Frustrated with the Baby Steps
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  1. #1

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    Default Frustrated with the Baby Steps

    Looking at the baby steps is discouraging to me and I'll tell you why. Well, first let me list them (got this from another thread):

    BS1: baby emergency fund
    BS2: snowball to debt pay-off
    BS3: 3-6 months emergency fund for exepenses only
    BS4: 15% retirement
    BS5: college fund
    BS6: early mortgage pay-off
    BS7: build wealth & give

    What is frustrating is that we had done debt consolidation quite awhile back and almost all of our debt is on our HELOC now. Steps 1 and 2 will be done quickly. In fact, my husband has started talking about selling our newer Camry and fixing the old Dodge in order to net about $15K. We only have one credit card with $1629 on it. So if we sell the car, steps 1, 2, and quite a bit of 3 will already be done. But then what? Do we all of a sudden free up enough to start contributing 15% toward retirement? NO! We free up at most $50 a month in actual cash-flow.

    For most people, by the time they finish their snowball they have a bunch of money no longer going toward those monthly bills and they are thrilled with being able to divert the funds elsewhere. But not us. Do you know how discouraging that feels? We aren't allowed to start paying down the mortgage or HELOC according to the steps (our HELOC is well over 1/2 our annual gross income- in fact it is over twice as much. So according to Ramsey it is not to be put in the snowball but kept with the mortage step).

    So we get to take our extra $50 per month (plus whatever I can shave off the budget on groceries or electricity, etc. but nothing as significant as getting rid of a few hundred dollars of CC payments) and start putting that toward retirement. For how long? How long will it take to be able to reach 15%? FOREVER. All our money goes to the stinkin mortgage and HELOC (and please don't make me have the conversation about why we are stuck with the house right now- it's in another thread, thanks!) 15% for us is over $750 a month. And we're going to free up $50? And that's not taking into account that our rate could change and raise our mortgage payment considerably in January.

    We aren't going to make any progress this way. Not psychologically. No "quick wins" for us. Sure it will feel great to have that fully funded EF, but month to month we will not get to see our total debt going down at all after we pay off the measley $1629 Visa.

    I am so discouraged I want to cry. When will we get to really start paying down our debt? How many years until we can feel the burden begin to lighten? So we're gonna skimp and we're gonna save and we're gonna sell stuff off, and then we aren't going to see any payments going down, or any debts shrinking. The thought of doing all that and working so hard just to start contributing a tiny bit more to the 401K is sickening. I am seriously discouraged here. It feels completely HOPELESS. But according to Dave, the steps have to be done in proper order to work.

    So if someone can say something to give me some hope again I would really appreciate it. Because I can figure out how to free up a couple hundred dollars a month, but not $750- not any time soon or even within the next couple of years. I feel powerless. I can literally feel the weight on my chest right now looking at these steps this morning, looking down the list past step 3- which is as far as my focus was before. I just don't think I can maintain the mental determination to stay on step 4 for the next 3-4 years never seeing our debt go down. (Not to mention step 5 after that!)

  2. #2
    Registered User Greebo's Avatar
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    I feel your frustration - and you are right, there are no quick wins. Life is a long term game.

    But remember - you didn't get *into* your current situation overnight. It's not something that will be fixed overnight either. The important thing is that you start, and that you keep making the right choices going forward. Will it be EASY? NO. But its WORTH it, because the alternative is so much worse.

    So hang in there. You will, as you keep working the plan, continue to find new ways to save more, earn more, and sell more.

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    Registered User joyofsix's Avatar
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    I wish I had something really new or super encouraging to say but....all I can come up with is my mantra of slow and steady wins the race. Not glamorous. We were at step 3 before I ever heard of Dave Ramsey. I do understand. Our only debt is the mortgage and we're ignoring steps to pay it off so that money can go to helping 7 kids go to college. It's taking a long time because even at $200 extra/month it just doesn't go very fast.

