February 2, 2018 is certainly a day I will forever remember. My husband called me at 10am on his way home updating me on his current employment status. “What! They laid you off?! But you are a great employee! How can this be?” Luckily, for us, we did receive 2 months of severance. I have heard many of my friends that did not and for that I felt truly blessed.
I was in SURVIVAL mode. I took a hard look at our budget through the eyes of someone who was officially broke. I was scared. I mean shaking for 2 days scared. And it changed my financial priorities in a drastic way.
Many years prior to this, I heard of Dave Ramsey. A friend let me borrow his Financial Peace University dvds. Not to mention, I’ve always been a saver. We paid off all my student loans in the first few years of marriage (about $12,000). But as our income rose, so did our lifestyle. Then, we had 4 kiddos in 5 years. With all those pregnancy hormones going on, my natural frugal self went out the window.
We weren’t getting out of debt, and in fact, accumulated more. My husband went back to school…twice. But I still had this belief that we were still doing the Dave Ramsey thing. I mean, I occasionally listened to his radio show and we paid a little above our minimum payments. When we bought our house, we didn’t want to be house poor so we made sure the monthly payment was very reasonable. Any when we financed our car (after being burnt on a few lemons), we bought one that was about 5 years old. Smart right? I mean before the Hubs got laid off, I thought there was absolutely no more room in out budget to throw towards debt. We were already were paying extra every month and we needed to live right?
I would occasionally do crazy grocery challenges or coupon. I busted with pride when I found a great deal. How cleaver was I! I’d get pumped up with my savings but the fire would quickly fade when there was a new supplement I wanted to try or homeschool co-op I wanted my kids to attend. My vision was burred and my passion was weak. It was especially hard because my Hubs was at a loss as well. So we both blindly made purchases not based off long term goals but by temporary desires.
February 2nd was our turning point. As I tore apart our budget, I nixed anything that didn’t pertain to food, shelter, transportation and communication. Food stayed healthy but very simple and expensive homeschool extra curricular activities were switched to free play dates closer to home. Our expensive cell phone plan was replaced by a budget plan. By the time I was through, I was able to cut our living in half! What! We can actually live on this?!
I started to watch the Dave Ramsey show again on youtube. Someone called in and asked Dave “how long does it take to get out of debt?” I was floored by his response. “About two years. If you are not debt free in about 2 years, your doing something wrong or you need to sell something” (Paraphrasing) What! We have trying to get out of debt the last 10 years! All these people were making the same amount of money as us but they were getting out of debt so much sooner. Why weren’t we? Then came the hard part…the mirror. Lord! What have we done? I had to lay aside my pride and admit I was not being wise with the money the Lord has let us use.
- We did not stick to a detailed budget
- We kept going into debt instead of cash flowing school and a reliable vehicle
- We lost focus of our goals and allowed people around us to influence our purchases
- We had the attitude of “well, it’s only $15”- a little hear and there adds up quick!
- We accepted the myth that debt is just part of life
The hardest part about this journey is to admit that our current financial situation was our fault. No one else. The Lord brought me to my knees in repentance. This is not what He wants for me. His Holy Word is clear about money. Proverbs 22:7 “The rich ruleth over the poor and the borrower is servant to the lender.” I am to be a servant to my Lord Jesus Christ, not to anyone else. As a christian, we are to be different then the world. I am to act with humility and self control. My finances were not portraying that. The Lord ministered to my heart and my eyes were open. Praise be to our Amazing God!
After 5 weeks of no work, the Lord blessed my Hubs with a great job. He actually got a slight pay raise and its way closer to home! The Lord blessed him with a kind christian boss and increased potential. We were so frugal that we had enough money from the severance to pay off our van. And with the new budget, we are now able to put $1800 a month towards debt. Our projected last payment will be 26 months from now. And my Hubs and I both are laser focused. We proudly tell people we are on Baby Step 2 with no shame because we don’t ever want to go back to that shocking February day. Nor do we want to be blind to the things of this world but to the plans the Lord has for us.