We bought a car, & why Dave Ramsey & John Mcdougall are alike

{For more on going debt-free, see my post, Out of Debt: 5 steps}

This is going to be one of those long posts that I really try to avoid, because, who, after all, has the attention span or time to read a 2,000 word blog post?

But, I have a lot to say, so thanks for understanding the long wind.

Also, if you are going to comment on this post (which I would love for you to do), please read the post in it’s entirety, so you’re clear on what I’m trying to say. ‘preciate it.


We bought a car

Our Chevy Venture mini-van, as you know, with it’s 230K+ miles on it, has seen better days. After spending nearly $3K (transmission, alternator, fuel filter, new tires) in recent months in hopes of bringing new life to it (& hoping that it would buy us 1 or 2 more years of operation), we decided, though the car still runs (I use that term loosely), we need to cut our losses & move on.

The trouble was, how?

As I explained in last post (& thank you for your input & advice, I really appreciate all that you shared), we are committed to getting out of debt, but we only had $5K in cash to buy a car. It would take us at least 6 months, really more like a year or two,  in order to save an amount that would be anywhere near an amount that could buy us a car that would meet our family’s needs.


A minivan, baby!

For our family of 6, we need a mini-van.

Not only that, we need a mini-van that seats 8, because we plan on expanding our family, & we’re not about to buy a mini-van that we’d outgrow in a few years. That extra seat makes all the difference, but the problem is, only two brands currently make 8 seater mini-vans: Toyota (Sienna) & Honda (Odyssey).

These brands are known & proven to extremely reliable, durable, & long lasting. But, like Apple products, they can run significantly higher than the competition. Even a used Toyota or Honda has a much higher price point than it’s counterparts.

So, unless we wanted to get a very used Toyota or Honda (10-15 years old with 150K or more miles), there’s nothing in the 5K range.

Also, finding a used Honda or pre-2010 Toyota with 8 seats is challenging, since not all Hondas & pre-2010 Siennas have 8 seats, in fact, in our experience, most of them are 7 seaters.


The cost of repairs

Then there’s the issue of repairs, because it is inevitable that a used car, with high mileage, is going to need to be repaired. Problem is, there’s no way of knowing when & what will need to eventually be fixed, & what those costs will be. That uncertainty alone, carries a certain amount of stress & anxiety.

Yes, it’s crucial to have a good mechanic if you have a used car.

However, simply because you have a “good” mechanic does not take away the price factor of repairs. I don’t expect any mechanic, friend or not, to do the work for free, or even at a discount. I believe in paying others a honest wage for work well done. Repairs cost money, there’s no way around that fact, unless of course you are a mechanic yourself or good with cars (which Joseph & I are decidedly not).

And as we’ve discovered, the cost of repairs can be crippling.


Our decision

With all this in mind & after a lot of discussion & prayer, Joseph & I looked at our current & projected future finances, & decided that we ought to look for a car that suited our needs. We would put down some cash, & finance the remaining balance. We feel strongly that the extra money upfront for a slightly newer car, will save us money in the long term.

What we were looking for: an 8 seater Honda Odyssey or Toyota Sienna, 5-7 years old, less than 100K miles, under $15K.

Even in a city as big as San Antonio, this was not as easy as it sounds. Most of what we could find were 7 seaters, had too much or too little mileage, &/or was out of our price range.

After spending hours researching online & making dozens of calls, we chose two dealerships to visit. (Ahh, the beauty of the internet.)

By mid-afternoon Saturday, we found our vehicle: a like-new, dark blue 2007 Honda Odyssey, 92K miles, for $12K.

Because it was originally purchased through the dealership & maintained & serviced there, they were able to give us meticulous record of the vehicle’s maintenance record, which further solidified our confidence in this purchase.



Because we revisited our finances, & realized we didn’t take into account Joseph’s future income increases, our yearly tax refund, & an AF program that will help repay some of our student loans, we realized we could finance this car, include it in our debt snowball & only be about 6 months behind where we originally planned to be.

So even though it will take us 2 years to pay off this car, it will only push back our debt elimination plan by about 6 months. If we pay it off in 2 years, our total interest will be a little over $700.

Is it worth $700 to have a reliable, safe vehicle now (when we desperately need it), a vehicle that we don’t have to worry about putting thousands of dollars of repairs into, that will enable us to travel long distances, that will be dependable for me & give me peace of mind when Joseph is deployed, & that will most likely be good for another 150K miles?


Case in point.

