Smoke Screen Stewardship Questions

A little more than a week ago, I posted a blog which I whimsically entitled Daylight Savings Time. A rather feeble play on words, I attempted to explore an innovative new idea I discovered: saving money and getting out of debt. I was astounded by the number and quality of responses we received in the form of comments and personal e-mails. It turns out that a large number of people are rather passionate about this subject.

Fanatic about debt reduction
Not one of our actual readers.

“Whoa, there,” I thought. “Most of these people are serious about paying off debt. Some of them think we should actually get rid of our credit cards!” I pulled up a browser window and shopped a while at until I regained my composure.

Let’s face it: I like having credit cards. I like the feeling of power they engender, and the illusion of value and wealth. I enjoy the convenience and the ease with which I am separated from my money. I value the increasingly-worthless airline miles I earn when I engage in serious borrowing. I even like the mail they send me:

“Dear Tim,” they write. “We’ve noticed that you haven’t reached full indentured-servanthood yet, in terms of the amount you owe us, which is slightly less than Argentina owed to the World Bank in the late 90′s. To tempt you to be even more irresponsible, we’re raising your credit limit to ridiculous levels. You should rush out and buy a computer for every room in your house!”

As we read comment after comment, extolling the virtues of Dave Ramsey’s books and Crown Financial Ministries, we began to feel a bit convicted. “Maybe the time has come for us to actually make a change in how we handle our money,” I mentioned to Kathy, rather hesitantly.

Crown Financial
One of the Small Groups at our Church is doing a study using Crown Financial’s book …

“Sounds great! When shall we start? I’ve got our old budget (the one we started last year) right here! I’ve read three chapters of Ramsey’s book, and I have a list of things we need to talk about!” My wife is nothing if not enthusiastic.

I dragged my feet for a week or so, ’cause I like to play hard-to-get, but eventually she wore me down, and I agreed to spend a couple of hours talking about our financial future.

“I’m so excited,” Kathy bubbled. “My friend M. and her husband sat down the other night to talk finances, and they got into a big fight. I’ll bet we can do even better!”

Sure enough, we had a big fight about parenting before we even started talking about money, which demonstrated our superiority and, I felt, put things into their proper perspective. We came to a few tentative conclusions:

  • We need to stop using credit cards
  • We must build a workable budget that allows us to live within our means, and stick to it.
  • We should aggressively seek to set aside $1000 as an emergency fund, so unexpected expenses don’t ‘break’ our budget, or lure us back into deficit spending.
  • Once we’ve got the $1000 put aside, we can attack our smallest debt and work to pay it off as quickly as possible.

Don't run with those scissors, Dave!
Dave seems to have an answer for everything.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this is not going to be a quick or easy path for us. To follow these simple steps, Kathy and I will have to change quite radically. We’ll have to learn to defer gratification, and to find joy in paying off debt, rather than in the acquisition of ‘stuff’. We’ll have to temper our generosity, and live under actual constraints. We’ll have to learn new vocabulary, as in “We can’t afford that right now,” or “We’ll buy that just as soon as we save up for it.”

A boy who needs a computer
“Afford? Saved? What do those words mean, Dad?”

It will probably come as no surprise to those who have been down this road, that even now, as we stand on the brink of making a decision to change our way of life, we are facing some considerable expenses:

Dental Implants for Fun and Profit!
Not my actual tooth.

  1. I’m in the middle of an implant process for one of my teeth that will probably cost me another $1800, after insurance
  2. Kathy faces a potentially costly dental process in the near future (cost unknown)
  3. Our van badly needs new brakes and other maintenance (ballpark $600)
  4. We urgently need to replace the roof on our house (probably around $14,000)
  5. We are in need of some homeschooling materials by the end of the summer ($600)

A shake roof replacement
Not my actual roof.

So, what would you advise?

