Dark corners: exposed.

November 11, 2014

When you begin taking steps to correct a large issue in your life, things come to the forefront that you may not have been expecting to see.  Feelings, emotions, insecurities, epiphanies.  One by one layers are peeled back to expose thoughts you didn't even know you had.  Self-awareness creeps in and rocks your world a little bit.  But it's not necessarily a bad thing.

Since beginning this journey, I've had the opportunity to really sit down and look at myself and my habits.  To really take a long look in every dark corner to see if the root of the problem could be confirmed.  What happens when we do this?  Eventually we begin to see and to hear the truths of our life.  These truths then bring forth light that we can use to shine into those dark corners so that we can better see to begin the clean up.

When I really look into the corners of my {over} spending habits, I find more than just the desire to fulfill a want of more material things.  I find the desire of wanting to be included, of not wanting to be left out.  By nature I am an "includer."  I want everyone to be in on the fun.  I want everyone to know that they're invited any time, all the time!  I want everyone to come have a blast, and hey, if you're not having a blast, I may or may not take that personally because I don't want you to be bored! 

Obviously, since I'm an includer, I want to, in turn, be included.  I want to go on every trip.  I want to go to every concert.  I want to go to every wedding, every party, every event.  I wanted to be included.  I want to have the opportunity to experience it all. 

But guess what?  It's freakishly difficult to go on every trip, attend every wedding, go to every concert when you don't have the money to support.  BUT WAIT - I HAVE TO GO!  I mean - I can't miss out, right?  I'll just die if I have to live this experience through my friends' Instagram accounts instead of firsthand!   So I would find ways to go.  I'd put things on credit cards that shouldn't be on credit cards.  I'd take paychecks from teaching Zumba or BodyPump and use them for gas instead of saving.  I'd do whatever it takes to make the experience happen.  It didn't matter that the entire time I was going through the experience that I might be obsessing over how I was going to pay for it all.  At least I was experiencing.

Thank the holy heavens, things have changed.  One of the very first things I had to do after beginning this class was cancel a pretty spectacular trip to New Orleans.  I think I told you about this trip already, but as a refresher, it was a trip to celebrate a best friend's upcoming wedding, a trip to see a music legend in concert with another best friend and a trip to see a college friend I had not seen in quite some time.  It was hard.  But looking back, and even in the moment, it was the best thing I could have been advised (by Loni, duh) to do.  There was no way I could have afforded the trip.  No money saved up and maxed out credit cards will only get you so far, you know what I'm saying? 

But it's a new day and a new life and new trips will come along and I didn't die when I had to live through Instagram and Facebook and the new freedom I'm feeling makes it all worth it. 

And I am grateful for the journey.  Dark corners and all.


November 6, 2014

Holy Hannah.  I'm ooey-gooey, gushing with emotion right now.  I'm excited and in awe and encouraged and astounded all in the same moment.

As of today, my $1,000 emergency fund is fully funded!  It took me six weeks..  SIX WEEKS.  I for real thought it was going to take six months to get this thing funded.  Shall we reminisce back to when I started this journey and had ZERO dollars in my emergency fund?  And zero extra dollars in my bank account.  Whew!  We can reminisce about this but not for long.  Those times will be there to remind us where we were and show us how far we've come, but that is all.

So, as of today, I have officially finished BABY STEP 1.  Wahoooooo!  I am currently doing a happy-baby-step-1-finished dance as I type this.  When I walked out of my first Financial Peace class, I was overwhelmed to say the least.  I had no idea how all the chips were going to fall into place.  But God's plan is bigger and more organized than my own and for that I am always, ALWAYS grateful.

And speaking of God - let's be real here - this whole thing is so God ordained I don't even know what to do with myself half of the time.  Six weeks ago I sat across the table from Loni as she told me that the money would come.  To trust, believe and pray and the money would come.  And come it did!  Let's look at some dates and details:

  • October 1 - $90 in the fund
  • October 8 - $342 in the fund
  • October 10 - $534
  • October 22 - $613
  • October 24 - $775
  • October 31 - $979
  • November 6 - $1,000

The money that built this emergency fund is money that I've been receiving all along from work travel and fitness paychecks (that I've never EVER saved before), but prayer and encouragement turned it into a new kind of magic for me.  All it took was a little re-organizing of my typical monthly paycheck to turn this thing around.  

So, HERE WE GO.  Baby Step 2 is up.  Remember what it is? It's time to run at this debt, with gazelle intensity, like my life depends on it.  Because, guess what...

