I've shared many of my 2009 resolutions with you up until this point, and knowing that money/financial issues are ALWAYS a constant goal of mine, it seems curious that I haven't mentioned anything up until this point. Here it is MARCH, and not a word has been spoken on the subject.
But it has certainly been on my mind, as is evidenced by my Book List readings for January.
During this time, I've come to a certain conclusion.
I can't trust anything that I say!!
As sure as the sun sets, I end up putting my foot in my mouth and feasting on my own words.
So it is this year.
Here is our story...
Nearly two years ago, I addressed, licked and piled up envelopes containing the very last of our debts; piled them in the mailbox and said good riddance (with a smile) to the last of our debt payments. NO more school loans. No more credit card bill. Oh, it was a joyful time! Four years of hard work on Matt's part and mine, and we were free as birds. Unfortunately, it was short-lived.
What was our mistake? I didn't cut that dumb credit card up right then and there.
It wasn't long before gas prices went up, Matt bought an "investment" tractor to rebuild and resell (before, naturally, we moved to a farm and actually NEEDED the thing), and we had to move~creating moving expenses AND requiring obtaining a fridge and a cookstove. In a nutshell, LIFE happened and we were "in the hole". ONCE AGAIN.
Writing this really stinks. Like mind-numbing, heart dropping stinks. But FEELING the disappointment of the situation is far more painful.
Now some people are adamantly opposed to credit cards. "They are from the DEVIL!" they cry. I vividly recall a time during this blogs lifetime that I responded to the battle cry, being all-wise and all-knowing, stating in turn: "Silly people. Credit cards are not of the devil! They are tools that are misused, just as the internet or television can be. They are neither good nor bad, it is how we use them that determines their effect. The weakness of those poor souls who have no control are the ones that give credit cards a bad name."
My views on that haven't changed too awful much....credit cards are still just a tool. Between the time of that writing and now, those handy plastic squares haven't turned into living, breathing, BUYING beings. They are still just little bits of plastic. Nothing there has changed, because blame can not be placed on inanimate objects. We are to accept praise or blame for our actions and no others. The sooner we get our heads around THAT, the better. I will not place blame on something that cannot be blamed. Our weakness is our own. Where my foot chomping has taken place is with the realization that our family doesn't HAVE power over the plastic. Obviously.
(*Please note I did not say credit cards are from the devil. I am speaking not of EVERYONE, but of MY family. If there actually ARE people who can cohabitate with credit and use it wisely, then by all means~ triple cheers for you! You are a stronger person than I! I don't want nasty grams saying I said something I didn't say. Capeesh? winky wink)
Qualifications written: check.
Now~back to the story.
Matt and I are simplistic people. We aren't consumer-driven. We rarely buy new clothes, and only then if they are on deep discount. We don't buy each other expensive anniversary gifts, or Christmas gifts or birthday gifts or anytime gifts. We don't give our children lots of toys, expensive toys, or even TOYS actually. (Slight exaggeration added for humor. Yes, our children have toys.) We don't eat out all the time (waaaahhhh!), have expensive hobbies, pay for 5,000 channels on the tele. I cut coupons, shop CVS and discount stores and make homemade from-scratch dishes from homecanned and gardened goods. We do not feel entitled, in fact, we try to AVOID buying excess in order to declutter our lives. SO how is it, then, that we built debt up again?
I pondered this for quite a while. I had envisioned debt-laden people being clothed in discontent with sores of oozing consumerism all over their body, and only just realized that 'good' people can struggle with it too. I realized too, our game plan just didn't cut it. We needed a new strategy. There simply MUST be a better way.
At Christmastime, I knew something had to change. So I started reading and borrowing books from the library and listening to youtube videos on Dave Ramsey and all that jazz. By January 15th (our first payday of the new year) I had a budget organized and envelopes labeled.
Where our old gameplan had been use the credit card for NECESSARY purchases only and pay off ASAP, we decided our new game plan HAD to be: get an emergency fund and budget the expenses so when they happened, we wouldn't be scrounging for money....or plastic.
How's it working out for us?
I'll tell you...
I'll tell you...