Sunday, July 7, 2013

Financial Fasting: daily update!!!

On Friday, September 21, 2012  we paid off our house!!! I really made a big deal about it...why? "Cause I wanted to show off? Make others feel bad? Be a conceited, obnoxious friend?" No, I told people because I was SO proud of my HUSBAND, that all the years of financial stress and frustration had finally paid off. Also, so others (the world) could know that a large family on one income could one day live debt free!!!

No offense to others who struggle with finances...God gave me a wonderful husband who trusted God to meet our needs, who knew we were called to have a big family, and who believed strongly in me being a stay at home mom!!! I know many Godly lovely people who live within their means and try to do what God asks of them. It sure isn't easy. We have been married 24 years and finances have been difficult since day one! I was blessed to have my dream come true when I got pregnant with our first daughter on our honeymoon!!! I stopped working at the "big paying" job of daycare and finishing up my last year of college!!! When our precious first born was 6 months old we decided to open a Christian Bookstore, and my husband kept his bank job... till we very soon found out that baby #2 was coming!!! We knew that was God saying, "trust in me, close your eyes, and JUMP into my arms with great faith!!!" So, my hubby quit his job (boy, did our family and friends think we were crazy) and worked full time at the bookstore so I could take care of the two babies!!! Right after that I became pregnant again...and the Good Lord just kept blessing us with more precious babies!!! People were inspired by God to be generous to, meals, cars, help, furniture, clothes, you name it...if we needed came!!! It was always a struggle to tithe when we didn't even have enough to meet our monthly needs...but we did what we could when we could and God always blessed us with more!!! We even got a new house on a last minute deal!!! Our agent was shocked at our "LUCK" he called it! Ha!!! Didn't he know, Philippians 4:19:
"And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus."

Same thing happened with the house we live in now, we got a foreclosure in the coolest neighborhood ever...I have never seen so much providing as in the days when we were "needy"!!! God was at our constant side...then, we closed the bookstore and my hubby got a better job. It even came with insurance, sick leave, and vacation!!! WOW! We started to get comfortable...and when I say comfortable, I mean we would buy ice cream and paper towels!!! (I know we are so frivolous!!!)  We even started to do our monthly dates by going out (instead of doing them at home when the kids went to bed)!

It was always a struggle and a sacrifice not to zip through the  fast food places when we had fussy kids, sign up our kids for that great activity/sport, buy a new car, go out to eat, go on nice vacations, or buy those cool toys/cloths/ or appliances that "we just got to have"! It really required planing and thinking on our part...making sure we packed food when we were out, find free activities to participate in, ask for gift cards to restaurants for gifts, visit family instead of going to vacation spots, get toys/clothes or appliances from freecycle/garage sales/ goodwill, etc...  Even though it was tough on us, it not only was a good sacrifice for us it was a great EXAMPLE to our kids, that you don't just buy on an impulse or waste your money on "things", you need self control and detachment.

This has come in handy with our teens who look for jobs as soon as they are old enough so they can save for: phone, services, car, insurance, college and other expenses on their own!!! So far they have done pretty well...we have our first-born who graduated with honors debt free!!! We have four others in college who have sacrificed things like dreams of out of state college and some the idea of living on campus. They all have attended a community college (thank God we have one of the best in the country!!!) for two years and then they transfer to a state college. Some have chose to commute if close enough and others have figured out ways to pay for housing.

After we paid off our house we enjoyed a couple of months of living debt free and then the tax break ended and our health insurance went up! So we weren't earning as much...we kept saving but not like we used to.

With all good things, we started to get lazy in our spending! So, at the end of June my husband decided we needed to give financial fasting a try. So we decided that July was a good month since we just came back from vacation and we had no big spending plans coming up. It was decided that we would only buy "needed groceries" and gas and pay our monthly bills. We had a family meeting...told the college kids that they were responsible for themselves and their spending, but it wouldn't hurt to reign in some of their spending on movies and fast food.

I thought it wouldn't be a big deal, I am good about not spending unnecessarily.  I made sure I had some little small gifts for my gift basket in case a birthday party came up and I was ready for June!!!

