Baby Step 1

Hi, and welcome to the 2nd installment of my Dave Ramsey Baby Steps series for the UK.

You can find the first in the series (Baby Step 0) HERE, and today I’ll be explaining Baby Step 1.

Before we start Baby Step 1, I personally think it’s very important to have written a budget. If you need help on how to do that, I’ve written a post about that HERE.

 

What is Baby Step 1?

Baby Step 1 is the starting point to our financial plan. It is to save £1000 CASH in the bank. Or if your household income is less than £20k a year, that amount is reduced to £500.

This is our Baby EF (Emergency Fund). Now, don’t panic. Later on in the Baby Steps, we will come back to this ‘Baby EF’ and add more money to it, but right now, we just need to focus on saving that £1000/£500.

The aim is to save this money as quickly as possible, so that we can move onto the next step. So, we can sell any unwanted or unnecessary items that we have in our home (clothes, furniture, shoes, music equipment, ANYTHING goes) or cut out anything we can from the budget (this is why I feel it’s crucial to have written a budget before you start this step). Be lethal. As Dave Ramsey himself says, “sell so much stuff that the kids think they’re next!”.

Why have an Emergency Fund?

According to The Money Charity, around 9.45m (35%) of UK households have no savings whatsoever. That is a scary thought, that 35% of households in the UK don’t have any savings for emergencies.

As you can probably tell from its name, the EF is ONLY for emergencies. Things that we cannot see coming and unexpected life events. It is not for things like Christmas, Birthdays, Days out etc.

The fact is, that unless we have an emergency fund to cover emergencies, we WILL end up getting into more debt than we currently have. Life happens, and we need to be prepared for it.

Imagine that you lost your job, or that your car was in an accident, or you had an urgent plumbing problem in your house. Without that EF, how are you going to pay for the expenses that will occur? Well, if we don’t have the cash to pay for it, we’ll end up using credit cards, loans or other forms of debt. When we have an EF, we have that small safety net.

Many people find Baby Steps frustrating and pointless. Once they have decided that they want to pay off debt, they want to get straight into that Baby Step. But for the reasons I outlined above, Baby Step 1 is absolutely crucial.

I hope that has explained what an emergency fund is, and why you need one. I’ll be back later in the week with a post about Baby Step 2.

Claire.

 

 

Dave Ramsey- UK Baby Step 0

 

I’ve mentioned quite a few times that I loosely follow the Dave Ramsey 7 Baby Steps. I say ‘loosely’ because living in the UK means I do things slightly differently.

I’ve had quite a few requests to explain what the 7 baby Steps are, so I’ve decided to do a series of posts over the next few weeks, explaining each Baby Step, and how I ‘translate ‘them for the UK market.
This is the 1st post, which is all about Baby Step 0.

What is Baby Step 0?

Baby Step 0 is essentially, getting current on all of our bills. We don’t need to think about any of the other Baby Steps until we are current on our bills and are out of our overdraft.

So, in this step we need to think about our 4 walls.

These are:

1. Food-above all else, before we do anything else, we need to feed ourselves and our families.

2. Shelter (rent or mortgage)- We also need somewhere to live.

3. Utilities- we need to have lights, heating and electricity.

4. Transport- if we need to get to work then we need to think about this as it is crucial to making a living.

Then, we get current with things like credit cards, loans and other debt, before we actually start the Baby Steps. So, we are covering our 4 walls, and paying the minimums on all of our debts.
The aim is for us to get (and stay) current all the way through paying off the Baby Steps.

Stay tuned for the next post, all about Baby Step 1.

Claire.

Sinking Funds- How to save for large expenses

When sticking to a budget (If you need help writing a budget, you can find that here ) my biggest priority after paying for my fixed expenses, is to contribute to my Sinking Funds (SFs). This is because SFs stop me from acquiring more debt.

In this blog post, I’m going to talk all abut SFs, what they are and how I use them.

What are Sinking Funds?

Essentially, all of the things that you expect will happen at some point, are covered with small amounts of money that you put away into an account every month.

I like to think of Sinking Funds as lifeboats on a sinking ship. All is going well, you are sailing along quite happily on your debt free journey, your budget is running smoothly, you are paying off your debts using your Debt Snowball (or Avalanche), when BAM! All of a sudden, you hit an Iceberg. That Iceberg may be a broken down car, or School Uniform costs, or whatever the case may be.

What Sinking Funds do is take away that panic of hitting the iceberg. So you aren’t left panicking about how you are going to cover that expense. In reality we know these things WILL happen at some point. Its unheard of for you to buy a car and NEVER spend a single penny on it and then sell it 10 years later. All cars need money spent on them, whether its expected or unexpected. The same goes for lots different categories.

Some examples are:

Christmas- It’s on the 25th December every year, plan for it!

Birthdays-Similar to Christmas, birthdays are

School Uniform Costs

Car Maintenance/M.O.T

Pet Expenses

Home Repairs

Clothing.

 

How to start Sinking Funds

The general rule of thumb is to work out what Sinking Funds you need, then work out how much you’ll need for each fund, divide by 12 and save that amount every month.