We have a family reunion this summer. All of Joseph’s brothers & their families will be there. We thought we wouldn’t be to make it because no way could we afford the $3K it would cost for our family to fly. But now that we have a reliable vehicle, we can make the 1,900 mile trip there & back for $550-700 (depending on gas prices).

That right there, is worth it.


Not following Dave Ramsey’s plan 

I think I should mention that we are not following Dave Ramsey’s plan. For a number of reasons.

I have read The Total Money Makeover & his first book, Financial Peace. I don’t think his books are particularly well written (sorry, that was quite a snobby thing to say), but he’s got personality, he has a strong voice, & he does preach (with evangelical zeal) some things are important & true: get out of debt, live within your means, etc. All of those things are essential for financial self-reliance.

I’ve listened to his radio program. I have not taken his course, but I feel confident in saying, I do know his basic rules–get out of debt, use cash, cut up all your credit cards & never use them again, don’t ever finance a car, pay for your house in cash or only get a 15 year mortgage, have a 3-6 months savings, save for your child’s education, save for retirement.

Pretty basic stuff, but the thing is, I don’t think he’s right about everything. Or rather, I don’t think everything he says is right for everyone.

While I think he’s helped a lot of folks mired in debt, get into a much better place financially, I don’t think this means that everyone should do everything he says, & maybe it’s just me, but Dave sort of acts like “you’re a moron if you don’t do what I say.”

I think it’s important to realize he’s an excellent businessman, an entertainer, & he’s making millions because of it.

Yes, he does teach some good principles.

But, often I don’t think he’s qualified to give advice (which many times is cookie-cutter, for obvious reasons) for a lot of the financial issues that people call into his radio show for. Also, as a side note, it makes me a bit uncomfortable, if not wary, any time people mix what they are selling for profit, with Jesus.


Credit cards & fear

I agree with many of the points that Kevin, who blogs at the No Debt Plan, brings up in this post.

Like Kevin, I don’t like that one of Dave’s tools is fear, particularly as it relates to credit cards. We live in a technological world, one in which the use of credit cards & credit play a major role. Credit & credit cards aren’t going away. And for 99% of the population, a good credit score is something they will need.

For example, about 6 years ago, when we sold our first house, despite 7 or 8 years of excellent credit, in efforts to follow Dave’s plan, I got rid of my credit cards. I cut them up.

A year later, when Joseph & I were in the process of buying our second home, to my horror, I discovered that my credit score was zero (because I had closed my accounts & had no activity for over a year) & that I could not be on the loan, & as it follows, the title of the home.


The cash-only system 

I have tried (& failed) numerous times to use a cash/envelope system.

I use mint.com to track all of our expenditures & using a credit or debit card (rather than recording cash transactions) is so much easier, because all of the transactions are automatically posted. I know, I know all of the reasons why using bills helps to save money, but truth be told, how much money can it save you if it’s not something you can realistically, in the long term put into place?

I think people need to know how to use credit cards without going crazy.

As Kevin points out, if you are an individual who cannot control your spending when you use credit cards, then do Dave’s approach & only use cash. But there are plenty of people who do own a credit card & are able to not only be debt-free, but are also in very good shape financially.

As one commentor on Kevin’s says, “Dave’s program is like AA for overspenders anonymous.”


John McDougall & Dave Ramsey: two peas in pod

John McDougall uses the same approach as Dave does, but for diet.

He advocates no oils (ever), & a very lowfat diet (10% or under). John McDougall was my intro to veganism, so for that, I am thankful. But over the years, I’ve realized, “hey! It’s okay to have more fat in my diet.” I’m not overweight, I don’t have heart disease. In fact, in my childbearing years, it doesn’t hurt to have a diet that is higher in calories &/or fat, because my biology dictates that I need plenty of stores to make babies.

Don’t get me wrong. John McDougall, & Dave Ramsey are both helping people better their lives.

John’s helping folks reverse diabetes & get off their meds, lose weight, & achieve a greater state of health. Dave’s helping people get into a much better place financially. But both of these guys use extreme measures to help, for the most part, folks who have lost control of their diet or their money.

Are there people who consume oil who are healthy? Yes. Are there financially fit people who own credits cards? Yes. I think it’s important to realize that one size does not fit all.


Why we are in debt

Joseph & I are not in debt because of frivolous spending.

We aren’t in debt because of our choice in clothes, expensive vacations, getting my nails done, going out to eat every night. Prior to law school, we were completely debt-free & had a very pretty penny in savings.

During our 9 years of marriage, Goodwill (or Desert Industries when we lived in Utah), craigslist, ebay, & Costco have been our retailers of choice.