It does.



(PS - I have so much more to say.  Things about God sending me an accountability partner that also happens to be an insurance GURU, specifically a guru with the agency I currently have my insurance through, and how I was able to pay George's vet bill with cash, in full, for the first time ever, and how if you are feeling motivated by this progress at all then you should follow that motivation and seek out a class and I'm so grateful for all you beautiful people's encouragement...but I'll save all of that for another post because my emotions have officially exhausted me, and if you're exhausted now too, just know that this is how all of mine and Loni's meetings go, just basically us gushing with one's the best, kbye.)

My adulthood is being questioned.

October 28th, 2014

It's been a hot second since I've blogged for all of you beautiful people, I know.  It's because I've been trying to figure out what, in the name of all things holy, I'm doing.

The last two lessons have been big and ugly.  At least to me.  Last week we talked about insurance.  Health insurance, life insurance, auto insurance, renter's insurance.  This week we talked about retirement plans and saving for your kids' college.   Dave's up there preaching on how much liability you should carry and how much of your income should be going into your retirement fund and investing in mutual funds and I'm over here like, "I have $775 in my emergency fund!  And I sold some stuff on Facebook!  Party time!"

Dave Ramsey is making me question my adulthood.  

So last week I come home all fired up (and thoroughly confused) about insurance.  And I'm like YEA I'm gonna sit down and figure out what exactly my health insurance covers and what  exactly my auto insurance covers and I'm going to study my policy and KNOW WHAT IS GOING ON!  Being the savvy tech-er that I am, I created a new account on my health insurance carrier's website and began studying my policy.  As I was going over the paperwork, trying really hard to keep my eyes from crossing, I went to pull out my health insurance card only to find it NOT IN MY WALLET.  Say what?  I'd freaking lost my insurance card.  Now I am really not one to lose things as important as that (socks, yes; pairs of shoes, maybe; insurance cards, no!), but apparently my card got up and flew the coop.  I have no clue where it could have gone.  Luckily, thanks to my new handy-dandy account I had just created, I was able to order a new one and it receive it in two seconds (days) flat.  Whew!  #responsible

I am at the end of my first month with the new budget and way of life.  I'm stretching every dollar I've got left, pushing myself to see how far I can take it.  Truth be told, I still feel like I'm in an experiment, and as soon as this class is over I'll fall back into my old ways.  Of course I know this isn't the case.  I know I haven't been practicing these techniques long enough for them to really feel normal yet.  I haven't quite come to the realization that I will now always be a girl that returns salad if needed.  

That's right...last week I returned two bags of salad that ended up being unnecessary for a dinner I went to.  The old Katie (rewind to about a month ago), would have just let someone else take the salad home or would have stored it in my fridge with the dreamy idea that she may actually eat it as it wilted away.  The new Katie says "Nope!  Snap out of it, you won't eat it, take it back."  And alas, I did.  Eight bucks back in my pocket, y'all.  

But first things, first.  I can't even do all of the things I need to be doing when it comes to retirement funds and Roth IRAs until I get through my first baby step.  And while it's a little confusing and mind-blowing at times, I know I'll get the hang of it eventually.  

A big lesson I am learning is that adulthood can be hard and tricky.  But using "I'm just not good with things like this" (insurance policies, budgeting, understanding mutual funds, etc) isn't going to cut it.  It's time for me to (wo)man up and figure it out.

(Jesus, take the wheel.)




Breaking News: I have money!

October 14th, 2014

It's been 5 weeks since I started Financial Peace University classes and it's been 2 weeks since I began my new budget.  Let me give you a little update:

  • I have 150 "extra" dollars in my account
  • I have $534 in my emergency fund

This.  Is.  Huge.  

As a state employee, I get paid once a month.  This is excruciating for someone who is as terrible with money as I am.  I have NEVER had $150 in my checking account in the middle of the month.  Remember that story I told how it all came to fruition that I would be attending an FPU class?  Yea...I typically have about $15 right about now.  This money, of course, is not actually "extra," but is serving as a cushion in case something unexpected happens.  Or if I accidentally trip into Little Rosie's and buy 75 pocket tacos.  Either/or.  Kidding!  But because this is the first month with a new budget, it is wise to have a cushion.  If that "extra" money does not need to be touched for any reason it will go either toward debt or my emergency fund. 