(1) Shall we abandon our well-intentioned, but naive attempt to shake off our dependence on debt?
(2) Shall we satisfy these immediate costs, and only then embark on a course of correction (admittedly, with a much higher debt load)?
(3) Shall we stick to our guns and refuse to go further into debt, even if our safety, our health and the value of our home may suffer as a result of deferring these expenses?
(4) Shall we take some drastic step (sell our house & move back to the country, change jobs, get a second job) rather than accept additional debt?
(5) If we do borrow money to get through these expenses, can I sneak in the purchase of a new computer, since it would be such a small proportion of the money borrowed? (Well, OK, I think I know the answer to that last question.) :)

Examining my heart, I really don’t know if these are smoke screens or not. Each of the expenses seems ‘necessary’, and my spirit quails at the prospect of abandoning the alternative of credit (I’m afraid I’ve leaned on credit too long). Do I just need to trust in God to provide for each in turn, or is this a case where I can’t reasonably expect God to bail me out from a series of bad decisions? After all, it isn’t God who borrowed money to acquire ‘stuff’, and who failed to save for these kind of expenses. The roof, for example, is certainly not unexpected — we’ve known since we bought this house that we needed to replace it. Is it reasonable to live for years beyond my means, and then, suddenly, when I finally get the courage to change, to expect God to save me from the consequences of my misconduct?

Climbing out of debt
She makes climbing look so easy …

These are serious questions. I value the wisdom and encouragement of the many responses we received from the first blog, and I’m hoping that some of you will take a few more minutes to offer your insight.


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27 thoughts on “Smoke Screen Stewardship Questions”

  1. First premise of course is that in tithing and giving (obedience to God) you will always be provided by (for your needs at the very least) by a loving God.

    In our relationship we have a spender (me) and a saver (Elizabeth). It is of course much worse when there are 2 x spenders, but . . . the check and balance of clearing purchases through the other partner is a part of it. We always spend more when I make unilateral spending decisions (usually ordering something on the internet or when traveling by myself). You might want to consider drastic purchasing changes: Always require both partner concurrence in purchases over $100; or wait minimum of 24 hours on purchases over $100 to get rid of impulse purchases.

    Also remember God’s promise to reward faithfulness and bless those who are obedient. You may find that in trying to conform spending to God’s priorities (good stewardship)–he may actually change your financial status to deal with those looming issues like roofs–or make you more accepting of living “down-scale”–in other words this might be a faith opportunity.

  2. Kudos for you in searching out God’s answer. we too are at the beginning of this debt elimination game. BTW- one thing helpful to us.. get the tapes from Dave Ramsey and listen to them when you feel like spending.

    Keep on getting back in the eliminate debt saddle–evry time you do it gets that much easier.

  3. Wow. Hard decisions. Rather than give my feeble advice, I’ll hope with you for better counsel than I can offer, and pray for wisdom for you, as our elder brother in NT times, James, encouraged. And who knows, but the Lord might miraculously extend the life of your roof or Kathy’s teeth, or arrange for great curriculum deals! Nothing is too difficult for our God.

  4. Hi Tim and Kathy,

    Honestly? I would not go into debt for any purpose.

    If you have two vehicles, I would sell one car…and apply the proceeds to maintaining the family vehicle. (Ouch, that hurts. I know from experience.)

    If you can’t afford a roof and you really need a roof…like yesterday, then I might say you should sell the house and move to something less expensive. But $14,000.00 is a steep price for a roof. Can you find someone to do it for less? I paid $3000.00 for mine about four years ago.

    I would also examine my life for wants and necessities. It’s amazing how much money you can find if you just decide to avoid wants, while allowing necessities.
    It’s important to evaluate what effects your desires have on the family budget. It’s also an interesting exercise because you might find out that you have idols in your life. Coffee is one of mine. If I could give up my coffee and creamer each month I would save $32.00 a month. Savings. Gosh, I think I might of have just convinced myself. Hmmm….maybe not.

    I’m praying for you!

  5. Dave Ramsey likes to say “You’ll need to eat rice and beans, beans and rice.” He means it! You ARE talking about making a major transition in your lives. You need to look at EVERYTHING you spend. Every penny. Clothes – do yard sales and 2nd hand. Food – choose inexpensive meals and no eating out. Health – defer things that can be defered. Waiting on an implant for a year is no big deal, but waiting on a root canal in an abscessed tooth is a terrible idea.

