Thursday, February 07, 2008

FPU Sesson 4: Debt Snowball

Slamming a sugar free rock star "energy" drink sixty minutes beforehand helped but this was the best session so far. The message: You're in too much debt, get out now! I did not anticipate having such a positive reaction, to this class. My "I already know that" cynical attitude is being redeemed into something much more hope-filled. Ya'know, after this session I am ready to say I am a Dave Ramsey fan. I even listened to his radio show the day after. I am not ready to become an evangelist yet though. Or am I?

As expected this session was 90% motivation and 10% practical skills training. I think Dave Ramsey likes delivering this session the most as well. It is clear he is driven to inspire people to get mad (really mad) at their personal debt and get rid of it as soon as possible. His passion was supported by statistic after statistic while he talked a little over 45 minutes through popular myths about debt, such as "I'll always have a car payment.", "A home equity line is a good cash reserve," and "We'll switch to a fixed rate in two years before this Adjustable Rate Mortgage increases." Ramsey walks through a dozen or so myths and I recognized that I've been trapped by at least nine of them at one time (a few more than once).

People tend to forget the simple reality that debt is a product. Lending companies are the best marketeers in existence on planet earth today. We forget how excellent they are at what they do, selling money. I loved it when Ramsey pointed out that debt is one of the only products that people get down on their knees and beg to get approved for. Why is it the attitude is such that people plead with banks to get (just) approved to buy a product that the banks themselves are making billions off of? Amazing when you really think about it! Unbelievable power!

I also liked the forget-about-the-past-it-is-what-it-is graceful attitude that Ramsey seemed to display without saying much about it. His focus in this session was to motivate people to act now to become debt free. With all his myth busting he could have wasted time personalizing his debt-is-bad message by flavoring it with ideas like "Shame on you. You are in debt because of your very stupid decision.", or "You're an idiot because you decided to become a slave to someone by letting them help you buy that overpriced car. Can't you see what a dump thing you have done." Ramsey actually does like the words stupid and idiot as evidenced by his extreme use of them. It could have just been me but I was not bothered by it as much in this session. I really appreciated the matter of fact (and in your face) plea by Ramsey - yes you have debt, get out of it now, here's a great plan, it will take hard work and time, and it is possible, you will someday be debt free.

Ramsey communicates the reason to get debt free is for the sake of the personal freedom itself. I agree but I think it is a bit shortsighted. There is a much bigger reason to get debt free. However, I am going to have to break this post up into two parts as I have run out of blogging time this morning. Perhaps you'll feel free to hold me accountable to posting again on the deeper motivations for becoming debt free.


Carla Stream said...

YES!!! Snowball that debt!! I can already imagine the debtfree dance we will do someday!!! I will decorate with dollar bills and streamers and call it Debt Snowball Spring Dance! You are all invited...

Katie R. said...

I'll provide the streamers for the Streamers! Count me in. HA! Count! Get it?

Glad you're enjoying the sessions. This is so interesting to read because I too would be very cynical. Get out of debt? Yeah, ya think? Iteresting to see how your mind wraps around the message and accepts it. This is probably the only post/series I'd ever enjoy on finances. Oops. Was that too cynical?

Keithslady said...

Another myth--Home mortgage is a must, mortgage interest saves you tax money. About 15 years ago I did a 15 year analysis of our financial situation and figured out the interest and tax costs and savings of 2 scenarios. One was to pay our mortgage at the going rate and keep putting X amount in savings. I figured interest gained, interest paid, and approximate tax benefits/costs. Then I redid the math putting all of the money toward the mortgage until it was paid off (about 7 years) and then putting ALL of that money into savings for the remainder of the total 15 years(am I losing you yet?). Anyway, the difference at the end of the 15 years was $60,000! That is not a misprint, $60,000 and that was using conservative interest rates for the savings. That was more money than we made in one year. My husband didn't believe me, it went against ALL financial advice he'd ever heard. But he looked at the numbers, ran them himself, and came on board. We were debt free by 1998 and now own a profitable business that we trust God is using for His glory. Keep pursuing the freedom from the bonds of this world!

Anonymous said...

It's been a couple of weeks since your last is class going?