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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Budget: Where We Stand Now

It's been a while since I've written a post about our budget and our plan to get out of debt. It's high time for an update!

We started out almost two years ago (December of 2008) on the Dave Ramsey plan to get out of debt. That Christmas we (well, mostly I, but Brian agreed) sort of hit a financial bottom and I realized that I was letting debt and financial irresponsibility drag me down. I walked around feeling heavy, like I had a huge burden on my shoulders (and I did!) I had a hard time falling asleep at night, worrying if a check would clear the bank before we got paid. It even got to the point where, when I logged in to the bank website to see my account, I could feel my chest tightening and I would close my eyes and hold my breath before the account balance came up. Folks, if you do this when you check your bank balance, it is NOT a good sign! We were paying of one bill by increasing another, just moving our debt around. We weren't giving to the church, we weren't donating to any charities.

Desperate as we were, we read Dave Ramsey's book Total Money Makeover, and it changed our lives. It lit a fire within us to break this yoke of debt off our necks. I started using my coupons and doing my grocery store sale 'game' and we started to buckle down. I started cooking more, using food bought on sale, and we really limited our eating out. We quit our unnecessary spending and stayed home more. I know it sounds like we were frivolous- we were not. I only own three pairs of shoes and haven't bought any jeans in over a year- frivolous, reckless spending was not the issue. It was the little bits of money that added up to large amounts. For example, "we'll just get Wendy's for lunch, it's only 10 bucks" and "Just order a pizza, it'll be 9 bucks plus tax." Next thing you know, you've spent $200 on fast food in a month! I loved to read, and would buy a book every time I went to Wal-mart.

Now, we eat out once a week, I go to the library two or three times a week (Andrew loves the library, which is a huge positive), and in general we try to account for every dollar we spend. And most importantly, we do not, do NOT, go to Wal-mart any more. And that, my friends, is another post entirely!!

So, where do we stand now? From December of 2008 until now, 21 months later, we have paid of a total of $16,000 of debt. Let me type it again, it feels good. Sixteen thousand dollars. The only debt remaining to us is one car loan, five more payments on the credit card, two student loans, and the mortgage. After we get this credit card paid off (December, we hope) we will start plumping up the savings account. It has not been an easy road, folks. We haven't gone hungry or anything like that (though we have had a few interesting meals) but there have been times where we really wanted to take a vacation or do some work on the house. But we know that the sacrifices we make now will pay off beautifully in the long road.

But the most inspiring part is, while we've been paying and paying these bills, stretching every dollar, we've also committed to monthly giving to our church. Sometimes, as I sit there in the pew and write out our check, I wonder how we'll manage without that money. It goes into the offering plate, and I just give it to God, it more ways than one. I do not give our offering with a heavy heart- once it's in that plate, I know that God will take care of us and will see to it that we have everything we need (need- not want!) And every month, it works out. We make it. And I know that the Lord is watching us, helping us during every step of the way.

And that, my friends, is how we are getting out of debt. By trusting the Lord.


Anonymous said...

Good post Jenny, I'll have to recommend that book to a few people. I am amazed at how many people complain about debt but have so many expenses that they could do without, like magazine subscriptions, gym memberships, expensive hair appts. etc. I'd love to ready your walmart post sometime, I am there too often and frequently buy more than I need but I don't have time to go to a bunch of smaller stores.

Jessica said...

that's awesome!!!

Anonymous said...

I am so proud of you! Way to go girl! Can't wait to see you in December!


Michal said...

Well done! When we first got married we did not tithe to our church. Then we started making it the first check we wrote on pay day, before paying bills. It was amazing how everything was paid for. It's the only thing God tells us to test Him in.

The Seaside Homemaker said...

Great post! And great job by the way. We have been in a similar situation and it feels so good to make it! It looks like we may have daughters the same age! Ours was born 2/3! Come on by and visit my blog I'm looking for new like-minded followers!! It's brand new and looks like we may have some of the same interests!

Sarah and Phil said...

Way to go Jenny! That is awesome!!!