Thursday, October 22, 2009

Free from not having a plan

Debt is a topic that Wes and I could (and sometime do) talk about every single day. For the most part, we have been pretty good with our money. When we first got married and bought a house, we were shocked that we could afford a brick house! (sigh... we were so young ;) We were experiencing paying bills and keeping up with all the money as a couple for the very first time so we were really careful! We didn't think we could afford cable, so we didn't have it. We didn't think we could afford high speed internet, so we bought NetZero. Both of our cars were paid off. And I remember when I needed to buy clothes for my brand new job straight out of college that we wanted to be so careful in how much we spent. 

Each year of marriage (it's almost been 5 1/2 now) we have added new things. We ended up getting cable with internet in a package. We even have a DVR now! :) We ended up buying a new car because before Eli was born I just refused to put my newborn in that car. Which now seems so ridiculous to me, but I really am so thankful that we were able to get a "new" car. We've bought new things for the house. We've painted rooms. I went to Europe! (with plenty of help from my parents, thanks mom and dad!) I started and completed my Masters, which we paid off as I was taking it. We've had a baby, with a c-section, and paid for that. 

We look back on all the times God has provided endless amounts of support, both financially and emotionally, and it brings us to our knees. But for all the times that we have paid off things we bought or paid for them in cash, we still have the weight of debt looming over us.

Now I loved my college experience. I loved being at Hardin-Simmons and getting my degree from there. However, that school was dang expensive! And we still have to pay off those loans, which people to refer to as "good debt" all the time, but good debt and bad debt feel the same to us. 

We have a credit card that we have had to use since I have been only working half time. Wes is an incredible money manager and it's a 0% interest card, but it's still debt. Romans 13:8 says, "Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law." 

We have debt that is outstanding. We have to, and want to, pay it off. 

So, Wes and I have developed a plan that is radical (to us) and will change a lot of things about where we work, where some of our time is spent, and refocuses us on the charge that we are given as Christians to do. Luke 16:13 says, "No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." And although the context of that is different than where we our in our lives, we have felt that we have been a slave to money due to our debt. We have thought so many times, "ugh, if we didn't have this debt we could do this, give that, go here, help with that" and those are things we would not be saying, if we did not have debt.

Well my friends. We are changing that. It can't change right now, and we've prayed over that, cried over that, and mulled over that time and time again... even last night. But, it will change soon and we'll be going over our plan when we've finished it. 

For now, I'm ordering this book that I'm a little scared to read! But I need all the encouragement I can get, and I hear that reading this will do the trick :)

Those of you who have debt, how are you dealing with your debt? (you obviously don't have to answer that by the way) Does it take a toll on you? Can you even imagine the freedom you would have without it?

Did anyone try the orange citrus chicken yet? It was delicious!


Jennifer said...

We have paid off all of our debt and only have about 3 more months on student loans and then we will only have the house. For us, we made the decision that I would work full time even though I desperately want to be at home. We only got internet at our house about 4 months ago (before that have used it at work and parent's homes) and we don't have cable. Also, with grocery shopping I try really hard to buy what's on sale and use coupons. To pay off the loans we paid 1 off and then when it was paid off we moved the payment that was being used on it to double up on the next debt (does that make sense). Dave Ramsey is also a great resource to use on paying off debt. So, those are just a few tips.

The Milfords said...

Over the past year Mike and I have made MAJOR changes with our money as well. We have paid all of our debt off except for our home. We read Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey and started on his plan. It was hard, but it worked and we are so thankful!! Like you guys we talked about money/debt almost every day, and a lot of our conversations started and ended with "if only." We got tired of the "if onlys" and decided to do something about it. We are on an all cash system here. It took me about 3 months to get use to it, but now I don't even think about it. In fact I had to go change my pin number on my debt card b/c it had been so long since I used it and I couldn't remember the number! We do our budget TOGETHER each month, because each month has different issues. We plan not only for the month, but for the following months when we know something is going to come up. It has done wonders for our attitudes about money and our attitudes toward each other when we talk about it. Let me know how you like the book. We may want to check it out too.

