Bill Wednesday & How We Budget

How do we budget?  Honestly, we don’t really.  Not anymore.  Dave Ramsey says you’re supposed to sit down at the beginning of every month and make out your zero-based budget for the month ahead.  Every.single.month.  If that works for you, AWESOME!  I honestly don’t have time for that crap.  My time is much better spent playing with my son.

We started out with Ramsey’s budgeting form and, I’m not gonna lie, writing everything out was an incredibly horrifying eye-opener to just how many different places our money was disappearing.  Since that initial written budget, which I folded up and carried in my pocket for the first several months, constantly checking it for areas of fine tuning, things have become incredibly streamlined.

My income is consistent; I work 7 out of every 14 days – 80 hours + 4 of scheduled OT due to working 12 hour shifts.  With my night and Sunday differential pay, I can (and have, of course Smile) calculated with incredible accuracy how much I gross and net for an entire year.  Divided by 26 (as I am paid biweekly,) this tells me what my base paycheck will be, assuming I don’t work any extra overtime…which I do from time-to-time.

Within a couple months of starting, we switched our budget over to a Word document to provide for easier tweaking, ongoing updates, and less paper waste; we put my base monthly net income at the top and line-itemed our expenses:  utilities, cable/internet, cell phones, my wife’s Wells Fargo student loans, my wife’s federal student loans, and car insurance.  These are the only things that HAVE to be paid from my net income.  I work for the Department of Health and Human Services and we live in a house within a couple hundred yards of the hospital.  It’s awesome!  I get to walk to work and, with my employer being my landlord, rent is taken out of my paycheck.  Never seen, never missed…and I don’t have to write a check.

I love automaticity!

For instance, we had to modify Ramsey’s idea of a cash envelope system due to the fact that we live in the middle of nowhere and the closest branch of our primary bank is an hour-and-a-half away.  That’s not overly conducive to getting cash on a regular basis…unless we want to pay ridiculous fees at competitors’ ATMs.  News flash…we don’t!

Enter Ally Bank.  An online-only company, they offer interest-earning checking accounts (among other services), and have an awesome phone app that also gives you the ability to make deposits for FREE just by taking a picture of a check!  This feature is awesome!  My primary bank charges a fee for this service.  For our “envelope system,” we have three accounts with Ally:  Food/Gas/Clothes, Emergency Fund, and Vacation.  Next, we take advantage of payroll allotments and our budgeted food money is direct-deposited into our Food/Gas/Clothes account and, instead of relying on going to an ATM for cash, we use the debit card associated with that account for our grocery shopping…although we are sometimes bad and utilize other money, as well Disappointed smile.  FYI…another awesome thing about Ally is that, although we haven’t used this feature, you can withdraw money from any ATM in the country and they will reimburse you for any fees charged due to the fact that they do not have any brick-and-mortar locations or ATMs of their own.  *Please note that I am in no way, shape, or form compensated for this…Ally has truly been an excellent addition to our financial lives!  What we have done with them is nothing special, as there are numerous options with a multitude of banks out there.  This is just what is working for us.  Take it as you may.

A second automated item I put in place was our Jeep payment.  After some research, we refinanced it, cutting our rate of 4.5% in half to 2.25%, with a credit union I found that I qualified for as a government employee.  The next thing I did was set up a savings account with the credit union, a payroll allotment to that account every other Friday, and that amount is then applied to our Jeep the following Monday.  The greatest part of this, even better than not having to do ANYTHING from this point forward, is that paying it biweekly is going to save us a couple hundred bucks in interest!  Double win in my book!

Now I’m sure you’re thinking we’re dummies for buying a brand new car; in our defense, we bought it in February of 2014, long before our personal finance enlightenment.  We don’t feel bad though…we had wanted a Jeep Patriot for a couple years, absolutely LOVE IT, and it’s the car we brought our son home in from the hospital.  Also, as we’ve told him numerous times, as he showers the back seat with Puffs (aka baby crack), we are never selling it and he will be inheriting it when he turns 16.  Maybe…I really love it!  I completely understand the financial reasons to not buy a new vehicle but, I’m gonna be honest, we’ll likely do it again in the next few years Disappointed smile.  I’m saying it here so as not to be called a hypocrite laterSmile.  More on that future purchase later.

