It’s been a couple months since Justin and I started Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University.
If you’ve never heard of Dave Ramsey before, he’s a financial advisor and businessman whose practice is built upon biblical principles. Why did it take until this point in my life to realize that “surrendering my finances to God” meant so much more than just tithing at church or beating my friend to swipe a credit card as we spent time together at a coffee shop? It turns out there’s a lot of Scriptures on the subject… Debt isn’t prohibited, but definitely advised against. Proverbs 22:7 warns “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.” God doesn’t want us to live just in spiritual freedom, but in financial freedom too!
I’ve made budgets before and I’ve declined every request to increase the limit on my little starter credit card but let’s just say… this girl loves the option to stroll those Target aisles and splurge on a few Dollar Spot goodies. Okay fine… and a pair of sandals, some statement earrings, a couple holiday couch pillows, a pack of my favorite Inkjoy pens (however overpriced), and oh… a 5 dollar coffee from the Starbucks near the exit, because the 10 minute drive home sounds exhausting after all the shopping I’ve done.
In other words, I’ve made budgets before in my life, but they were very loose. Or maybe I just confused making a budget with being sure your bills were paid on time because, in my eyes, once you had the money set aside for that you could do whatever you wanted with the rest. If you went a little over, that was okay. You just stuck it on the credit card and made peace with it until the next paycheck.
When Dave started calling us to have a plan for every dollar, it went from sounding overwhelming to actually kind of fun- like a game. Justin and I paid off and put away our credit cards and made vows to get by without them. Even when we made a mistake and forgot to budget normal, everyday “spending money,” and were left with 25 dollars to grocery shop one week, we laughed. It would be a good story to tell our kids one day, we reasoned.
We went to the store and tried to keep track of our total as we filled our small basket, but the cash register added better than we did apparently because our total reached 28 dollars. We desperately scanned the items we had chosen, deciding which would have to be put back until we remembered we had a rewards card that would allow us access to special store savings. Our total dropped back down to 21 dollars, so we laughed about that too. We laughed all the way out to our car in that parking lot, our few plastic bags in hand. We laughed until… I dropped the one plastic bag that had our BOGO glass pasta jars in it right on top my sandaled feet. I was covered in pasta sauce and blood, and suddenly ready for my credit cards back. I needed some retail therapy! Justin walked back inside for a band-aid and spent the remaining 4 dollars on a new jar of pasta sauce. Things had gotten real.
Real like a few weekends later, when we made the drive up to a city two hours north of us to visit a group of friends-still sans-credit cards, mind you. I had withdrawn our cash savings and moved the budget for our weekend getaway from savings to checking so we could access it using debit cards. My thought was that if our savings were left at home, we wouldn’t be able to transfer it to our checking account and spend it during a weak moment. It might have been a good plan, if I had known the importance of first checking to make sure all the month’s automated payments had been withdrawn. As it turns out, there was one bill that hadn’t collected yet and, when it finally did collect a few hours into our trip, my debit card was declined over a 2 dollar glass of orange juice. So there sat all of our money safely tucked away, over 100 miles from us and completely untouchable when we needed it most. We made our trip home early and praised God for the gift card we had invested in during Publix’s last gas card deal weekend.
(Seriously… have you heard about it? On select weekends, you can get a 50-dollar gas card to a gas station of your choice for only 40 dollars if you spend 50 dollars in groceries. We try to take advantage of it every time we hear of the deal since gas obviously never goes on sale.)
Learning anything new is tough, and there are definitely hiccups along the way. Also I’d be lying if I said I didn’t personalize the Dave Ramsey baby steps so that somewhere between Baby Step 1: Building a 1,000 dollar emergency fund and Baby Step 2: Paying Off Your Debts With the Snowball Effect (From Smallest to Biggest), there was Step 1B: Saving for an anniversary trip to Nashville, Tennessee. I mean, come on, this year marks 5 years married and 10 years together. How could I let that one pass us by? But I’m learning that if you really commit your way to the Lord- in WHATEVER He calls you to do- He will accomplish what you set out to. And not only that, but He’ll give you such joy as you do. He’ll open your eyes to the simplest delights.
Those pasta jars that I dropped on my feet? A closer look at the replacements revealed kitchen measurements etched beautifully into the glass. Once empty, I left them to soak in my sink, scrubbed off the labels, and suddenly had the most adorable, affordable farmhouse storage containers. I used mine for bathroom storage- to hold cotton balls and Q-tips- though I also thought about how they might be make-up brush holders, toothbrush holders, or even desk storage. They brought a little more curated charm to my cozy country home, as well as the idea to share cheap and easy farmhouse decor through the blog.
So… let this post be the first of many “frugal farmhouse finds!”