And on that note - my $1,000 emergency fund is over halfway there!  Three weeks ago I was crying my eyes out, wondering how in the world I was going to get any extra money, and now I'm over halfway there.  It's amazing how much money you can save when, you know, you don't spend every stinkin' penny in your account.  I am also extremely fortunate to have a second income provided by teaching fitness classes, and I get a great travel reimbursement from the mileage I drive for my job.  Because of these things, I should have my emergency money fully funded by mid-November.  Miracles can happen.

But let's be real here - these aren't miracles.  This is God's handiwork through and through.  At the end of class last week Dave said, as one of his key points about dumping debt, to remember that prayer really works.  Oh, how it does.  

Once I started these classes I had to make some pretty difficult decisions.  One in particular was skipping out on a big trip to New Orleans for a dear friend's bachelorette party.  During this trip I would also see my best friend, a good friend from college and SIR PAUL MCCARTNEY in concert.  To some of you, you're confused why SIR PAUL MCCARTNEY's name is in all caps. To those of you that know me real get it.  (Read: hi, my dog's name is George after George Harrison and my cat's name is Rigby after Eleanor Rigby.  If this still means nothing to you, we can't be friends, okay bye).  So, saying no to that trip was pretty difficult.  After I told all of my friends that I wouldn't be able to make it, I began trying to figure out how to sell my SIR PAUL MCCARTNEY ticket (extra $100 right there!).  My bestie, Lisa (hey bff!) offered to list it on Stub Hub for me.  Long story short, it was a week before the concert and I was stressing because I really didn't think a solo ticket was going to sell.  I kid you not, I said a quick, sincere prayer that it would sell and 20 minutes later Lisa forwarded me the e-mail notification that someone had bought it.  Prayer really works.

Every time I wake up overwhelmed with how I am going to get enough extra cash to pay for George's flea meds or alterations for a bridesmaids dress, a new opportunity arises.  These are not opportunities that I would have even thought twice about 5 weeks ago, but things have changed.  Whether it is selling more items I don't need on Facebook or babysitting on a Saturday night, the opportunities are there.  We just have to open our eyes and hearts and ask for them to be shown.

For quite some time I have been praying for help with my finances.  The Lord answered.  And he ain't playing around.

Luke 11:9-10

Luke 11:9-10

Don't smack me when this happens. Because I'll smack back.

October 7th, 2014

Listen.  I need to go ahead and apologize to anyone I talk to in the next two years or so, because pretty much the only words that are going to come out of my mouth between now and then are things like, "Dave Ramsey says; Financial Peace University; Cash, cash, cash - I'm paying for everything with cash; I can't buy that because Dave says no," etc, etc, etc.  

Please, please don't smack me when this happens.  Because I'll smack back.

Some of you may be wondering why I'm so hung up on this Dave guy and why these words are so frequently spilling out of my mouth.  It's because that this Dave fella, that teaches these Financial Peace University classes, isn't just giving tips on clipping coupons or how to save a buck or two at the grocery store - he's teaching people how to change their lives.

Some of you may read these words, look at me and think, "get it together, Katie - this budgeting/saving/debt dumping stuff is common sense!"  But what I have already learned, and what I am continuing to learn, is that this stuff isn't about common sense or being good at math (though these things help) - it's about changing your behavior.  It's 20% head knowledge and 80% behavior.  EIGHTY-PERCENT BEHAVIOR.  We all know what we're supposed to do with finances but we do what think we should do or what think we deserve.  And that's how we end up with $25,000 in debt (not including student loan debt...but is including a car payment).  Yep.  I just went there with you.  Ouch, right?  Freaking ouch.

So please excuse my rantings and ravings and excitement and passion.  I'm not trying to be a pain in your side or the reason you roll your eyes.  I'm just trying to change my life.  

I'm sitting down with someone every week, staring my budget and my money-spending habits in the face, constantly being reminded what ridiculous choices I've made.  I'm working with an incredible accountability partner to completely reallocate my funds so that I can get out of debt as quickly as possible.  What does this mean exactly?  Well in this moment it means things like cutting off Netflix, kissing my Starbucks addiction good-bye (well minus the fact that I got $85 worth of Starbucks gift cards for my b-day, score!) and cutting up my Loft card (waaaaaaaaah).  It means that every single dollar I earn has to be accounted for and cannot go to anything frivolous at this time.  Now, no worries... I am allotted some spending money.  This money has primarily been a product of selling things on Facebook yard sales (anyone need to read about the Ed Hardy shower gel again?); however, at this point I'm not even interested in spending that money.  Or any money.  Because when you witness a 68 year old woman cry in FPU class as she cuts up one of her credit cards because she realizes what a big debt hole she's in, spending money is the last thing on the planet you want to do.  Instead you want to look inside yourself, face the mess you've made and fix it.  Oh and cry with her.