Wanna know another way to save yourself a few bucks?  We have our car insurance premiums set up on a 6-month pay plan – the insurance company gives a discount (I think it’s about $40) for not having a monthly payment plan.  Well, I don’t know about you, but I find it to be an irritating pain in the rear end to come up with the 6 month premium when it’s due.  So, what we started doing about four months ago is we divvied up the premium by six, plugged it into our monthly payment system, and send the amount to the company as if we were on a monthly payment plan, while still saving the money by not actually changing the pay schedule with them.  For the first couple months, they were sending us refund checks, which I simply shredded.  When I called them to ask if this could be stopped so as not to waste the paper, I was told that it was an automatic, computer generated thing that couldn’t be messed with; however, we haven’t gotten a refund check in a couple months and they keep accepting our online bill-pay transactions…so I’m calling it a win!  *Funny note…the customer service rep I spoke with and explained what I was going to do had a little *ah-ha!* moment and said that she would be starting to do the same thing.

Let’s see…what else?  We cancelled cable back in April.  We made a list of the few shows we really enjoy watching and discovered that they are all available on Hulu or on the internet.  Even though they’re available, we haven’t watched the internet-only shows in months.  Hulu is $7.99 a month and includes our favorite shows; we have also been utilizing my grandparent’s Netflix account, for FREE!, for the past few years.  Guess what?  We don’t miss cable in the least!  And better yet, taking into account the cost of Hulu, cancelling cable saves us $90 a month!  I wish we could save money on internet access but, unfortunately, that’s monopolized around here.  The service requires a home-phone line, which is a complete waste of $11 every month, and equipment rental is tallied into the cost so I can’t save us anything there either.  FYI…if you haven’t already tried Hulu and are considering it, please consider clicking on any of the hyperlinks in this paragraph.  If you sign up through this link, you’ll be gifting us with two FREE weeks of service and we would be forever gratefulSmile.

That takes care of all the changes that we have implemented over the past year that I can think of right now.  Now for the actual bill paying.  We call it “Bill Wednesday.”  I get paid every other Friday; at midnight Wednesday morning, I can check my paystub.  From that, I write my net pay in my checkbook and then look at our budget.  In the far-right-hand-side of the document, I list out the dates on which my paychecks are coming and, beside each biller, I list the number of paychecks that I will receive before the bill is due again.  I don’t pay each biller on the same day every month; instead, I pay them on a revolving basis.  This allows for no single check to be devoured by multiple bills all at once.  Sometimes, a few billers may get paid, while other times, only one.  Once the obligatory bills are handled, the remaining money is snowballed toward our debt.  We usually hold on to a couple hundred bucks for incidentals, but otherwise it goes to work eating away at our debt.  So, once I get my paystub on Wednesday, I schedule all this through my bank’s online bill pay system to send out the payments the following Monday (after payday) and, just like that, I’m done.  As long as I’m not being my usually nerdy self and calculating, refiguring, or rebalancing our data, I can be done with our bills in a matter of minutes.

Our process takes any and all stress out of our financial situation and decision making.  My wife and I never argue about money.  She has, very rightfully, called me out for some dumbass decisions.  However, 99.9% of the time, we’re too busy throwing up high-fives at our debt ass-kicking awesomeness.

Frugal RN

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Please Please Please…If you find yourself struggling with debt, budgeting, or would like to talk about changes you can make in your own life, reach out.  We still have a lot of work to do in our own family but even small changes have made an impact on our situation.  I would truly love to talk to you and help in any way that I can…or hear about ideas you have that may be of benefit to our family, as well.