For a great majority of our purchases, we use coupons, sales, &/or buy used. I cook most of our meals from scratch. Our kids wear hand-me downs. We don’t own smart phones & have never subscribed to cable. Joseph & I talk about all our expenditures, we budget.

In a word, we are frugal (without, hopefully, being miserly), or at least that is our goal.

So why are we in debt?

It’s simple. We’re in debt because we chose for Joseph to attend law school, & then he was unemployed for 14 months thereafter. Those years of only a part-time income (mine), the added expenses of caring for 4 kids, student loans for law school, & then over a year of unemployment took it’s toll on us.


It’s about the principles

I’m not saying you should or shouldn’t use credit cards.

Whatever tool you use to pay for things, I think doesn’t matter as much as these tried & true principles:

*spend less than you earn, have a savings, stick to a budget*

I guess those 3 principles aren’t enough to sell books, courses, & to build an empire, so financial preachers like Robert Kiyosaki, Suze Oreman, & Dave Ramsey add some embellishments & call it “the way,” which as evidenced, does sell.*

As a Mormon, my faith teaches me pretty much everything I need to know about finances & is summed up nicely, here.

Between those principles & perhaps a knowledgeable financial adviser &/or an accountant, I don’t think I need to search the world high & low for any more financial wisdom.

In regards to debt, the LDS church teaches:

“Avoid debt, with the exception of buying a modest home or paying for education or other vital needs. If you are in debt, pay it off as quickly as possible.” (Italics added) (from lds.org)

Joseph & I felt strongly, that a reliable vehicle at this point in our lives, is in fact, a vital need.

I hope I am not offending those who chose to follow Dave Ramsey’s plan. Good on you, if you do.

But I feel it important to explain my position & reasoning behind the choices we’re making.

Thanks for reading (you’re pretty awesome that way),

& I’d love to hear any thoughts you have!




*For the record, I’m absolutely not against anyone making money on anything, if people will buy it. That’s capitalism. But as a consumer, I think it’s important to realize why things sell, & if/why they have value to you as a consumer.


  1. Nightvid Cole
    on February 22, 2015 at 10:02 am said:

    There are people out there – not just Ramsey but others – who say that you shouldn’t go to grad or professional school (law school included) without being fully funded. It’s pointed out in some cases that there are high dropout rates and a very real risk of having debt and no degree.

    The problem is, many of the people who say that are unwilling to pay higher taxes that would be necessary to allow students from all backgrounds to do it without going into debt, especially in some programs that are intensive enough that you can’t realistically work full-time.

    I don’t like debt, but I also think that people who do not want higher taxes really should stop saying that education debt is necessarily bad – and that to do so is almost tantamount to contradicting yourself.

    That said, I personally would never have kids if I knew I’d be going into debt as a result – to me, that means you can’t really afford them (with the exception of money owed on assets with positive equity such as a house with a healthy down payment).

  2. Pingback: Get on the debt-free boat | bring joy

  3. Bethany Bresee
    on June 5, 2013 at 3:08 pm said:

    I agree! We have taken the FPU course and follow most of the basic principles – avoid debt, save and live within your means. We, however, choose to go to private colleges (us, previously, now our son) and always drive cars with warranties. For me, there is no peace of mind in an unreliable car. We don’t use credit cards, but we do take out student loans and sometimes a car loan. However, we balance this with never buying new clothes (even consignment stores are too expensive in my view), we control our eating out, and bought a house “below our means”. I am not a christian so find the fear and jesus selling from Dave quite a laugh. We have always done a “budget” each month but just laid out on paper and then set up our automatic bill payments from that. Dave’s forms don’t have to be used to succeed financially as he insists. You must use what works most successfully for you! I do agree that if you don’t want to be broke, don’t take advice from broke people. However, I want to also avoid being a pompous *ss like Dave comes across. And don’t get me started on the cash envelope system Dave wants you to use…..no, thank you. That’s just not safe.

    • Bethany Bresee
      on June 5, 2013 at 3:13 pm said:

      One more comment regarding credit and FICO scores – I’m an accountant and have never once taken a job where my credit score was not pulled and evaluated. Without a decent FICO score, I would have no job!! Of course credit scores count. Good grief, what HORRIBLE advice he gives on this.

  4. alanna
    on March 31, 2013 at 2:48 pm said:

    Loved your thoughts on this Janae. And thank you for the links.

    Enjoy your Odyssey! I love mine (2000 with close to 200K miles).


  5. Lindi
    on March 29, 2013 at 7:57 am said:

    If we met, I’m sure we’d be friends! I love the way you have found answers for yourself that will work for you and your family. I agree with what you said about Dave Ramsey. I agree with what you said about diet. Different people have different needs. We are also striving to get out of student loan debt and should be by early next year if all goes well. but if things come up that put us a few months behind, it will not be the end of the world. What matters is that we are working toward it. Life is the journey, after all.

