Today is March 1st, 2009.
A few weeks ago my wife Mickey and I watched the movie "Fireproof". My first impression of the movie was that it seemed a half step off. A little like those after school specials I remember as a kid...thrown together quickly, cheaply produced, poorly acted, melodramatic and a little too preachy. I remember feeling very cynical after watching the movie especially when I saw an advertisement just before the credits rolled for book called "The Love Dare". As I saw it then the main objective of the movie was to sell a book; if a few marriages get saved or a couple more people show up in church next Sunday....well that's a bonus. Since then we have had several conversations about the movie and she has pretty much "dared" me to buy the book. I consider myself a very considerate person but I do agree that I tend to fall into a rut like a lot of people and sometimes take things for granted.
The first nice thing I remember Kirk Cameron trying to do for his wife was to make her coffee one morning. (I make our coffee most mornings so I figure I already have a head start on most people). Anyway, this morning as I was pouring the water an idea came to me....since money is at the root of so many marital problems and financial hardship is at the forefront of every ones mind right now why not start the "The Money Dare".
So here we go, for the next forty days I will post something new about our financial situation as well as a new money saving tip to try for yourself. First a little background...
I will be 38 years old on Wednesday and my wife Mickey is 39. We both work, Mickey as a full time Skill Builder for a local non-profit and part time as a hair dresser out of our home. I work for a small payroll company and wear many hats (programmer, sales, customer support) and work about 45 hours a week and occasionally on Saturday's. She has two daughters (17 and 21) from previous relationships one of whom lives with us. I have no children of my own. We both would like more children and since it is too late to try for a pregnancy we are looking into foster care and/or adoption.
We have known each other for about two and half years and got married in July of last year. Before meeting Mickey I was working over 60 hours per week but still struggling to keep my head above water financially. A couple of years ago I cashed out about $12,000 of my employer sponsored IRA in order to pay off my credit cards. At the time it was the best thing I could have ever done but I still owe roughly $6,000 in unsecured debt. Mickey was recently divorced when I met her. She was working two jobs, trying to go back to college and raise her 15 year old daughter at the same time. She was struggling, but making ends meet.
Presently our household gross income is well above the local average. However, I am embarrassed to tell you that as of today we only have about $200 between the two of us in our checking accounts. For the past two years it seems as though we will never get "caught up" on our bills. Now I am not crying poverty but it would be nice to not have to worry about paying overdraft fees before next weeks paychecks come in.
Today we need to get groceries. So my first "Money Dare" challenge is to use coupons. Before we go to the grocery store today I will get the local Sunday paper and cut out coupons for items we will need and use in the coming week. Tomorrow I will let you know how much I spent and saved. Until then it's time to join Mickey for a nap.