Recently I read that 56% of Americans do not have at least $1000 in the bank between savings and checking accounts. Dave Ramsey recommends in his “baby steps” program that baby step number on is to have $1000 in the bank for emergencies. That’s step one and 56% of Americans do not have it.
After reading that headline, I did what I always regret and read the comments on the Facebook post. Oh boy! I almost always regret reading the comments, but this time I do not. I am glad I read them because it inspired this blog post. I read quite a few posts about Dave Ramsey, and if you’ve read my blog for very long you know I like Dave. I also saw several posts about minimum wage and inflation. This one in particular struck a chord with me:
In the co-parenting class that I teach, there is a small section on overcoming challenges and one of the challenges is the feeling that there are no options. We talk about how we always have options, we just might not like what they are. This notion applies to any and every aspect of our lives- especially money! Working 20-40 hours a week at minimum wage may not earn you enough money to live on, let alone save up $1000 BUT no one is holding a gun to your head forcing to you stay in that job. There is no rule that says you can’t get a second job, look for a better paying job or create your own job by starting a small business.
Another thing Dave Ramsey says is this: “Poor and broke are not the same thing. Broke people don’t have any money, poor is an attitude.” I am paraphrasing, but that’s the gist. Don’t have enough money? Find a way to make more. Believe you are poor? You probably are and will likely stay that way for as long as you believe it to be true.
You are not a victim and nobody will save you. Not the government. Not a sugar daddy. Not a $15/hr minimum wage. Nobody but you. You have what it takes. I know you do. You talent. You can increase your earning potential and your income. You might have to get creative and you might have to change your game plan, but you can do this!
Just so I don’t leave you hanging, here are the baby steps laid out by D Ramsey:
- Save $1000 for emergencies. Put this in its own little savings account and DO NOT touch it except in a real emergency.
- Get out of debt using the debt snowball. Make a list of all your debts and order them smallest to largest. Pay the minimum on all debts except the smallest. Throw every last penny you can scrape together at the smallest debt until it is paid off. Then, take all the money you were paying on the smallest debt and add that to the minimum payment of the next smallest debt. Rinse and repeat until all the debts are paid. It’s not about math. It’s not about interest rates. It’s about behavior and getting a win. As you start to knock off those little debts, you will feel motivated and energized to keep going.
- Beef up that $1000 emergency fund to enough money to cover 3-6 months of expenses. Keep it in the emergency savings account and DO NOT touch it unless there is a real emergency.
- Start putting 15% of your household income away for retirement. Use a 401K if offered by your employer or an IRA (roth if you qualify or traditional)
- Save for your children’s college.
- Pay off your house.
For more information, you could check out Dave’s book The Total Money Makeover or The Complete Guide to Money.
This is not a paid endorsement. I just really believe in this system. It’s how my husband and I survived when he was laid off from his job in 2015. We had been working through our financial issues based on the above steps and we landed on our feet. Was it fun? No. Of course not. BUT it wasn’t painful. His job loss could have meant financial ruin for us, but it didn’t. We didn’t act like victims. We just made a decision to do better, followed a real plan and we are doing better. You can too!