  6. Elizabeth
    on March 27, 2013 at 9:55 pm said:

    Ha! You caught my attention with John McDougall because I attended his 10-day live-in program last August. Every time I eat oil, I think of what he said…”the fat you eat, is the fat you wear!” I don’t have heart disease or diabetes, I am very overweight and desperate for anything that will help me lose the weight and not want to eat my shoes at the same time…enter in Weight Watchers, Nutri-System, Jenny Craig, blah, blah, blah. I applaud those that it works for, it doesn’t for me. I was also looking for a solution to my chronic IBS, which Dr. McDougall attributed to the oil and in the 10 days I was there, I had not one IBS episode. I wish I wasn’t an “all or nothing” kind of girl, I get sucked into these things and give up if I can’t do them 100% perfect. Exactly why I’ve avoided Dave Ramsey, although I do read Mary Hunt (cheapskate monthly).

    I digress…congratulations on your van! I know your article was about purchasing a car and not really Dr. McDougall. It’s late, I worked all day, I’m still playing around with the McDougall program and I read your blog and respect what you have to say.

    • Janae Wise
      on March 28, 2013 at 10:06 am said:

      Hi Elizabeth! Thank you for taking the time to comment. I realized my response was getting so long, I might as well turn it into a separate blog post.

      Here it is: http://bring-joy.com/2013/03/28/oil-fat-is-dr-mcdougall-right/

  7. Michaela
    on March 27, 2013 at 4:33 pm said:

    Love this. This is exactly how I view nutrition–it’s individual. We start with general recommendations: eat more veggies and fruit, change to whole grains, experiment with more vegetarian protein sources… THEN it gets personal. How does your body respond to this food or that? How do you feel when you eat ___? Do you need to eat more or less often?

    There’s no book that can tell you this. It’s about eating, living and listening. This is also why we shouldn’t judge others. They have different bodies, different preferences, different physical tolerance to various ingredients. They also may be following a diet book and haven’t found their own food- and eating-style, and that’s ok too.

    I myself have come to learn about my body and the kind, amount and timing of food and exercise that I can thrive on. After learning, it’s about using this knowledge and relationship in making choices multiple times a day in what I eat and enjoy.

  8. Melanie
    on March 27, 2013 at 1:10 pm said:

    AMEN!!! I keep going back to considering Dave Ramsey every time someone mentions him or Financial Peace University etc, but it’s just not for us! My main option for shopping around here is Walmart…Where at one time I may buy something from each of several budget categories: groceries, household, gifts, fun/entertainment, clothing, etc… Sorry, but I’m not going to separate my cart into 5+ transactions every time I go there or carry around the change from several envelopes at a time. I have enough to think about when I go through the check out line with my kids, coupons, price-matching, and just getting the groceries back into my cart! I go through receipts and separate out my categories on a spreadsheet on my computer later. Works for me.

    My husband also gets paid every 2 weeks – which is not necessarily 2x/month or reliably at the same parts of the month, so even doing a monthly budget gets pretty tricky and awkward sometimes (though I’m trying to make it work anyway).

    I also find it much easier to pay with credit/debit cards. I love having the online tracking system, and I like getting cash back. If someone stole my wallet, I could just contact my company and put a stop on my cards, whereas if I used cash, it would be gone. I do wonder sometimes how I’m going to teach my kids the value of pennies, nickels, dimes, etc though if they never see me use it! I use my cards like cash and pay it back quickly. I don’t use the card unless I know I have the ability to pay it back immediately.

    By the way, I disagree with a previous commenter that you have to carry an interest-accruing balance in order to build credit. You do NOT need to pay interest ever in order to get a good credit score. My husband paid his off completely every month and had a great score when we went to buy our house. I, on the other hand, had only had my credit card (trying to build credit) for less than 6 months or a year – whatever their cut-off is – so I didn’t technically have a credit score and the same happened to me with not being on the loan. You CAN be added to the title after the fact though, fyi. The main things that show up on your credit report where credit cards are concerned are 1) did you pay off AT LEAST the required amount every month (it doesn’t say how much you paid off – just that you paid off the req’d amount – paying off in full is fine), 2) how much was your balance at the arbitrary time of month that they choose to report it? The time of month is not predictable, because they don’t want you to be able to manipulate it. It looks good if you are using a significant amount towards your credit limit each month – as long as it’s not too close to the limit. As long as you’re using a good amount of it and paying at least the basic amount off each month, they know you are able to handle borrowing money well. (So just borrowing $10/month, trying to “build credit” won’t look all that great. 😉

    I worry for the couples who get rid of their credit cards together and THEN try buying a house and neither of them has a credit score! Not everyone can buy a house outright with cash.