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Cultivation of a Passion

Dear Son,

“I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor” – Henry David Thoreau

I don’t remember exactly how old I was when I first discovered that quote, maybe 12-ish, but when I did, I printed it out, put it in a frame, and kept it on my bedside table throughout the remainder of my childhood.  I’ve always loved it, believed it, and, although life has kicked my ass into different directions, I still do.

The thing is, I never really developed any true passion for anything while I was in my formative school-age years.  For a while, I had the idea that developing computer-animated movies, like Toy Story or Minions for example, would be really cool.  Realizing that, the vast majority of the time, I can’t draw for shit, I had the good sense to not pursue the idea…not that I knew how to pursue it anyway.  Beyond that, I honestly cannot think back to my childhood/early-teen years when I had some sort of epiphany regarding what I wanted to do with my life.  Truth-be-told, I didn’t even know what my options were.  I always considered myself to have been a good student, getting A’s and B’s, with the intermittent straight A’s, throughout my entire primary and secondary education.  However, good grades don’t equate to a career choice.

During my junior and senior years of high school I was in Building Trades class, enjoyed building houses, and upon the encouragement of my teacher, sought a junior college program in construction management.  Having no earthly clue what I would ultimately do with the degree, or any other ideas for schooling, I went for it and graduated with the Associate’s degree in 2007.  While in the program, having always loved math, I developed an interest in construction estimating and came to the idea of becoming a property damage insurance adjuster.  Interviewing for one position, against a stack of applications about 4 inches thick, with zero experience, I didn’t get the job.  I took to a job-listing site (Monster, I think?) and rather quickly got a job as an insurance salesman with AFLAC.  I loved the thrilling potential of unlimited commission-based income; unfortunately, no matter how much passion and drive one brings to the table, things don’t always work out and, after just a few short months, I was broke, with credit card debt, and moving back home with my parents to work at a factory.

I worked at that factory for three years awaiting my now-wife, your mother, to graduate from high school, then community college, all while also working on additional prerequisites of my own.  While working at the factory, I knew that I wanted to go back to school…for what, was yet to be determined.  I tossed around the ideas of criminal justice, culinary school, teaching, and space man (just kidding)…I didn’t know what the hell I wanted.  Thankfully, my mother-in-law, your grandma, was going through and graduating from nursing school around this time, prompting me to consider that as a possibility, as well.  I really loved the idea of teaching history but knew that teachers in my home-state of Illinois were being canned left-and-right.  The more I looked into nursing and developed an understanding of the ridiculous number of career paths, including teaching, nursing could present, I had my choice.

At this point, with absolutely no prior experience working in healthcare, I was not in pursuit of any preconceived notion of a “passion” I had.  I took a course to become a Certified Nurse’s Aide and thus began the cultivation of my passion.  I have now been a nurse for nearly two-and-a-half years and I could not be happier with my career choice.  My career started in Indiana, working with a population of patients dealing with diabetes and kidney issues.  Now I find myself working in South Dakota on a Native American reservation.  Next? Well, that’s for another post.

The point is that my passion for nursing was not some innate sense of purpose for my life…but it is now.  I honestly can’t see myself doing anything else because I love it.  Having the opportunity to help people every single day is incredible and I am grateful for the opportunity to do so.  As I continue to cultivate my passion and look forward to the future, I know that my opportunities are near limitless.

It is my sincerest hope that you, my son, will find a passion for your own life, no matter what it may be.  As your parents, I believe it is our duty to present you with opportunities, helping you to see the many options that are available to you.  Likewise, we have an immense responsibility to be realistic with you.  To guide you in seeking out and fine tuning your strengths while also working on your weaknesses will, theoretically, help you succeed in finding a passion worth cultivating.  While I would never advocate for the idea of blatantly telling you that you can’t do something, if you come up to me at sixteen, tell me you want to be a musician and have never picked up an instrument in your life, I’m going to be honest with you and tell you that your odds of success are, while not impossible, incredibly unlikely and that you should consider music as a hobby, not a career.  However, if you tell me you want to travel the country with a back pack and live off the land, I’ll support that…so long as you have the knowledge and skill set that would allow for this choice.

