I have come to the conclusion that our family is weird.
I've picked up on it when talking to other people at work and at school. For starters, we have no car payment - our car is 11 years old and has 170,000+ miles on it, but it runs great, and I love it. I've loved it even more since we paid it off several years ago. What's really weird is, we don't plan on ever having a car payment again. (Gasp! "But you have to have a car note - that's a part of life!" someone recently told me.) We're putting money back each month so that when my faithful old Camry finally kicks the bucket, we can buy another used car (we always buy used) outright, with no payments. Crazy, huh?
Another revelation of our weirdness came when I was telling someone that we don't have internet at our house. "No internet?" someone cried. "No, because we have it at our church, and we're there pretty much every day," I explained. "Plus I have my laptop, so I can take it to a Wi-Fi spot and get internet access whenever I need it, so we just save the money." The woman who was so offended by our lack of the internet at home asked me, "Well it's not that expensive, is it?" I agreed, but explained that we have only cell phones, so by the time we paid for a home phone plus internet, it would cost us about $50 a month, and we can get by just fine without it. She just couldn't comprehend living in such a prehistoric state.
The final revelation came when I was having a conversation at work (with several people, including the above mentioned internet lady) about college. I was talking about how I will not have any classes in 2011 until July, if I get into my program, and that we're going to have to stash back a lot of money in those months. Not only will I be paying my tuition and books, but before I start my program, I'll have to spend about $1,000 on dental hygiene tools, scrubs, face shields, gloves, etc. "Well, take out a loan," the internet lady said. I shook my head. "We decided when I started back to school that we're not doing loans. We paid off all our debt except our house a year and a half ago, and we don't want to go back into debt." She was shocked. "Well, you're just out of luck then," she said. "No, we're fine," I replied. "I've set up my tuition on a payment plan, and we'll just save up money the months I'm not in school. I'm also going to apply for scholarships. We'll make it." She just shook her head in disbelief.
So, we're weird, and we have no one to blame but Dave Ramsey. When we started watching his show a few years ago, it revolutionized the way we look at money. Since then, as I mentioned, we are debt free except our house, and we have a plan in place to pay off our 30 year mortgage in 15 years. We have an emergency fund set aside, we're saving for a new car, and we're not living paycheck to paycheck, terrified that we'll go under if something goes wrong. We're not rich by any means, but we're comfortable, and we're happy. The freedom of being debt free is amazing. I would never go back to living the way we did before. I'm happy being weird…and it makes for some really interesting conversations. Thanks, Dave.