    We plan to do our saving for kids’ college and retirement with real estate investing, so for us, our credit scores are very important, and I have learned a lot about keeping strong credit scores. My mental struggle in moving forward with this is the counsel to stay out of debt except for your OWN home/education/etc….But our 10 year plan would allow us to not only completely pay off our own home (*years* faster than otherwise – thus actually following the counsel to get out of debt as quickly as possible), but own ~9 other homes outright….A feat we couldn’t otherwise pull off with a regular income and following the typical invest-in-stock-market plan, which in my opinion is a broken plan anyway. (ex: you have to get lucky that you don’t retire during a recession/depression)

    Ah, you struck a chord. I could go on for a long time here, but I’m sure I’m just rambling! Anyway, congrats on the new vehicle! We’re in pretty much the same situation right now and we’re trying to figure out the best way for us to get that reliable vehicle big enough for our growing family in a way that’s financially sound. 😉 I’m glad you’ve figured out a great way to make it work for your family!

  9. Melissa
    on March 27, 2013 at 12:43 pm said:

    Congrats on the car! Excited you guys have a feasible way to get to the reunion!!! And it’s great to have some peace of mind with transportation as well. I also appreciated reading your views. I think often it is the extremes that sell or are what people see. But really with finances and health it usually isn’t a big fancy plan that’s needed but doing the small things each day and being aware of what you are doing. Things like making your own food, going on a walk, looking through the weekly ads for sales – I had a friend recently that was astounded that this could help her save money on food, she had just automatically thrown them away.

    Also, credit cards have some nice perks. I used one to buy some airplane tickets recently and received two $30 gift cards in the mail because of a promotion the credit card company was having that I didn’t even know about. But you do need to be wise with them, of course. Anyways, thanks for the thoughts, I always enjoy your posts make me think.

  10. Lauren
    on March 27, 2013 at 9:20 am said:

    I love what you said about credit cards. I completely agree that they can be used responsibly and can even be helpful, especially in our technology age. I feel similarly as you do about credit cards and debt. Thanks for sharing.

    Oh, and your quote about being healthy and consuming oils and being financially fit and having credit cards is wonderful!

  11. H
    on March 27, 2013 at 8:04 am said:

    Hi Janae~I follow, but I never comment! We follow Dave in the sense of strict budgeting–telling our money where to go. Once we did that consistently, it’s amazing how we “find” money (aka CHOOSING not to spend it on something else). We use credit cards, but our main spending is really groceries and I watch every $. I like a lot of his principles–being debt free will truly open up quite a bit of money every month. But, I also think it’s geared toward people with consumer debt who got into debt by being “unable to control spending.” All our debt is student loans, and while I can’t wait to be debt-free except the house, frankly, our credit card use DID NOT get us into this situation. And as a vegan, I loved your comparison!

  12. Joy
    on March 27, 2013 at 6:27 am said:

    First of all, congratulations on the new van! That’s so exciting. I’d been thinking of you a lot over the weekend, and about how stressful it is to have an unreliable car — especially with a family of six. It’s that kind of low-level nagging stress that really ends up getting to you over time, so I’m glad you nipped it in the bud.

    I’m also glad that you wrote about your feelings on Dave Ramsey’s philosophy. For a long time, I wrote about financial advice, and I learned how important it is to build a credit score by using your credit. Before then, I would have closed my credit cards too! Now, I keep a few small recurring bills on the cards I’ve paid off, just so that they continue to report to the credit bureaus.

    As I’m sure you know, part of your credit score is about what kind of credit you have. It’s important to have both installment and revolving debt. So it’s actually a good thing for your credit that you have a car loan right now! I’m telling myself the same thing, as I’m considering trading my Honda Fit in for a CRV or Rav4. After this winter, I think something with 4 wheel drive is a necessity — and I’d feel safer if I had a bit more power getting onto the freeway.

    Thanks for sharing this, Janae, and congrats again!

    • Janae Wise
      on March 27, 2013 at 6:58 am said:

      “For a long time, I wrote about financial advice, and I learned how important it is to build a credit score by using your credit. Before then, I would have closed my credit cards too! Now, I keep a few small recurring bills on the cards I’ve paid off, just so that they continue to report to the credit bureaus.”