The point is, I don’t care what you do with your life.  That’s not to say that I am aloof with regards to your choices; what I mean is that your mother and I will expose you to as many life experiences and career options that we possibly can and, whatever you ultimately choose to do with your life, we will support you in your rational and well-thought-out decision.  Your future will be a heavily researched and discussed topic throughout the entirety of your childhood.  Whether you want to be a doctor, an unemployed vagabond, or anything in between, we will not allow you to come to that decision lightly.  However, in the long run, no matter how much effort we put into helping you, your choices will ultimately be just that…your own…and, as long as you’re happy and find peace and contentment in your life, I’m good with that.

Love,

Dad

P.S. – I would like to extend a huge thank you to Ernie at Purple Sweatpants for inspiring this post.

Dave Ramsey

Personal Finance = 80% behavior and 20% head knowledge.  I can agree with that; while I have learned A LOT in the past couple years, I believe I’ve always had the general idea of what should be done with money…I just never did it.  My dad would always try to get me to save my money growing up, even telling me that he would match me dollar-for-dollar on larger purchases if I did my part of the deal first.  This literally NEVER happened.  Money burned the proverbial hole right through my pocket and was typically gone about as quickly as I could get my hands on it.  I was constantly buying worthless crap like the boxes full of baseball cards currently sitting in my parent’s attic.  Sure, I’ve got a few that may be worth a couple bucks, but I can’t even imagine how many hundreds of dollars I’ve wasted throughout my life.  Unfortunately, those habits carried over into my late teens and early twenties, and it wasn’t until I started working as a nurse’s aide during my first year of nursing school in 2010 that I began developing my retirement portfolio as it stands today.  My first retirement investing came in 2006, in the form of buying payroll-deducted stock in Walmart while I worked there during my first two years of college, obtaining an Associate’s degree that isn’t worth a hill-of-beans anymore.  After graduating from that program, I started a brief stint as an insurance salesman in 2007, eventually having to cash in my savings to pay back some income received on policies that were dropped after purchase.  Anyway, investing as a CNA rolled over into my first nursing job and has since carried over into my current position with the federal government.

After reading Dave’s books around the time of our son’s birth in September of 2014, my three recommended readings are The Total Money Makeover, Dave Ramsey’s Complete Guide to Money, and Financial Peace.  These books offer an excellent beginner’s step-by-step introduction to personal finance and a simple approach to get yourself out of debt.  The seven baby steps are in plain English and easy to understand; while I’ll be the first to admit that we haven’t followed them precisely and actually got away from them over the past year, we are revisiting and working them back into our lives, especially the idea of the debt snowball.  If you’re looking to get out of debt, have no clue how to go about doing it, and haven’t read Dave’s books, I encourage you to do so.  Before beginning, it is important to develop your zero-based budget, whereby you “tell every dollar where to go” – i.e. your take-home pay minus your outflow (bills and/or savings) equals ZERO.  The Monthly Cash Flow Plan form can be downloaded and printed out from the following website – https://www.daveramsey.com/budgeting/how-to-budget/.

After you get your budget hammered out, the Baby Steps are as follows:

Step 1)  Save $1000…FAST!  Pay only minimum payments on your debts to stay current on your bills and throw every other extra dollar into cash savings for your starter emergency fund.

Amazingly, we were ahead of the game on this.  We had bout $3000 in cash saved at the time and, although Dave would’ve had us fork over two-grand to debt, we couldn’t handle the thought of parting with that cold-hard-cash.

Step 2)  Debt Snowball time…it is incredibly fun and exhilarating to start scratching debtors off your list!  This list is to include every debt you have, with the exception of any mortgage you may have on your house.  You can read about Dave’s advice on mortgages if you are inclined to do so.  During this time, according to Dave’s advice, you should not be contributing anything to your investment accounts.

