A “Hot Date” on a Weeknight: Talkin’ Finances

My husband, Nikko and I rarely have date nights on weeknights but this week Nikko planned a hot date on a Thursday. We spent the romantic evening with Dave Ramsey and his band of “financial preachers.” I’ve talked about my financial prowess – or lack thereof – in former posts so you can imagine how unenthused I was when Nikko got us tickets to see people talk about money for a couple hours. I knew this is a passion of his and I knew it was good information to have so I agreed to go. We left for our “hot date” right after work before we could even eat dinner and drove to a nearby modern church where the event was to be held. The traffic was backed up onto the adjacent street leading up to the church. I remember thinking “What kind of event is this?!” Upon pulling into the HUGE parking lot, I was dumbfounded to see a line of people filing into the church. I seriously thought we would be here with the ten other couples whose wives got tricked into going because their husbands told them they were going to dinner. The people in attendance were – to my surprise – extremely diverse of every ethnicity and age, some married, some single. The venue looked like a concert hall. It had stadium seating and sat a couple thousand people. This event was obviously going to be much larger than I had imagined it. We took our seats and waited for the event to start. Nikko was getting his neat and tidy notebook ready to take notes while I was busy thinking about what I wanted to eat for dinner after the event finished.

The event kicked off with a witty MC who introduced the main speaker, Chris Hogan, an ex-football player turned financial motivational speaker. He was a great speaker almost like a stand-up comedian throwing punchy jokes and funny life stories into his introduction. I was entertained and laughing along when he seamlessly began to relate his funny life stories to money and finances. He held my attention and I was actually listening when he started to delve into the meat of the program: the “Seven Baby Steps to Financial Freedom.”

  • Baby Step 1: $1,000 cash in a beginner emergency fund
  • Baby Step 2: Use the debt snowball to pay off all your debt but the house
  • Baby Step 3: A fully funded emergency fund of 3 to 6 months of expenses
  • Baby Step 4: Invest 15% of your household income into retirement
  • Baby Step 5: Start saving for college
  • Baby Step 6: Pay off your home early
  • Baby Step 7: Build wealth and give generously

Though Nikko and I are not starting from scratch with our finances and though most of these steps are well-taken care of, in going through these baby steps, I learned I could be doing a lot better with planning and budgeting (something that Nikko has been telling me for quite some time now). Aside from the baby steps, some various take-aways that were particularly impactful to me were:

  • YNAB: You need a budget. Assign every dollar in your checking account a purpose. Which brings me to my next point…

  • If you don’t have a plan for you’re the money in your checking account, you can consider it spent. I KNOW this to be true from my online shopping escapades.

  • The FICO credit score is NOT an indicator of how you manage wealth, but how you manage debt. So while it’s great to have a stellar credit score, for our next big purchase, we really need to think about if we even need to “contribute” to our credit score in the first place. Which leads me to the next point…

  • Choose not go into debt if you have the cash to pay upfront.

  • Think of interest that you earn as a reward and interest that you pay as a penalty.

  • No matter how old you are or your marital status, you need to create a will for your assets in case anything happens to you. This hit me especially hard with Nikko’s deployment approaching.

All of these were good lessons, some of which I did not know prior to the talk and some that were paraphrased to be more impactful.

Now don’t get me wrong, I STILL hate talking about and dealing with money but after tonight, I certainly do feel more confident. I feel confident that Nikko and I are doing alright for ourselves. I feel confident that I know what to do to create a plan for our money. Most importantly, I feel more confident that we will be prepared for whatever life throws at us. This confidence is coming at a great time because I will have to be the one doing the majority of financial planning while Nikko is away.

When the show was over, Nikko whole-heartedly thanked me for coming to the talk with him because he knew it wasn’t my first choice for a hot date on a Thursday night. I assured him that I actually enjoyed it and had so much to take away from it. We capped off the night discussing our financial take-aways over a Chik-fil-A dinner date. He was happy because I was actually engaged and actively participating in a conversation about finances and I was happy because I got Chik-fil-A, the perfect ending to a “hot date.”

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