Monday, January 4, 2010

'Til Debt Do Us Part

(Picture from Show Info Page on Slice)

With the kids busy with their new toys, Tim and I had a chance to watch several episodes from the Christmas Day
'Til Debt Do Us Part marathon. I had never heard of it before, but was intrigued by the title. The host, Gail Vaz-Oxlade, works with couples in Canada to get their finances under control. Most of the families have no clue where their money is going and are typically far outspending their income each month. It seems like such a foreign concept that people would actually live this way, but I'm not sure why I'm so surprised. Before Financial Peace we never tracked our expenses that closely. I don't think we were ever outspending our income since we didn't really use credit cards, but we certainly weren't spending our money wisely.

Her basic premise is similar to Dave. If you don't have it, don't spend it. She always makes debt repayment a priority too. Instead of envelopes she uses jars, which I actually think is a great idea because you can actually see the money. Dave says this is a good practice with kids. And, lets me honest, many of us start with child-like ideas when it comes to money, so it makes sense that couple who are just getting started down a smart financial path should use jars also.

I liked the challenges she gave each family. Even more effective, though, is the calculation of potential debt she gives. "If you continue to live like you are today, in 5 years you will be $XXXX in debt." The numbers are staggering. Since we were living within our monthly income, the more shocking calculation for us would have been how long it would have taken us to pay off the debt if we didn't change our lifestyle. Either way, the shock always seems to work.

I wish the shows would give a follow-up to the family and show how they are doing now. All in all, though, it's a good 30 minute show to keep you thinking and keep us on track. It's from her show that I got the reminder that we need to have a little fun too and need to have an entertainment fund again. The most important message in the show and given by Dave Ramsey is how important it is to write it down and talk it out with your partner. If you do nothing else this year, I challenge you to do those 2 things. Even if you aren't paying a penny toward debt, you will be making great progress if you start to track your expenses and talk about it with your partner.
You'll thank me later!


Kara said...

As you know, because you know Chris and I's story, writing it down is also valuable because it isn't emotional - it is the black and white true of your spending. It simply is what it is. That right there takes away away lot of the argueing (or it did for us at any rate) because the budget and the receipts don't lie :-)

TA-TA said...

Very good point, Kara. I think it's some times hard or overwhelming to actually track the cash, but well worth it. I know a lot of people who think they know where their money goes, but I suspect they would be shocked if they really saw the numbers.

I never thought about it taking the emotion out, but it certainly does. I think it keeps you honest and on your toes too so you don't have to explain any expenses not planned.

Kara said...

Exactly. We thought we knew where our money went. We were wrong. I know I didn't realize how bad my "just fill up the Amazon cart for free shipping" habit was and Chris probably didn't realize how much annually going out to lunch every day cost vs. a sack lunch either. Writing it down is a MUST - you can't just assume.


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