An important note about this blog post. The Jericho Conquest comes directly from national best-selling author and radio host Dave Ramsey. He is the originator of the 7 Baby Steps. This plan has helped millions of families beat debt and build a legacy. I believe in this plan immensely because it has helped my wife and I pay down debt, save for the future, and increase our generosity. We will on the blog refer to our plan of action as the Jericho Conquest.
Look alive soldiers! We’ve previously done inventory on the weapons needed to advance on the Walls of Jericho. Now it’s time to unveil the trusted battle plan that will help you lead an assault on debt and live a life of stewardship. Your battle plan is called the “Jericho Conquest.” The marching orders consist of 7 straight forward missions, but will require you to be disciplined. Now that’s great because we all just “love” discipline right? Wrong. Most of us hate it. The Bible says in Hebrews 12:11 “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” In other words, discipline is well worth the sacrifice. Okay soldiers, let’s debrief our mission objectives!
Expect the unexpected – Save $1000 in a money market or savings account
You’ve got to keep your head on a swivel for “Guerilla warfare:” Unexpected ambushes, raids, sabotage, hit-and-run tactics. In life, we call these emergencies. According to Murphy’s Law, anything that can happen will happen. 66% of Americans can’t cover a $1,000 emergency (CareerBuilder, 2017).
Lead an assault – Pay off all non mortgage debt using the Debt Snowball
78% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck regardless of income (CareerBuilder, 2017). List out your debts from smallest to largest and pay them off. Why use the Debt Snowball? Paying off debt is about behavior, not math. Gradual debt payoff victories equal momentum. Momentum equals finishing. You can’t accomplish your goals and live out dreams if your money is tied up in payments. We’ll attack mortgage debt later because it’s usually the largest debt people have.
Build reinforcements – Save 3-6 months of expenses
This is a continuation of Mission #1. Build a fully funded emergency fund of 3-6 months worth of expenses. If you aren’t sure how to prioritize expenses, a good rule of thumb is to save 3-6 months worth of the total monthly cost for food, shelter/utilities, transportation, and clothing. We call these the “4 Essentials.”
Lay siege – Invest 15% of household income for retirement
You’ve eliminated your non mortgage debt and built reserve reinforcements up to this point. Now you save 15% of your household income in Pre-Tax accounts (401k, IRA) and Roth IRAs. Capping your saving at 15% of your household income also leaves you wiggle room to accomplish your other missions.
Train your unit – College funding for kids
The average student loan debt in America is $50,868 (NerdWallet, Inc., 2017). You’ve got to take steps to end this alarming trend. Put money away for the kids college fund into tax advantaged accounts such as an ESA (Education Savings Account) or 529 Plan. Depending on which kind of account you select, you may be able to contribute up to $2,000 annually towards your child’s education.
Final strike – Pay off your house
Since your money isn’t being flushed down the toilet by debt payments anymore at this juncture, allocate as much income as possible towards paying off your mortgage. Don’t drown in 30 years worth of mortgage payments. You end up paying more money (in the form of interest) over time with a 30 year mortgage. Deliver the final blow and lead an assault on debt once and for all.
Advance and salute – Live your dreams and unleash generosity
This is the last and most important mission. You’ve done what you’ve had to do and now you get to do what you desire to do. You now have options. At this stage, build wealth so that you can unleash generosity. We live in a broken and fractured society, full of selfishness. Lead an assault on selfishness by giving extravagantly to others. Designate a certain amount of money to give to your family. Additionally, find a charitable cause you believe in and start supporting them financially.
Soldiers, the strategy to take down the enemy has been given. It’s now up to you to execute on the plan and stay focused. Take inventory and ask yourself 2 questions: “What is the current reality of my financial situation?” “Which Mission do I need to start based on where I’m at financially?”