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Hey Dads!

HEY DADS! So Christmas is over, the gifts have been bought and the Visa bill is on the way. Apparently, the start of the new year is depressing for a lot of Canadians. The weather is colder, the days are shorter and the credit card balances are higher. I learned a little trick a few years ago that made our post-Christmas life much more enjoyable. Pay off debt.
Dave Ramsey, an American radio talk-show host, puts it this way: Debt is dumb. I agree with him. I used to have a lot of it. I read a few of Dave’s financial books and began to take his advice to heart as I thought about my debt. He uses financial baby steps to coach people into living debt-free. The first baby step is to save $1,000 for an emergency. About 10 years ago we took the first step and saved $1,000 for an emergency fund. It’s amazing how many emergencies that will help with. New bearings in the car, new car seat for baby number 5, new oven if the old one has molten Lego in it or new shoes for mom. Maybe that last one isn’t quite an emergency. But really, $1,000 cash made it so we didn’t need to pull out the Visa to pay for emergencies when they came up.
The next baby step is to start paying off debts, starting with the smallest debt and working your way up to the biggest one. It’s called the debt snowball and the ball gets smaller and smaller as you pay it off. We had a few credit cards and some other debts that we began to pay down. Around this time we found out we were going to have twins so our 8-passenger van was going to be too small. We wanted to pay cash for our next van so we drove around in 2 vehicles until we could save enough for the big van.
We’d need to upgrade to the full-size A-team van. A 12 or 15 passenger van that turns soccer moms green with envy. Or not. We began to save little by little so that we could pay cash for our fashionable full-size van. After a couple years we were close to having what we needed to buy the van. Coincidentally it was about the same amount we needed to pay off the rest of our debts outside our mortgage. After some “cheerful”, “chipper” and “marriage-enhancing” debates with my patient and wise wife we decided to take all the money we had saved for the van and use it to pay off the rest of our debts. We then began our saving again. Although now the savings seemed to grow faster as our debt payments were completely gone. That was a relief to us for sure.
After another year we were again able to save enough cold hard cash for a monster van. I then told the kids the way you should pay for a vehicle: Get a breifcase. Fill it up with cash. Walk into the dealership and buy your vehicle. And that’s exactly what we did. In hindsight we should have worn cool suits and sunglasses. Maybe next time. Hopefully the kids remember the lesson as we sat in the dealership while they counted so many five, ten and twenty-dollar bills. Life lessons!
Dads, let’s have fun with our kids but let’s also teach them about things. Time flies! Money flies! So pay off your debt as fast as you can and make every moment (and dollar) count! It feels so good!

Jason Weening drives around Springwater in a giant van full of 9 kids and a wise wife. There’s even 1 extra seat if you need a ride sometime. To read more d-adventures check out heydads.ca.

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