Budgets and Blessings

Learning to save ... We’re more than three weeks into our new budget plan, and it seems to be going fairly well. With only a week left, I’m actually looking forward to the end of the month, hoping we’ll come in under our budgeted amounts in some of the categories.

We decided to wean ourselves from credit card use, with the exception of online purchases. The first time I had to fill up my car sans credit, I found myself staring stupidly at the gas pump; I didn’t know what to do. As it turns out, I’ve never bought gas with a debit card – I’ve always used credit (or cash, back in high school). Since my debit card can also work as a credit card, I have to be careful – I don’t want any surprises at the end of the month.

Kathy does almost all of the recording on our handy budget spreadsheet, whenever we spend money. “It’s kind of fun,” she claims. I can’t see how that could be, but leave it to my Kathy to find a positive angle. “It is cool to get control over our finances,” Kathy insists.

Kathy and I are in full agreement ...

Personally, I don’t see much fun in it. I chafe under the restriction of the budget, a lot more often and a lot more sharply than I thought I would. Kathy hoards her grocery and household money, but I don’t really have any category that I can manage except for “Tim’s Unaccountable”, which is my monthly cash allowance. So many of our expenses are fixed or outside our immediate control … it makes me sad.

these money issues are killing me

Daniel can’t handle the stress of the new budget.

One of the factors which made it scary and difficult for us to start this budget plan was a series of unexpected expenses that threatened to overwhelm us. It has been interesting to see how God is dealing with that, especially since we were nearly deterred from our budget plan altogether. As I constantly remind myself, “without faith, it is impossible to please God.” How foolish we would be if we let our fears rule our hearts, instead of trusting in our Father, who loves us.

Expense Expected Cost Actual Cost
Kathy’s Root Canal $1200 $274
Tim’s Implant $1800 $1280
Lawn Mower $175 $155
New Roof $11,000 Still unknown, but there seems hope that a cheaper alternative may emerge.
Brakes for Kathy’s car $600 Deferred until May
Homeschooling Materials $600 Deferred

I'd love to put a metal roof on our house ...
Not our actual roof …

Since we started budgeting, we’ve had an influx of cash and the promise of cash. First, our income tax refund was larger than anticipated and arrived much earlier than expected. Next, we found that we’ll qualify for the maximum stimulus tax rebate, to be paid out in the third week of May. Out of the blue, I received a letter from my uncle, informing me of a small inheritance from my grandmother’s estate, likely to be disbursed some time this Spring. Finally, just today I received notification of my company’s quarterly bonus (it usually amounts to a week’s extra pay) to be paid out in early May.

David is swimming in big bucks

In the tub there are no worries.

It is good to be reminded how much God loves us and cares for us. While I don’t expect God to open the windows of heaven every month, it is comforting to see that God is master of the “just in time” inventory philosophy. We’ve been able to meet our immediate needs and to begin to save toward a new roof, something I thought for sure would place us further into debt.

Windows of Heaven
Not that we’d mind having the windows of heaven open every month …

I don’t really have any excuse for being fearful about money. God has taken good care of our family, time and time again. I’m a little embarrassed to have to learn this lesson all over again.

Paying off the debt ... I’m planning, if I can find the time, to create a sidebar graphic that will display our progress, month over month, in reducing our debt. I’m not going to post how much we owe, but I think I’ll show the percentage reduced, so you can encourage us, hold us accountable, and perhaps be encouraged in turn. We’re in this for the long haul this time, unlike previous flash-in-the-pan budgetary attempts. I’m hereby publicly committing to a minimum of six months of sticking to our budget. I know that may seem pretty lame to some, but for Kathy and me, it is a big commitment, so please bear with us.

Thank you to the many readers who commented on the last two money-related blog entries – we have been blessed and delighted with the quality and quantity of godly advice and encouragement many of you have offered.

Project 366 – Day 115

Share or follow

Related posts:

16 thoughts on “Budgets and Blessings”

  1. Stay the course, guys! It’s great to hear how God is encouraging you already. When those heavenly windows don’t seem to pour out extra goodies, may you remain faithful, remembering our Father will always be faithful to you. You WILL be blessed! Your encouragments encourage the rest of us, too.

