt – or at least something useful, like a handful of summer clothing items we’re in need of – but instead it was wasted. Convincing myself that a “quick stop for just a small order of fast  food” wasn’t a big deal financially, is just plain frustrating. But it got me thinking… what happened? Where did we go wrong? Why did this slip in our otherwise productive Dave Ramsey program take place? I have a few theories, but here’s the big one I keep coming back to…
We’d delayed gratification for too long.
The last time I bought a new (or used) article of clothing for myself was in October. Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m not a fashion-ista or trend follower by a long shot – but lets face it, when you wear the same few outfits week after week it gets old. 

Out of nowhere you feel like you just can’t handle it anymore – you need to buy something new or you’ll burst – so you go to the store and buy way too much while on the emotional high of the purchase.

This isn’t just true of clothing – we can get overzealous and buy too much of just about anything. (One time I did this with frozen vegetables, yes – you read that correctly, I just couldn’t stand not having more of a selection in my freezer and decided to buy a month’s worth of vegetables all at once so I would always have choices. Sometimes I seriously wonder if I have a screw loose, LOL)

After almost three years on the Dave Ramsey program – three long years of strict budgets, limited spending and minimal financial freedom – I think both hubs & I are feeling the burden. Most people pay off their debt within 24 months, but due to the huge difference between our income and debt amounts, it’ll be quite a bit longer for us. While others would be reaching the finishing line we feel like we’ve just barely gotten our snow ball rolling.

So where do we go from here?

My husband couldn’t have said it better if he’d tried – “Well,” he said, “we enjoyed ourselves, but now it’s time to clean up our mess.”

Have you been on a positive track towards your goals only to look up one day and realize you’ve been slowly slipping away from your plan? I’d love to hear your advice & stories in the comments below. As the month of May wraps up and my family gets our spending back on track, I know I’ll be keeping all of you on my mind. I’m so thankful for the Wife.Mother.Teacher. tribe & all the amazing support and encouragement you’ve offered me over the last few years – keep it coming! 🙂

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