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Hi CatfishDB, welcome to the board.

I find it ironic? interesting? intriguing? that you started posting exactly two years after joining the Fool. (That's what the balloons are for).

Several people have commented on getting rid of the third car (it doesn't seem to matter which one, but we obviously don't know all the details), and Mastiffmama has commented on the need for money you don't need to account for. That was an important comment. Sometimes, just knowing that each partner has a certain amount of money for whatever strikes his or her fancy can help enormously.

Budgets are not made of stone. They need to be adjusted on a regular basis, and both of the partners need to have an equal say. In fact, during the first several months most budgets need a lot of tweaking and fine-tuning, and you should expect this. The universe will seek balance. If you spend more on entertaining or dining out, then you need to cut back on utilities or groceries.

That's to get you started. Now we have this: Half the battle for me will be to quit buying or leasing big ticket items. I always justified it with, "I deserve it, I work hard". I think that I finally understand how foolish that type of thinking is.

When you come right down to it, none of us "deserve" anything we have. (I could go into a long rant about dying children in Africa who don't deserve etc., but I'll cut it short).

Instead of "deserve" try to substitute the word "earn." And you've earned those big ticket items when you have the money to pay for them. Yes, many of us want those things. But (going back to the universe seeking balance) try to compare two things. You can have the big house, the luxury car, the plasma television, the big dinners out, and all the rest of the bells and whistles. And then you can be dead broke in retirement, totally unable to have anything. Or you can cut back now, spend less, pay off the debts, put money aside, and have a comfortable retirement.

You can also have the comfort of knowing that if your job takes a hit you won't be in a state of blind panic. (An economist at Princeton estimates that 12,000 economist positions will be moving off-shore before long, and he's now rethinking his position on free trade. He's not in any danger, but he's looking at his students).

Freedom from debt, knowing that there are savings and investments to protect you in time of trouble, can be a hugely motivating factor.

To amuse you, I offer the Tamarian series.

Part I: I owe HOW much?!:

Part II: Budgeting in real life:

Part III: LBYMs as a friend:

Part IV: Getting those rates lowered:

Part V: Getting back in the kitchen again:

Part VI: Don't mourn, organize!:

Part VII: Stop, Think, Plan, DO!:

I think it was in the third of the series that Tamarian, sitting there in her old clothes, wearing a jacket she knitted out of "what was on sale at Walmart," eating leftovers padded out with a lot of rice, looking at a cubicle neighbor with every bell and whistle you could want, (including a Mercedes convertible) heard the words, "I envy you. You have everything."

Sometimes people don't understand their own priorities. Have you and your wife sat down together and really talked about what you want? Not just now-this-minute, but ten years, twenty years, forty years down the line? Have you discussed things you do, or things you buy, but don't really care about?

Talking about the future, talking about what your real needs and wants are, can be painful. But it might inspire both of you to really dig deep and change your priorities. I realize that you can't do this tonight. Or tomorrow, or even over the weekend. It will take a lot of work, and you'll have to have regular, set, scheduled discussions for a number of weeks or even months. But if you're both willing to work at this, you'll have an extra motivation for getting out of debt.

Hope this helps,

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