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August 19, 2013 / Dale Melchin

Month Off

As you may have noticed I have taken a month off from my blog.  While I haven’t been posting I’ve been very busy personally.  Its been quite an adventerous month.  Several achievements have been unlocked, and things have happened and I want to by way of encouragement share them with you.

Dave Ramsey Headshot

The first is that I have successfully rebooted my Dave Ramsey Plan.  For those of you not familar with Dave Ramsey, he is a financial expert based out of Nashville TN.  He is an excellent mentor and I hope to meet him personally somedays.  A lot of people will say he is militaristic, fanatical, or simplistic in his approach.  Those of you who are naysayers of him, just chill.  His system works.  He proves it repeatedly on his show.  The only reason why it doesn’t “work” is because of user error. 
As G.K. Chesterton once said: “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried”  You can easily say this for almost any system of success or personal achievement.  “The Dave Ramsey ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”
 chesterton pic
The beauty of his system is its simplicity and that it cuts through the B.S. of base emotion, distraction and resistance and challenges the would be financial freedman (or woman) to develop persistence, motivation, consistency, bravery, determination and other personal virtues.  In our conditioned, fallen state, we don’t like making these changes and we fight against them often times with all our being, saying the would be evangelist of this worldview or any other is uncaring, insensitive, blah blah blah.  When really they understand more deeply our condition than those of use who are trapped in the throes of it.  The reason why they understand better is because the have fought the internal battles, lost completely, lost partially, tied, the game, one by an inch, one by several points, and then in Dave Ramsey’s case, win the ballgame.  And then they never forget where they were and make every effort to never go back.  Which is why Dave Ramsey, is the way he is, or Gordon Ramsey the angry cook.
There is even some joker out there who says Dave Ramsey’s plan is legalistic and has a dark side.  The only reason why it has a “dark side” is this.  The Plan demands that the user make radical changes to their life that people trapped in the throes of their financial misery try to stop the person making the changes.  They are like the black crabs.  If one tries to escape the bucket, the other crabs pull the would be escapee back in instead of rallying behind him and then shaking the bucket themselves.  The only relationships that get damaged in the process are ones that either aren’t worth keeping or need to be “damaged” because the other person needs to be shaken out of their slumber.  I’ve said no to family on countless occassions b/c we lacked money.  Only now are we considering saying yes to a family event in this case b/c we are trending in the right direction.  Dave would probably take exception with me travelling to see my cousin get married.  But we are taking steps to lower the cost and we are saving up the money to do it.
Sorry for the rant.  If you are familiar with the plan, the first achievement I have unlocked is the Baby Emergency Fund.  $1,000.  Yes, that’s not much money and no you can’t have any of it if you were going to ask.  Here is the rest of the Seven Baby Steps.
 Baby Steps
Now you ask how I unlocked this first achievement?  Its relatively simple.  I worked.
1.  I planned the objective. For the month of June and July I figured the minimum and the maximum that I would need to achieve the objective and I set the bar somewhere in the middle.  I knew I would eventually start to burn out and would need to recharge.  I didn’t work Sunday’s at all and reserved that day for replenishing my resources.  I also made plans to reduce my expenses, which I did with some success.  I also bent the rules and got a checking advance account so I could dodge gotcha fees if I was running short on cash.  I grant that it isn’t the best option, but 10% of the amount borrowed beats the hell out of overdraft and overdraft fees.
2. I worked the plan.  I set the bar between 66-70 hours a week.  I would come in for 4 hours of overtime during the week and worked all of Saturday.  As I stated, I made it a point to reserve Sunday’s for myself.  I also (most of the time) purposed to get to bed early so I’d be ready for the next day.
3. When I had the cash, I socked it away.  When I got my checks I figured out how much we’d need to operate the household with some buffer, and then socked $500 away.  Then, I turned around and did the same with the next paycheck.  Within 4 paychecks, I had the money for the emergency fund and then some for operations.
4. I acted sustainably.  Now, I’m an energetic person, but I know I have limits.  So when the campaign was over in the last two weeks of July, I rested and went back to my regular schedule.  You have to let yourself surge and rest.  Even though it is not a machine the human psychosomatic structure is like a machine.  If you prep it right you can run it for extended periods, but those extended running periods have to have times of investment in regular maintenance.  This clearly illustrates Dr. Covey’s Production and Production Capacity balance.  And I respected it.
5. I celebrated the win.  Yes, we went out to eat both my wife and I and us with friends.  It is necessary to maintain relationships with those who are on your team directly or indirectly.
Now to me, this is (or should be) easier the next round of OT I do.  I’m having difficult now, but it is just the same old resistance I encountered prior to putting the plan together.
However, it is now August 15th.  Its time to get back to it again and get it knocked out.  The next step is the debt snowball.  I’ll be posting numbers not names in the ensuing weeks.  The Debt Snowball corresponds most closely to Seth Godin’s “Dip.”  Its a lot like the 40 Days or (Years) in the Desert.  Its easy to get cranky during this time, but it is a time to really learn the discipline at a level you never would had you not did the undertaking.  During this time I’ll be taking another very hard look at our expenditures and see which ones can be cut and put toward the debt snowball.  I’m also going to be assessing how I can better manage the internal aspects of things so I can do my job more effectively and how to be more effective overall.
So with that balanced view in mind,  Here is to fanatical, militaristic, rigorous and legalistic, financial success!

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