THE DAY WE GOT SERIOUS ABOUT FINANCES
It's been a year since we got serious with our finances, and our financial situation is now drastically different than it was.
We've been married for a little more than 4 years, and I'd say overall we've made pretty decent decisions, financially. That is, until our son was born.
We bought a house when I was 8 months pregnant with our son. We made a smart decision on the house we bought, so that wasn't necessarily the problem. The problem was, we both stopped tracking our finances each month. Parenthood, am I right?
We had a credit card for a few years but "only for the rewards," meaning we paid it off every month and we got to collect points for airline tickets.
Well when we bought our house in 2018, we started using the credit card all the time and weren't able to pay it off each month like before. We financed a few things, we had student loans, and we had hospital bills from River's birth.
After almost an entire year of this mess, we decided to become foster parents. As we were filling out our financial assessment so they could make sure we weren't fostering to "get rich," we realized we needed to make some changes ASAP.
At the time, I was a stay at home mom and we decided I needed to get a job outside of the home. We could pay our bills and necessities off of one income, but we had zero leftover.
Newsflash: If you don't have room in your budget to pay off debt, you need to rework your budget.
We have paid more than $15,000 off in debts this past year. I'm so freaking proud of us.
The secret to our success and the whole reason I'm telling you about our personal finances right now?
We downloaded his Every Dollar app, which is the virtual version of the envelope system.
The idea is every single dollar you bring in monthly is allocated toward something -- bills, living expenses, savings, debt repayment, etc. The app make it so easy.
You enter in your income, and then your projected expenses for the month.
Grab a Sonic drink? Plug it in the app. Fill up with gas? Plug it in the app. Pay your electric bill? Plug it in the app. This method is really great because you can see your allocated amount for Sonic drinks dwindling as the month goes by, and you have to be more conscious of how often you go. It really helps you realize how much frivolous spending you do each month.
The first thing you do in Dave's plan is save $1,000 for emergencies. Then, you snowball you debt -- smallest to largest.
In July 2019, we were only able to save $48 towards our $1,000. Once we reached $1,000 in savings, we started paying off things, starting with an iPhone we had financed. 12 months later and we've paid more than $15,000 off in debts.
Can I get a hallelujah??
I remember hearing a quote that said something to the effect of "Americans hold the top 10(?) percent of the world's wealth, yet we're all in debt."
That really struck me. I've visited Mexico, Honduras, and Haiti on mission trips. I've seen extreme poverty firsthand.
Which brought me to the question: WHAT THE HECK are we doing squandering our blessings in America?????
So we made a change. We haven't been perfect. There's been months where we haven't allocated every dollar we bring in like we should, but we've made huge progress. And all it took was a shift in our mindset -- gratitude -- and a little discipline.
We both agree we don't want to be in our 30s/40s/50s and still living paycheck to paycheck or have mountains of debt. We don't want to be shackled to our student loans for 20 years. We have dreams we want to accomplish, which I have no doubt we will so long as we continue to make smart financial decisions.
To simply be an American, means we are immeasurably blessed.
We have a responsibility to be good stewards of our money. Otherwise, why would God bless us more if we continue to squander what He's already blessed us with?
I hope sharing our story encourages you to take control of your own finances. I know some of you are probably in completely overwhelming situations right now, especially with the economy in the situation it is due to COVID-19. But maybe this can serve as a wake up call. You never know when a pandemic will hit and you could be furloughed from work. We need to be prepared. We need to be smart.
If that's you right now, I pray you will find a way to dig yourself out of the hole you're in. I pray God's mercy on you. I pray you recognize the blessings you have in this very moment, and have the discipline to steward them wisely.
"To whom much is given, much is required." -- Luke 12:48