Time flew by while we were in Baby Step 2, and I think time flew by in January even faster now that we’re in Baby Step 3. For those of you who are unaware of Dave Ramsey’s program, Baby Step 3 means we are officially out of (consumer) debt and are ready to build up our emergency fund. An emergency fund should be 3-6 months worth of savings for EMERGENCIES. Not for Christmas. Not for new snow tires. Not for a family vacation to Disney, lunch out with a girlfriend or a even a function / sporting event for your child. Examples of an emergency: a car accident, an unexpected illness that takes one out of work for a period of time, the furnace quits during the coldest time of the year, the loss of a job… even a government shutdown.
January was an interesting month for me. Yes, I felt horrible for what #45 did to a lot of families by throwing this public temper tantrum and shutting down the government, HOWEVER I kind of had zero sympathy for them because if they had an emergency fund, 34 days without an income shouldn’t have been a problem. I know, I know, if this happened 18 months ago I would have had a completely different outlook. But I now know better and I am choosing to do better. This is not the first time the government has shut down. Personally, if I knew there was a chance this could happen to me or my spouse, I’d prepare a little more. Easier said than done, I know, but c’mon, 34 days should not cripple thousands of people. I was secretly hoping Dave Ramsey would offer discounted memberships to federal employees to help them find a long term solution because the problem here is not the President, it’s a lifestyle/spending problem.
It rains, it always does and for the thousands of federal employees that this affected, it poured. That is why you have an emergency fund (aka a rainy day fund). Okay, I’ll get off my high horse and share a story:
Mid-January, just days before my birthday when it was super cold here in Upstate NY, I emailed the beau and told him I missed Mexico. We both miss Mexico (and the sunshine and the tacos). We immediately started researching flights and cheap places to stay and concluded that we could get away for a week for less than $2,000 – yes, sign us up! The only catch, the trip would have to be postponed until March due to my work schedule. No big deal we thought. Well, we held off for a day so that I could discuss this plan over with my boss and while driving the next day, I heard an update on the government shutdown. I got on my high horse and thought, “if they had an emergency fund, they wouldn’t have to turn to food stamps or loans.” Then, I felt like a hypocrite. Here I was, planning a trip to Mexico with the money that should be going toward our emergency fund! I told the beau and we both agreed, no Mexico until this Baby Step is completed.
I share this story because we are normal. We want a break just like everyone else. Many people say, “you worked hard, you both deserve a trip!” but guess what, we don’t deserve a trip. We worked hard to complete a task that should have been done years ago and will continue to work hard until we’re done and we have the extra money to spend. There is absolutely nothing wrong with WAITING AND SAVING for what you want and need in life. I feel like this post is getting preachy but I’m in a raw mood today and give zero fucks.
Back to January.
Drum roll please…..
We deposited $4,417.09 into savings this month! Whoop whoop! With the $1,000 we already had in there (plus the interest that’s been accruing over the last year or so, $18.06), we now have 1/5 of our emergency fund funded. That happened fast! Should an emergency happen to us at this point causing both of us to be out of work, we’d be able to pay all the bills, put food on the table (aka live like we have for the past 17 months) for at least 1.5 months. It’s mega fun to see that savings account grow throughout the month, as opposed to seeing our checking account dwindle (and never see that cash again).
I like this quote from Dave: when you are in debt, you PAY interest. When you’re debt free, you EARN interest.
There were a couple of changes made this month:
- January was a dry month for us… except for our last cider punch for the Nine Pin 26er Challenge and a beer I drank on my birthday. This saved us some cash from our eating out/alcohol envelope.
- We budgeted $100 each for personal spending money. We don’t have to confirm or ask for permission to spend this money, it can be on anything our little hearts desire. What’s funny is that I had a list of things I wanted to do / buy with this money but when push came to shove aka last week, I had only spent $4.40. Ha! I have no clue how the beau spent his, I have an idea, but I spent mine on a tablecloth (that needs to be returned) and a calcite specimen for my office. That didn’t total $100 but because I did spent $50+ on shipping for new members on my Young Living team and samples for others, I considered it a wash.
- A couple items we paid for out of pocket that weren’t originally in the budget: a domain name renewal for this website, my AAA membership, a couple of gifts, our first quarter water and sewer invoice, a scrub brush for our shower, a strainer for our kitchen sink, a parking meter fee and deodorant cream for the two of us. Yes, the beau has officially kicked Axe to the curb! YES! I also paid two co-payments out of pocket because my FSA card wasn’t working, but those will hopefully be reimbursed in February.
Oh, and I’m no longer side hustling. We did have supplemental income thanks to my growing Young Living business, a couple alcohol mail-in reimbursements (ha!), and I finally cashed out Ibotta. Side note: I hate that app. I’ve only had problems with it ever since Hannaford changed their rewards program; I will no longer be using this for additional savings.
We both agreed that meal planning (at least for our dinners) not only saves us money, but also time. We both work well having a calendar on the fridge with what’s to be made each night specifically. Typically the beau works out at night before dinner so I dive in and get started with dinner prep. But last night when I walked in the door, he was already sauteing the mushrooms for our creamy carbonara. I leave our go-to recipes neatly on the counter so that there’s never any questions (or deviations from the recipes, ha!).
That’s it, folks! Same hustle, same results… but different Baby Step! If you have any specific questions for me, feel free to reach out or comment below.