10 March 2007

What is so great about Financial Peace?

“The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower becomes the lender's slave.”
– Proverbs 22:7 (NASB)

“Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.” – Romans 13:8 (NASB)


Hey Family,

Brad and I wanted to fill you in on some decisions that we have made recently. Actually it all started when Brad entered Basic Training, but now with him back from Afghanistan, we have renewed our efforts to become DEBT FREE!!! We wanted to share with you all the excitement that we are experiencing as we tackle our financial mistakes. We also thought that by sharing some of the details of our plan, you might better understand some of the decisions that we have to make in order to honor our commitment.

Brad and I have both read the book “My Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey and decided it was time for us to get to work. Many of you are well aware of the financial mistakes we have made, some of you may have even warned us about them ahead of time or bailed us out of them afterwards. Regardless, we are able to freely admit them without shame or fear because we know we are on the right path now. It may have taken us awhile to get here, but praise God we have made it. We have a long journey ahead of us to get to where we need to be. But, we have marked out a good map, we have the resources we need and a commitment to God and one another to be good stewards of the gifts God has given us.

Our first step was to put aside a small amount of cash for emergencies. Unfortunately, emergencies do not include a great sale on shoes or computer components. Nor is a rather pricey trip to visit our families an “emergency.” The trouble we had in the past was that once we began to have emergencies and no extra cash, the credit cards became easy to use. And when the credit cards didn’t work out, we hopped on the phone and asked for help. I even made a New Year’s Resolution two years ago to enter every contest I came across to try to generate extra revenue. (That didn’t work out so great, surprisingly!)

Our second step is to create a working budget for several reasons. One, we are tired of our money ruling over us. We want to tell our money where to go, and it’s amazing all the little things you miss when you don’t put it on paper. Two, this will allow us to cut back in areas that we have been wasteful in. Three, this will allow us to take the extra money and focus it on our debt. Our goal is not wealth or riches, but to be in a place where we can follow God’s calling free of past mistakes.

Our third step is to focus on our debt snowball. We started with personal loans (we didn’t need any awkwardness with our families), and then our smallest debt we focus every available extra penny. We make all the minimum payments on our remaining debts, and then each time we pay one off the smallest we than apply that monthly payment onto our next smallest debt. We will be on this step until we are debt free.

After this is complete we are on to our fourth step. To save 3-6 months worth of income for emergencies. This will not be easy either because it will be so tempting to “borrow” from it for this or that. Most likely we will have to save 6 months worth because we are a one-income family. This idea of saving really excites both of us because it will give us the resources needed to be able to step out and do things for the kingdom.

In order to complete these goals we are going to have to make some sacrifices and hard choices along the way, and we are going to need your encouragement and support. There are two main areas we are going to cut out until we are debt free. First is gifts to friends and family, and second is travel and vacations. We have really wrestled in our hearts about both of these areas because we really didn’t want to do it; however, we know God will honor this because we need to be good stewards of the resources He is giving us. And lets be honest, It has been difficult to even feel good about the gifts we have given in the last few years because of the budget-busting factor as well as the idea that even with all we could afford the gifts were still pretty crappy (sorry for the improper language.) Or worse yet, a few of you have bailed us out and purchased gifts for us to give others. Those are really difficult gifts to give. And many of you may have noticed that our gifts have been a little schizophrenic, something this year, nothing the next, something homemade, something bought, etc. We want to find our way to freedom so we can give freely without compulsion or guilt. We tried it our way before and it didn’t work we were drowning in debt, and trying to hide it from everyone.

Another area we are cutting out “Forever” (in the words from Squints in the Sand Lot) is the use of debt. If we can’t pay cash for it than we can’t afford it, and we won’t buy it until we can (including cars). We’ve cut all our credit cards up, and cancelled the ones we don’t have a balance on (the remaining one will be cancelled the day it is paid off). We need your help in holding us accountable in this area. It’s not going to hurt our feelings if you say “can you afford it?”, please ask that question!

We would also like to encourage you to join us on this journey to become debt free, and have Financial Peace! If you don’t know what to buy for us, if you feel that you have to buy for us because of the other people you buy for, if you can’t pay your upcoming bills, DON”T BUY US GIFTS!!!! God didn’t intend for us to feel trapped into buying gifts on holidays for one another. That wasn’t His plan, I am pretty sure it is mainly a marketing ploy. We have exposed the light to the darkness in our lives, and we don’t want to go back.

We hope we haven’t offended anyone, and this isn’t about how we were raised. We made these mistakes ourselves and we know there are no quick fixes. This isn’t a plea for people to send us money so we can visit Michigan or bail us out. We are currently reaping what we’ve sown, and because it’s hard and painful it gives us an even better feeling when we pay that debt off. This isn’t a one way conversation or a blanket statement, so feel free to share your thoughts and feelings with us.

With love,
Brad & Amanda

P.S. Here is a snapshot of where we were in October 2005, and where we are now as of March 2007. We’ve made progress, but we have a long journey ahead


October 2005 Snap Shot
Student Loans Balance
Amanda – $14,236.46
Brad – $22,000
Credit Cards
Citi Card - $7300
Discover Card $3100
Old Navy - $300
Car Loan - $6,386.70
Personal Loans - $2300
Total - $55623.16
March 2007 Snap Shot
Student Loans Balance
Amanda – $13,192.93
Brad – $15,896.00
Credit Cards
Citi Card - $1,234.87
Discover Card - $0.00
Old Navy - $0.00
Car Loan - $0.00
Personal Loans - $0.00
Total - $30,323.80



3 comments:

  1. That is so awesome guys!!! I try to listen to Dave on the radio every day. We just payed off our last few debts this month. What an amazing feeling to be debt free.

    You guys must be working hard because you've accomplished A LOT in the past few months. Will I hear you guys screaming "We're debt free" one of these days on the show?

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  2. Congratulation guys, you have not only made a promise to yourselves, your children, and God, but also to the world. This is one of the places where friends and family can be supportive and loving. I respect and applaud your efforts and love you both for facing your enemies head on.
    Love ya!

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  3. Hey guys, I just wanted to check in and see what was new - what an awesome thing you are doing in striving to be debt free!! I am inspired by your decision, and will continue to check back to see how you've progressed. Well done so far!!

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