      Yes, after years of excellent credit, & then closing all of my accounts & not using them, I discovered the hard way (in not being able to be on our house loan), that you actually have to use credit to have credit.

      Great point about the installment vs. revolving credit & why both are important. I don’t know if I realized that, so thanks for pointing it out!~

  13. Kristen
    on March 26, 2013 at 11:08 pm said:

    LOVE what you said about credit cards!! I have always had and used credit cards. I have two and hardly ever pay with cash. I earn rewards (cashback) with my credit cards and there are no annual fees for my credit cards so I essentially make money when I use them. I make between $500 to $1,000 per year with cashback on my credit cards. I am very frugal (use coupons, price match, watch for sales) and we have a strict budget so I am not going crazy spending to try to get these rewards. I am buying gas, groceries, car insurance… the essentials. We also pay our credit card off each month so we have not accumulated any interest. In the long run, using credit cards helps us financially. Credit cards can be a BLESSING. 🙂

    • Janae Wise
      on March 27, 2013 at 6:48 am said:

      “Credit cards can be a BLESSING.”

      I think it’s important to realize that credit cards are a tool. It’s a way to pay for something. Checks, cash, debit cards, credit cards, loans–none of these are inherently bad or good. You can use one or the other, depending on the purchase & situation. Knowing your limits & weaknesses is crucial for understanding what tool you need to use to make your purchases. I can’t imagine using checks–I think that would be an awful thing for me. Too much of a risk of miscalculating, forgetting to record, potentially bouncing checks & accruing overdraft charges (oh yes, do I know about that).

      As I said in the post, the most important principles: *spend less than you earn, have a savings, stick to a budget*, can be achieved any number of ways. Despite the shouts of experts to the contrary, there is no “exact way” that everyone should follow in order to achieve financial success.

      You’re totally right, rewards, can be a very nice perk, if you’re not paying interest. Thanks for your thoughts!

  14. Katie
    on March 26, 2013 at 11:02 pm said:

    I applaud you Janae! Way to go, and I can’t believe you found the perfect vehicle at such a great price. This post has me going to bed happy 🙂 And I agree about Dave Ramsey – I appreciate his principles, but they are not the ONLY way. I hope you didn’t feel like you needed to defend your choices. From your blog, I can tell that you are doing the best you can – which is awesome. I’m excited for your financial future, I think you will do very well for yourselves after this debt snowball and such. Best of luck!

    • Janae Wise
      on March 27, 2013 at 6:35 am said:

      Thank you, Katie. I feel like we did get a great price on an awesome vehicle. It’s perfect for our family, & will meet our needs.

      “I hope you didn’t feel like you needed to defend your choices.”

      Sabrina wrote the same thing, & I guess I’ll just tell you what I told her, which is:

      You’re right, I shouldn’t feel like I have to defend my or my families choices. But, I just know there are others out there like me, who are sometimes torn, feeling like they should do something just because an “expert” said so, when good sense & experience suggests another route. I guess I just wanted to share my experience & rationale, so that others hopefully will know that it’s okay to make choices that are their own.

      Having experience with following both McDougall’s & Ramsey’s programs, I’ve learned that they want you to believe that you don’t follow their program to a T, you are wrong, or you will get fat, or you will not get out of debt/accumulate wealth, etc. The truth is, for so many things in life there are many, many ways to achieve the end goal. I find solid principles (rather than strict guidelines) in combination with a a good use of our God given intelligence, is the best way to make decisions, be they about diet, money, relationships, what have you.

      Thank you for the well wishes, Katie, I really appreciate it!

  15. Lisa
    on March 26, 2013 at 9:46 pm said:

    Ha- we think alike! I have had similar thoughts on both these men. I respect and look up to both of them…but I completely understand what you are saying too. 🙂

    • Janae Wise
      on March 27, 2013 at 6:31 am said:

      Yes, I have a lot of admiration for Dr. McDougall, in particular, since he’s done a great deal of good in helping so many people regain their health. But, as I said in the post, this admiration doesn’t mean I think I (or anyone else) has to follow all of his recommendations in order to have success in experiencing greater health.

  16. Sabrina
    on March 26, 2013 at 8:52 pm said:

    It sounds like you made a very sound choice. I am a Dave Ramsey fan overall, but I agree that it is mostly for the financially sick. We still use credit cards because we pay them off every month and they are much more convenient. If we were in your situation, I am sure we would take out a small loan too. I enjoyed reading your post very much, but I do have to say, I don’t think you should feel you have to defend your decision to anyone. As long as you and your husband felt it was the right thing to do for your family, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about it.