June 30th: Big sister took the kids out to the movies for a last spending spree...kinda like "Fat Tuesday"! My husband signed up the family to a sponsor a child through Christian Foundation for children and aging. This was on our to do list and we figured it was worth the monthly sacrifice!!! The kids loved picking out a child and praying for our little "Jose"!

July 1st: went well!!!

July 2nd: birthday party-gift taken care of!!! Someone gave us two coolers full of popsicles and ice cream left over from end of the year school parties!!! Yahoo...desserts for the month!!!

July 3rd: miss spending money...didn't think it would be so hard...I almost caved when the swim team was selling washed towels from the lost and found for $2 and some of my kids forgot towels and others towels were wet...hmmm...this seems like a necessity...but, really it was just poor planning and organizing on our part. We have lots of towels at home!!! We should of just made sure they were clean and dry...we should of made sure we put them in our pool bag...etc...(really this is how we spend most of our money...oops I forgot the snacks, oops I forgot the water bottles, oops I forgot to plan is always this or that! Of course sometimes we can splurge but if we budget or plan ahead than we can spend for fun---GUILT FREE!!)

July 4th: sorry kids no glow ropes or sparklers like the rest of your friends-mom forgot to plan ahead...but I did have lots of snacks and juice boxes to share...and our friends are so great that they all shared with us!!! In my kids case...even if I bought glow ropes they wouldn't of been as "cool" as so and so's!!! You should see some of those cool things...swords and glasses all sorts of cool stuff!!!

July 5th: had to make brownies for the food kitchen...even though I planned ahead...I still had to adjust since I was making a quadruple batch and use a chocolate cake mix to add to my brownie mix. It worked great...I just used less eggs than the cake mix asked for!!! Than we went camping for the day to meet up with my family who goes for the week...I filled the car up with gas and packed lots of snacks and drinks. It was a little tempting when we drove through the town and saw lots of fast food restaurants...but the kids just looked at me and grabbed the lame snacks mom packed!!! It worked out good that I had planned on going to see my family for the day. My friends were going out to lunch for a birthday celebration and I would of been bummed if I had to miss it due to our "fast". Then later that night our friends were all going to shrimp night at the pool, for if we went, would of totally been an extra spending for us.

July 6th: Some of us were down with the 24 hour no spending. My two sons went to swim meet for the day...thank God the swim team provides lunch for home meets...and my 13 year old got to stay at the pool for the entire day for a volleyball tournament...he said he bought something at the snack bar and felt so guilty for breaking our fast...I assured him that it was one of those crazy days and mom and dad weren't both planning on getting sick. Things like that happen :)

July 7th: no spending cravings today :)

July 8th: daily update: did pretty good today...lots of talk with the teens about spending...we have many spending opportunities coming up...We discussed the unnecessary need to buy swim team shirts tomorrow night. We talked about not going out to eat with the "ENTIRE" (so they say) swim team tomorrow night after the big city meet. My son said, "This is so embarrassing, why do we  have to do this fast?" I said it is not embarrassing that your daddy paid off our house and our van?! It will not be embarrassing when you buy your own car when you are 16 will all the money you have been saving!!! It will not be embarrassing when you graduate from college debt free because you were wise in your spending!!! He kinda understood. Then we discussed that one of my favorite evenings is the parent night out with California Tortilla at the pool that daddy and I are gonna miss out on. I reminded them all that this week we get to go to 7/11 to get our free Slurpee and Friday go to Chic Flia for free food for Cow Appreciation Day!!! I did remind him that I cancelled my Christmas gift this month when daddy has a wonderful lady come and clean our bathrooms. (even know daddy said it was part of our monthly expenses) I said I would take them all to the swim team beach trip (not counting the gas for our 15 passenger van as an extra) but, we wouldn't go out to dinner with everyone afterwards. I will pack a ton of food and we will have a blast!!! They wanted to know if we have to do this again? I said yes, probably not till Lent but maybe in January!!!I am grateful for the opportunity to talk to them about spending and saving...Lord guide us!!!

So I will update how the rest of the month goes!!!



Maurisa said...

Wow, sounds awesome and difficult at the same time. Looking forward to reading more about your journey over the month. We could really go on a financial fast around here!

We've been working on getting our oldest kids more financially independent. Wish we had done that a long time ago! It's definitely one our goals with our next bunch coming up.

Mary Wilkerson said...

Thanks for writing this.