    If you go after EVERYTHING carefully, you should find that you can afford necessities like home school materials (try to buy used) and car repairs (although maybe not everything is as critical as the brakes?).

    Your budget buster item is the roof. Usually even a bad roof can be repaired inexpensively (a few hundred) to carry it over for one more year. Can you do that? Also, $14K sounds awfully expensive for a new roof. I had a friend who recently had his done for $6-7K.

    Both of you should read all the way through Dave Ramsey’s book before you start this – it will help you see the big picture. We are not talking about a temporary fix to pay down your credit cards – we are talking about a whole new way of life. To quote Dave Ramsey again, you need to “live like no one else so you can (later) live like no one else.”

  6. We are in a similar bind. I had over $300 in our checkout cart with the recent Vision Forum sale, but it would have to be on a CC. I chose not to do it and it hurt for me and the kids. It takes guts and will power.

    As far as your upcoming expenses, here is a go at it:
    1. Set up an HSA or FSA for your family. It can be used for health expenses.
    2. See if you can negotiate the prices from your dentist or pay monthly without interest.
    2. Car repairs: call around, see if there is an automotive school willing to do it for a fraction, or see if you know anyone that knows how to do brakes and is willing to not only help you, but also train your boys too.
    3. Homeschool books: Look at the Library first or look at used book fairs, or contact those within your homeschool group to see if they would be willing to “loan” you some of the more expensive books that are needed.
    4. Roofing: If not, call around and compare. See if people are willing to give discounts and then go to others and have them compete for your business. With the economy, if people know that you are “shopping” around other companies, they will be willing to match prices. We did this for our son’s braces. We went to 5 different orthodontists. We saved about $500 after handing a price quote. Oh, make sure you get every quote in writing too.
    5. Prioritize what you need first and start saving for it. Some things cannot be avoided but some things can be put off. In our journey, it has been difficult to say no, but we know what our goals are. After spending $1800 on a transmission 7 mos ago, then a couple of months ago $1300 on seals, then $300 on brakes (that is why I said shop around), for a car with 177,000 miles that is worth about $2,000, it was SO incredibly tempting to buy a newer one but we didn’t have a downpayment and it would require another monthly payment. The van is paid for and we knew putting forth money for repairs was much much better than paying for a newer one.

    Also Dave has a free 7 day trial on his website. That might help you too. You can also try to call one of his Local ELP’s.
    God Bless and Good Luck!
    Beth in GA

  7. My husband and I have been up, waaay up and have been below down. Being below down is no way to live, but it did help me to understand a few things.

    One of the first things I learned is – I don’t need it. I don’t. I don’t need the new shirt, the pair of shoes, that cute dishtowel, the chips, the magazine, etc. I don’t need it.

    The second thing I learned is that I have stuff in my house that I can sell & stuff I can give away. I gave away books and clothing and sold knick knacks and long forgotten hobby material. I sold chairs and dolls and gave away make-up and paint.

    The third thing I learned was that there is time in my day to have another job. Dave Ramsey talks a lot about Pizza delivery – it is amazing what those guys can make a few nights a week. (My husband did just that – became a pizza delivery man 5 nights a week in our case) An extra job, one evening a week is worth the time, the energy, the effort and the valuable teaching experience it is to your whole family – “This is what we have to do to pay for our past spending.”

    Finally I learned that that I could afford anything I wanted, but I chose not to have it now or would enjoy that later. I rarely if ever said I couldn’t afford it. The law of attraction comes to play here – I always have enough and I am open to receiving more.

    My Novel is almost over. My husband had a Liver Transplant two years ago. We sold our house, sold our cars, sold furniture, sold a business, sold everything we could to raise the money to move and pay for the expenses of the procedure and for us to live while he was recovering. Changing our lives was easy when faced with his urgent medical needs, but had we done things differently & saved more, been in debt less, we wouldn’t have had to sell nearly everything in a matter of weeks. That is a stress no one needs.

