If you have read the post “God Moments: Expectations” you already know a little of our story with finances. This financial series will give you a look into our lives as we battle our financial and debt issues. You will not only take a personal journey with us, but you will learn tips that you can use to help your family rise above your financial status.
My goal with this series is to help you see from a realistic perspective what has worked and what is working for our family, give you hope that you are not alone in your financial battles, and provide some tips to help you get out of the hole you may find yourself in all while placing God in the forefront of the mess.
Let me start by telling you our story. When my husband and I met, I was finishing my Masters degree, and he was working in software analysis. On our second date, he showed me his first paycheck because he was so proud of the amount of money he was bringing home. Part of me also believes he wanted to show me he could provide for me. This is the starting point to our finances because men want to show that they can provide and women want to feel like they are being provided for. We want to know our family will be safe and protected. That little pay check was proving he could do that.
A year later, he would lose that job, and our lives would be thrown into a tizzy. We were boyfriend and girlfriend at the time that lived separately, but because he had lost his job, we decided to move in together to save on some money. My dream was to wait until we were engaged to move in together, but due to finances, we felt it was best to make it work now. This is a very important time in our lives because finances were the cause of a major life change for both of us that we weren’t necessarily ready for. This is just an example how we tend to let finances tell us when to make important life changes.
Hubby found another job down the line, and we were making it work. Our church began a financial small group where we learned Financial Peace from Dave Ramsey. We learned to cut up our credit cards and to budget. We learned to look at our finances for what they really were. We completed the program with our group, but we realized just how much debt we had piled up from credit cards and student loans. We couldn’t begin our debt snowball because we were barely making the bills, but we were at least taking steps in the right direction. Then. Hubby lost his job again.
We had a period of a few months when we didn’t budget. We couldn’t stand looking at our finances face to face and seeing the damage. One day, we realized God was asking us to trust Him. He was asking us to take steps forward, budget, and plan where our money was going even when we didn’t have enough. So we took the steps. We budgeted. We saw the rewards.
Now, here is the next important lesson we learned from finances which is, sort of, the basis for this post. We found ourselves $300 to $500 in the hole every month, meaning we were negative. This scared the pants off of us! What do we do? Well, we prayed. We put our finances in God’s hands, and we continued tithing and asking for God’s help. And you know what? We never missed a bill. We had some help from parents (without our asking) who would give us groceries at times, but not enough for us to point to them as the reason for why we were making it every month. Little did we know, this was just a stepping stone to what we would later have to endure.
Hubby found another job that helped sustain us. He didn’t love it, but it was a job. He was good at it. During his time in this job, we had a baby. At this time, we had moved to a cheaper apartment to gain some traction on our finances. I graduated with a Masters degree in Art Therapy. When baby was 3 months old, I started working at the same place I had interned at school. We started looking for a house, leased new phones, and started spending the money that we had. You would think that after all of our issues with finances, we would try to stick closely to our Dave Ramsey plan. We didn’t. We loved the money rolling in. Our income had doubled, and how amazing it was to feel safe! We could buy whatever we wanted (for the most part). But that’s when our money problems really began.
We stopped budgeting. Why budget when you are safe? What debt snowball? We will do that later. Once we get a house, we will save money and start putting that towards a snowball of some sort. Well, those were our beliefs. Something was holding us back from getting a house, though. We knew we could save for a down payment, but something told us to wait. Four months after deciding not to by a house, I started thinking about quitting my job to be a stay at home mom. I felt in my soul a deeper desire to be with my kid during his first years. I needed to be a mom. Just after I told my boss, my husband lost his job unexpectedly.
So, what now? Well, we had some savings, some unemployment, and definitely some panic. But the end of the story is always that God is good. We prayed and prayed. I wasn’t sure if I should still resign or keep going, but we decided to trust in God. God was moving me elsewhere, and a small thing like no incoming money shouldn’t stop that, right? Okay, it was a big trust. I went in to work and gave my two weeks notice. That same day, Hubby was offered an incredible job in a field that he loves. He started a week later. Is that not God showing us he will provide?
But sadly again, we didn’t want to face the reality of our money situation. We weren’t sure if we were making enough, and I wasn’t quite sure if I wanted to go back to work part time or not. So we ignored the budget. When we felt God’s tug again, we knew it was time to step into our finances again. Little did we know that the savings we thought would last us about 5 months was almost depleted after 2 months. God called us back at just the right time.
So with a fierce passion and trust in the Lord, we budgeted. This time, because of all of our new bills, we saw a $700 deficit each month. Out of fear, I offered to go back to work. It was absolutely crushing to my soul, but we needed something. With some prayer, we both felt a tug from God to stay where we were at. He was asking us to trust in Him. Now, I realize this may sound absolutely insane. We felt it at the time, and it’s still difficult to understand now. But we knew that God would provide. So, again, we tithed every month. God, again, provided. Not only did we make the bills every month, but often times we would come away with a surplus of a few hundred dollars. We would put that towards our next months bills, and continue on. Right before Christmas, we paid bills for the month and learned we had a $600 surplus! Woohoo!!!
If I keep going in all of the ways we trusted in God and then took advantage of what He gave us, I will continue to embarrass myself. Let me spare you another 4 pages of how we learned from our mistakes, took steps toward financial success, and then dropped the ball when we thought we were fine. Today, we are in a similar situation as with some of the times before. Facing our bills, we have a deficit. But this time is different. This time, we aren’t looking away.
Hubby and I have been through so many ups and downs with our finances and we are “sick and tired of being sick and tired” as Dave Ramsey puts it. We have a strong passion to get out of debt and take back our lives. We don’t want to continue living a life where money is telling us what to do. Together, we decided we are going to jump all in. We are going to conquer our financial fears, take on our bills every month, and start a debt snowball the second we have leftover money. We are going to tell our money where we want it to go for the last time.
Our first step, and the one that I am asking you to take with us, was to face our money. We made a list of our bills, the amounts of each, and the due dates. We faced the dreaded total. Then, we made a plan. We are reading Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover book together every night and talking about how to utilize what we have learned.
After reading the first chapter, we talked about it all. We talked about our fears, what went wrong before, and a few small solutions we can do right away to plan for success. I told Hubby that he was doing a large part with our finances, and I needed to feel more involved. We decided that we are going to take every step together from now on. We are going to encourage each other and calm each other when times get tough. The first step we decided to take as a couple was to pray and to read the Bible. You wouldn’t think this would be a very powerful step, but it helps us see His past provisions and that He has a purpose for guiding our finances.
Will you come on this journey with us? Will you walk with us through the good and the bad? The steps that work and the steps that don’t? Come with us as we build our finances back up by following God and tips by incredibly smart people who have tried these solutions out before us. This could be life changing. Can you imagine a debt-free life? What do you think can happen if you run towards financial freedom with everything you have? Please let me know how your adventure goes in the comments below. Let’s make this journey about supporting ourselves and supporting each other! Try the tips below! Good luck and God bless!