Winning by Accident?

Some people don’t like him at all. They say he’s too loud and that he asks too many personal questions. Others love him and vow to follow his guidelines to financial freedom. I’m referring to Dave Ramsey, financial guru whose creed is “Be debt free.”

Personally, I like him. At least I like listening to his podcasts. At the moment, I’m not gung-ho enough to take the course or buy the books. I’m happy listening and taking baby steps. For instance, I’m totally into the debt snowball, so I’m paying off my car and then using that $411 per month to add to a house payment.

But the purpose of this post isn’t to convince you to become debt-free. Its purpose is to share Ramsey’s ideas about goal setting. I’ve been reading and teaching about how to set goals for decades, and I’ve practicing a little of what I’ve been teaching too. But Ramsey’s ideas and the way he presented them on a recent podcast really spoke to me. Maybe it’s because I needed a reminder. Or maybe I just like his direct, “pull no punches” personality and style.

Without further ado, here are the seven areas for goal setting:

  1. Financial
  2. Physical
  3. Social
  4. Family
  5. Career
  6. Spiritual
  7. Intellectual

Easy so far, right? I thought so too. For the first one, I decided that I wanted to save more money and that for the physical goal I’d drink more water or something. All was well and good until Ramsey elaborated on the seven areas by telling his listeners about the criteria each goal must meet.

Because of the time element (working on spiritual goals at church soon), I’m merely going to list the criteria and will elaborate later. In the meantime, maybe you can start thinking of some things you want to accomplish.

Each goal must be:

Specific. It’s not enough for me to say that I want to save some money. How much?

Measurable. Saying, “I think I’ll add a few dollars to my car payment each month” is not measurable. How many dollars?

Yours. You own it. Not your mama. I especially like this one. I want to be a more prudent and provident person because I want to, not because others are pushing me to.

Time-based. Saying, “I’m gonna pay this car off as soon as I can,” is a pitiful goal. “I’m going to pay my car off by this summer” gives the goal more punch and certainty.

Written down. Love this one. If you don’t write it down, it’s an idea, a dream. I’ve always known this, but the way Ramsey elaborated on it drove the point home.

Throughout the podcast, Ramsey threw in little extras that are right up my psychological alley. For example, he talked about how some people give up too easily and act like victims. “Don’t be a wussified victim,” he exclaimed.

And then, there’s that part near the end when he told his listeners, “You don’t win by accident.” No one wins a Grammy by accident. No one wins an Olympic medal and wonders, “Gee, how’d that happen?” I know that’s common sense, but as Voltaire reportedly said, “Common sense is not so common.”

I often see people who are spinning their wheels and wondering, “Why can’t I have a decent job, a degree, peace of mind, well-behaved children, or good health?” As Ramsey reiterated a couple of times, those things aren’t accidental. You need a plan. I need a plan too.

What about you? Which one of the seven areas appeals most to you?


Call Me Frugal

 I love a sweet deal. One of my sisters-in-law has a saying that, “You can only spend your dollar once,” and she is so right. Becky would be proud of my frugality on Saturday.


My first stop was a swap and shop event at church, an event similar to a big indoor yard sale. No money is exchanged, just “stuff.” I had gathered a few things to swap, including a few articles of clothing, a lamp, a picture, some purses, and a mirror. When I drove into the parking lot, a couple of women who were standing outside came over to take a look at my box of goodies, and one of them took the cute little blue lamp before I even got inside.


When I got inside, I realized that the people in charge were actually packing up. Somehow I got my time confused, for I thought it was to last until noon. No problem. I saw exactly what I needed right away: toys for tots. I made a beeline for the children’s toys and was able to get nine or ten items free of charge…except for the goods I had brought to swap. It gives me great pleasure to think of the tiniest of our granddaughters, those 1 and under, learning to identify sounds and letters.


Perfectly content with my “purchases,” I drove back into the neighborhood and spotted a sign that said “YARD SALE.” I didn’t catch the address so I drove around checking out the pretty yards and flowers until I spotted bargain hunters rummaging through treasures arranged atop a hillside yard: antique furniture, dishes, clothing, wall art, and so forth. To sweeten the experience, there was Sophia, a friend from church. She found a beautiful hall table and mirror and was able to get it for a terrific price. I found a antique stool covered in a lovely tapestry that has found a home in the bedroom. I also bought a pair of festive looking party slacks, a black and white striped blouse, and two magnets…all for the small price of  $29.


Isn’t that amazing? Just think about it. There was something for the grandchildren, a stool for DH to sit on while putting on socks and shoes, party pants for me, and initial magnets for my sister and me. The black and white blouse will find a new home because although it was size M, it must be a child’s medium.


Becky’s right. You can only spend your dollar once. Right now my little blue light is illuminating someone’s house, the pretty floral print has found a niche in Christy’s home, my toy box is brimming with toys, and the fabric covered stool sits beneath the bedroom window…all for the mere cost of $29. The way I see it, now I have a few extra $$$ to spend for Braden’s preschool graduation gift and for Paul’s college graduation gift.