    Change your habits now. Do one thing this week, do two things next month, but change your thinking and you will change your life.


  8. I have no advice, but boy do I understand this! We just paid nearly $4000 altogether for my dd’s implant (and all 4 wisdom teeth removed). I have 5 other children who need to see an orthodontist and/or dentist. I don’t see us ever getting ahead because just as we pay one thing off, we’ll just be tackling another expense. Although dh and I have never had good spending habits and have always seemed to live paycheck to paycheck, we have never fought about money, so I am grateful for that. I would LOVE to see finances NOT be a major source of my stress though. I’ll have to come back to your blog to read any advice you may receive.

  9. The SHS email list sent me here :)

    First, the roof must be fixed before more costly damage occurs. I would choose to move to the country, if I could! Or refinance the house at a lower interest rate and shorter term. Fix the roof and the brakes with equity that you take out I skipped the implants, but since you’ve started, you might have to finish. To buy more stuff, I sell the stuff I already have – the lower resale value reminds me not to spend so much money. To buy a new computer, I would work an extra job. I would pay off a $1000 on a credit card and save that for emergencies until the rest of the debt is paid off. Good Luck!

  10. While those items certainly do seem necessary (health, savings, roof over your head), there always those types of necessary expenses. If you were to wait to pay down debt until hafter making those purchases, you will probably find other things that need to be made exceptions as well.

    Okay, so that’s not very encouraging. Is there any middle ground, like paying out of pocket for some of the expenses and charging others? I don’t know much about managing a whole family’s finances (just mine are difficult enough!), but I see these kinds of things come in all the time (I work at a credit counseling agency, though I don’t do the counseling!).

  11. Hi Tim and Kathy,

    First of all, congratulations on your decision to DO something. That in and of itself is a big thing and right there, you will find that positive things start to happen.

    Regarding your upcoming expenses:
    1- talk to the dentist and see what kind of payment plan he might have to offer you.
    2- how badly do you need your roof? Now? A year from now? If it can be delayed for a bit, delay it. Our house hit 20 years this year. We need a new roof but we don’t yet NEED a new roof, kwim?

    For your Baby Emergency Fund, if you don’t already have it, use Ebay as a source of income. I sold a few things, like a pair of crocs and a season of Grey’s Anatomy and pulled in $120 painlessly.
    Let the kids pull some of their stuff together to hold a yard sale when it gets warmer. My kids are doing the same thing because they are already tired of being told no. LOL!

    Now to veer off for a moment (and I emailed Kathy about this): there are a lot of people, who by getting Gazelle Intense, can get a little bit freaky. Just by creating a budget (cause you sound like your spending was like ours- pretty free), you will find a LOT of money in there you didn’t know you had. Allow yourself a bit of money for blow. Allow yourself a bit of money to go out to eat a couple of times a month. You know? Don’t cut out every single pleasurable thing you do– just like a diet, if you go too far, you are destined to fall off the wagon at some point.

    DO start using coupons. I never did and now I feel stupid about that.

    Use the LLNOE message boards. They are a great source of encouragement and information.

    Best of luck to both of you. You will find that you will get competitive with the budget and it is actually kind of fun.


  12. Looks like you have some major praying to do. Isn’t it great to know that God knows our needs? He knows where we are, what we need, what we want and knows exactly the timing in which He needs to dish it out to us. I know I sound kinda ‘spiritually clique-ish’, but it IS true!

    Sometimes we get so focused on ‘but it’s so important for our safety or health or…’ that we forget God KNOWS that. Preaching to myself here.

