The One Where Kim Takes on Oprah

So, they’ve been re-running the Debt Diet series that Oprah started a while ago. I catch it while I’m at the gym sweating away on some low impact, great sweat inducing machine. I only ever catch the beginning of it because after the cardio I still have more to do and I can only keep going on those machines for so long).

Monday I caught the first part of the show where they interviewed these people who make 107K annually. They were 170K in debt. They had a giant house. They had four cars (two drivers). They eat out for EVERY meal. And the woman spends spends spends – like a crazy woman. Clothing and hair appointments and cell phone overage minutes (they calculated that she was on the phone one of every four minutes of her day). The debt fixer woman told them that she was going to move in with them to help them fix their problem.

Yesterday I caught the second part of the show where they ‘get real’ (basically the lying gets thicker and the debt fixer calls her on it and the lying woman gets REALLY mad).

At one point the Debt Fixer tells the woman that she has to give over control of the finances to her husband and that he is going to give her an allowance. The woman doesn’t flip out but you can see she is SEETHING over this idea. Later when she goes to close her personal checking account (!) so that all of the money goes into one pot she starts making all of these bizarre sarcastic remarks like there aren’t any cameras on her and as if she is embarrassed to relinquish control (Their marriage is rocky because they are having problems with money. Could it possibly have something to do with the fact that from the get go they were keeping secrets from each other financially? Could it be that this woman never really wanted to merge her entire life with him because it seemed “too dependent”? Could it be that she has for a very long time enjoyed being the one controlling the money because in her mind that meant she didn’t really need him? Yeah, I didn’t think so either). She did admit on the show that she didn’t really want to get rid of her separate account because she just wanted to keep shopping (or, in other words, stay separate from her husband).

That’s when I had to go do some crunches, so I really don’t know what happened next, but I hope that it had something to do with these people throwing up over the way they are living. Oprah kept calling it a spiritual problem and she meant that you just can’t sleep and “be a whole person” unless your life is under control in all areas, but I believe it is a for real spiritual problem.

Yesterday, just before watching this very episode, while driving to the gym I was listening to Dave Ramsey (money guru extraordinaire) and he had a caller who just set me off. She was young, had a few kids and her husband had two jobs – one where he made money and the other where he made no money as a part time pastor. These people were SINKING in their debt. They were severely upside down in a car loan (worth: 5k / owed: 15k) that they could no longer afford to make payments on ($500/month because they were paying a SERIOUS stupid tax). They had credit card debt and school debt too. And she was just all “we’re trying to do a mission work.”

*Hits microphone twice*
Hello? Crazy lady? You do not need to be planting a church (of 15 people) in Nashville when you are about to loose everything! You need to get some more jobs and get out from under this slavery to the lender.

That’s sort of what Dave Ramsey told her but he was much more gentle and he didn’t tell her that they should stop church planting, but he hinted at it. She didn’t quite grasp it.

Money management and obesity are the two easiest places to see the excess in our society. America has fully bought into the idea that what you have is who you are and that you deserve whatever you want.

But you know what we deserve? Death. And do you know what we own? Nothing. And what should you do with your money? You don’t have any money. It doesn’t belong to you. It never did and it never will. You may have some money, but it’s not yours. It all belongs to God and you need to put that money in places that honor Him.

And so, I bring you, Kim’s guide to money management for those lacking self-control.

Step 1: Cut up all of your credit cards, except for one that has no fees. Put that last one in your safe deposit box or lock box or somewhere other than your wallet. Only remove it when going out of town or in case of EXTREME emergency (and by extreme I am talking about bodily disfigurement or severe intestinal pain).

Step 2: Stop buying crap you don’t NEED (and I’m not talking about how a four year old ‘needs’ that toy or how I might right this minute ‘need’ a soy chai latte).

Step 3: Stop buying expensive food (you don’t need meat at every meal and you can’t afford prepackaged goods. Buy the basics and look for sales. I won’t suggest coupons because I don’t use them myself and I’m attempting to not be a hypocrite here.)

