I Heart Dave Ramsey

When I’m in the car with the radio on around lunch time, I make a concerted effort to listen as Dave Ramsey (102.5 in Nashville) dishes out advice on how to live with money. It started years ago for me, because, well, first of all, I’m financially conservative (In college, I called it being cheap. In my 20s, I called it being frugal. Now I’m acting like an adult by calling it financially conservative). For the longest time, I felt guilty when it came to spending money. I didn’t like to do it. It wasn’t because I didn’t have it. It wasn’t because I had gigantic student loans, I guess I was sort of a hoarder. But wanting to save money felt wrong. So when I first heard Dave advising on being wise with money, not spending more than you have, and “living like no one else so that one day you can live like no one else,” it was so completely refreshing. It’s as if I finally had someone in my corner saying it’s OK to be thrifty. A weight was lifted off my shoulders and now I’m actually more proud of my conservative behavior. And surprisingly, I spend more, too. It’s awesome (and sometimes odd) what the feeling of freedom will do for a person.

Today, though, he said something that struck my pride; Always value relationships more than money. That’s something I can do better because many times I sacrifice an experience with a friend for the sake of saving money. That’s not a good way to be. I don’t like that about myself, so I’ll be working on it. But anyway, it’s nice to hear a wise financial guy like Dave Ramsey recommending ways of living within your means and knowing that I’m already there, and then some.

Spending vs. Saving: What To Do About Money

“Spenders are proud of how much they spend, savers are proud of how much they save, but neither are happy. Spenders are never satisfied and savers are never comfortable.”

I can admit now that when I was in college, I wasn’tt frugal. I was cheap! If there was a way to save rather than spend, I did it. I rode my bicycle to class. I ate boxed dinners. I wore clothes from thrift stores. On road trips, I voted for someone else to drive. Or if I drove, I didn’t use the air-conditioning. Many times I shrugged it off as being frugal or wise with my money, but that wasn’t the truth. I was stingy and cheap. I was proud of my self-deprivation.

“Do not eat the food of a stingy man, do not crave his delicacies; for he is the kind of man who is always thinking about the cost. ‘Eat and drink,’ he says to you, but his heart is not with you.”

After college, like most graduates, I entered the American workforce. You’d think earning more money would help me loosen up and spend more liberally. Not surprisingly, though, I still gravitated towards saving. Constantly thinking about how much something costs, where I can save a few cents, and how much money is in the bank was exhausting. I believed spending money was the root of all evil, but what I didn’t know, or didn’t understand, was that hoarding it is just as taxing on the mind, body, and soul. What I needed all along was not more money, but simplification. That didn’t come until I was around 28 years old. My lifestyle, as simple as it was already, needed to change. More specifically, my perspective needed an overhaul. As a saver, I was just as wrong as a person who spent their way into major financial debt. The quote above is true, saving or spending won’t make you happy. There needs to be a balance between the two. If you live strictly on one side or the other, you will either never be satisfied and therefore keep buying things to make you happy, or you will deprive yourself of anything good and comfort will not be an experience you ever have.

This is still a learning experience for me. I am very good at being frugal, and I’m becoming better at spending. The best way to leave it for now is to think of everything as luxury. We can live without air-conditioning, we can live without a car. But if you have air-conditioning and a car, enjoy them both as a luxurious blessing.

What In The K%!$#tchen Is Going On?

Here is my kitchen on a random weekday.

This image reveals 10 of my characteristics.

Let’s start with the obvious. You probably noticed the globe on the counter and the many bottles above the white cabinets.

Characteristic #1: Frugal and delights in the small victories of finding stuff like this at thrift stores, on beaches, or in the woods. Next is the attention-grabbing blue cup full of water. Characteristic #2: Personal health. Drinking water is a healthy thing to do (but what you can’t see is the pizza in the freezer, so this is an ongoing battle). Along the picture’s bottom edge you can see the corner of a dog crate. My beagle: I can’t control her, I can only hope to contain her…. in the crate. Ok, that’s not totally true. She’s a puppy and already knows how to “halt,” “sit,” and get in her cage on command. Bam! Characteristic #3: Leader of the pack. She’s the dog, I’m the master. And I’ll let you know when she believes that.

Now the not-so-obvious… to the left of the sink, below the cabinet, is the back end of a Maglite. This weapon is also used as a flashlight. Characteristic #4: Resourceful. Scanning down to the dishwasher you’ll see tape on the corners. I’ll take the tape off as soon as I stop buying stuff with tape on it. Characteristic #5: Procrastinator. Near the globe is a hardly-noticeable black phone cord and three, yes, three, power outlets. Characteristic #6: Powerful. With the power cord and multiple outlets, I can charge my Motorola Droid anytime and anywhere within those 4 feet. Near the stove, to the left of the wood figurines, is a small shark jaw. You’ve heard of having the “eye of the tiger”? What about having the “mouth of the shark”? Double bam! Sharp teeth are much more effective than a soft eyeball, I’m just saying. Characteristic #7: Sharp, not soft. Paper towels. The El Camino of the kitchen. Is it paper or a towel? Yes! Double threat and a triple bam! Characteristic #8: Double threat guy. Just left of the stove is a hot pad hanging from the cabinet knob. So obviously, characteristic #9: Hot. Lastly, the dishes in the sink. If you think this fits into the “procrastinator” characteristic (not washing dishes) or the “frugal” characteristic (not using dishwasher) you’d be wrong. Characteristic #10: Inclusive. See? Now my puppy can feel like part of the team.


“Clean the dishes! Gooooood giiiiiirl!”