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Our Credit Cards after the Plastectomy

Since we started on this step, we started by having a “plastectomy” and cut up our credit cards.  Afterwards, I listed out our credit card debts on a Word document and kept track of every payment we were making, scratching them off one-by-one until they were annihilated.  I still have that list at the bottom of the Word document I use as our budget and still get a kick out of looking at it Smile.  It should also be noted that I couldn’t completely agree with Dave on the no-investing advice.  I kept my TSP contribution through work at %5 in order to get the matching contribution.  I couldn’t wrap my brain around turning down free money.  What you do with that decision is ultimately up to you.  Also,we don’t have a mortgage, as we are renting (AND LOVE IT!)  Additionally, we still have our Jeep payment, which we bought NEWDisappointed smile prior to learning these newfound principles of personal finance.  However, throughout my learning process, we reevaluated our situation, refinanced the Patriot from 4.5% to 2.25%, and continue to pay a little bit extra each month, while primarily focusing on my wife’s student loans. 

Additionally, I love my job and am incredibly fortunate to be a Registered Nurse working for the Indian Health Service, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services and, due to working and living where we live, my 50+ THOUSAND DOLLARS worth of student loan debt is being repaid with my ongoing time commitment.  I couldn’t be happier to have that weight off our shoulders and, if you’re reading this and interested in the IHS Loan Repayment Program, I would love to talk to you more and point you in the right direction, so please reach out to me.

Step 3)  After all debts, excluding your mortgage (if you have one,) then you finish building your emergency fund, suggested to be 3-6 months work of expenses.

Sadly, we haven’t gotten to this step yet.  As mentioned above, after getting our credit card debt out of the way, we slacked off  on the debt snowball and I began ramping up our investing.  This came about primarily because I began reading several early-retirement blogs that got me more interested in the idea of doing just that…retiring early.  Therefore, over the course of a few paychecks, I ramped up mine and my wife’s Traditional IRA contributions (through payroll allotments directly to E*Trade = NEVER SEEN, NEVER MISSED Smile) to come out to just shy of the maximum annual contribution and got my TSP contribution up to 15% of my annual pay.  I would’ve had to upped it to about 28% to max it out but we hadn’t gotten that high yet.  I only recently brought investing back down to the prior %5 with no IRA contributions in November, in order to refocus on demolishing my wife’s student loans – progress of this will be further detailed in a later post.

Step 4)  With a fully funded emergency fund, then you up your retirement investments to 15% of your pay.  Dave provides further details regarding how this should be allocated in his books.

Step 5)  Start funding your kid’s college fund, if necessary.

Step 6)  With steps 1-5 complete, then you throw every extra dollar at your mortgage until it is gone.

Step 7)  Get rich and spend your time trying to give it away to help as many people as you can.

There your have it.  Please note that I’m in no way affiliated with Dave Ramsey, receive absolutely nothing for my opinions, and accept no liability with regards to the information in this post.  I just want to put the information out there, encourage you to see if his methods can have a positive impact on your financial situation, giving you a place to start making changes in your family tree.  While my wife and I veered from the path for a little while over the past year, we are working on getting back on track, and I’m here to tell you, at least from this guy’s perspective, the system is working.  Just for a little perspective, we got back on the Debt Snowball on November 9th and, in just 44 days, we have paid off $3000 of my wife’s student loans!

While we haven’t followed Dave’s plan to a T, we have altered our finances in many positive ways, thanks in  major part to the ideas and principles he has put forth.  We have taken them, tweaked them to fit our situation, priorities, and goals, and could not be happier with the path we are on.  Our son will be forever fortunate that we have implemented the changes with regards to our money and he will be immensely benefited by the knowledge that we will have the opportunity to instill in him, thanks to Dave Ramsey and the numerous personal finance blogs that I now follow on a regular basis, all of which, as previously stated, will be discussed in a later post.  Thank you for reading.  I hope you have learned something or, at the very least, gotten the spark to do your own research and look further into how you may benefit from implementing these ideas.  Please reach out to us to discuss anything.