Step 4: When you get paid, all of the money goes into your checking account and you provide money to the following:
A. To your Local Church (whatever amount you decide is between you and God. There is no right or wrong).
B. To the missionaries you support (because they have to eat too)
C. To the people who own the place where you are living
D. To the utility companies (bills too high? Let your house get cooler/warmer and turn off the lights already!)
E. To anybody else you owe (pay everything down as quickly as you can, so you keep paying the minimum payment on everything but the smallest one and you throw everything you can at that. Once it’s paid off, then you move all of that money on the next thing until eventually you can remove this one altogether from the things you must pay category and then you get to eat better food…like meat).

Now what do you have left? Figure out how much you have to spend on the following:
F. Food (You probably thought I would put this up there in that first category but I figure you probably won’t stop saving some moolah for food, so why not leave it until after the debts? But here’s the deal, no buying anything you don’t need until you know you can afford it and don’t buy groceries from the gas station (this includes pop, candy and chips at a dollar each. It adds up faster than you know!)
G. Toiletries (stop buying the expensive stuff until you KNOW you can afford that Bumble and Bumble hair paste (curses upon the seminary for stealing my product money!))

Now you take as much as you possibly can and put it into your savings account.
H. Savings (You don’t want to be the breadstick lady at Fazolis who has to keep giving teenagers more and more of that hot buttery goodness because you didn’t invest when you were a youngster do you?)
i. Save for school
ii. Save for retirement
iii. Save for fun (vacations and trips)

Finally, you have money for the following:
I. Clothing (NEVER pay full price for ANYTHING – bras and shoes included!)
J. The other stuff that you’ve been living without all of this time and obviously could continue living without for the rest of your life.

Here’s the general rule: IF YOU DON’T HAVE THE CASH TO BUY IT, LEAVE IT AT THE STORE.

Are we clear? Good. Thanks for letting me get that one off my chest.

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    • Anonymous
    • July 13th, 2006

    Amen Sista! I think I’ll call Dave up & suggest that he make you his official “money management” sidekick!
    All kidding aside, I actually watched the first part of the Debt Diet on Oprah while I was climbing imaginary stairs at the gym the other day, too!! I couldn’t agree more…all of the folks she featured were totally paying the STUPID tax!!
    Make it a great week! Zan

    • Kim
    • July 13th, 2006

    Thanks for the comment, Zan! All kidding aside, I think would probably really enjoy helping people get their financial life put together properly, but I don’t know enough about the details like capital gains taxes and stocks and what not. I suppose I could learn, but that would probably require more schooling and then I wouldn’t even be able to afford my Garnier Fructis hair products!

    Wish we were climbing imaginary stairs at the same gym!!

    • jenn
    • July 13th, 2006

    Amazingly enough, I caught both of the shows about which you were talking! No offense to your love for Dr Laura, but I’m so thankful to catch Dave Ramsey nowadays…he definitely helped me with my financial vision a few years ago. I’ll not lump Daniel in there, because I think Daniel took me to Dave’s conference to get me on the same page as he was on already! =) Anyway, I did hear that same woman. And, I also saw a portion of the Oprah show. By the way, I think that the couple had FIVE cars. Could be wrong, but it caught my attention. Anyway, just thought it was sort of random that I was familiar with both of those items! Wow…”vacation” is sure doing me some good. =) Well, we’re off to Southlake for a while. Do you smell cookouts and swimming??? I hope so!

    • Kim
    • July 13th, 2006

    Swimming and cooking out?! Sounds like a dream to me (except for that part where I put on a swimsuit. That part makes my stomach turn ever so slightly. Oh yeah and all the shaving too. Come to think of it, I haven’t put on a swimsuit in about two years. Is that even right? Wow, no wonder I’m so darn pasty). Here’s to summer tans and hour long treks across the city for grilling and chillling!!

    Also – to the both of you – we have not posted pictures of you in quite some time now and that is because we have not spent any time with you and that is sad. Hope we can get together soon (and soon does not mean September!).

    Love you both!

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