Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Anniversary Post I

July 27, 2002, I married the most amazing man!  I am so blessed beyond measure to have spent the last nine years of my life with my best friend!

My husband was gone from home last night doing some manly work on his 1984 GMC pickup truck, which we just so happened to use as our transportation leaving our wedding.  This left me in charge of the remote control.  Bummer!  Of course we had a special report to hear from our president and the speaker of the House.  I am all for knowing what's going on in politics, but I must say I was a little disappointed that it would be on the night I can watch anything I want.

This is not the place I choose to air my political thoughts, so I won't get into what I think needs to happen with our debt ceiling or otherwise in D.C.  If you've read this any time now or know me at all, you probably have it figured right that I believe God designed marriage to be between one man and one woman for life, that to have an abortion is to commit murder (whenever it takes place), and that to owe money to anyone for anything makes you a slave to the lender.  Well, maybe you didn't know all that already, but now you do.

Anyway, tonight's messages from D.C. got me thinking about how we've chosen to do things financially since my husband and I have been married.  It could benefit someone.

Married at twenty-one years of age, I with one semester of college left and my husband with two semesters, we didn't have much money.  That's an understatement.  I couldn't really work while student teaching, but my husband did work full time and do landscaping on the weekends while going to school full time.  It was then, and is now, his burden to bear, to make sure that all of our financial needs are met.  I'm super proud of how he has done whatever takes to make sure our bills have been paid on time.  As far as those bills went, we chose a small, but cute little rental home.  My husband's good family name led us by word of mouth to some great landlords who found renters only this way.  Being willing to work on this new property they had, by painting and other gritty work, brought our rent even lower than they initially intended to request.  We didn't pay for cable, then or now, so that's one other expense cut.  Really, pay for TV?  Maybe that's why we had four kids like stair steps, but I digress...

In that first year of marriage, we had to buy a car.  My little Honda Civic had had it.  We researched and watched prices at local used car lots, places my husband knew well and trusted.  Once again, my husband's good family name and the fact that we were "good people" got us a reasonable price for our Malibu.  We used our first tax return as a down payment, and when we came out of shock at how high our interest rate was going to be to finish paying for it, we found some family willing to give us a personal loan with a much lower interest rate.

As far as health expenses went that first year, we were very healthy, but were prepared if we hadn't been.  The day after our wedding, we drove to my husband's workplace to turn in a copy of our marriage license so that even if something happened on our honeymoon, I would be covered on his insurance policy.  I went straight from my dad's coverage to my new husband's, never a day without health insurance.

Our second year of marriage brought some major health problems for my husband.  We had a policy at that point that didn't cover as much as it could have, but we met our deductable and paid for it with some of our own savings, a few hundred dollars from my in-laws, and a love offering from the church we attended before we moved to seminary.

In that second year, we needed to build some credit because we had always paid cash for everything, so we got a credit card that was linked to our savings account and a little store credit card.  It was truly helpful to have a credit card to pay for my husband's classes and books rather than pay cash in one chunk, but we never let the balance go more than two or three months at a time. 

During the time of being strapped to death newlyweds, we always tithed, and God always provided even when things didn't work out on paper.  Looking at our budget on paper didn't seem to make perfect sense as we began to prepare for me to stay home upon the birth of our first child, but again, God provided.  There was never any question that I would stay home.  It was a conviction we felt strongly about.  I have to bite my tongue when I hear some working mothers say, "If I could stay home..." - some really need to work, others just need to be honest and say they don't want to change their spending habits.  I dabbled in couponing then, I breastfed (no expense on formula), used cloth diapers 85% of the time (no major expense with disposables), and obviously, with no child care costs, we weren't blowing that money every month.

Now, maybe you might think, we didn't have any fun, but we did.  We still went out to eat at least once a week.  We still go on vacation at least once a year, though we have yet to fly anywhere.  I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything.  Our tribe, as we think of our family, is a fun tribe!  We boat with a good used boat and regularly go to the beach ("It's a sweet, sweet life livin' by the salty sea...").  I shop from time to time, but I really do love to get good deals.  Clearance racks, anyone?

We also save for unexpected expenses, save for a home in the future (right now we live in a parsonage), and we invest money for retirement.  We're not counting on Social Security.  We also don't hoard.  We give as we feel led and compelled by the Holy Spirit, and the Lord has returned it to us tenfold.

I don't want it to be that I'm tooting our horn.  God provides for our needs and most of our wants.  He has given my husband the work we've needed him to have, but what He has taught us from His word has helped us to face the financial challenges in life that most people will face in life.

"The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is a slave to the lender." -Proverbs 22:7

"Give, and it will be given to you; a good measure - pressed down, shaken together, and running over - will be poured into your lap.  For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you." -Luke 6:38

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