Christmas is less than 2 weeks away, 2012 is shortly after that, and Scott and I feel like this year has rushed by. I'm sure most of you feel the same way. There were times when it drug by as slow as molasses in the winter, like the days Scott and I lived separate - waiting for the weekend to come so we could see each other. However, 2011 is nearly gone - and where have we found ourselves at the end of this busy year?
We find ourselves at Christmas time. The time when people are out in the stores buying things they can't afford for people the don't like. Racking up the credit card bills because they can't say no to their own children. Maybe some are even spending their hard earned cash - but they are spending it on clothes they don't need, on toys they don't need, on expensive food that could've been made at home for cheaper -all the while the tires on their cars are showing the steel, the dog needs his teeth cleaned to save his heart, the kids need to see a dentist, and the debt collectors are still calling.
What has happened that make people so blind that they think this is all ok? I can't understand it. I really can't. It's not that I haven't been there - we have. We went so far under early on in our marriage when Scott lost his job - it's taken years to dig out. But, for the most part, we recognized the problem - saw the solution and did our best to get there. It seems as though americans are brainwashed into thinking that this over-spending is just a 'way of life', 'just the way it is', and that nothing can be done. HELLO!?!?! YES - YOU CAN SAVE YOURSELVES!!!
I am going to brag a bit - just because we are proud of ourselves. For Christmas this year, we are going to be 100% debt free - and then some. As of December 15th, we're done. The credit cards are closed, the family loans are paid, and our vehicles belong to us, not a bank.
It wasn't luck that enabled us to dig ourselves out of this financial mess. I hear that all the time, that Scott sure was lucky to get a job with Edison. It has nothing to do with luck. It was perseverance and many many hours of studying to pass the tests with higher than average numbers. It was working on a construction crew in the dead cold of winter for 14 hour days, while waiting for a better job. It was doing side-jobs on the weekends, working for such small wages we barely broke even after the materials. I helped Scott on these side-jobs, when I wasn't working at my 2 jobs, just so we still had time together on the weekends. We did not sit around hoping for something fabulous to happen. We did not willingly live paycheck to paycheck - we put aside any extra penny that we found. We did not buy new clothes, or new vehicles. We wore our shoes and jeans with holes in them. And...we have the God of the Universe fighting for us. You think he would've handed us a job if we sat around in the house praying for the bills to go away? No.
And, I think I've said it before, but I'll say it again; despite having family members in the company, Scott had to get in all on his own. None of them had any say as to his hiring. It doesn't work that way.
So - we've paid everyone - and we still had extra cash. PRAISE THE LORD! HE IS SO GOOD TO US! We have been on Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover for a while now, and we have our emergency fund safely set aside (Baby Step #1), Debt is paid (Baby Step #2) and we're moving onto Baby Step #3 (get 6 months worth of expenses saved up in cash assets). It's actually really fun. And it has improved our marriage. We actually enjoy sitting down at the laptop and going over our budget.
We were able to buy Scott some much needed shoes and gear made specifically for his job (Fireproof stuff...). I was able to go shopping for some much needed maternity clothes - and you know where I went? (Just because we finally had money did not give us permission to be stupid with it...) I went to the local thrift store and spent $35 and got 9 new winter tops, all in good or brand-new-with-tags condition. Ross was next - because of their discount clothing. Bought jeans and leggings over there.
And we're still ahead! If I had, like an idiot, gone to the nearest mall, or designer outlet to buy clothes, there would be none left to give or save. Now we are able to put more into savings, which makes us feel so much more secure about having a new baby in July, and we are able to give abundantly at this time of year.
My own family is pretty money-conscious, so last year we each drew names of one family member to be the secret santa for, so we don't have to buy for EVERYONE. It's wonderful. I've been building the box all year with fun little things that I've found at the dollar store, walmart, and the thrift store. It has made Christmas so much more relaxed. And we're able to focus on a few friends and family who have special needs this year.
Dave Ramsey's motto: "Live like no one else."
For Christmas: "Give like no one else."
We're living proof that it's possible. Don't give into the 'spending culture'. Be in control of your money. Get out from under the weight of debt. And have FAITH that God can take you anywhere if you trust him and are wise with what HE GIVES you.