Thursday, November 13, 2008

Meeting Financial Goals - we have financial goals?

At the start of 2008 my husband and I had no set financial goals. Although we had discussed and really liked the idea of being debt free we hadn't made any true effort to budget anything. We knew about how much we spent on things but our money didn't really have a job, it didn't work for us, we didn't use it in a way that would truly benefit us.
Also, we really liked 'things'.

A few months into the year I ordered a Dave Ramsey book on a whim. I read it, loved the ideas in it, and talked to my husband about it. While he was interested, too, we still had come no closer to our desire to be debt free.

It was when we were moving that we saw more of a need for the 'owe nothing' idea. We were given two weeks to move (military) and our house was still not ready to sell. Then, the day we were to head out for our cross country move from WA state to Florida our Suburban broke down. Then, after 5 days of waiting for it to be repaired and $2000 later it broke down again - we never got more than 30 miles outside of town. Our realtor gave us a ginormous list of things that had to be done on the house. We knew these things had to be done but we had no way of getting them done. We had just shelled out $2000 to get our car fixed and knew it was likely to be months before our house sold and needed savings to cover the mortgage until then. Then, our moving money from the government came in and was more than a tad bit short - and we still had an entire cross country move to make.

We were kinda like - ummm, what's next, God?

We managed to get here but it depleted our savings. We ended up with a loaded credit card and a lot less money in savings to pay mortgage on a house we weren't living in.
Then we got notice from our realtor that the bottom had dropped out of the housing market and our house was not likely to sell. We asked her how low we would have to price it to sell it quickly and she told us. We lowered the price considerably, doing exactly what she said. To this day it still hasn't sold. She recently told us it was because the housing market was terrible. Again we asked her how low we would have to go to sell the house quickly. She has yet to answer us.

In truth, this may all sound like a sob story, but it isn't. This is a story of tremendous blessings.
You see, after we finally made it here and moved into our house Ryan and I decided to seriously pursue the idea of being debt free. All this craziness, owing money on a house we don't live in, loans, credit cards, and a massive depletion of saving that came overnight taught us a lot.
It was the beginning of August and bills were due. Ryan and I spent hours combing over everything, creating an extremely strict budget, and praying for guidance and wisdom in this area.
FYI - God doesn't just grant wisdom with a magic wand. He teaches it to you, lesson after lesson. So, don't pray for it unless you are willing to do the work it takes to learn it.
It was then that I decided to start couponing in a serious manner, too. We have stuck to our budget pretty well with only a few hiccups, and God has provided in ways we never thought possible.
I could go on and on about what we have learned in the last 4 months about ourselves, our motives, and our hearts. I could explain how our lives have changed, how we feel like different people, and how giving and tithing have taken on a completely new meaning. I could tell you about the benefits we are seeing already in our marriage and the lives of our children and how this difference in attitude has not only affected our finances but our ideas about material things. Our trust in God has grown sensationally.
But, there is little time for all that I want to say.
So, I will end with this.
Our financial goal for the year 2008, simply put, was to create a budget and stick to it. We have done that, sold some excess stuff and have more listed for sale. It hasn't been easy, it hasn't always been fun, but we sure are happier, we feel lighter, and we are on our way to a goal of being completely, 100% debt free in 5 years. It may seem like a little goal - too simple and small to really bring us closer to the reality of owing nothing. But, we have to start somewhere and we can already see the sweet fruits this small step is bringing.


Mommy Reg said...

This is inspiring. We have been going through a lot of that (different situation same relizations) this year. I have always tried to be frugal but this year God has taught me so much about how I need to be more wise in spending. And that amazingly enough he will provide for our needs.

Phoebe said...

Here from MSM--
We are in the process of getting debt free ourselves. We've made crazy decisions in the past, which is where the debt came from....the lessons we've learned though are amazing!

I *love* your statement in there where you said God doesn't grant wisdom w/a magic wand but teaches it lesson by lesson. Powerful, truthful statement!

Good Luck on your debt free journey!

glenda said...

You're little saying about God teaching wisdom through lessons and not praying for it unless you're ready really hit home. Thank you for your wise words.

ps. I followed your link from MSM too.

Jenny said...

I loved your post! I found you through MSM. I have always been somewhat frugal, but know that I have a long ways to go. Thanks for sharing your story and for the inspiration. Good luck on your journey to becoming debt free. :)

Marcy said...

Best of luck on your journey to become debt free! It sounds like you are well on your way! Blessings to you,