Sunday, March 14, 2010

Money troubles, and why I love my mom

My mom has influenced me in many ways that I'll always be grateful for. She instilled in me, early on, a lifelong love of reading. Most recently, she's given me the invaluable gift of straight talk.

In January, I mentioned to her that I would like to move into an apartment with a friend of mine in April. She sat me down and showed me how to create a budget in Excel, and how to figure out how all of my expenses would stack up next to my income. The problem was (and is) that I have a student loan. And also something that I had failed to mention to her — make that, had purposefully hidden from her — credit card debt.

Without these debts, I could have been saving up tons of money to use toward striking out on my own. Instead, I was throwing as much money as I could (I thought) toward paying down my credit card debt, while not saving anything and not really keeping track of my frivolous spending.

I broke down and told her about my credit card debt — nearly $5,000, on top of my relatively modest $2,800 student loan balance. She didn't flinch. Instead, she helped me craft a plan to aggressively pay off the debt, and immediately checked out a book from the library for me: Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover.

I was skeptical about this Dave Ramsey thing. I didn't want to be preached to about money (although, obviously, I needed to be). But my mom put the book right in front of me and asked me to read it. With two hours of free time each day on the bus, how could I not?
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