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  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greebo View Post
    I feel your frustration - and you are right, there are no quick wins. Life is a long term game.

    But remember - you didn't get *into* your current situation overnight. It's not something that will be fixed overnight either. The important thing is that you start, and that you keep making the right choices going forward. Will it be EASY? NO. But its WORTH it, because the alternative is so much worse.

    So hang in there. You will, as you keep working the plan, continue to find new ways to save more, earn more, and sell more.
    I know the situation won't be fixed overnight, Greebo. I know it is a long and slow process. If I could put $50 extra on the mortgage every month, that wouldn't be much. But it would be SOMETHING. I am discouraged that I can't do anything at all about the debt itself for so long. I'd be tempted to do steps out of order but Dave is so insistant that it must be done in that order that I am afraid to deviate without his personal recommendation! So I did just send an email question through his website but who knows if it will get answered.

    Thank you for all your support. I'm just down because I thought I could start doing something about my debt today and instead I feel like it is years away from STARTING- I always knew it was years away from finishing or seeing major progress. But I thought I'd be able to at least begin paying it down, no matter how slowly, within the next few months- not years.

    I'm sorry if I have a crummy attitude right now, I'm just sad.

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    Sometimes if you can not lower your outgoing, you need to increase your incoming.

    What can you do wo bring in more money? Take another job? Change jobs?

    I can understand the frustration and discouragement.

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    Quote Originally Posted by joyofsix View Post
    I wish I had something really new or super encouraging to say but....all I can come up with is my mantra of slow and steady wins the race. Not glamorous. We were at step 3 before I ever heard of Dave Ramsey. I do understand. Our only debt is the mortgage and we're ignoring steps to pay it off so that money can go to helping 7 kids go to college. It's taking a long time because even at $200 extra/month it just doesn't go very fast.
    Thank you. I'd be tempted to go out of order too, but I am so afraid of deviating from the "tried and true" that I don't want to make a mistake. Really what I'd like to do is sell that car and only put $5 in an EF (after wiping out the Visa) and put the rest on either the mortgage or the HELOC. On the one hand, the HELOC is the wiser choice because we are paying interest only on that balance, but on the other hand the $37 per month that our payment will drop by could easily get swallowed up by groceries or something. Whereas if it is put on the 1st our monthlies will stay the same but more of our payment every single month will go toward the principal rather than interest.

    I'm just nervous about thinking "I know better than Dave Ramsey". However, I am feeling very defeated before I even begin when I think about how difficult and how long step 4 will be. It wouldn't be so bad if by the time I got to step four I could look back and see progress on our debt! But all I'll have to look back on is $1629 that would have been gone within a few months anyway.

    *sigh* I don't know. I don't know what the best thing to do is. But thanks for the encouragement- and the hug!

    Again, sorry everybody for being a sourpuss today.

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    Registered User Greebo's Avatar
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    I know its not gonna help your mood much...

    ... but I still think you should try to short sell the house. Its *NOT* being a blessing to you...

    But we don't need to rehash that again. You hang in there, we'll keep encouraging you when you get frustrated!

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    Registered User Wendy99's Avatar
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    I have no advice, but just wanted to say hang in there! I hope you receive a response to your email from Dave Ramsey. Would be neat to see his take on this in your personal situation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Denvergirlie View Post
    Sometimes if you can not lower your outgoing, you need to increase your incoming.

    What can you do wo bring in more money? Take another job? Change jobs?

    I can understand the frustration and discouragement.
    We are trying to get more side jobs. But they still won't go toward our debt- just our retirement fund. It's not as motivating to be working extra to pay your 401K than to be working to pay down your debt.

    What eats me is we make about 5K per month (which I consider to be a good income) and (basically) have no debt other than the house. But we can't start paying off that house.