Amanda said...

Yes, what both of you said makes TOTAL sense! Wes has read a ton of Dave Ramsey and we will definitely be doing the "snowball" get out of debt plan :)

I was reading your responses to Wes and we are both green with envy that y'all are done and/or so close! It will be a several year process for us, but we know that it's totally the right thing to do.

Ashley, I will let you know about the book! We went to a marriage seminar and the financial advisor there said that he thinks everyone must read this book. It's long, it's tedious, it takes some people like 8 or 9 months to read, but he says it will revolutionize the way we look at money and our perspective will be Biblical and not worldly after reading it. (gulp) I kept thinking the whole time... uh oh, once we know what is right then we are accountable for it! haha... yikes! I ordered it today! I'll let you know!

Christine said...

When we were in Levelland, we had house debt and car debt (two of them). Had two kids. I was at home fulltime.

Moved to Dallas. I was given an opportunity to work a job that was fulltime, but it had "flex hours." So, between my day off and Michael's day off during the week, Mackenzie and Andrew did only three days of preschool (at our church - where Michael was working!). And since we were already living on one income, we used EVERY SINGLE DIME of my paychecks to snowball down the debt. After almost two years, we had paid everything off, I resigned, and we adopted Precious. Friends and family added to what little we had to pay for that adoption.

So, we paid off both cars early and my student loan early (by only a few months, but still!). Only debt was still a house for awhile. Started to have major problems with the van (the car, which is now 17 YEARS OLD, still runs great). Bought a newly used van.

Moved to northern Oklahoma and lived in a parsonage. Sold the house, made a tiny bit and paid off the van. So, that made us completely debt free!

Moved down here and bought a business. That is our debt right now, but it is not tied up with our personal assets - being an LLC. We have been putting into savings all these years, and used that money to pay cash - $18,000 - for our repo mobile home. Four bedrooms, two baths, two living areas, dining room, the whole shibang - $18,000. Wrote a check. Have had to put a few thousand into it to make repairs, so we made sure to buy a home which was less than the amount we had to spend.

We're building our business, and Michael is working two parttime jobs (substitute teaching and flipping burgers at McDonald's two days a week). If he gets a fulltime teaching job, then every EXTRA penny of that salary will go to pay off the debt of our business.

We will not increase our family budget from what it is now ... unless we add children. We spend very little on extra's, like birthdays and holidays. We focus on family time and board games and singing or laughing together. We all have days where we have a pity party, yet we know that no matter how much we have, we could always want more. So, we live content. We have all we need.

Would never trade it.

Charmander said...

Obviously, I'm still in school so the Belmont debt is stacking itself pretty high. But, my parents gave me a little advice: It doesn't matter if you're in debt, what's most important is keeping faithful in your tithes and donations to Christian organizations. My parents were faithful in their giving; in turn, God was faithful in providing and helping them through their early, tough years.
My mom always says, "If you remain faithful and tithe what little you have, God will give you more so you can tithe more." Read Mark 12:41-44. Be faithful in giving, and God will be faithful in providing for you

sarahdodson said...

I think it's great to do what y'all are doing- paying off debt. Good for you!!

I stay at home with our 2 children (and another on the way). The Lord has provided a good job for my husband with excellent benefits. We owe only on our home, and that's almost 1/2 paid for.

I believe the Lord will bless the direction you are moving in. You are striving to do right and that's awesome. I agree with what Charmander commented. Don't ever stop tithing; be faithful in that.

Many times we have "tight paydays" and there are a few nice things that we do without. We are blessed beyong measure, and the Lord has shown himself strong on our behalf countless times. It's amazing to see how the Lord will provide. It still amazes me :o)

Lorren Says... said...

I hate being in debt...but this is going to be our year! :)