You Have More Opportunities To Save Than You Think – Ask These Newlyweds!

Today, we’re looking at the story of a couple who went through Dave’s Financial Peace University class, when they couldn’t attend their standard couple’s counseling before getting married.

Right now, we’re in the main section of Page 23, under the title ‘We Did It!’, in Chapter 1 of Dave Ramsey’s Complete Guide to Money.

And here’s my lesson for the day:

No matter your income, you always have more opportunities to save than you think. Those savings might not look significant to you, but they do add up over time – in a big way!

This story about an interesting couple started with the couple’s preparation for marriage. The bride had heard of Dave from her dad, but that was pretty much all she knew about Dave and his work.

But, as she and her husband were about to get married, a fascinating challenge arose: the intending couple were in City A, the pastor was in another City B, and then the wedding was going to take place in another City C.

So this couple couldn’t meet with their pastor, as they would in a normal pre-marriage counseling situation.

And so the pastor came up with an idea: in place of the usual counseling classes, the couple should attend a Financial Peace University (FPU) class at their local church.

(Side note: Dave’s the brain behind FPU; in fact, Dave refers to this book – the Complete Guide to Money – as the handbook of Financial Peace University).

Our lessons today revolve around what this couple learnt from that class…

… and how those lessons helped them start their marriage on a very strong financial footing, even though they weren’t making particularly high incomes.

In fact, the husband was still in school, and the wife was working all-year at a low-paying job…

… but using the insights they gained at FPU, they didn’t let that stop them.

Instead, they:

  • Paid off their $3,500 credit card debt within 3 months
  • Put $5,000 in their savings
  • And started looking into their budget for even more opportunities to save

By doing these, this couple was able to switch the ‘normal’ narrative; that it’s okay to be debt-bound in the early years of your marriage…

… and that as you and your spouse make more money, the fog would start to clear. And over time (say 5, 7, or 10 years), y’all would be able to pay off your debts, save up, and then invest.

But this ‘normal’ narrative is simply not true.

Because here’s the deal: that might be the ‘normal’ thing in the society…

… but as we learnt yesterday, practicing ‘weird’ and ‘crazy’ financial habits can do wonders for your personal finances.

You just have to know what advice to take, and the ones to run away from, as fast as you can.

And this notion that: ‘new couples struggle with debt for a long time in their marriages’ is just one of those general, but wrong, notions.

This couple’s story is an excellent example of that.

So how exactly did this couple achieve those mouth-watering zero debt and savings goals?

They Recognized And Seized Opportunities

How many times have you tried to save a few extra dollars, looked at your budget, then decided there was absolutely no where to cut?

If you’re like me, many times.

Instead, you & I quickly conclude that the best way to pay off debt and invest is to just earn more.

Which is a good cop out…

… to avoid the painful but necessary process of cutting out the excess, not-needed fat, from our budget

Now, I wouldn’t discount the power of earning more money, because…

… there’s only so much you can save, given your current income; but you can always earn more.

But here’s the deal: if you and I don’t continually look for opportunities to cut costs and save more, then earning more won’t solve the problem. It would just become a bad cycle, a spinning wheel…

… where you need more money so you can save; then that money you earn goes into the money holes draining your finances; and then you need to earn even more money, so you can save; and on and on…

… so that over time, your biggest worry might not even be to save, but just to have enough to live, even though you’re earning more!

But this new couple figured this out early.

They looked for those opportunities to plug those money holes, and then took advantage of those moments… fast!

How?

Well, as newlyweds, they got a $3,000 gift from their wedding, and were on their way to their honeymoon.

Now, ‘normal’ (see that word ‘normal’ again?); ‘normal’ practice says you should enjoy your honeymoon to the max, and spend as much as you can, to enjoy this one special event in y’all’s lives.

But not this couple.

They spent, relative to their financial needs and goals.

What did they do with that sudden $3,000 cash? They used it to pay off their credit card debt!

And they had the FPU class to thank, for having this insight to spend the cash that way, without the fear of getting judged for being poor misers, ‘weird’ or ‘crazy’.

Which is another lesson here for me: The fact that I got some cash as a gift doesn’t mean I should squander it.

I can still put that money to good use… to put me in a far better financial shape.

So with their credit card debt gone, what else did this couple do?

They combed through their budget, and started looking for opportunities to cut stuff.

And you and I can do the same:

  • Cable? No; Why don’t we watch YouTube instead?
  • High car insurance costs? No; Why don’t we ask around and see if we can get better rates?
  • High electric bill? No; Why don’t we call our electric company and ask them – what’s sucking up the most power – and look for ways to reduce power consumption in our home?
  • Textbooks we no longer need lying around? No; Why don’t we take pictures of those books and sell on eBay or Facebook Marketplace?
  • Watching TV from 7 PM to 11 PM? No; Why don’t we use that free time to deliver groceries / foods for Post Mates, Uber Eats, or Door Dash?
  • $5 monthly Spotify payments? No; Why don’t we use the free version instead, even though it comes with a few ads, and save the cash instead?

And on and on like that.

I can assure you: we aren’t seeing these opportunities to cut and save, because we are not looking closely.

Right now, why don’t you take your monthly budget and look closely?…

Look closely at the different stuff you can cut, so you can put those dollars into your savings?

And please know: it’s perfectly fine, if those savings are small and tiny at first…

… the savings were tiny for this couple too, but get this: they were able to save $5,000, all from those tiny, small, and slow but steady savings!

You can do the same, and even much more, but first, you’ve got to realize the opportunities you have, now, with the small income you’re making… right now:

No matter your income, you always have more opportunities to save than you think. Those savings might not look significant to you, but they do add up over time – in a big way!

That’s all for today, my friend. We’ll continue in the main section of Page 24 of the book tomorrow.

See you then.

-DD

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