Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Financial Life

This is probably one of the areas of my life where I have purposely changed the most over the last 6 years or so.  I have worked hard to make some necessary changes.  It is also the area where I have the most concrete, measurable goals.  And I owe a lot of it to Dave Ramsey.

Where I Was

In debt.  Stupid.  Hopeless.  Yep, that’s where I was.  I was a complete idiot when it came to money.  Before getting married, I was already in debt up to my eyeballs.  I had credit cards, a car payment, and student loans.  LOTS of student loans.  And, like I mentioned the other day, no degree to show for it.  I was in such bad shape that, when my DH asked my parents for my hand in marriage, the first thing they said to him was, "You know she's bad with money, right?"  Sadly, the thing they didn't know is that my husband-to-be wasn't much better.  (And thankfully, my husband loved me enough to ask me anyway!)

So, we started our life together with debt.  Two kids later, and we were in trouble!  We put everything on credit cards and had no plan for the future.  That is when I found Dave Ramsey and read his book, The Total Money Makeover.  I can't say that when I read the book and shared it with my husband we IMMEDIATELY changed our lives.  Instead, it took a while.  We added a few of the ideas like $1000 emergency fund and living within our means.  And we DID stop using credit.  

However, around this time, the economy was getting really bad.  Like many other families, we took a hit and money got really tight.  While we weren't adding to our debt, we also weren't making much progress in paying it off.  Because our budget was so tight, I got a part time job in the evenings to help out.  I'm very blesses that my mom watches my kids for me until my husband gets off work and picks them up.

Where I Am
Slowly, our income has started to recover.  This January, we started Financial Peace University at a local church and really started to get intense about paying off our debt.  I am the "nerd" and create the budget every month.  While I enjoy the process (I LOVE details), being the saver and the one to say, "No, we don't have the money right now" does not come naturally to me.  Seeing our progress helps, though.  I've learned the hard way that I have to focus on the next little step rather than the entire debt or I will become overwhelmed and start to lose hope.  

We still have a ways to go, but I can see the progress we are making.  And we are learning more every month.  This month, I wasn't able to sign up for any shifts at work ahead of time.  While it has worked out and I am getting all the shifts I need, we weren't guaranteed that money.  So, we created our budget with just my husband's income.  To say things were tight is a huge understatement!  Then, we made a list of where any extra money would go.  It turned out that this worked better than our regular budget!  You see, it tricked up into thinking we didn't have any money and being more resourceful.  In the end, we were able to put money toward things that we normally would have put off like clothes and school supplies.  Plus, we had extra money to throw at our debt snowball!  I think we will be sticking with the budgeting plan from now on.

Where I Hope to Be
Like I said, we have very concrete goals in this area.  Most of them come from Dave Ramsey's baby steps.  We are currently on Baby Step 2:  the debt snowball.  This means we are paying off all our debts, smallest to largest.  We are working hard to pay them off one at a time and our number one goal is to be DEBT FREE!!!!  After that, we move to Baby Step 3: 3-6 months worth of expenses in an emergency fund.  Once we have that saved, our next big goal is to buy a new house.  We have outgrown our current house.  The kids - a boy and a girl - still share a room.  That is fine for now, but eventually we'll need another bedroom.  At this time, we'd also like for me to be able to quit my job and be a full-time stay-at-home mom.

Throughout this process there has been one lesson that keeps coming back over-and-over.  That is the lesson of contentment.  I still struggle with this at times.  But, I'm learning to focus on my blessings and not the things I don't have.  The Bible has a lot to say on this matter, too.  

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned , in whatsoever state I am , therewith to be content
Phillipians 4:11

And having food and raiment let us be therewith content .
1 Timothy 6:8 KJV 
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have : for he hath said , I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
Hebrews 13:5 KJV
I am so thankful for the promises of the Father.  I pray that one day, I will have this contentment thing down.  In the meantime, I often catch myself coveting the things I do not have and having to stop myself and think about all the wonderful things I do have instead.

1 comment:

  1. I will be praying for you as you work you're way out of debt. It is quite a challenge. We are currently doing the same thing so we can get to the mission field. The Lord will be faithful...keep pushing on! :)