Merry Christmas!

Frugal RN and Family

 

“IF YOU WILL LIVE LIKE NO ONE ELSE, LATER YOU CAN LIVE LIKE NO ONE ELSE.”

– Dave Ramsey

The Reason for this Site

Let’s face it.  At this point, without any readers, this site is nothing more than a glorified diary.  However, I have decided to begin this process to accomplish a few things:

1) it is a way for me to categorize thoughts, memories, and lessons that I would like to share with my growing son.

2) to provide my son with a leg up in the realm of personal finance by giving him a source of reference to the individuals that have inspired his father, thereby affording him the opportunity to be more fiscally fit and knowledgeable at an earlier age than when I discovered these principles at the age of 28 – thus allowing him, if he chooses, to have the opportunity to retire even earlier and fully enjoy the opportunities that financial independence can allow for.

3) it is a record of how we, as a family, have came to develop these goals we wish to achieve and to name what those goals are.

4) it is to be used to hold myself accountable for my actions along this path to our goals.

5) and, it is to chronicle our journey and adventures before, during, and after achieving our short-term and, ultimately, long-term goals.

I have a long way to go in terms of truly being as frugal as I would like to become; however, this site will allow me to show my faults, look back at where we started and have hopefully changed, and…maybe someday…have a community of readers/sharers that will provide both a community of support and a group with which we may discuss and share common interests and goals.  Maybe we’ll even make some friends along the way.  There are a multitude of frugal/early retiree blogs that I have gotten inspiration from, all of which will be discussed in a near-future post, and all of whom I aspire to be more like.  While they all may be more frugal than I will ever be, we, as a family, are working to incorporate elements of each into our lives, helping us to reach our goals as quickly as possible.  If, by some miracle, you are reading this…thank you…and I hope you will follow along on our journey, join us in conversation, and share any thoughts, ideas, and tips you may have.

-Frugal RN and Family

This all started with you…

As my first post to this newfound idea of a blog, backstory to how we came to where we are in our lives is warranted.  With that, my first post will be a letter to my amazing son, for without him, none of this would be possible.

Dear Son,

The first time your mother and I ever laid eyes on you was February 7, 2014, during our first prenatal visit ultrasound, confirming that we were, in fact, pregnant and having a baby!  You were dancing around and fist-pumping like we were playing dance music, which turned out to be our earliest indication of your love for music.  Mommy even played music to you for the remainder of her pregnancy, especially your favorite song…”One Horse Town” by Blackberry Smoke.  Coincidently, before we found out we were pregnant, your first concert was Blackberry Smoke in St. Louis on January 23rd.  Back to the point…the adventure that awaited us shortly thereafter would bring us to your first home…Rosebud, SD.  We thought your first home was going to be Houston, TX.  While in college, we had decided that is where we ultimately wanted to be; so, while working in Evansville, IN, I began applying for various jobs, interviewed for a couple, and accepted one.  However, six days before loading up the moving truck and heading out of Flora, while standing in your grandparents’ living room, surrounded by all of our boxed up possessions, daddy’s phone rang and it was the Rosebud Indian Health Service Hospital.   Within a three day period, I would be interviewed for, offered, and accept a nursing job that would bring us to a location to which your mother and I had never been.

Long before getting pregnant, we had decided we didn’t want to know your gender, leaving the most incredible surprise in our lives for the moment of your birth.  Therefore, our pre-baby purchases consisted of gender-neutral items, of which we were in no short supply by the time you were born.  Throughout mommy’s pregnancy, we were never really conscious of the idea that we should be getting out of debt and looking beyond the here-and-now attitude that so many people have in our great country.  That’s not to say that we were spending ourselves into bankruptcy and, thankfully, your mom and I have never been without.  However, we graduated college with considerable debt…primarily student loans, but also several thousand dollars worth of credit card debt.

