This Is Me

Jessie Bee
I am a seeker of God, a help-meet to my husband and a mother to my 3 children. I love hot lattes, good books, cold weather and anything that inspires me to be creative. I desire simplicity and authenticity, but often have to remind myself to seek those .
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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Finances: an honest discussion

When I was about 12 years old, my mom watched an Oprah show on managing finances.  She called my sister and me into the living room, and let us know how our finances would be handled:
-10% of our money would be given away
-20% would be saved for big purchases (like camps, cd player, etc)
-20% would be put into a savings account for college, or other large expenses
-and we could spend the last 50% on whatever we'd like.

My mom later told us that, as we pouted down the hallway, one of us screamed out "OPRAH RUINED OUR LIFE!"

You see, we had just started babysitting and making money for the first time.  So to be told we could only spend half of our income was no different than saying we could only watch half of a good movie, or eat half of our dessert.  It sounded ridiculous.

In hindsight, though, it was brilliant.  Not only did I have plenty of money to see movies, take the bus to malls, buy my own clothes (oh, yeah, that was part of the agreement too), but I also funded missions trips to Mexico and the East Coast, went to several camps, went on ski trips to Yosemite, visited my sister in Hungary (well, she helped me fund that trip), replaced retainers (haha), graduated college, and took a trip to Costa Rica with my husband DEBT FREE!  I can't think of anything I missed out on, and yet I can think of tons of stuff I accomplished, all because I saved.

Fast forward 5 years, and my husband and I have been visited by the debt fairy a couple times now.  Much of it was the result of owning a business, but not all.  Some of it was because I wanted "it" and I wanted it now.  We live in a time where credit card debt is normal and expected.  In fact, you can't get a credit score unless you have revolving loans (be them credit cards, car, or house loans), and you can't get loans unless you have a credit score.  We're expected to take on car loans, credit card debt, finance husband even informed me (albeit sarcastically) that Guitar Trader is willing to finance a new guitar for him.  Sounds good, honey.

But even more than that, an important part of Christian living is the ability to give and meet needs.  How absurd is it that we give, let's just say, 10% of our income to those in need, only to turn around and borrow that money on a credit card.  Have we really given?  Harsh, but I've done it.

With all that said, my husband and I have started a new financial endeavor:  to not open our home to the debt fairy again (with the possible exception of buying a house).  By the grace of God we have paid off over $10,000 in credit card debt (I know, some of you are like THAT MUCH?? Yes.  That much).  We now have our car loan to pay off, which ironically we didn't regard as "real" debt until recently.  But with a strict budget and living outside of "normal" we should have that paid off sometime this year.

With that said, I'd love some ideas on saving a penny here and there!  What are ways you manage to trim your family's budget?


The Professor's Wife said...

How did you get through college debt free, Jessie Bee?!? That is truly amazing!

We've visited the debt fairy to often ourselves in the past, especially in taking out student loans! But we've determined to get out ourselves too.

As far as staying within a budget, there are a lot of things we just don't buy until we can - even a washer and dryer (some one eventually gave us one though) and a television (which I am actually quite thrilled to NOT ever have, lol!) And we give ourselves small rewards once we have paid off a debt - keeps us motivated to keep going! And having an emergency fund really helps avoiding more debt - it is our personal credit card, lol.

Jessie Bee said...

By the grace of God did we manage college. =)

Husband got a couple scholarships and grants, I got similar (but went to junior college first), and we worked to pay off the rest.

We've picked up the Dave Ramsey book (which I know you kind of follow) and we're using his methods to finish off the last of our debt. But that's cute - I hadn't thought of that EF being like a personal credit card. Awesome!

Joy said...

I just listened to Dave Ramsey on Focus on the Family. Really great insights! You're doing a lot of things right already Jessie: cooking real food, having a garden, and having avoided a student loan are all fantastic things! My hubby (who would also LOVE to be a financial adviser) would tell you to skip Starbuck's/eating out as often as possible and I'd tell you to shop with a grocery list (it helps me immensely! It's so easy to buy too much when you're not sure what you really need!)

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