In case you are just finding me I have been writing about budgets and paying off debt. This is the fourth and final post (for now wink, wink) about budget. Today we are going to talk about in the meantime…
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
You have a budget, a plan to pay off debt, but what do you do in the meantime? Do you feel overwhelmed by the length of time it’s going to take you to pay off debt? Do you feel discouraged? Yes and yes. I do too. It didn’t take us long to get into this mess, but it is taking forever to get out of. We are the generation of now. Our kids will be the generation of- I needed that yesterday. Think about it. We have everything at our fingertips now. There is no waiting. We used to wait to receive a paper check and have to wait to take it to the bank, then wait for it to clear. Now checks are automatically deposited and the money is available the same day. We used to have to wait until we got home to call someone. Now we just use a cell phone that goes everywhere with us. I could go on with examples, but you get the point. We no longer wait or expect to have to wait on anything. How many times have you been mad at your spouse because they didn’t pick up the phone with you called their office? You didn’t leave a message but instead called their cell. When they didn’t pick that up you sent a text or email. Businesses treat their employees the same way. We have lost patience. We don’t leave messages any longer. Instead we try the four methods of contact (email, cell phone, text, and social media) to get an immediate answer. Because we don’t/don’t have to exercise patience in any other area of our life, we are out of practice. Paying off debt requires a lot, I repeat, a lot, of patience. When Thing 2 was little I tried to teach him patience. I use to tell him to hold onto his patience. He would form his hands into fists. As he sat waiting on his sippy cup to be refilled or our line to move forward in the grocery store I would ask if he needed more. “Yes, more!” I would reach in my pocket and grab some patience and give them to him. If he was really running low on patience I would pretend to feed them to him. They went straight to his belly and he would give me 2 more minutes. God has prepared us a meal of patience in His word. Philippians 4:6 says ,”Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” His word is full of meals of patience. Matthew 6:25-34, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” What’s my point? When you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, discouraged, or down, feed yourself with the word of God. Wait on the Lord! Psalm 27:14, “Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD.”
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LordAlmighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”
In the meantime… be faithful and obedient. Tithe. Give your first fruits, 10%, to God. Holy cow do I know how painful it was the first time we tithed a full 10%! I know that reluctance, I know that thought of really? That’s like a car payment! Been there. It doesn’t matter. It was never yours to begin with. Tithing is what God tells us to do. It doesn’t matter if we don’t feel like it. We simply choose to obey or not. God can’t release His financial blessings over you until you obey. Which leads to me our story. When we first moved to Texas, one of my prayers to God was that we would get out of debt so I could be a SAHM (stay at home mom). I was a project manager in my former life in the business world. Big surprise there, right? When we moved, I got a job as a temp at a big company. God blessed me with a raise in my salary that was about 30k more than I was making in Florida. I knew it was not because I was that sought after, or that good at my job: I knew it was God. Only God. I told the Man I felt we needed to tithe my whole first paycheck (all 100% of it) as a seed in paying off our debt. He looked at me like I was nuts. We really needed that paycheck to jump start our debt buster. We prayed and both felt that was what needed to happen so when I got my first paycheck, the entire paycheck went in the tithe. Within three months God blessed us with another 20k raise and a job down the street from my home working at the same place as the Man. If you are keeping track I had now moved up to almost 50k in my salary because of our obedience to move to Texas and to tithe my first check as a seed. It. was. awesome! We were paying off debt super fast! Then I got pregnant with Thing 2. God was pouring out the blessings left and right. Five months into my pregnancy with Thing 2 I was laid off. My current job was relocating to Seattle. I was given the opportunity to move with it, but knew that was not God’s plan. I received a severance and that was that. I remember everyone at work talking about the girl who got laid off and she was 5 months pregnant. Weird to hear people talking about you, around you, and they have no idea you are that girl. We were so close to paying off our debt. We got discouraged for a few weeks with our lack of understanding. But God. He took care of it all and within a few months He showed us where we had money and we were CC debt free. It never made sense to us on paper how we did it so fast because it was never our doing, it was always God. He is the one who made it happen. We can not alone. You do need help. You need God’s help. Be faithful, pray, tithe, and be purposeful with your money.
