Saturday, August 02, 2008

Gazelling and Simplicity

We sold our van today. EEK! Last Thursday night, as Mr. Math Tutor was taking the kids to a Timber Rattlers game (while I was home with a migraine), the van died. Turns out that it blew a head gasket - $800 worth of work on a $2000 vehicle. So, in the "gazelling" tradition, we just sold it and put the money toward paying down debt and building up savings.

What, exactly, is gazelling, you ask? "Gazelling" is a term coined by Dave Ramsey and popularized in his financial books and seminars. It refers to doing whatever it takes to pay off debt so that you can start saving and investing money. We were introduced to the Dave Ramsey lifestyle a number of years ago when our church hosted a seminar. Mr. Math Tutor took to Dave's philosophy right from the start. In fact, we were very fortunate that he did this because we had no consumer debt and had money in the bank when I had to quit work. Mr. Math Tutor is feeling very "gazelle"-like again to get our financial selves in better shape and save more money.

So, when the van issue came up, we had debated and prayed and decided to become a one-car family. We live in a small town, so we can walk or bike to the grocery story, library, and downtown (such as it is). Mr. Math Tutor's schedule is going to be flexible, so we're hoping this won't be too hard. The biggest problem we forsee is that Mr. Math Tutor often goes to church for both services (being an elder and all that) while I usually go just to the second service. It looks like I might have to drag my lazy self out of bed earlier on Sunday mornings from now on.
In any case, we have our "Emergency Fund" completely funded, so if the one-car lifestyle is just too hard for us, we can always go out and buy a used car.

While the one-car lifestyle does present some scheduling complications, it does contribute to a more simple lifestyle in other ways. We will spend less on insurance and gas. We won't have to keep up a second vehicle. We don't have to keep a second vehicle clean. We'll get more exercise when we have to walk to things in town.

If you haven't checked out Dave Ramsey, you really should do so. He makes money issues easy to understand without guilt. You know what I'm talking about - you go to a church money seminar and they talk about how you shouldn't be in debt and you should have a budget and you're wanting to crawl under a chair because of how poorly you (and only you, you feel sure) are taking care of God's good gifts. Dave Ramsey is different. For one thing, he has been in the bad financial situation so he knows what it's like. For another thing, he is funny. And, there's no guilt involved. After listening to Dave Ramsey, I actually wanted to go out and make a budget and be responsible. How crazy is that? So, sign up for a seminar or buy a book, or go to his website. But, if you need financial help, seriously consider Dave's stuff. (Yes, the commercial is now ended, and, no, I was not paid for it - I just feel strongly about it.)

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