I'm learning so many different things - the most strategic way to pay off debt, quick (safe and non-sketchy) ways to make some cash, that I won't die if I don't get my Zaxby's fix, the power of paying for things with cash (side note: did you know that paying for things with cash triggers pain sensors in your brain and paying for things with plastic triggers nothing - sit on that for a minute), etc.  But most of all I am learning a ton about myself.  A lifestyle change comes with an excruciating amount self-awareness, including the good, the bad and the ugly.  It's exhausting.  It's exciting.

So again, please forgive me in advance for being pretty tunnel-visioned.  Just remember that I'm not just getting paper cuts from clipping coupons, but I'm also getting bruises from shoving around my money and putting it where it belongs.  (Hint: sadly enough for my wardrobe it does not belong with Ann Taylor Loft...)  I'm committed, folks.

I'm still working on my $1,000 emergency fund which I hope to have fully funded very soon.  Then, my friends, we will attack that $25,000 of debt with "gazelle intensity."  I can't wait to watch it disappear.


Bye Ann Taylor Loft - I love you so much.  You''ll always be my favorite.

Bye Ann Taylor Loft - I love you so much.  You''ll always be my favorite.


October 6, 2014

This stuff is no joke, friends.  I'm kind of exhausted.  But it's a weird kind of rejuvenating exhaustion.  My brain hurts from crunching numbers and thinking harder about what I'm spending money on.  I'm suddenly understanding what "feeling your money" means.  No more disconnected debit/credit card swiping and not seeing the money physically come out of your account (until you sit down in front of the computer days later and go crap, where did all my money go?).  Nope - now I am in the full blown envelope stage.  The pay-for-everything-in-cash stage.  The let-me-count-out-exact-change-and-feel-this-money-physically-leave-my-hands stage.  Every time I hand cash over to a clerk I kind of feel like someone is punching me in the gut.  But I'm pretty sure that feeling subsides after awhile.  

And going to the grocery store is not as it once was.  The old Katie (you know...the old Katie from like 3 weeks ago) liked to wander aimlessly down each aisle, throwing random snacks into her cart, not really paying much attention to what the prices were.  The new Katie marches through the aisles with purpose, list in hand, eyes searching for the generic brands of everything needed.  It's not quite as fun as it once was, but it's not torture either.  

However, these trips do cause a smidgen of anxiety now.  I am now on a stricter food budget than before (I was "budgeting" $300/month for groceries...which is the same amount that my budget guru budgets for her family of 4.  So, apparently I like food...whatever).  This is all fine and everything except for a small-ish detail.  I'm not the most skilled cooker.  In fact, I kind of suck at cooking.  But sometimes I get on a little brave whim and attempt to try a new recipe. Sometimes this works in my favor.  Often other times it doesn't.  So now I'm walking through these aisles, picking out ingredients for a new dish, secretly freaking out inside because WHAT IF I BURN EVERYTHING?!  Maybe I'll just eat cereal for the rest of my life.  Ugh.  Being an adult is lame sometimes.

But - food anxiety aside, it hasn't been so bad.  It's definitely been tough so far as I've been faced with a lot of difficult decisions and difficult conversations.  I've had to say no to some trips I wanted to take, things I  wanted to do and have some tough conversations with friends to cancel plans; but, honestly, the amount of control I feel (and it's small...but it's there) is what is rejuvenating.  For once I am beginning to understand what it feels like to be in control of my money and to not let it control me.  It's completely liberating.  I'm grateful for friends that are understanding, family that is supportive and an accountability partner that challenges me to make these tough decisions.  At our last budget meeting she looked at as I was crying and said you have to be broken in order to really change.  So true, it is so true.  And a-changing I am.


Online yard sales and Ed Hardy shower gel(s).

October 1, 2014

I told you I had a story about Ed Hardy shower gel.  Are you excited?  Good.  But first let me explain.

Financial Peace University is a 9-10 week program.  You attend class once a week, watch a video of Dave teaching to a live audience, and then discuss questions, thoughts, ideas, concerns with your fellow classmates.  There is an online option of FPU but I am personally grateful for the opportunity to take classes at a physical location, surrounded by a community of people who share a lot of the same struggles as I do.  