    We wouldn't be in this mess if we didn't have such a high HELOC balance. So why can't we work on getting that under control? That's what everything within me is saying to do- GET RID OF THE HELOC! GET RID OF THE HELOC! IF ONLY... IF ONLY...! I mean, if we hadn't bought the car this year, the HELOC balance would be lower. So if we are selling it and "undoing" the mistake, why can't we put the money back on the HELOC where it should have stayed in the first place? Would we have pulled money from the HELOC to fund the EF? Of course not. But isn't that what we are doing by selling the car and using the proceeds for the EF?

    Everything Dave says makes sense to me- on paper. But in my personal life, I have a hard time with the logic sometimes. The more I think about it, the more I might have to modify his plan for myself. Maybe do 5% toward retirement and start attacking the HELOC, then up both little by little. I understand having single focus while snowballing, but I might have to divide my focus here just to keep myself going. I don't know.

    I think what I have to tell myself too, is that I serve a big God. And I don't know what He has in store for me other than that His plans are to give me a future and a hope, and that ALL THINGS work together for the good of those that love Him. I can't discount the fact that He may choose to bless us with a raise, with lower medical insurance premiums, with extra side jobs, etc. As Keith Green said in a song, I can only "just keep doing my best, and pray that it's blessed, and let God take care of the rest." Perhaps today my mantra should be...

    “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

    Ahh, ok Michelle... I will try.

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    Wendy and Greebo,
    Thank you both!

    I am feeling better now. I am going to work on my web design project today and hopefully do a good job on it and get more work my way!


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    Call me crazy but I would recommend calling into the DR show and asking him if he would count your HELOC as non-mortgage debt. MOST of your HELOC is not for your house. Call in and see what he says.

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    Actually, most of it is for the house- we put on an addition a few years ago and also redid the lawn and sprinklers. At most I'd say 1/3 of it is not house-debt.

    Maybe I should look at it that way- focus on paying down 1/3 of it or even just 1/4 of it as part of step 2 or a step 3.5 (since I'd like to have a bigger EF so we don't use the HELOC in an emergency), and then switch over to the retirement fund after that.

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    Registered User Greebo's Avatar
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    DR has answered the question before - yes, Mocha's Heloc debt is large enough to be considered part of baby step 6.

    But that's where mocha's frustration lies - because BS4 - 15% to retirement - comes BEFORE early pay off of the house.

    Mocha - unless there's matching on the 401k to be gained, don't modify the plan. Save the BEF, pay off the CC, then save up the EF. Your retirement investing, when done at the right time, will have a much better long term pay off than paying off your house, which is why house comes after retirement investing. If over 20 years you make 10% in the market but pay out 6% on the house, you're ahead overall.

    Meanwhile, keep looking for ways to scale back lifestyle. With $5k / month coming in, you *should* be able to live on 30-35k. Maybe a tad more. Like I said - the house is not being a blessing to you right now...

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    I understand your pain. I have been stuck on BS1 for 7yrs. This past weekend I had a meltdown in front of my dc. It wasn't pretty. I have finally got BS1 (not sure for how long) and DH seems to be leaving it alone. But there is no extra to be put on the snowball. The floor and 1 wall are rotting in the bathroom and must be replaced, the sewage is backing up, I don't trust the electrical and I really need to fix the leaking pipes under the kitchen sink before it rots that out. My neighbor’s fence is extremely close to the property line and I would like a survey done because they will talk Christian and love to your face while ripping you off (have already experienced that from them about something else). He tried to get me to sign a quick claim deed because supposedly the deeds were written up wrong and my deed had us 50 feet to far over, per the neighbor. He came over while DH wasn't there so that seems suspicious to me.

    I need to prioritize what needs done, cost it out and get it done so that I can go on to BS2 or at least half what I was putting on BS1 between the two. Good luck and know that you are not alone.

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    Ansley, I'm so sorry to hear about all the trouble you are having around the house, and then to top it off with neighbors who aren't very neighborly- especially when they claim to follow Christ and basically give Him and the others of us who follow Him a bad rap. That really irks me!

    Hang in there, and keep trying. I hope an unexpected windfall comes your way soon!


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