What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Good thing I'm Limber

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...

tomorrow. :-)


Leah S said...

I agree with you about credit cards being a tool. So are guns... a tool to provide food for the table, but can be abused just as easily as a credit card can.

In 2005 I discovered the Dave Ramsey plan. I don't think I actually read the book until 2007! :) But I love the principles and Dave's seven steps to financial freedom. I'm still on step two (pay off debt), but it's the only plan I've actually been able to STICK with, going on 4 years now.

Surprisingly enough, I've yet to need the emergency fund to cover an unexpected expenses or two. It's kinda like an anti-Murphy fund. ;) Some months the debt snowball is much smaller so we can cash flow an expense. Yet sticking with Dave's plan has allowed us to get ahead, step by step. It was some VERY sweet days when I got the credit card paid off in full and a student loan paid off last year. :)

Bonnie said...

Our church is putting on the Dave Ramsy Financial Peace University for a second time, and tyhe teachers this time around were students the first time. I know they were very blessed by it, esp. after the wife was diagnosed with fibromyalga and Lupus (hows that foe a double whammy?), and she gave up her work at home job.
I have heard nothing but the best about him, and even though B. does our finances, I enjoyed this post.
Only YOU (said in a Smokey the Bear voice) could turn a finance post into a "cliff-hanger".

Faye said...


Michelle said...

I applaud you guys for realizing your weaknesses and for putting a plan into action! It is hard for the majority of people to make that first step, I think. Also, bravo to you for WRITING about it. Too many people keep this a hush-hush subject and no one learns if it is always kept in a closet!

I also agree with you that credit cards are a tool and we can't blame the little plastic rectangles themselves. I am just saddened that it is a weakness for SO many people. I think more people need classes to learn how to manage their money. That should definitely be something that we are teaching our children in school, whether they go away on a bus for the day or we homeschool. It should be right up there with math, reading and writing IMHO.

This is a favorite subject of ours (especially Dave's!), so I could chat on for a long time...! :D

JenniferM said...

Great topic! I could talk about personal finances all day--especially with those who aren't simply in debt due to materialism. And, this is especially important with the slowing economy. Posts like this need a forum instead of a blog! :) It's a favorite subject in this household as well.

Regarding credit cards, I've used them since I was in high school and have never had a problem. I'm what the CC industry calls a "dead beat" in that I ALWAYS pay off the entire balance each month. The purpose of a CC for me is (1) convenience and (2) cash back. We get a $250 check from the CC company every 6-9 months depending on how much we've spent. I really like those bonuses.

I look forward to hearing about the great job you're doing reaching your goals!