After the first lesson, I left class feeling about 40% excited/hopeful and about 60% freaking overwhelmed.  Dave talks about 7 baby steps to getting out of debt and living in financial freedom.  As he was introducing us to these concepts I thought, great!  I love baby steps!  And then I realized that the first baby step is getting $1,000 in an emergency fund as quickly as possible.  Then I started thinking great!  How in the  (insert your favorite 4-letter word here) am I supposed to get one thousand extra dollars?!  

A few days after I processed what had just happened to me (attending a class that would surely wreck my world), I reached out to Loni and asked for some guidance.  Early on I realized that I was going to need someone honest, tough, loving and trustworthy to sit down with me, one-on-one and walk me through this.  I must be held accountable or I simply will not do it.  Most of the people in the class are married or engaged so they have built-in accountability partner.  I needed to be a little more proactive in finding mine.

Of course Loni agreed and a week later we met for coffee that neither one of us ordered.  For an hour we sat going over the "budget" I brought.  I put "budget" in quotation marks here because it certainly wasn't a budget.  It was a snapshot of what I had spent in a month's time.  A snapshot of how much I had overspent in a month's time, really.  A snapshot of how I'd spent $400 OVER what I make a month.  OHHH WELL FANCY THAT, NO WONDER I'M BROKE AS A JOKE AND HAVE CREDIT CARD DEBT.  

Anyway...I showed Loni my "budget" and said, I have no idea where this $1,000 is going to come from.  And sweet Loni began to tear up, which naturally led into my tearing up, and then there we were, two blonde, weeping women.  It was beautiful.  I'm sure other people were confused.  But she was crying because she remembered what it felt like to think the same thing.  Where will this money come from?  And that's when she let me in on a little secret.

Facebook Online Yard Sales.

I giggled as soon as she said it.  I'd seen these groups on Facebook, but had not ever looked into one.  But she swore this was how she got her and her husband's $1,000 fund...well, funded.   She then challenged me to go through my things, and start online yard selling, and come up with $100 by the end of the month.  The end of the month was one week away.  I giggled some more and reluctantly agreed.

I started by just joining some of these Facebook groups in my area, taking a look at what people were selling and how to list it, etc.  It took me a while to figure out what "cross posted" meant and what some of the random acronyms were (answer key: cross posted means you've posted the item in more than one yard sale group because there are MULTIPLE ones; ISO means "in search of").  A few days later I went through some clothes that had been sitting out for quite some time, that I had never gotten around to taking to the thrift store (we'll call this providential), and began hanging them up one-by-one and taking pictures.  

Later that night, after much procrastinating, I took the leap and uploaded a few pictures.  I posted two pairs of pants and a skirt, all from Ann Taylor Loft.  I was selling each one for $5.  FIVE DOLLARS.  I know I spent at least $30 on each of these.  For the rest of the evening I kept checking my phone, looking to see if someone had commented on my pants.  Nope.  And as each hour went by I started feeling a more and more rejected.  WHY DOESN'T ANYONE WANT MY PANTS?!

At the end of the day as I was lying in bed, I was sent in to a mild state of shock.  I was scrolling through the yard sale, seeing what things were, in fact, getting commented on and I was suddenly very confused.  Someone had posted Ed Hardy shower gel for $4 and it had gotten TWO COMMENTS. you will buy Ed Hardy shower gel for $4 but won't buy my perfectly wonderful pants for $5?  What the.

So, whatever.  I felt pretty rejected for a while, but dusted myself off and tried again.  A good friend recommended selling other things besides clothes.  I am happy to report that by the end of the month I have made $90!  Woo woo!  I would have made $100 but no one will buy my stinkin' office desk lamp.  However, I'm going to continue to try to get rid of these clothes and a few other items to build my emergency fund.  As crazy as I felt posting things, verbally committing to sell them, then meeting someone in a random parking lot to make the switch (feeling very much like a drug dealer), I realized how easy it really is to make a few bucks here and there.

So the morals of our story:

  • Online yard sales work.
  • Some people on these online yard sales are crazy and have no taste in pants.
  • Sometimes you have to get real creative to make a buck or two.
  • When you do get creative to make a buck or two, and drive to meet someone just to get that cash in your hand, it really changes your perspective on how you're going to spend it.
  • Ed Hardy shower gel will easily sell for $4.  Whatever.

The Financial Peace Project.

September 29, 2014

Alright my friends.  It's about to get really real in here.  I'm talking all of the realness that many (read: practically all) of us are afraid to talk about.  We're about to feel raw, vulnerable, uncomfortable, weirded out, etc, etc.  