    • Janae Wise
      on March 27, 2013 at 6:27 am said:

      “I don’t think you should feel you have to defend your decision to anyone. As long as you and your husband felt it was the right thing to do for your family, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about it.”

      You’re right, I shouldn’t feel like I have to defend my or my families choices. But, I just know there are others out there like me, who are sometimes torn, feeling like they should do something just because an “expert” said so, when good sense & experience suggests another route. I guess I just wanted to share my experience & rationale, so that others hopefully will know that it’s okay to make choices that are their own.

      Having experience with following both McDougall’s & Ramsey’s programs, I’ve learned that they want you to believe that you don’t follow their program to a T, you are wrong, or you will get fat, or you will not get out of debt/accumulate wealth, etc. The truth is, for so many things in life there are many, many ways to achieve the end goal. I find solid principles (rather than strict guidelines) in combination with a a good use of our God given intelligence, is the best way to make decisions, be they about diet, money, relationships, what have you.

      Thanks Sabrina, for your thoughts!

  17. lfwfv
    on March 26, 2013 at 8:14 pm said:

    I loved this post, and i think it’s wonderful that you have a good, reliable vehicle. Your reasons for financing make perfect sense.

    I identify with so much of what you wrote…”experts” going a bit too far and saying their plans are for everybody or that they are somehow divinely inspired, credit cards being good and necessary for people that can handle them, that there are good reasons for going into debt…

    As a student, i thought all credit cards were bad, so i never used one. When i met and married my husband we realized i had no credit score. He had used credit cards responsibly in order to build his, but i had work to do…so, we decided to get credit cards, several in fact, some of which get us free things like trips home to Canada. We are responsible with them and treat them like cash, so we pay off the balance or even overpay in full every month. I almost always pay with my credit card, never cash.

    That said, we too are “frugal”. We don’t budget, but we try to live by the rule of “do we need it?” If we don’t, we almost never buy it. We shop at Goodwill, ebay, Amazon, Costco, farmer’s market, and small purchases from Target and our local grocery store (cleaning products, fresh produce etc.).

    I would say we are very careful with our money and with debt, but we could not adhere to Dave Ramsey’s strict guidelines. We can’t stick to a budget, and we believe it is prudent to use our credit cards responsibly.

    Anyway, i think you are wise and that you are making the best choices for your family based on solid principles, not on some experts “rules”.

    • Janae Wise
      on March 27, 2013 at 6:19 am said:

      “I almost always pay with my credit card, never cash.”

      Me too! It’s so much easier for me to track my expenditures (& I LOVE mint.com, which is a free budgeting tool). I find it hard to wrap my mind around cash. I think that my generation & younger feel similarly, which is something I think is important to realize. How can we teach younger people how to be responsible with money? I don’t think the solution is to say: “well, that’s easy! get rid of credit cards.” Because, as I said above, credit cards aren’t going away any time soon, therefore, people ought to learn how to use the tool in such a way that is financially responsible. That said, if an individual has no self-control with the plastic, I suppose cash-only system could be a viable solution.

      “That said, we too are “frugal”. We don’t budget, but we try to live by the rule of “do we need it?” If we don’t, we almost never buy it.”

      Perfect example of what I was trying to say. It is possible to use credit cards, even not have a budget, & still be financially fit & debt-free. You & your husband have strong self-control & are smart–a great combination for good finances. Lots of ways to achieve the end goal, which is financial self-reliance.

      I think an important thing is to realize what you need to do in order to spend less than you make. If that means a budget (which for many people, it is a very good idea) then, great.

      Thanks for sharing!

  18. Etta
    on March 26, 2013 at 7:10 pm said:

    Love this post! Thank you for breaking it all down. I’ve been reading a bunch about Dave Ramsey and I wasn’t quite sure it was for us. You put my feelings into words:).

    • Janae Wise
      on March 27, 2013 at 6:10 am said:


      I should be clear, I’m not discouraging anyone from doing Ramsey’s program if after they’ve looked into it & feel it’s right for them. However, I think it’s extremely important to make decisions based on thoughtful research, prayer (if you’re a spiritual person), logic, & ultimately intuition (or what I would call your good sense). Too often people get on a program & do whatever the “expert” says is right, rather than do a bit more soul searching & research for their very specific & individual situation.

  19. Kristi
    on March 26, 2013 at 6:58 pm said:

    This is my favorite post, yet! I was hoping you would find a Honda Odessy. My cousin bought a used one last year, and loves it.

    I completely agree with your comments regarding Dave Ramsey and McDougall. As long as we are making prayerful choices and doing our best to live below our means, save and become debt free, we are on the right path.

