Thursday, November 6, 2008

Financial Freedom

In this current economic climate people are focusing more on their money and for many people, their debt. I listen to Dave Ramsey and Money Life and I am sometimes shocked at the amount of debt people have, but at the same time I admire them for working so hard to get themselves out of debt. Being in debt is something I can't understand because I was blessed with financially wise parents who were and are good stewards of the blessings God has given them. (I remember listening to Money Matters with my mom when Larry Burkett was the host and learned about finances even as a small child. I have always been a saver, I always saved over 50% of my babysitting money as a teenager, some of which is still safely tucked away in our down payment savings!) I was blessed to marry a man, who like me, had financially wise parents who modeled a debt free lifestyle also.

When we were married, we were both 19! We probably had $2,000-$3,000 in our savings and checking accounts combined and did not have jobs. Before we were engaged we had a financial discussion and came up with a budget of expected expenses (rent, electric, gas, groceries, etc.) (We both owned our vehicles, thanks to our parents and plan to drive them both until they just can't go anymore...we don't want car payments!) We talked with our parents and showed them the budget to convince them that we were indeed responsible enough to take care of ourselves and not go into debt. We were both blessed with scholarships & financial aid which we lived off of the next 2 years and it wasn't just beans and rice that we lived off of, we lived very comfortably, in fact we ate out and spent more on "miscellaneous" items than we do now!

We now are out of college, John David has a full time job and I am working part-time and are living debt free. We are living off his income and even putting some money into savings and anything that I earn, after tithes, is saved. We currently have savings for a down payment in the near future, our goal is to have 20% down, and we have an emergency fund that has almost 3 months living expenses (in a month and a half this goal should be reached!!) Because we have joint finances we really work as a team on keeping expenses down and saving to reach our goals. We have marital oneness in this area and have never had a fight about money or have ever tried to hide anything that we have bought from each other. I think this is through God's grace that money is not an issue in our marriage like it is in so many.

Over the last few months, since John David graduated and I have been staying home, we have cut back expenses even more. I think the main influence in this is the fact that we are getting closer to being able to purchase a home of our own and that has become a goal.
*Our grocery budget is about the same that it was the first two years but I am able to maximize those dollars even more by using coupons and stocking up on items we frequently use when they are on sale.
*We have cut our miscellaneous spending by $50 which is hard to believe! It has been $125 a month but we are experimenting this month to see if we can only spend $100! This category includes health care, medicine, clothes, gifts, and toiletries. We have been blessed that we have been healthy so we rarely have medical costs, we don't spend much on clothes, try to anticipate gifts and find them on sale or make gifts, and I use coupons and CVS Extra Care Bucks to spend only a couple dollars each month on toiletries. Our biggest help in staying within this amount is staying out of stores, we used to go to Goodwill once or twice a week and now we may go once every month or two and we have noticed the savings...crazy as that sounds!

I don't know if this helps you at all but financial freedom is just that, freedom! If you are in debt, it is worth it to get it paid off...don't eat out so much, watch your "miscellaneous" spending, be content, and sell what you can and apply that to will be worth it. If you are just graduating high school or in college, avoid credit cards, don't make mistakes that will follow you and be a burden. Parents who are debt free or working your way out of debt, teach your kids about money so they will never have to worry about debt! I know we are enjoying this freedom thanks to our parent's teaching as well as God's blessing!

(Thanks Dad, Mom, David, & Annette for your example to us!!)


bugbear said...

@ "Our biggest help in staying within this amount is staying out of stores."

This is so absolutely true for me as well! Almost every time I go into a store I end up buying more than I intend. So I try to keep grocery shopping to once a week or even once every 2 weeks. I have found that less exposure to shopping environments results in less temptation and less spending. And I agree, that's true for ALL stores--even the "bargain" ones.