We are about to talk about money.

And by we I, obviously, mean me.  You're about to know me way better than you already think you know me, and I'm really hoping you won't judge me too harshly, but hey, that's your right as a person with opinions.  Just know that if I find out how badly you're judging me you'll never get to see another George the Beagle selfie again.

And wouldn't that be the saddest?

And wouldn't that be the saddest?

So let's begin at the beginning.  I suck with money.  Ever since I started making money I've basically sucked with it.  I probably sucked with money before I was even big enough to know what money was.  I'm sure I took that quarter that I made when I tried to sell lemonade as a child and immediately bought candy instead of putting it in some kind of piggy bank because it was literally burning a hole in my pocket.

Now at 28, I constantly live paycheck-to-paycheck, hoping, wishing and praying for some magic/secret/hidden/forgotten-about deposit to be made into my account before the end of the month so I don't overdraft it.  Again.  Retail therapy is my bestie, but not necessarily in the form of clothing (although I do enjoy the sport of "Ann Taylor Loft Clothes-Rack Rummaging"), but a lot of times in the form of "I can count on one hand the amount of times I've walked out of a bookstore without buying something" or "I absolutely must have this coffee mug to add to the 25 others I own."  Newsflash: no one person needs TWENTY-FIVE COFFEE MUGS.  I've also got great stories about when I was 23, living in Peru, constantly running out of my monthly stipend money.  All of my friends knew I had run out of money because I would so very sweetly ask if any of them wanted to walk to work instead of taking a taxi or bus, you know...for the exercise.  We still laugh about that to this day...however, the not so funny part of it all is that my spending habits really haven't changed much from that time.

Fast forward to a little over a month ago.  The date was August 14th.  I had approximately $15 left of my monthly paycheck in my account (I know...I KNOW.  Credit cards and sporadic payments from teaching fitness classes have been my best friends).  To make this semi-long story short, you need to understand that this was all about being in the right place at the right time.  And if you know anything about me at all then you know I believe that being in the right place at the right time is God's timing.  I was volunteering for a day-long activity that I had just randomly agreed to help with the week before.  It was the very end of the day when a new friend made a comment about how she and her husband had gone through Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University classes (this friend's name is Loni...everyone say "Hey Loni!").  Now being the broke girl that I am, of course I knew of Dave Ramsey.  I'd been sent his book Financial Peace by some loving friends (Hey Utterbacks!) and had heard about his life-changing program.  So I responded to Loni with a sincere, but not desperate, "oh you did?  I really need to do that, I am so broke."  

As we continued to talk, her passion and love for the way these classes had changed her life was evident and I was captivated.  I don't even remember what happened next except that we bonded over the fact that we are both ENFJ's and that a light bulb clicked on in her head. Suddenly she said, "you know what, there are some classes starting in September.  I'm going to sponsor you to go."  

Many of the other details of that time don't matter.  There were more conversations about the class, there were tears of sadness and joy cried as I came to the realization of what was happening and how badly I needed help, there were tears of joy and empathy from Loni as she remembered what it was like to stand in my shoes and to now know what life can look like. There was the moment that my newly engaged friend said she'd like to go through the class, too (FYI: Loni has sponsored her too because she's the greatest). A whirlwind of emotions had come in and wrecked my heart in a matter of minutes.  It was beautiful.

Now fast forward today.  I've decided to blog through this journey, to completely put myself out there and be as vulnerable and rel as possible.  It's going to be hard and messy and downright ugly, but in the end it will turn into something lovely.  I don't know how much you know about Dave Ramsey but he's a bit extreme (he's also quite funny) and many people do not agree with his ideas and strategies.  But there are millions of people out there that decided to follow his rules and who are debt free and whose lives are forever changed.  I personally know one of those people and have decided to completely trust her, fully knowing that this has been ordained by God.  I hope you'll join me in my journey (again...with as little judgment as possible), and support me along the way.  Who knows - maybe you'll get a little something out of it, too.

Later that night, on August 14th, I sent Loni a text message letting her know how grateful I was for her and for that day, reiterating my thanks.  She responded with this:

"Me too.  God keeps showing up.  I'm telling you, God gives these moments {to share this hope of financial freedom} to me more than for you.  God gave me you.  Thank you."

Cue the tears and here we go!  Stay tuned.

PS - this is just the intro.  I've just recently started my classes and already have lots of great stories.  One in particular about online yard sales and how low my self-esteem got when Ed Hardy shower gel was getting more interest than the clothing items I had posted...