Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Count Your Blessings

We have had several unexpected expenses lately! It is taking a little bit out of our savings account, but it has reminded me of how blessed we are to have that little bit of money tucked away "just in case". I want our kids to learn early on how to be good stewards of the money God has given them.
Our journey together began four years ago. When Monty and I got married we agreed that we would do the best we could to stay out of debt. We both had good jobs and so there was no reason why we had to rack up a bunch of bills just so we could have more stuff.
Monty had done a great job saving during the two years he lived here before we got married. I have to give him lots of praise for that. Most grads get their first job and immediately go out and buy a nice, new, shiny car. Not Monty! He still drove his 1989 Mercry Grand Marquis. Was it pretty? Not really. Did it run? Yes. Did it cause Monty to have a car payment? NO! That was the most important thing. So .... he saved money (while living in a small apartment) and was able to purchase a 2005 Impala four months after we got married. Was it pretty? Oh yes! Did we have a car payment? NO!
I had bought a car during college in order to have a reliable vehicle to take me from Florida to Arkansas several times a year. We paid that car off the first week we were married! In 2008 we paid cash for my new (used) car.
From the time we got married we knew we wanted kids and we knew that I would quit my job to take care of them. So, we set out on a course to get our remaining debt taken care of. That included my student loan (thanks Harding!) and the second mortgage on the house. We would still have the remaining mortgage, but we would work on that later. Within a year we knocked out the second mortgage. Then we saved some more in order to pay the student loan. We waited a little while to pay that off for two reasons. 1) The government would pay $5,000 of my loan after I worked in a low-income school for 5 years. That happened in 2008. 2) For a while we were making over 5% in interest in our money market account and the student loan only had an interest rate of 2%. It made more sense to leave the money in the bank. Our money was actually working for us until the recession came.
That being said, we felt that God ws helping us prepare to be a single income household. We lived off Monty's income for well over a year before Aiden was born. We had 3-6 months income saved and we were ready to take the leap of faith.
In spring 2009 we were blessed to take the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University through our church. We learned to so much more about how to prepare for our future. It help affirm the fact that God has blessed us and that we are stewards of HIS money. There were no second thoughts as I quit my job because we knew that God would provide - and He has. In ways we never would have thought. Now, even when we have emergencies (big doctor bills, a new water line for the house, fixing the car) we have the resources to take care of it - STRESS FREE! Plus, we have gotten so many discounts because we've been able to pay CASH!
We have learned to be content with what we have. Sure, we dream about a bigger house and a roomier vehicle. But in that dreaming we are also planning and saving toward that end. We have no desire to have a car payment or a huge mortgage payment. We live on a budget and only spend after we give back to God, invest, buy stock, put in 401K, put in savings, pay extra on our mortgage, and pay what few utility bills we have. We have basic cable and internet, we don't pay for a land line, we don't have data or texting plans (GASP!). What we do have is a happy house with little stress. Aiden and I play all day. That is reward enough for me. I may not have all of what my friends have, but I have been blessed! Being with my baby every day is worth more than all the money in the world!
"We are living like no one else so that later we can live like no one else!" -- Dave Ramsey

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