This picture was snapped today, not in 2010. That IS the original worksheet though. Ah, the days of $750 rent.

This is Part 2 of an ongoing series reviewing the past ten years of our family’s finances.

We walked out of the hall we had just toured. We were planning to have our reception here in six months. It hit me. We’re paying for this whole wedding. That’s a lot of money. But, even if the wedding were free, I wouldn’t really have had a plan for what to do with what we had saved. Probably use it for a house, I guess. Or, more likely, it would just sit in our account until something happened to it.

We got married in 2010, entering the adulting game with a large negative net worth thanks to Sallie Mae. My records–which aren’t quite as organized as they are now–remind me that our household debt made up of student loans and vehicles was about $55,000. We drove the exact same car–two very plain, simple cars. (One of which, I still drive). Thankfully, we didn’t have any credit card debt; I knew to pay off my card every month and had never missed a payment. Well, that is, until we missed one of her card payments soon after we were married, which led to one of our only “arguments” about money. (Yes, really! I’ve got it good with her). Otherwise, we were coasting without much of a plan, making our minimum debt payments on our student loans and vehicles. I started some frivolous cost savings ideas around the apartment that didn’t really amount to anything–like replacing all our batteries with rechargeable ones. Not a terrible idea; we still use those AA’s today. But not going to move the needle in any useful way.

Soon after we got married, our church announced that they were going to host Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University course. We had heard good things about it, so we signed up and took the multiple-session course. Despite Ramsey’s insistence to get out of debt ASAP, his overall message and sense of urgency didn’t really click for me yet.

I think the reason the course didn’t immediately spur me into action was because neither my wife and I were the type to spend money frivolously. I felt as if we already had the right mindset, so why would our situation require immediate attention? We were keen on buying a house, and using all our cash to pay off our loans would delay that several years.

Still, the course did lay some good groundwork, and concepts that Dave mentioned did help direct some of our early decisions. It motivated me to build a spreadsheet budget. Ideas on term life insurance, long term disability plans, and HSA plans were also new wrinkles in my brain.

 In Retrospect, What Was Good: The Dave Ramsey course was very good, despite how laissez-faire I was about the whole thing. 

 In Retrospect, What I Would Have Changed: I thought that my anti-spend mindset was enough. But I didn’t take it to the next level. I wish I had taken the idea of paying down our student loans and vehicles more seriously from the beginning, and also started investing more earlier. 

I wish I would have read books like Chris Brady/Orrin Woodward’s Financial Fitness and Beyond Financial Fitness, or the Boglehead’s Guide to Investing earlier. Books and ideas to help me get a plan earlier.

 What got you interested in financial literacy?