The day you were born was the most incredibly exciting day of our lives.  Mommy and I woke up at three o’clock in the morning to make the three hour drive to Rapid City, where mommy was scheduled for an induction at 41 weeks pregnant.  Surprise number one of the day was that you also decided it was your day to be born and mommy started having contractions while eating oatmeal that daddy made for her.  By the time we left and reached the interstate, mommy was having contractions every five minutes the entire drive to the hospital.  Surprise number two for the morning came shortly outside of Rapid City, where an (insert expletive…I prefer dumb-fuck) decided to switch lanes in front of daddy, forcing me to drive off into the interstate median.  All safe-and-sound, we got back on the road and made it to the hospital without further interruption.  After getting settled by our awesome nurse, Gail, mommy and daddy walked about a million-and-a-half laps around the OB unit, trying to move you along in the process.  Eventually, your mom was artificially helped along with meds and, son, you need to know that your mom is a bad-ass.  All throughout her pregnancy, there was a running high-five-worthy joke that she was all about “team depidural!” (spelled incorrectly on purpose) and that she was going to take it ASAP.  However, she handled her ever-worsening contractions for several hours before she finally accepted the mild-relief it brought and then, surprise number three for the day…you were finally born! at 6:43 PM Mountain Time.

When Dr. Beshara flipped you up, revealing your manly nature, daddy did, in fact, say “holy shit!  It’s a boy!”  Not exactly what I anticipated my first words to be to you, but that’s alright.  Remember…quite often, the greatest moments in life are at least a little bit unplanned.  Throughout mommy’s pregnancy, we never did let ourselves find out whether you were a boy or girl so finally knowing was such a proud and overwhelming experience that, as I’m sure your mom has told you plenty of times already, daddy cried like a baby when I first picked you up.  Likewise, I’m sure she has also told  you that, while she was laboring on with Gail’s assistance, daddy left the hospital to get some food and, in the interest of having food for multiple meals, bought some bread and a rotisserie chicken from Walmart and brought it back to the hospital.  FYI…don’t do that.  A woman in pain who is only allowed ice chips doesn’t appreciate it.  The mother of your future child/ren won’t either…remember that.

So there you were…our son.  After all the waiting and anticipation, you were finally in our arms.  It was and continues to be the greatest moment of my life and I will cherish it forever.  Your amazing mother at our side only makes it that much more incredible.  I’m writing this fifteen months later and it still feels like yesterday.  You’re growing into such a wonderful little boy and you make me smile, laugh, and even a little crazy, every single day.  Watching you play with your Mr. Potato Head, running around the living room yelling Dadoo!, dancing to Pandora, and pestering Boo-Boo is my idea of a wonderful life.

Now back to why you were the catalyst for the changes we have made in our lives.  You were the spark of realization that life is no longer about us.  Everything that your mother and I do, for the rest of our lives, is to be for the betterment of you and your future family.  In the words of Dave Ramsey, we knew that we wanted to change our family tree and have a positive influence over how you and your progeny manage and utilize money for your advantage.  You were born 9/9, we brought your home on the 11th, and on September 18th, we realized we had work to do and sat down to figure out how we were going to do it.  Our credit card debt, spread across several cards, was $12,727.42, and we knew it was no longer acceptable to be skating by with slightly-above-minimum payments.  That crap had to go!

Daddy had read six Dave Ramsey books in a two week period, watched every YouTube video I could find, and we had a plan.  Tweaking a little spending and working overtime, we knocked our credit card debt out on March 3, 2015!  So thank you, son, for being the wonderful and inspiring person that you are.  I am truly proud and privileged to have you (and, of course, your mother) in my life.  I love you and look forward to the many adventures we will share throughout our lives.  Now it’s time to get back to one of my favorite parts of my days, playing toys and laughing with you!

Love,

Dad