Happy New Year! We were talking the other day and both had the realization that a new year has never felt so “new” to us before. Growing up, New Year’s Eve/Day just seems like another part of Christmas break. As a teacher, I still work in that September-June cycle and January doesn’t mean a fresh start like it does for so many others. Actually, I’m usually really sad to see New Year’s Day because it means that break is almost over. This year, during the week approaching NYE, I felt really encouraged to start planning the new year and getting my head right. We had set a few house and personal goals at the beginning of 2014. Some of those, like our bedroom, came to fruition (even if I didn’t blog the final product…still…or make the closet curtains- oops). Some others, like birthing a baby or a redone kitchen, did not. We decided to change up our goals for this year and instead of focusing on one specific product (with the exception of the baby), we would focus on things that we hope for this year and action steps we could take to make those things happen. [Read more…]
The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender. Proverbs 22:7
OK so- I know I don’t do a lot of posts about the Bible. For a life-long churchgoer, I have a very hard time making Scripture references in daily life. However, Proverbs 22:7 has become huge in our lives in the last 4 months. Anyone who is around us knows that fifteen weeks ago, we started going to a class for Financial Peace University.
One of the biggest tenets of FPU is that you become debt-free. For us, that seemed insurmountable. I am, and always have been, a person who hates debt. I mean, seriously. I. Hate. Debt. I remember the first time after college that my credit card balance was more than I could pay all at once. I think I cried. I was so upset to have this money that I owed. All I could think was, “If I can’t pay this right now, how will I ever get the money in the next month to pay it off?” Well, I didn’t. That first balance was more than I could handle and I’ve since gone over the limit or paid late on more than one occasion. As anyone with a credit card (probably all of you) knows, my interest rates have sky rocketed. What was once a college-student-friendly credit card has become the bane of my existence. Currently the credit card has over $3,000 on it and I have since accumulated a David’s Bridal card, a NY&Co card (who doesn’t love occasional discounts on great clothes?), a card through my credit union for “emergencies”, and a Value City Furniture card. Now, all of these cards made perfect sense to me at the time. I paid of VCF in under 12 months and was charged no interest. I paid off David’s Bridal monthly so that it never carried a balance. I even had NY&Co paid off every time I bought clothes, except for once. Then I paid it off in 2 months. I considered myself to handle credit pretty well. Then I met Dave. Now, some people, I’m sure, consider themselves to love Dave Ramsey. I LOVE Dave Ramsey. It’s a sickness. I tell everyone I know about DR. I talk about it at work, I talk about it with family, I talk about it on facebook. He is my favorite.
Needless to say, after starting to love the classes, getting to the Dumping Debt lesson was hard for me. I was overwhelmed by the credit debt we’d accrued and felt like there was no way out of our hole. To make matters worse, there are personal testimonies on the videos at class and all of these people were talking about how they became debt-free in 18-24 months. WHAT?! That is in.sane. I couldn’t believe that these people had somehow found a way to be so “gazelle intense” that they were able to get out from under thousands of dollars of debt. On top of all that, Chris started listening to the free podcasts where people called in saying that they made $60,000 a year and had gotten out from under that same amount (or more) of debt in under 2 years. I couldn’t understand it. Frankly, I still can’t. However, we have been so blessed in the last 15 weeks. When we started, all of our cards had a balance. We had started Baby Step 1 (building a $1,000 emergency fund) right after our wedding. Luckily, we had a little over our $1,000 and were immediately able to pay off our “emergency” credit card. The irony is not lost on us. Immediately after, we paid off David’s Bridal and NY&Co. By Christmas, all we had was this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad $3,000 credit card, a personal loan to a very generous family member from when I had tough times, my engagement ring, our wedding photographer, and the hubs’ student loan. Coming off of Christmas and a death in the family, this still seemed INSANE. My only comfort was that we would be able to pay it all of in the next 5 years according to the “Debt Snowball” concept (google it, DR is a genius). Well, God came through like no. other. I realize that’s a silly statement, but I’ve truly never experienced anything like this. We were so blessed to have unexpected circumstances like security deposit refunds, monetary gifts, and gold parties that gave us a little extra cash flow. As a result, the bane-of-my-existence credit card will be paid off after our tax return check comes in, the personal loan will be paid by June, and our wedding photographer was paid off this weekend. This has been unbelievable.
I thought, at first, that Proverbs 22:7 was silly. I mean, if you borrow money from a friend or family member, you don’t *have* to be their slave. If they love you they certainly won’t hold it over your head. That may be true, but I had no idea the guilt I was carrying when I was walking around owing people money. I felt so guilty having to pay people late or being unable to pay off my credit card. After 5 years of a revolving balance, my credit card will be at ZERO. What?! That’s so SO freeing. I always knew that the Bible talked about money a lot. I had heard the stats on how many times the word “money” was mentioned and how the Bible spoke about having credit or owing those around you. I also knew that God wants us to use our resources for His glory. I’m so proud to say that we tithe our 10% every month, thanks to prioritizing through FPU, we’re paying off debt, and we’re saving money for new cars and (hopefully, someday) for a house and to start a family. It has made me feel so much more secure and, while emergencies may come, we’re ready for times when it won’t always be so easy. Additionally, it feels good to have become more financially stable based on Biblical and common-sense principles.
I wrote once about guilt, sin, and living in filth. I still have SO MANY things I want to change and improve about myself (and yes, my house is still dirty…or dirty again, whichever), but through FPU and its ability to highlight places that we could make our money (and our minds) work more efficiently to accomplish our purposes for our money and God’s purposes for our money, I feel like I might be digging myself out of my filthy hole.
So thanks, Dave Ramsey. Thanks to Ivy Memorial Baptist Church for hosting the class. Lastly, thanks to my husband for sticking with me through 7 hours of budget re-dos or my endless questions double-checking that our bajillion envelopes are set up properly. And thanks also, honey, for running to the bank to re-deposit cash when we’re able to pay someone off. I’m so glad that you support my crazy.
And seriously, even if you think you have a handle on your budget (I sure thought I did), try FPU. It’s unbelievable to be 100% secure knowing that we’re working toward financial peace.
Here’s to a continued wonderful 2011!
And thanks for listening to my rambling. 🙂