Needing a Pep Talk

Christy's got everything going her way, but needs a pep talk to keep going on her long-term goal.

QUESTION: Christy in Oklahoma needs a pep talk. She and her husband are trying to pay off their home in three years and have $30,000 saved. They have one child and another on the way. She feels like she is stuck in a tunnel with their finances. Dave recommends talking with her husband to ease her concern.

Dave's ANSWER: A couple of things are going to help you feel that freedom. One thing is that you've got a good, general grasp on your numbers. But you don't see the detail of the numbers ever. Your husband probably gets a great thrill out of doing spreadsheets because he's the nerd of the family, but you don't.

Go over the budget with your husband for about 20 or 30 minutes a month. Do that for two reasons. The first is that you have to be competent in the handling of money in case something happens to him. The second thing is that, as you see the numbers, it will help you with your tunnel because you can see the traction.

You can see that it's real and not his promise. It's not a vague thing. It's $1,500 plus $1,500 every month equals this much. It will put you in a position to win. You are living like no one else so later you can live like no one else. You are not seeing the detail–you are seeing the big concept. That lack of detail lets you not see the traction you are getting, and it lets you not see a clearly defined end of the story.

You have a vague end of the story, and that makes it not worth it in the struggle to get to the end of the story. I want you to do better at working with him and knowing the detail for those two reasons.

The second thing is to remember that when you're pregnant, it doesn't help these things. We've had three babies at our house and the reality is that it's just normal to be at the edge of freak out sometime during those nine months. I think it has to do with something God gives you to protect your children. It's a wonderful gift, but it also can serve to bring you to the edge of an anxiety attack sometimes.

Having the baby is going to help with this. You'll be able to see more clearly after that. What you have isn't a bad thing, but that's just a normal physiological reaction to what you're facing.

Another quick thing to remember is that you are never going to live a life that looks like your friends'. That's not the goal. Don't try to keep up with the Joneses, because they have their own private parking spot at bankruptcy court. They are broke idiots, and you don't want to be like them. As they say in Texas, big hat and no cattle.

They look good but they are broke and stressed; they can't see how their kids' college fund is ever going to be funded. They have no sense of hope or direction, no sense of goal setting, no sense of maturity; you are never going to be those people. But it's kind of weird because they look like Ken and Barbie and they bought a new car and went on a cruise, but what they are is stupid.

They spend like they're in Congress, and that's the typical American. They lease a car and buy a house that's twice as big as the one they've got because they've got a baby on the way. I grew up in a 1,100-square-foot house, and we never moved until I was in high school. I turned out all right and haven't had to explain any of that to a counselor.

I think you guys are in a great position mathematically. What you are telling me is, by the way you've laid everything out here, is that you trust and respect your husband. He has done a good job with this thus far, and it's just that the tunnel seemed to be long, or you were a little bit afraid that the light at the end of the tunnel was an oncoming train.

Get into the detail and go look at some houses and develop a plan. The last thing you want to do is move while you're pregnant anyway. Let's get to the other side of the delivery when everyone is safe and home and healthy, then you get out there and look for a house. You'll be house hunting next summer.

You guys are doing better than it feels like you're doing today.