Paying off debt and living debt free is a way of life. It means making sure you have a plan for everything including meals and snacks. Thus why I menu plan. You cannot go to the store and spend your money wisely without a plan: otherwise, you are roaming the aisles, putting meals together in your head on the fly, throwing way more snacks than you need in your buggy and just overdoing it financially. When shopping, always look at the very top or the very bottom of the shelves for the product you desire. Never the middle or the end of the aisle. The most expensive items in that product line are located there. The grocery store is set up for the unplanned shopper. That is a fact. There is an entire industry built around consumer behavior and every major retail company has a per sale goal that they are using their science against you to attain. Ever wonder why your Target bill is always $75-$100?
If you menu plan, you will find that you won’t do the five o’clock stare into the pantry and refrigerator. You won’t wonder what to pack your kids for lunch every morning. You won’t have to worry about what to give your toddler for a snack in the middle of their 4 o’clock melt down. I have four kids and I homeschool which means I have to plan ahead for every meal and every snack. I get tired, unmotivated, and burnt out. When I menu plan I throw in at least 4 quick easy meals. Most of the time those are meals that can go in my crock pot. I do make snacks and lunches ahead of time, or least prep what I can the night before. I often spend my Saturday morning making the bread, the muffins for breakfast, or the breakfast bars for the following week. I didn’t say this is easy. Planning ahead allows me to resist the urge for quick fixes. Quick fixes meaning fast food, take out, and delivery. Plan and budget for big ticket items that are coming up: Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, and vacations. Planning ahead changes your perspective. Instead of winging it and throwing it on a credit card, you are now in control and telling your money where to go each paycheck. You have a plan.
Pray over every check you send out. Over the weekend we paid off a credit card that we have grown to loathe (I am sure we all have that one)! This company was so sneaky that they kept lowering the minimum payment so that the interest each month was greater than the minimum payment. We were paying them money to go further in debt each statement (KEEP AN EYE ON THAT). It was so exciting to pay that final payment. Inside my head I was doing backflips and a jig. Physically the noose around my neck got a little looser and my shoulders feel a little lighter. Before you click confirm on that computer screen or lift that flag on the mailbox, pray together. Even if it is over the phone. Thank God that He brought you through that debt and ask for continued strength and guidance as you wait to be delivered from the next.
There is one more thing I want to share with you that we do. When the Man receives a bonus each year we tithe our 10% and then we give the Things a small bonus. We look at our family unit as a team. We all support the Man all year long while he works hard to provide for us. When the bonus comes we give a small reward to our Things for being supportive and to show them that this is a family effort. They each receive a determined amount that they can then spend on whatever they want within their budget. They look forward to this every year and it teaches them patience, budgeting, and rewards them for being part of our family team. The rest of this year’s bonus went towards immediate needs and debt. I never. ever. let it sit. Ever. Not when there is debt to be paid. It’s too easy to spend that money on other things that you can justify and get off track. The devil is sitting on your shoulder waiting for your weakest moment to whisper a little something in your ear about spending it here… or wouldn’t it be nice if we… if I had a few hundred I could… DON’T FALL FOR IT! Have a plan and tell your money where to go as soon as you get it!
In closing, I want you to know you are not alone. Don’t be ashamed because you are in debt. Instead, be proud because you are on this journey and have a plan to get out of it. Remember to pray, go to God to be “fed” some patience, and stick with it. As always, I am here to bounce ideas off of and listen. I can’t do it for you but I can pray with you while you go through it. Purpose to be debt free and in the meantime plan and pray. You can do this! I promise! Wait on the Lord and have patience to see it through! God bless.
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