    I have read some of the food and money beliefs of the Mormon Church and think it is soud advice for everyone. Thank you for sharing the links.

    Congrats on the reliable vehicle and congrats on being in debt for now. Because, with the greatest sacrifices come the greatest rewards. Law school was a sacrifice of money and time, but it is already rewarding your family and future.

    Thank you again for this post. Love it!

    • Janae Wise
      on March 27, 2013 at 6:06 am said:

      “As long as we are making prayerful choices and doing our best to live below our means, save and become debt free, we are on the right path.”

      True. It’s about the directions, we’re headed, isn’t it?

      “I have read some of the food and money beliefs of the Mormon Church and think it is soud advice for everyone.”

      I agree, principles based on truth work for everyone, because it’s up to the individual to use those principles as a guide to making good choices. It’s when you get into very specific advice applied to the masses, that you run into problems.

      “Because, with the greatest sacrifices come the greatest rewards. Law school was a sacrifice of money and time, but it is already rewarding your family and future.”

      Again, I completely agree. Going to law school, for our family, was one of the best decisions we’ve made. It’s so worth it for my husband to be in a career that he loves, & that can support a family.

      Thank you for your kindness, Kristi!

  20. rachel
    on March 26, 2013 at 4:32 pm said:

    Fabulous post!

    • Janae Wise
      on March 27, 2013 at 5:44 am said:

      Thank you, Rachel.

  21. dani
    on March 26, 2013 at 4:04 pm said:

    ENJOY YOUR NEW CAR! Sounds like you got a great deal, and it will be totally worth the extra time of payments. So, are you a 2 car family now for as long as your other van lasts? That might be nice!

    • Janae Wise
      on March 26, 2013 at 4:09 pm said:

      Yes, we do have the old beast until it dies. That’ll be Joseph’s ride to work until it’s run its course. We actually had planned on selling it, or trading it in because we didn’t want to pay insurance for two cars, but we figured we’d hardly get anything for the car, & the parts, when sold separately are worth more than the actual car, plus we’ve dumped so much money into already, we decided, hey, let’s keep it. So yes, we are a 2 car family for the time being, & it is very nice.

      & thank you for the well wishes, you’re very sweet.

  22. Melissa
    on March 26, 2013 at 3:59 pm said:

    Great post! Isn’t it sad that you have to have some debt in order to have good credit?! My bro and SIL learned that the hard way too, when after a few years of paying their Discover Card off monthly they went to buy a car and had mediocre credit score; they learned at that time (as did I) that unless some balance carries over to the next month and incurs interest, they really aren’t using “credit” and thus weren’t building a credit history. Pathetic!!!

    I don’t think you need to justify financing a car to anyone.

    • Janae Wise
      on March 26, 2013 at 4:12 pm said:

      I know, really it is a shame that you almost get punished for being such a good borrower, but it’s the world we live in.

      The reality is that for most of us, we’re going to need to use our credit score at one point or another, so it’s a good idea not to ignore it. Believe me, I was pretty miffed that I couldn’t be on the loan for our last house, all because I followed some bad advice. Ah well.

  23. Joya
    on March 26, 2013 at 1:11 pm said:

    I almost could have written this post myself. I totally agree.
    Have a great day!!

    • Janae Wise
      on March 26, 2013 at 2:04 pm said:

      Thank you Joya! ox

  24. Hannah Wetzel
    on March 26, 2013 at 12:55 pm said:

    Oops, I forgot to note on there that a people tend to forget that sticking to a budget and living within your income will save you from a lot of trouble. I have friends who admitted to not being on a budget and then wondered why they had money problems. It’s funny but sad at the same time.

    • Janae Wise
      on March 26, 2013 at 2:04 pm said:

      So many things are easier with a credit card! Also, I just can’t wrap my mind around carrying cash. I’m constantly paranoid that my kids will get into it, or I’ll lose it… Also, I’ve had a few fradulent charges made on my card, & the cc company has always disregarded the charges, no questions asked. I appreciate that.

  25. Hannah Wetzel
    on March 26, 2013 at 12:53 pm said:

    My husband and I were in your smae situation not too long ago. We have actually just gotten completely out of debt then our car gave up on us and we had to buy a new one. We had some money saved so that helped but we still had to get a loan for it. Right now it is our only debt which we are dutifully paying on each month (plus some if we can help it). We do a partial cash budget because my husband is not against using credit cards (they have done wonders for our credit) and certain things are easier to get with a card like online etc then with cash. Debt, credit cards and all that is all about perspective and priorities like you said. You’re doing great with how you are doing things and you are trying your best and that is what matters. Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful day!