So, if you’ll need £250 a year for car repairs, you’ll divide that by 12 (approx.£20.80) and save that amount every month throughout the year.

Where that may not work is when you’ve only just started SFs and you have a shorter time to save for expenses. For example, it’s September and you haven’t any SF for Christmas, or is August and you haven’t any SF for School Uniform costs.

In that scenario, I would work out the BARE MINIMUM you can get away with spending for that item, and save for that first. It may mean having to scale back significantly on Christmas for example. In 2017, I only spent £250 on Christmas in total. I never thought that was possible, but I managed it. And I’m sure you could manage on an equally low budget, if push came to shove.

 

At What stage to I set up Sinking Funds?

If you are following Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps (as I do) then you will start SFs once you are in Baby Step 2 (paying off your debt).

This is not something that you ever stop doing either, it will continue to serve you for the rest of your life.

Where do you keep your Sinking Funds?

 

It’s really up to you. I keep mine in a separate bank account, and transfer the money to them every month. I don’t have them in a high interest account, I just have them in a cash ISA that I can withdraw from quickly when I need to.

I know of some people who keep their Sinking Funds in cash in their house. If you are going to do this, I highly recommend checking with your house/contents insurance to see how much would be covered by them in the event of an emergency (fire, robbery etc).

 

I hope that helps!

Claire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Stay Motivated on your Debt Free Journey.

When people find out that it took 2 years for me to complete my Debt Free Journey, 1 of the most common questions I get asked is ‘How Did You Stay Motivated For 2 Years?’.

The truth is, I wasn’t 100% motivated all of the time. I think motivation is something we have to work on and accept that it wont always be easy.

Find your ‘Why’. 

I would say that for the first 6 months of my Debt Free Journey, I found it quite easy to stay motivated. The novelty hadn’t yet worn off and paying off debt felt great!
I had a very strong list of Why’s

In my experience, keeping your ‘Why’ in mind at all times is really important. It helps to keep you focused and in turn keeps you motivated.

Get Support

Shortly after the 6 month mark, I started to feel deflated. My friends were booking holidays, redecorating their houses and generally doing all the things that I wanted to do but couldn’t afford.
I could have just said ‘Screw it, I’m going on holiday’ but instead, I used this as a lesson in self-discipline and motivation.

It was DIFFICULT! But I carried on. At that time, I joined some Facebook groups dedicated to people paying off debt and following Dave Ramsey’s 7 Baby Steps. These groups really became my lifeline in the following months. In the end, I started my own Facebook group. This has been so helpful for me to stay accountable, complain when I’m feeling sorry for myself, get advice and share tips.

Mark your progress

This isn’t something that I personally did regularly, but I’ve heard that it can help spur a lot of people on. Many people I follow on Instagram (you can find me at www.instagram.com/the_money_freak ) use Debt Free charts to track how much debt they’ve paid off, and how much they have left to pay. You could make your own very easily if you prefer that.

 

Make Plans

When it killed me to see the majority of my money going towards paying off my debt, I made plans for what I was going to do with that money once I was debt free.
I researched holidays, made lists of household furniture that I wanted to buy, and those plans got me through some pretty tough times!

Some other ways you can make plans are to write down how things will change in your life when you become debt free.
Maybe you’ll be able to work part time, or be a stay at home mum, or be able to save money in the bank for the first time in your life (this was and still is my plan). Whatever it is, focus on that and let it motivate you.

The truth of the matter is, you wont be motivated every single day. I had weeks and months where I just carried on my journey towards debt freedom because I knew that I’d kick myself if i gave up. I carried on despite hating it. I moaned to my Facebook group…but I just carried on. The frustrating times where I lacked motivation always passed, and so will yours.

I hope this helps someone who is struggling with motivation like i was,
Till next time,
C.

Debt Free…Now What?

Hi, welcome back to Financial Friend.

As some of you may know if you’ve read my first blog entry My Journey towards Becoming Friends with My Finances. at the start of this year, in February 2018, I became Debt Free.
I had been working on this goal for just over 2 years, and I thought that once I had achieved it, things would be different for me.
It has come as a bit of a shock to realise that actually, this is where the journey towards building wealth gets really difficult.

I’m not sure what I thought was going to happen once I became debt free, but in the back of my mind I think I imagined a luxurious lifestyle, being able to spend whatever and whenever I want.
But the truth is, its not like that at all.

I’m a single mum working full time in retail, therefore I don’t have enough money to have a ‘luxurious lifestyle’ even if I wanted to! I do have more ‘spare’ money now that I’m debt free, but I have to admit that I’ve not really stuck to my budget since becoming debt free either. I know, a shocker!

What worries me more is that I KNOW having an emergency fund of 3 months worth of expenses will stop me getting back into debt. But I seem to have lost all motivation recently.

So I know I need to get back on the money saving wagon, and am going to get strict with myself.
I aim to do this by:

-Restart Meal Planning every week. I always meal planned when I was getting out of debt and I swear it not only saved me money and time, but took the stress out of cooking.

-Write a budget. This is crucial to saving money. It will also help me to see just how much money I could be putting towards savings.

For now, those are my main plans going forward, although I’m sure I’ll add to them as the weeks go on. Stay Tuned,
C.