    Anyway, about the advise questions….
    a) Abandon? NO WAY! I know you are most likely being silly with that question, but I’m answering seriously. :>) God is obviously working on a major issue with you and your family. This is a GOOD thing! Now don’t chicken out and not follow His lead.

    b) Uh, procrastinate? Isn’t this the ‘credit card’ mentality you are trying to kick? So not for that.

    c) My answer pertains to my opening comments. God KNOWS your health, safety, and house value issues. HE has an answer. And, it WILL be stressful, yet terribly exciting to see how HE is going to answer this for you. Keep us posted! HIS answer may be extremely unexpected or even weird. For instance, maybe HE wants you to live with only one vehicle for awhile or cut back on your comings and goings…with gas prices you’ll save that $600 VERY quickly in a month or so with doing something so simple as hiding the car keys to one of the vehicles or limiting the runs to this or that.

    d) Hmm. Only after fasting and praying and hearing from GOD (not necessarily from blog commenters). I am, as you know, fully in favor of country living and for taking drastic steps to get out of Satan’s hold (I view indebtedness as crippling our ability to give freely for God’s kingdom), so I might be bias in a response to this one.

    e) Borrow to get out of debt? Hmm. I vaguely remember doing this, I think, with one of our larger bills to get a lower interest rate. I think I, before getting married, transferred a huge credit card bill over to another company’s introductory rate and ended up “saving” huge because of the lower interest rate.
    …Patience, Tim, God knows you WANT a computer. He’ll decide if you NEED one…and when. :>) I’m am SO excited to see how God is going to play this out!

    God WILLINGLY ‘bails us out’ of ANY miry clay we manage to sink ourselves into. Can you imagine Him saying, “Sorry, guys, you really screwed up this time, you are SO on your own!” He may have to let you get extra muddy for awhile to get you to the point He wants you to be (like taking on a second job or sending the children out to mow lawns for the neighbors, etc.), but you know He always has your best interest at heart. Builds character, you know.

    Praying for a complete stronghold release,

  13. Wow, Kathy and Tim, it looks like everyone else has beaten me to the punch here! You do have some looming expenses, and they certainly all fall into the category of what Dave Ramsey calls “The Four Walls.” (Shelter, Food, Health, Transportation) That being said though, there are some wonderful answers to your questions in the other comments. I don’t have much more to offer you than encouragement… a few years ago after the boys had been born, we were in much the same situation. It takes hard work, determination, and a commitment to change your attitude about money and spending to reverse years of bad habits… and we’re still trying to figure out how to talk about money without getting into fights. (Admittedly, those fights are becoming fewer and less heated than they used to be the more we get a handle on our finances.)

    Above all, though, is the knowledge and comfort that God is in control. He loves you and will help you through this process. He may do some pruning in this process, which is painful, but He has you in the palm of His hand. Be faithful servants to God, and not to the lure of excess spending, and your needs will be met. (Wants may come later, but only after needs, if you really let God direct your steps.)

    May you find grace and peace as you go along this path. It isn’t easy, but it is necessary. I will be praying for you.

  14. Tim: Mom & I applaud your joint decision to move forward in this important area of your lives. You have asked the “world” for advice(through this blog) and I am pleased to see the number of responses that stress the things that I would say. Mom & I look forward to discussing some things with you and Kathy when we are with you this Sunday, so I won’t go into detail now. I thought the response of your big brother was “right on” and I concur.

    Regarding your roof. I agree with earlier comments – that’s too much. I know some local folks who could cut that in half. Then there is the ultimate saving on that project – having your Dad help you to do the roof yourself. I also agree that unless you are “shipping water” that expense can be deferred. Well, that’s it for now. More on Sunday. Love, Dad

  15. Wow!! That’s a lot of possible extra expenses. The roof sounds pricey. Have you shopped around for other roofers? Can it be repaired for less to hang on a few more years?
    I will pray that you find answers to these difficult decisions

  16. Tim,

    While I believe God will allow us to experience the consequences of our choices, whether those consequences be good or bad (BTDT), I do know He will enable us to persevere in the right decisions and to continue on through the hard times. Yes, it looks like you will have some very hard times, but I believe the blessing of being debt free will far outweigh the difficulties in achieving it. (As Dave Ramsey notes, you have the opportunity to change your family tree, as your children watch you and Kathy make the hard decisions that are necessary to get you to that point.)

    May God bless you through this. We will be praying for your family.

