Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Financial Freedom Works for Me!

When Joseph and I got married, I was a slave. Not literally, but it sure felt like it.

Back track 6 years: I had just turned 18 years old and was on a Spring Break trip with my friends in Florida. A certain credit card company (to which I will NOT, even to this day, own a credit card from!) was giving out cool t-shirts. All you had to do is fill out an application for their credit card. I was 18, didn't think I had any credit, had no instruction on financial management, and was -quite frankly- dumb. I filled out the application, got my cool t-shirt and had fun on the rest of my trip.

A month or so later, my new credit card arrived in the mail. All shiny and new. I thought I won the lottery. And had no idea what I had gotten myself into.

Fast forward 6 years, $10,000 and nothing to show for it - and that is how Joseph met me. Shortly after we got engaged, he paid off the debt. He wanted us to start fresh and have a clean slate when we gt married. (I didn't know then, but do now, the depth of wisdom that man has.) So, yeah he paid off my debt and has never once mentioned it or held it over my head. My man is most certainly a man after God's own heart.

So 1 day after returning from our honeymoon we move all that we own (which wasn't much) to Minot AFB in North Dakota. And shortly after we move in he sets us up with a budget and implements the "envelope system". I had no idea (once again) how wise this man was. I didn't know anything about saving or tithing, so Joseph taught me. He pulled out some envelopes and we labeled them. I don't remember all the labels that we had back then, but here are some that we have now:
  • Groceries
  • Date
  • Diapers
  • Eating Out
  • Titan (our dog)
  • Gas
  • Household (toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies, toiletries, ect.)
  • MISC (gifts, clothes, babysitting, and any extra we go over on groceries)

He broke up our finances into the 70-20-10 method. 70% of our income goes to bills, 20% savings and 10% to tithe. And that is how we have done it for the past 7 1/2 years. When we run out of money in the envelopes...we're out of money. He can't make more, I can't make more, there is no blaming or arguing - it's just a fact. No money in envelope = no spending.

And I believe with every ounce of my soul that this, along with MANY blessings from God, have gotten us to where we are today. No credit card debt, no car payment, no student loans - just the house. While 87.6% of medical residents carry outstanding loans and the average debt of medical school graduates is $137,517 we have none. And have had 3 kids in medical school - twin GIRLS to boot!!

Now, we have been wise and very blessed along the way. But, we have also made more than our fair share of mistakes. Oh, have we made mistakes. Through it all, though, the one thing that has remained constant is the our tithe. It comes off the top and first. And that has been hard some months. There have been some months that we really could have used that tithe for groceries, but have seen blessings come our way for giving back to God. Oh, the stories I could tell...

I share all this not to brag, but to tell you how good it feels to be financially free! I have experienced both feelings, enslaved and free, and I'm telling you that if you don't already have it - the freedom is amazing. It may take time, learning to do without, not having the fanciest things, but it is SO worth it! If you haven't heard about the envelope system, check it out! You won't regret it.

And that is what Works for Me!

End Note: Years ago we used to pull cash out of the bank to fill the envelopes, but now we have an excel spreadsheet that keeps track of what "envelope" we are spending out of. The spreadsheet has also been a great way of having accountability of every penny spent.


Elizabeth said...

The envelope system is the best thing we have ever done financially, too. We've done it since 2001, and though we haven't done it perfectly and the amounts have changed many times, we've stuck with it and it's just a part of life now. Even the kids understand the concept. I still go to the bank twice a month and get real cash, but I think the excel spreadsheet would be just as effective, maybe more. I just love the visual reminder of how much cash is left. It definitely curbs spending, especially at the grocery store b/c it totally stinks to run out of money for food. We do have students loans, but other than that, it's just the house left to pay off. And I'm with you, tithing is the single most important aspect of anyone's budget, and God has blessed us time and time again because we've given faithfully. You, and your man, are very wise!

Also, I liked seeing what your envelopes are. We have the exact same ones, except no dog and I do one specifically for Sam's since it is always such a big chunk. Thanks for sharing!

Kari said...

My wise husband paid off debt for me as well, without blinking an eye, now, I have also experienced both, what a blessing!

p.s. I'm tagging you today.

Jessi said...

I was inspired to give the envelope system another try this year simply because I'm tired of living outside our means. Last month wasn't perfect, but I managed to plug into Excel each and every purchase, which is quite an accomplishment for me, a girl who LOVES numbers but HATES budgeting. Unlike y'all, we do have med school debt (the most wonderful thing about doing it through the military) as well as my graduate student loans...and I'll be so glad when we're in a position to pay them off!

Thanks for sharing!