Yakezie Member Post: Live Real, Now Thumbnail

Hi, my name is Jason and I’m a personal finance junkie.  I also run Live Real, Now.

In October, 2007, when we found out that my wife was pregnant for the 3rd time, I panicked.   Every month, we tapped into our overdraft protection account, at least once, at 21% interest.  Our credit cards kept growing, and we couldn’t make ends meet.  Now, we were going to have another kid in diapers, another kid in daycare, another kid?  How did that happen so fast?

Kid #2 took years to show up.  We were counting on a bit more time to save some money and maybe potty-train kid #2. Sometimes, life comes up like a kick in the gut. Seriously, I love all of my kids, but this is one time that it would have been nice for kid #3 to defy us like her sister did and does.

It was time for a reality check.

Over the next 18 months, I dropped some vices, cut some expenses, didn’t bother changing any important habits, and got further in debt.  By March of 2009, I was researching bankruptcy.  I didn’t see another way out.  Our expenses–including the invisible ones that cause the stuff in a shopping cart to multiply like rabbits on X–were close to 150% of our income.  Really. For every dollar we earned, we spent a buck and a half.  I’d shovel anything extra we had into our overdraft protection account. I had no idea where our money was going, but it was going there faster than I could make more.

The worst part is that we weren’t doing badly. We were technically broke, but we made every payment, almost always on time. Sometimes, I paid the electric bill a month late, but that fee was only $3 and it let me make my other payments. I don’t think I ever made just a minimum payment on a credit card, but sometimes, I only beat it by $10. We were drowning in debt, but we had great credit. At 25, I had a credit rating in the upper 700s. Who thinks they have a problem if the collectors aren’t calling?

Bankruptcy. Reneging on all of the financial promises I had made as an adult. I am a firm believer that something like that should be shameful, and I was ashamed to be thinking about it.   One day, when I was finishing up my list of bankruptcy attorneys to call, I ran across Dave Ramsey’s site.   I’d love to say that it was the light at the end of the tunnel, but I’d be lying. It was just something to file away in some dusty corner of my brain.  It was interesting but irrelevant.

That night, when I was picking up my kids from daycare(3 kids, 2 full-time!), I saw The Total Money Makeover on my daycare provider’s shelf.  I had no idea how long it had been sitting there, but I’d never noticed it before that night. I borrowed the book and read it twice, before ordering my own copy. When I was done, and had digested at least the first few baby steps, I sat down with my wife to take a hard look at our finances. I told her we had to implement Ramsey’s plan.

She was skeptical.  After all, we were doing fine.  No bill collectors and a high credit rating meant there was no problem.

I told her that was fine. We didn’t have to make the changes necessary to get our money in order. Whatever she wanted to do was fine with me.

Then I handed her the attorney list and told her what it was. It was our only alternative.

About Live Real, Now

I’ve got obsessive tendencies. Nobody who knows me will ever argue with that. When I get started on something, I devote total energy to it. Before I became a paid code-monkey, I could happily make a day disappear designing my old Neverwinter Nights server. When I get wrapped up in a good book, I’ve been known to clear 1000 pages a day.

Unfortunately for my friends and family, in early 2009 that obsessive focus hit my finances. It became all I talked about and most of what I read about. Conversations about restaurants became conversations on cooking cheaper at home. Movies discussions turned into Netflix vs The Theater. Vacation talk turned into talk about how my kids would just grow up disappointed but responsible. I was a bit obnoxious about it. Ask my wife.

In September of that year, I told my wife I wanted to launch a blog about personal finance. I was so focused on it; I spent so much time planning it and talking about it. It made sense to me. I’d get to share my thoughts and I could shut up about it at home. I’d maybe even make a few bucks in the process. I spent the next two months building, designing, and writing. I launched on December 1st, 2009 with a full month’s worth of posts on the hook. By the end of the month, I was down to having just a week of post in reserve, so I cut down to posting 3 times per week. Posting every day wasn’t working for me. I haven’t missed a scheduled post yet, though a few have been written the morning they went live.

Yakezie & Me

Over the next few months, I watched the Yakezie go live and I saw a ton of my favorite blogs join up. I held off. I’ve never been much of a joiner. I’m a bit introverted and a bit independent, so signing on to anything right away isn’t my style. I figured I’d sit back and watch to see how it went. A few of the blogs I was reading were at close to the same point in their life-cycles, so a comparison would be kind of neat. I’d see how they did with the Yakezie and compare it to how I did without it.

Science sucks. Especially when you compare it to the Yakezie.  By May, I’d convinced myself I made a mistake in not joining up earlier, but I still put off joining for a while. Procrastination is easy. I finally joined on July 16, 2010, 12 days after the first challenge closed and about 2 weeks before the Beta Chapter was created. Talk about bad timing. My procrastination made me one of the very few who had a longer-than-six-month challenge.

That’s life. I’m a Yakezie Member now, and that’s what matters.

I guess what I’m trying to say is…Hi!