    Melanie in GA (from the SHS loop)

  17. Wow….lots of great advice that I will think about and use for us here. Glad that you were spurred on by our budget talks….. :p

    Tim/Kathy…..only one thing I have to offer. I’m sensing that the country is NOT where the Lord is calling you to. I’m certain. Fix the roof with your dad. Period.

    There is NO bias whatsoever to this comment.

  18. You have lots of tough choices to make it seems.

    This is what we have done.
    1. Prioritize- decide which things are necessary for our family’s health and well being.

    2. Pray- Ask God to show us His way and His timing on providing the things our family needs.

    3. Sell- Get rid of all the things in your life that are cluttering it up. Turn the things you no longer use or need into money. I resell the kid’s clothes that no longer work to buy shoes at the same resell shop. Hey, it works.

    4. Commit to a plan and stay with it for a set amount of time and then reevaluate. For us this is about every 3 months. I get really freaked out if I think something is forever- I loose motivation and have a hard time sticking to it.

    5. Ask God for your “daily” bread- it’s the little things that add up. We do our best to be frugal and see God even bringing more and more savings our way when we ask Him. He does give good gifts- like milk on sale for $.99 and a grant for my husband this summer. These things are precious to us because we know they are from the Lord’s hand. What a faith builder!!

    6. We work more as opportunities arise- we see this extra income as God’s provision as well. I might get called in to work for time and a half or my husband is offered a job helping someone move….

    Paying off debt and living within our means is so much more than saying “No” to everything we want. It is saying “yes” to what God gives freely and having room to breathe and live simply in this crazy world!

    Blessing to you and your family.

  19. Hi!!

    I applaud you for taking this on. What a blessing to your family this is now and for the future. It will also be a lesson to your children on handling the blessings that God has given us.

    Okay, on to the expenditures…

    Will insurance pay for the roof? Was it damaged? I also agree that that is just too much money to spend. We replaced the roof on the house we just left and for the 2000sq ft was around $6,000 for the materials. Then we had some friends come over and help us reroof it. We fed them and provided drinks. Is that an option for you? Do you know at least one person that knows how to roof?

    The Dentist! UGH.. we are going through that now. 1 dd has braces now and two more are going to need them in the next three years. We took the ‘loan’-payment plan really-through the office and pay extra when we can. My dental problems are waiting until this summer when we have saved for it. For now, my temporary filling has fallen out. I need a post put in the tooth and it is going to cost at least $600. It can wait a little longer.

    It is soo hard to wait on things that we need. You just have to ask yourself, do I want to keep living the way that I am? OR do you want the freedom of knowing that you owe no man and you are free from the hold money can have on you?

    It is a process. You just have to keep taking the steps in the right direction and keep trying.

    Research, ask questions, do it as a family. Get the kids involved in saving the money. Make it a goal to cut out one frivalous thing this month and see how much money you can save!

    We did that last summer and we saved $2000 in just two months just by not going to the grocery store more than once a week and not eating out. We eat out now, just once a week.

    Anyway, you have some really great advice. Just keep trying and praying and seeking God. He will answer you.

  20. You all have gotten some great advice. I am glad to see that most think you should keep the course regardless of the seemingly large expenses.

    Take your dad up on his offer and fix the roof yourself or look into a repair that will defer the cost until next year. $14,000 seems very high for a new roof.

    Take a basic car maintenance course at your local community college. You can save a ton on simple car repairs. Brakes are not hard to change. Barter with someone from church for computer services in exchange for the brake repair.

    While new homeschool material is great, we have gone years without buying much. We manage with what we have, use the library and the internet a ton. It is amazing what you can find free or for little cost. Hit the used curriculum sales that homeschool groups hold. If you must buy, search the used book sites or check with the SHS list. Maybe someone has what you need at a lower cost. Can you sell some of the homeschool material you aren’t using or don’t need to offset the cost?

    Look carefully at what you have around your home. Is there anything you can sell. Craigslist is a great place to sell items. This could bring in cash, plus help you declutter and free yourself of some of your material things. With Tim working from home regularly, do you need two cars?

    I look forward to following your progress.

  21. We are right there with you guys. And it stinks.

    Having the $1000 emergency fund is HUGE. It feels like such an accomplishment, and then it gives such assurance as well.

