Just like there’s a journey to bariatric surgery, there’s also a journey to decrease financial stress. Dave Ramsey created the Seven Baby Steps to guide you through wealth management. Prior to my bariatric surgery, money frequently caused me stress, which often led to stress eating. I knew if I wanted my weight loss surgery to be successful, I’d have to decrease my financial stress. Ramsey’s plan appealed to me because it gave me a clear road map that focused on saving, debt repayment and helping others. There are a few things I wish were different, but completing step one lifted a big weight off my shoulders and gave me peace. Dave Ramsey’s Seven Baby Steps is a smart money management plan to decrease financial stress.
The Seven Baby Steps
Dave Ramsey developed the Seven Baby Steps as a roadmap to financial independence. When you’re in debt to a company or person, you can’t truly live your own life. Financial independence brings freedom to live as you please. It’s a method for wealth management, and I believe it’s a good path to follow if you struggle with budgeting, debt and savings. The Seven Baby Steps are as follows:
- Save a $1,000 baby emergency fund
- Pay off all debt, except your mortgage, using the snowball method
- Save a three to six-month emergency fund
- Invest 15 percent of your household income in retirement
- Save for your kid’s college fund
- Pay off mortgage early
- Build wealth and give
Each step builds upon the previous. You decrease financial stress by saving a baby emergency fund of $1,000. Once you reach that point, any money you were saving goes towards your smallest debt using the snowball method. Then, when the debt is paid off, you put the money you were using on your debt to build your fully-funded emergency fund. Once that is established, you start investing your money to save for your retirement. You just keep building upon the last step and use the money in different ways. It’s a great system to follow if you struggle with managing your finances.
My Financial Journey
I am currently on Baby Step Two, paying off debt. This step is usually the longest for most people, and I’m no exception. I started the snowball method after I saved my first $1,000 emergency fund at around November 2018. However, I was going through big changes at the time. You see, I just found out that I would be laid off from my job in a few months, so panic was starting to set in. I knew I’d be getting severance from the layoff, but I needed another job quickly. In January of 2019, I started a new job, but the pay was significantly less. Any progress in my snowball method I made slowed way down.
I used my severance to pay off my smallest debt in full, which was a great relief. Unfortunately, the decrease in my income meant that the money I was throwing at the snowball virtually became eliminated. I’m still plugging away at the snowball though, and review my budget frequently. My goal is to be Debt Free by 2023 (it has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?). I have some financial plans in mind to help get me there, and I will surely update you all on what methods work for me. The debt still weighs on me, but I decreased financial stress by having my $1,000 emergency fund.
Decrease in Financial Stress
There are so many advantages to following Dave Ramsey’s Seven Baby Steps. First off, as I mentioned the baby emergency fund decreased financial stress. When I was married, my ex made it nearly impossible to save. Anytime we had a little extra money, he would want to spend it on something ridiculous, or a vehicle would breakdown or someone was sick and we had to go see them. It would stress me out so much because when something happened and we needed money, there was never any to be found. One of the first things I did when I left him was fill my baby emergency fund. For the first time in five years, I finally felt in control of my finances.
Just knowing that I have a financial cushion if my car breaks down, or I get hit with unexpected medical bills is enough to let me breathe a sigh of relief. I no longer fear the next day or next month of bills because I know that I have a back up in case I need it. The money sits in my money market account, growing a little interest each month. I’ve only considered touching it a few times, but never have. I just make adjustments in my budget if I need extra money.
Some other reasons I really like Dave Ramsey’s plan is because debt payoff has always been a major goal of mine. Between student loans, car loans and those dumb credit cards, I have enough debt to make eyeballs spin. By having a small cushion to protect me if something bad happens, I can safely focus on paying off my debt. The snowball method is a great motivator and does help me say on track.
The other reason I liked the Seven Baby Steps is that it wasn’t just focused on me. It focused on my kid’s future, so they won’t have to be bogged down in student loans like I am. I don’t even have kids yet, but I would like to save for their future whenever I get to that step. Who knows, maybe I’ll have kids by then anyway.
