Thursday, June 2, 2011

Retail Therapy

I spent all day yesterday shopping. I wanted to get a sundress and a hat for vacation, and that required two stores. Then my son left my sunglasses in one of the stores, and I deemed them hopelessly lost and had to buy a replacement pair. And while I was buying the replacement pair, I found a couple of cute shirts on clearance.

Let me be clear: I don't like to shop. Well, I like to shop for things, but not so much clothes. I especially love kitchen gadgets or fun accessories (despite the fact that I'm terrible at wearing jewelry). And there are some days—like today—when I just feel like shopping. But if I find the right items, buying stuff is fun!

Paying for stuff? Less fun.

We've been on a cash-only system for a while. Kinda like Dave Ramsey's thing, although we've never taken the class or anything. I like it—when I remember to take the cash with me. I don't like having it on me all the time (too much temptation!) so I just take it when I'm on my way out the door. When I remember. Today was one of those non-remembering days. But, generally, it works out pretty well. Knowing there's a finite amount of cash keeps me from just charging, charging, charging. And the things we do charge (like gas for the cars) goes on a credit card that gives us cash back for our home and car insurance—stuff we'd have to pay for anyway. It's pretty cool.

We think a lot about stewardship in our home—how our money is spent. There are lots of Bible verses that remind us that the stuff here is temporary (Matthew 6:19-21), or that everything we have belongs to God anyway (Psalm 24:1) and we need to use it wisely (Luke 16:9-11). So, in our home, we budget.

And, oh, how we budget!

Now, my husband first broached the idea of budgeting with me before we were even dating. Just friends. He offered to help me make a budget so I could get my finances under control. So one afternoon, we sat down with my credit card bills and my bank statements and made a budget.

I will tell you this: Having my (future) husband look over my finances is, to this day, one of the most embarrassing events in our relationship. For me, anyway. I'd have preferred prancing around in my underwear in front of him than having him look at my money. It was just as revealing and twice as mortifying. Worst. Day. Ever.

What I didn't get about budgeting then—despite my husband's attempts to explain it to me—is that having a budget actually gives you more freedom with your money, not less. I understand that now.

Because my car died last week.

Not died died, but there was an incident on the highway where the car started shaking uncontrollably. Something with one of the tires or the suspension or something, probably. Not something I want to drive my toddler around in. Or drive all the way to She Speaks next month. We'd planned on getting a new car next year, but it looked like our plans had to change. Our twelve-year-old car just wasn't going to make it another year.

We shopped around. We got a great deal on an already-moderately-priced new car (since used cars are almost as much as new cars these days, anyway). We have a car payment now, which is something we haven't had in a few years.

But you know what? I'm not concerned. We don't have to "tighten our belts" all of a sudden now that we have a car payment because our belts were already fairly tight. We've been living within our means and saving up for a new car, so it's not a shock to our bank account.

And that feels awesome.

I've always been terrible with money, so I'm grateful God blessed me with a financially savvy husband. Now he's helping me to be financially savvy, too. And if you're not great with money, it's not too late to learn! You just have to have someone teach you the ropes (someone like Dave Ramsey, if you don't know anyone else who can help), try an awesome (and free!) budgeting program like Mint.com, and be willing to change your lifestyle.

Do you try to be a good steward and keep a careful eye on your finances?

2 comments:

  1. We absolutely keep a close eye on our finances. We don't have a choice. We pretty much live paycheck to paycheck. Last year, we got completely out of debt! *doing happy dance* (I wrote about it on my blog) We started out with $20k worth of debt and in FOUR (five? I can't remember now) we paid it off, had a baby, cut our income in half (I became a SAHM) AND *drum roll please* bought our first home!!! It was AMAZING and totally God. It took A LOT of sacrificing and at one point we both had two jobs. Yuck. It was all totally worth it, though. So, to make a long story even LONGER - yes, we keep a careful eye on our finances and for the most part, do not go into debt UNLESS we know beyond a shadow of a doubt we can pay it off ASAP. And I'm talking like, buying shoes on a cc or something.

    And this is completely unrelated, but I can't post with my Google acct on your blog..??? I wonder if it's you or me? Hmm..

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  2. We've been married for 18 years and this is something we still struggle with. We've taken the DR class. Now we just have to do what we've learned. What a blessing to be able to buy the new car and not be stressed about how to pay for it.

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