Well glory be, we're one step closer to being debt-free.
Ma Luffin' Mayun and I entered connubial bliss in 1997, at which time he carried a small debt on a credit card he'd been suckered into as a college student. We were young, in love, and pretty dang brainless when it came to finances and budgeting and savings and debt. I suppose to call us brainless is slightly harsh (just slightly), but wisdom in dealing with our finances was a long time coming. We're still learning. When just starting out, a new car, a little more "stuff", medical bills, student loans, and a small income are the perfect factors for creating a debt-accumulation equation.
We've been working for years now to winnow down our debt and our spending. Something we did that I believe was absolutely instrumental in getting our heads on straight was going through Dave Ramsey's FPU. It was excellent in so many ways and I would highly recommend it to anyone. For us, it just seemed to answer questions we had in areas any where from insurance to investments, and budgeting to savings. Some questions we knew to ask, and some we didn't. It encouraged us to keep going in the places we were managing well, and it kicked our butts in the areas where we were perpetually cycling through bad money habits.
We have certainly not followed unswervingly the concepts we learned going through FPU, but tremendous strides have been made. We try to talk regularly about the budget and where the money has been told to go instead of going to our respective corners perturbed about the other one's money-handling tendencies. We always give to God the first ten percent of every piece of money that crosses our path (that has really become as automatic to us as wearing clothing out of the house instead of leaving in-the-buff). This really so feels like a privilege and not an obligation anymore. We pay our bills (mostly) by the due date, but if we are late we are never more than seven to ten days late. We stay away from the places that tempt us to impulse-purchase (again, mostly).
The point is, we're trying, have been trying, and this week our efforts once again, literally, paid off.
On Tuesday we paid off the second-to-last of our consumer debt; a small finance loan (our last consumer debt is a credit card with a small-ish balance on it). We paid this loan off ten months early. So this leaves us with the credit card (which we wil pay off completely with some of our tax return money that arrived in our account today), student loans, and our mortgage. Within the next twenty-four to forty-eight hours the credit card balance will be obliterated. People, I'm thrilled. This feels good. For us, this means we own both of our vehicles, all of the contents of our home, and will only make monthly payments to two creditors - for a well-earned degree and the roof over our heads. Wow.
Please don't read arrogance or superiority in my words about this. Really. For all the good decisions we've made in our finances there have been twice as many silly, frivolous, and ignorant choices made. If anything, be encourage: we live on one income; we have three children; we have only just had steady, predictable income for the past five out of thirteen years of marriage; we have everything we need every time we need it, and so many of the things we want; in a gasping economy we are doing better than we ever have before.
Here's a personal challenge: give the first ten percent of what you receive as income to a local church. I'm telling you, this has been the hinge that the door to our financial stability has swung on. And this is one place God invites us to challenge him, almost like a dare. He dares us to trust, and we dare Him to provide.
I'm telling you, it works.
So here's to a debt paid off on this Frugal Friday, and the hope that we'll keep on holding it all with a hard-working, diligent, but open hand.
Bring all the tithes (the whole tenth of your income) into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and prove Me now by it, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer [insects and plagues] for your sakes and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground, neither shall your vine drop its fruit before the time in the field, says the Lord of hosts.
And all nations shall call you happy and blessed, for you shall be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.