Another reason I was attracted to this program is the seventh step. The last step is to live and give. It’s to live generously and help people. I feel like God is calling me to help His children. One way I’m doing so is through this blog, but I would love to get to the financial point of donating money to charitable causes. I have so many ideas already but I know I need to be patient to get there. I want to help decrease financial stress in other people too because I know how unbearable it is to live paycheck to paycheck.
So while there are a lot of good things to the Seven Baby Steps, I do think there are some disadvantages. First, Ramsey doesn’t distinguish between debt that is current and debt that is in collections. When I first started, I had some debt in collections. Since I wasn’t paying on it monthly, I didn’t know how I should account for that in my snowball. I started with just the debt that I currently pay monthly and focusing on paying those down. Now that I am in the midst of this step, I think I need to backtrack and pay down those smaller debts in collections first. I just wish there had been some guidance on this step earlier.
Another disadvantage to this program is the length of time it takes to complete. With any debt repayment program, it’s going to take years to erase the bad financial decisions of the past. However, it can be easy to get distracted and depressed about how many years it’s going to take me to complete step two. I’m doing everything I can to get through it, and hope my efforts will pay off in big ways someday. I wish there would be some motivation throughout the program. I do see people in Ramsey’s Financial Peace University paying off their debt much quicker, but I haven’t taken that course yet. I’m hoping to maybe take it within the next year or so.
Seven Baby Steps and Bariatric Surgery
There is no doubt that bariatric surgery is expensive. Just with all the doctor’s visits and the surgery itself, it can be hard to pay for it all. I don’t want you to add more stress to your life, rather I want you to decrease financial stress, along with any other stress in your life. I went into debt to get my surgery. I owed the hospital around $3,000 after all was done. It was worth it to me because I knew I was following the Seven Baby Steps. I had a plan to deal with the debt. You need to have a plan too. I think the Seven Baby Steps is a great one to follow.
You also have ongoing bariatric surgery needs that require money. Things like protein shakes, vitamins, clothing and follow-up appointments. These things can add up quickly, which is why I have line items in my budget for all of these things. Dave Ramsey taught me how to budget within the Seven Baby Steps. It allowed me to prioritize savings and debt repayment, so that money didn’t weigh me down anymore. I no longer stress eat over money. It’s a big game-changer.
Start with Step One
If money frequently stresses you out, you need to give the Seven Baby Steps a try. They are a clear road map to financial independence. It will decrease financial stress, making it more likely that you will be successful with bariatric surgery. My goal to be Debt Free by 2023 seems so difficult, but I know I can continue to do it. I love the Seven Baby Steps because they focus on saving, debt repayment and giving to others. I want to help so many people, but need financial independence to do it. While I was some parts of the program were different, Dave Ramsey’s Seven Baby Steps is a smart money management plan to decrease financial stress.
If this article gave you some great ideas to incorporate into your life, just imagine what other amazing strategies I have for you! Share this post on social media by clicking one of the sharing buttons, and don’t forget to join my email list! You’ll be the first to get updates, access to my new products and lots of tips, inspiration and motivation to help in your bariatric surgery journey. Just for joining, I’ll send you a free eBook with the 10 Habits to Change Before Bariatric Surgery, as well as some other pretty awesome goodies to keep you motivated. Join today!
Following Dave Ramsey’s Seven Baby Steps is a proven, wealth management road map to relieve financial stress. The program focuses on saving, debt repayment and giving to others. Just completing the first step relieves a big financial stress in many people’s lives.
The Seven Baby Steps are:
1. Save a $1,000 baby emergency fund
2. Pay off all debt, except your mortgage, using the snowball method
3. Save a three- to six-month emergency fund
4. Invest 15 percent of your household income in retirement
5. Save for your kid’s college fund
6. Pay off mortgage early
7. Build wealth and give