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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Money Money Money Maaaaahnaaaay

It's been a L O N G time since I talked about anything financial around here, and I need some advice from my most favorite people.

If you've been reading LVL for any length of time you'll know we are Dave Ramsey devotees. We are debt-free and dutifully attempt do a monthly budget to keep ourselves that way. It's one of the many reasons I get to stay home with my feet up and eat bon bons all day.

The last time I wrote about things on the blog it was December of '09. We had just opened up a college fund for the Squirt, which meant we were finally on step 5 of the Dave Ramsey plan. If you're not a devotee the steps are:

#1 Create a $1000 emergency fund
#2 Pay off all debt (except a large mortgage) in snowballing order (from smallest to largest debt)
#3 Build up to a 3-6 month emergency fund
#4 Put 15% of your income away for retirement 
#5 Establish college funds for children at home
#6 Pay off your mortgage
#7 Build wealth and give generously! 

And today, over 3 years later, we are still sitting at Step #5. I was listening to Dave on a run this morning and I found myself getting really frustrated. We moved through those first few baby steps relatively quickly but this college fund thing is HARD. Since the Squirt's birth we've had fits and starts with college savings. Some months we'd have extra and put a bit away, but it wasn't a given. Then Sweet B and Blue Eyes came on the scene and that extra dwindled even further.  For about 6 months now we've consistently been finishing out the month with extra cash on hand. It feels AWESOME. But it's a drop in the bucket compared to what our kids will need.

I've played around with online calculators and the general consensus is that we need to be saving $1800 each month in order to put our 3 kids through 4 years at a public university by the time they are 18.


WHO HAS $1800/month TO SAVE FOR COLLEGE? Don't answer that - I probably can't handle it.

We don't have $1800...but we definitely have enough to have some fun. :) Regular date nights, a vacation now and then, highlights when I want them (instead of when my good friend and hairdresser sweetly tells me it's time). If we put it all into the (still woefully underfunded) college accounts, we're back in the world of cash envelopes and strictly drinking water at restaurants (#firstworldproblems) and I imagine we'll be living that way for quite some time until the "extra" comes up to the $1800 marker.

I'm wondering what your thoughts are. Should we forgo all fun and strive to reach the $1800/month point before loosening the reins on the budget (in twenty years)? Or should we establish our own college savings goal regardless of what the expert calculations tell us and work towards that goal before having fun with any leftover? The progress minded girl in me HATES staying stuck on this Baby Step for so long!

Please give me some encouragement!

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