I've been wanting to share some of this for awhile now, so here goes!
My husband and I have been learning a lot over the last year and a half about managing our finances and getting out of debt. Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover was a great incentive for us.
We started out our marriage with no debt and no credit history, but soon fell prey to the myth that without a credit score, you can accomplish nothing in life. It wasn't long before our committment to paying off credit card balances every month wavered, and we started down the road to living in debt.
Two years ago, we were $58,000 in debt, including our house. My husband was working 50-55 hours a week consistently, and we were making it month to month, but had nothing to show for his earnings. When we decided to sale our two bedroom house in order to upgrade to a three bedroom, we came up with an amount that we felt we could finance and easily pay each month for a mortgage. Well, in the time our house was on the market, we had three contracts expire on houses that we "loved." Looking back, I see God's hand of protection over us.
By the end of the summer of 2006 when we finally did sale our house, my husband's hours had decreased enough at work that we believe we would have lost our house if it had not sold when it did. If things had worked out on one of those other homes, we really would have been in trouble!! We made a committment at that time to do away with any credit cards and do all that we had to to get out of debt and begin living on a cash basis.
Today, a year and half later, we owe less than $6000 on our used van, the last of our large debts. We also now have medical bills from our son's heart procedure, but we are slowly working our way towards being debt free. We do own another house, but we are currently renting it to a young couple until they are able to buy it from us. We are living strictly on a budget that covers all our necessities and still leaves us with a little every week for something extra. We are saving regularly. We are being able to pay for things like moving expenses in cash that we have set aside. We've had unexpected expenses come up, but so far have been able to keep to our committment to use only cash. True, we don't have as much set back as we would hope to have, but we're not in any greater debt because of these emergencies.
We are looking to our future. A future of being able to help others. A future that includes being able to provide for our children's future and even our grandchildren. So many things have worked together to get us to place where we are today--hard work, giving up what we truly didn't need, the generosity of my parents to give us a place to live for over a year while we got back on our feet, and most importantly, the provisions of our God on our behalf.
Let me share a little about that. I had done a lot of thinking and praying about how I could help with our finances, especially in the area of cutting back our grocery/household expenses.
The main area I continue to work at is contentment with what I do have. I often fall short in this area, especially when it comes to clothes and those little extras. I'm a self-proclaimed lover of shopping and coffee--both of which are expensive hobbies if I'm not careful!!! I'm learning to do without and shop only sales when I really NEED something new.
The second area that has changed so much and has been such a great encouragement to me is CVS!!!! Learning to shop their sales and ECB deals has been awesome! I now have such a stockpile of household goods, including diapers and wipes, that I have not been to Walmart but a handful of times since Christmas. It's amazing my husband! hehe
I've been able to take what I have learned and share it with friends. I actually held a "how to CVS" class at one of our ladies' luncheons a few weeks ago. I love that I now have enough product set aside to be able to help someone if a need arises without worrying about being able to pay for our own grocery needs too.
I'm learning to use coupons here at our small town grocery store that has some really good sales every week. I've been able to put back gallons of milk and pounds and pounds of meat because of shopping sales.
The Lord has been so good to teach me and show me these things. I'm still learning so much in all these areas, but I can say without a doubt that it's worth it, especially when we're able to pay off that last bill and shout from the roof top that we are DEBT FREE!!! That truly will be FREEDOM!!!!!!!!!