    We have done all sorts of things… selling stuff, picking up odd jobs, selling plasma, etc. We eat cheap meals, we wash clothes in cold water, etc., etc.

    I bet you BOTH have skills other people would love to pay you for… Tim with computer stuff, Kathy with kid stuff. I did a post similar to this and got several really good ideas. It was in November and called Money, Money, Money.

    God continues to give us our daily bread and more. He is even in the business of roofing, I hear. ;)

    Love and prayers!

    One place we’ve really cut back- and I don’t like it but it helps- is the kids’ clothes. I wish they looked cuter and more trendy. I wish they had church shoes. This year three of my girls don’t even own a dress or skirt. But it doesn’t seem to have impacted their life greatly. :)

    I bet it is WAY cheaper to live in Indiana. :)

  22. Tim and Kathy,
    First things first, we miss you! Second things second I emailed you directly! So I just wanted my name in internet history! We are praying for you in your endeavor! Look forward to a response and what God will do with willing servants!

  23. Tim and Kathy,

    We have been in your boat. We started there. By God’s grace…well what worked for us was selling our home and going into the chaplaincy. ::snort::

    Currently, we have to do some tweaking. This is basically my fault. When we moved, then Mike deployed….I didn’t adjust the budget quick enough….Mike was gone and didn’t see what was going on. Yes, he’s been back a year and we are JUST getting it all ironed out…..its tough to work on things like this….but it is good. Our big question continues to be “giving”. This is an area we are simply going to have to pray through. It can’t be “wise” to have no retirement and have given it all away….but we come from long lines of givers and God has ALWAYS provided for our parents….though we see now that it is through OUR paycheck that God is taking care of our folks’ retirment. It’s been a wake up call for us….we need to honor our parents, continue to give, provide for our children….and save for the future.

    All that to say that giving easy answers is difficult. We loved Ramsey’s principles but found we had to adjut for our reality. WE need considerably more for things like food, homeschooling and emergency fund than his budget allowed….but we need less for things like medical. I’ll be praying for you as you read, ponder, pray and “do something”. I sort of think the answers for each family will be a bit different than they are for other families.

  24. Hi Tim and Kathy!

    What fantastic support from everyone, especially your brother and Dad. Wow! Take up his offer to help teach you to do the roof yourself!

    Ronnica is spot on when she says, no point delaying till after the seemingly urgent expenses, because there will ALWAYS be things like this. That, my friends, is life.

    Are you sure you ‘need’ $600 worth of homeschooling stuff this summer? Can you not use free online resources, unit studies made up by you and Kathy or a literature-based curriculum where you borrow from the library everything you need? Can you not swap resources you already have with someone else locally? Just for this year? Of course, you want those resources to be able to home-school the way you’d like, but if you don’t have the money, and you don’t, then you need to look into other ways to home-educate, don’t you?

    Did you read all the verses in the Bible about money yet? Did you accept God’s opinion about debt yet? Debt ties you to a master who is not God. Debt prevents you from serving Him wholeheartedly. What is God’s will for your life? Is it ease, comfort, treats? Or perhaps it’s sacrifice, downsizing, taking joy in having and needing less.

    Oh dear, I’d better stop. I’m worrying about sounding ‘holier than thou’ again. I’m sooooo not that. {g} Struggling right along with you, maybe a step or two further down the track, hacking away with the machete.

  25. Tim,
    When Thom and I were paying off our CC debt, we kept two credit cards. One was in the case of emergencies and the other was an interest free credit card that we transferred our balances to. We would have to transfer to interest free credit cards whenever that incentive wore off. This can effect your credit but we found that having our CCs paid off made our scores increase.
    You can also use some quickbook applications to analyze where you spend the most and create a budget from there.
    Being on a budget is sooo hard at first but its really worth it. You always have enough for your bills and having that extra savings on the side makes it possible to meet emergency needs here and there. (Here’s hoping there aren’t any huge emergencies to come!)
    Good luck! YOU GUYS CAN DO IT!

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