As one of Dave Ramsey’s Endorsed Local Providers we are often asked by families that have never heard of Dave or maybe have only seen his wildly popular book, “The Total Money Makeover” who is he and what does he stand for? Quite frankly Dave and his teachings have helped millions of America’s get on a written game plan (often called budget), pay off their debt and start saving for their retirement and other goals with the hope that, “if you live like no one else today, on day you can live and give like no one else”.
Dave has practiced what he preached, once building a real estate empire of about $4 million only to lose it all after his local banks had merged, lost their local leadership and made due within 90 days the loans that supported these assets. Proverbs 22:7 (ESV) says, the rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave to the lender”. See what this passage means – Dave had become a millionaire but because he used debt to build this wealth he really had no control over them. He filed bankruptcy and decided next time he was going to do it God’s way – build wealth based on the Bible not what he once learned in his college finance class from his broke professor.
So here we get to his 7 Baby Steps
1. $1,000 to start an emergency fund – While not the size of an emergency fund you’re going to want when become debt free this is going to cover most emergency expenses that come about – fixing the car, minor home repair, etc. – plus it’s only a $1,000 so you can possibly get here fast by putting things on eBay, having a garage sale or just being very focused on your budget.
2. Pay off all debt but the house – List all your debts in order of smallest to largest. The smallest debt is going to be your number 1 priority, paying only minimum payments on everything but that smallest debt. Don’t worry about interest rates – here we are more focused on having as many wins (by paying off debts) as quickly as possible so you can feel progress and be motivated to continuing to win! Once you pay off that first debt add what you were paying on it to the next debt and start attacking it with a vengeance. The “debt snowball” has been the tool families making $50,000 have used to pay off $60,000 in debt in 2.5 years – they see progress and not only stick with it but are motivated to work the extra job, sell the new cars for used cars. Etc.
3. 3 to 6 Months of Expenses in Savings – This step is all about building that emergency fund that will cover life unexpected expenses that are sure present themselves at some point in your life. How do you determine whether to put away 3 months of expenses or 6 months? Well many times that dependent on your work situation – does your job have a history of making lay-off’s? Better stick with 6 months. Do you work for a fortune 500 company in their accounting department? Probably can stick closer to the 3 months.
4. Invest 15% of household income into retirement – This step is all about building wealth long term. With no payments (other than a house payment possibly) and a fully funded emergency fund doing this step should be straightforward. Between your 401(k), Roth IRA and Traditional IRA you have a lot of options. Take 15% of your gross household income and invest it first into matching company 401(K) plans and then Roth IRA’s. If you company doesn't offer a retirement plan or match your contributions then go straight to the Roth.
5. College funding for children – This step may not be applicable for everyone however if you do have kids you don’t want college to sneak up on you and taking out college loans is never an option. Two smart ways to save for your kids college are 529 college savings funds or Coverdell ESA’s. They are both tax-advantaged savings vehicles that let save money for your kids college expenses while investing them in mutual funds.
6. Pay off home early – There is only one debt standing in the way of freedom from all debt and that’s paying off your home mortgage. Just imagine being done with your mortgage and not having a single payment in the world! Millions of Dave’s followers have tasted this sweet success and you can to – stay focused in this step and don’t forget to celebrate the mini wins within this step (for example getting the mortgage under $100K, getting it under $10K, etc.)
7. Build wealth and GIVE – this is the last step and by far the most fun! It took a lot of hard work and dedication to get here but it will all pay off – No payments in the world, retirement is on track, kids college is saved for and you can do whatever you want. I meet many families that have achieved this step and there is a freedom they have that is indescribable. The single lady at your church that can’t pay her light bill – what if you could pay it ahead for a year for her? The young couple at the restaurant that looks overwhelmed and defeated – what if you could buy their dinner and not even think twice about it? Proverbs 21:5 says, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hastily comes only to poverty.” You had a plan, you were certainly diligent, now you can enjoy the abundance of your labors.
To wrap up, I want to answer my question in the title – How does Whitaker-Myers fit into the 7 Baby Steps as an Investing ELP – the obvious answer would be Baby Step 4, 5 & 7 however we believe in these steps so if you’re struggling with debt and just want someone to help you create a plan to get out we’d love to talk. Maybe you’ve been trying to pay off debt, save for retirement and fund your kid’s college and you just aren’t gaining any traction we’d love to talk. Reach out to us with any investing need or to talk about the 7 baby steps at 330-345-3921.
For more information on Dave’s Baby Steps visit his website - https://www.daveramsey.com/baby-steps
Ready to attend Financial Peace University, his nine week course on getting out of debt and taking control of your money visit http://www.daveramsey.com/fpu/home/?snid=classes.fpu-a
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