Financial Freedom…not yet

So you’ve finally decided to get your financial life together and then you watched it hop on the struggle bus and drive away?

 

Me too.

 

My husband and I have been married for nearly 12 years.  Within that amount of time, we have dealt with our fair share of LIFE.  The good, the bad, and the ugly.  We’ve seen life through the windows of houses, apartments, and condos.  We’ve gritted our teeth through emergency room visits and emergency trips to the hardware store for toilets, hot water heaters, and refrigerators.  We have prayed and held each other through some of life’s scariest moments, including surgeries and layoffs.

Life happens, and I’ve learned that life will continue to happen whether you are financially fit or not.

While we have never been left needing anything, there have been times in our marriage where we swore we were going to get our finances “together” (whatever that means) just to see our best intentions ripped apart. The past three years have been some of the hardest in our marriage especially in the financial realm.

Three years ago, my husband and I were on track for our first big house upgrade!  He was working in the oil field making good money and I had a steady job as a teacher.  Our first home was one we bought from my parents, so it never really felt like ours since it was the house I spent my teenage years in.  I just wanted something that was truly “ours.”  We put our house on the market and had a contract within 11 days (shout-out to my brother-in-law Century 21 Elite agent, Josh Salter!), and shortly thereafter we had an offer in on a home that we loved.  Unfortunately, God had other plans.

Awesome. *eye roll*

Wess was laid off from the oilfield. There were talks of it happening to others, but we never thought it would happen to us.  WRONG!  We were not going to be approved for the house we wanted on just my teacher’s salary, but we also had to live up to our end of the contract and sell our home.

Guys, I’m gonna get real with you here.  I. Was. Terrified.

We never headed the advice to “save for a rainy day” while Wess was in the oil field, so we didn’t have much to fall back on.  We suddenly had to move from the only house we had ever known with two children in tow.  Where were we going to go?  Who would approve a family of 4 with 2 dogs and just a teacher’s salary?  How long would Wess be unemployed?

There were so many hard questions and in those times it almost seemed like God was silent. *cue crickets*

You see, we put ourselves in that situation.  WE wanted to move.  WE never saved money.  WE thought Wess’s job was secure. GOD did not put us in that desert…we did.

But let me tell you, God was all up in that desert with us.  Miracle after miracle began to happen for us.  We were approved for an amazing downtown loft apartment where we signed a six month lease and began saving to find a place to buy when our lease was up.  That apartment will always have a VERY special place in my heart.  So many different people, personalities, occupations, and dogs under one 4-story roof overlooking a gorgeous sunset of downtown Shreveport every night…aaaaahhhh….I’m missing it right now!  God provided for us financially through friends and family members, and even an anonymous donation from someone at our church.  God did not place us in that desert, but He was there the whole time.

After 4 months there, Wess was rehired, and we were able to move out after our lease ended and buy a cozy condo in Bossier.  It was nothing special, but it was a blessing for the time we had it.  Two and a half years in a small condo with no yard began to wear on our two VERY active kids, so God provided our current new house (which I will write about that MIRACLE on a whole separate post SOON).

While we have not made the best financial decisions in the past, we decided this year would be our year of change.  I picked up a copy of Dave Ramsey’s book “Total Money Makeover” and began to read it.  I knew that I wanted Wess to get in on this with me, so we got the audio version for him to listen to in the truck while he is out for work.

Y’all, Dave gets REAL. His book has begun to challenge us in a very positive way, but has also exposed where we are weak.  Honestly, we were weaker than I thought.  After realizing that, it did two things: 1) made me a little fearful of where we would be if Wess were laid off again, and 2) lit a fire in my heart for CHANGE.

Wess and I are still working on Baby Step 1 of our Total Money Makeover: Save a $1,000 emergency fund.

This sounds easy to some, but we just bought a house and did Christmas.  Saving up $1,000 to set aside and not touch is a big deal for us right now, but we are willing to try.  We have also worked together to set up a budget.  This has never happened in our almost 12 years!  I used to work at a bank, which inadvertently made me the “money miracle worker” in our house.  Ugh.  I hate that title and the pressure that comes with it. Obviously I’m not very good at it either haha.

So far, working on financial stuff together has been the best part of the process so far!  Wess and I had a night where we just sat down together with the Every Dollar budget tool (free online from Dave Ramsey) and got it ALL out there.  Every bill we pay.  Every debt we owe.  Every subscription service we are subscribed to.  ALL OF IT!  Our eyes were opened to a lot of things…”We spend HOW MUCH on eating out?!”

It was ugly. Like, needed plastic surgery ugly.   But it was necessary for change.

If you are in the financial trenches and are wondering how you can get out, here are some things I suggest to try NOW, like TODAY:

  1. Get a copy of “Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey
  2. Read it…or listen…however your door swings.
  3. Create a budget.  If it’s just you, great (seriously- praise the Lord here)!  If it’s you and your spouse, PRAY beforehand- not kidding- pray first! Make sure the kids are MIA.  Sometimes financial talks between you and your spouse may be traumatizing enough.  Don’t add fuel to the flame with your kids popping in and out every 5 seconds.  Ain’t nobody got time for that!  Get on the same page with your spouse on your budget, and as Dave says “spit-shake” on it so you will stick to it.  Go to www.everydollar.com and sign up for the free budget tool to make it easy.
  4. Begin Baby Step 1: Save your $1,000 emergency fund.  I feel like getting the husband on board for the budget should have been Baby Step 1, because that was a feat in its self, haha, but THEN get crackin’ on your fund, and then we get to the good stuff – paying off debt!

This is where we are at.  It’s not a perfectly pretty picture, and the devil has already tried to throw his ugly butt in our plans, but we are determined to “Live like no one else, so later we can LIVE like no one else.” – Dave Ramsey

 

PS- I am not being sponsored by Dave Ramsey to write this (I wish…Dave, can you hear me?!).  I am just sharing something that is sparking a change and a hope in our hearts for a better financial future.  I will continue to update our progress through our Total Money Makeover.  In the mean time, you can find me selling everything on yard sale sites and not eating out because it’s not in the budget.  Fun times.  🙂

So, where are you at in the financial department?  Leave a comment and let me know!

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