  2. I think a 6 mos commitment is a long time but one that will hopefully become a habit that will stick throughout time.
    We are preparing to return to the States after two years of living overseas. Currently we get a free place to live with no elec, water, gas, sewer, garbage or cable bills….. plus we get a COLA. In less than two months we will no longer receive the COLA plus the housing allowance we will be given won’t cover the mortage plus utilities mentioned above. We will have to tighten our belts esp with college on the horizon for our eldest in 2009

  3. Sure would be nice to be self-sufficient…until we realize how much better God is at caring for our needs.

    His blessings are much more evident when our needs are obvious.
    I’m waiting on the edge of my seat to hear about your roof. We’ve had a roof nightmare (which was only a nightmare because we were broke) early in marriage, and it just makes me wish someone would invent an indestructible roof that lasts forever.

  4. The tone of this post is so different from the last two. You seem at peace. Of course that doesn’t make the task less overwhelming, I’m sure, but God is at work beside you. It has always been amazing to us how God seems “just in time” with financial help when in fact we can see how He has already gone before us to meet a need we didn’t even know that we had. You are in for an amazing and rewarding journey. Thanks for sharing it.

  5. Yay for the first month on the EMSP (Edgren Modified Spending Plan). Distant cousin of the TMEP and KMEP (Tim or Kathy’s Modified Eating Plan) :)

    It is encouraging to all of us to have you share how the Lord has been faithful to you as you desire to be faithful with what He has given you.

    It may not look the same every month, but the windows of heaven are open to you every month. Sometimes we just need to ask the Lord to open our eyes to see it, no?

    Love you Edgrens!

  6. Good job! Looks like you two are serious about freeing the bonds of debt! Be careful of those unexpected bonuses…there is a small discouragement than can slip in after they are gone or not pouring in…kinda like losing 5 pounds and then plateauing. Don’t subconsciencously expect them. Keep up the good work! Pray about and use those bonus surprises wisely.
    Many Blessings,

  7. Hi -

    I’ve gone back through your budgeting posts as we started doing the same in January. I am happy to report we’ve now knocked out all out credit with the exception of a home mortgage (which is going to increase in a couple of month – we are moving).

    I recntly saw a video from liquidchurch that I thought would be good to share – it touches on what many have already commented on — look at Part 3 of the Brand New You series:

    I have to do some more tweaking in mine as I have been in payoff mode and haven’t even started thinking about savings.
    Good luck sticking to the budget.

  8. Great job!! What a blessing to your hearts that God would encourage you in this way. You are a doing a great thing for yourselves, your children, and the future generations of your family.

    And, no, it is not lame to strive for 6 months-that IS a long time to make this kind of change. Keep striving for the goal and keep your eyes on God.


  9. Kathy,

    First of all, your blog is BEAUTIFUL! Can I have it? Wowoweeee!

    Secondly, your budgeting ideas are great! Can I have them? LOL! Seriously, I think I’ll talk to my husband about the debit-only idea. This weekend, I’ll get up a working monthly budget – I haven’t done that for years!

    Thanks for motivating me!

  10. Way to go! Seeing exactly what things cost and where your money is going is always a huge eye opener.

    Just a quick comment on the brakes. You may already be aware of what I’m going to write here but your family is doing such a great job with the budget so just in case you’re not so car savvy….
    If the brakes need to be replaced and have not started to or are still squealing then you may be OK to hold off a tiny bit longer (emphasis on the ‘tiny’). But once the squealing goes away you could be adding to your expenses. Manufactures build something into the pad to warn you that they are getting low by squealing. Once the squeal goes away the pad is gone and you are now applying metal to your rotors each time you brake.
    If this goes on long enough – even as short as a few days – you may wear grooves into your rotors and they will need to be replaced in addition to the brake pad.

  11. Congratulations on your commitment to sticking to your budget. My husband and I just graduated from Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, and I have to say that in addition to helping us with our finances, our marriage is stronger and healthier than it was before. Keep up the good work… we’re praying for you.

  12. Congrats on staying the course. My hubby got on board with Dave Ramsey & has been dragging me along with him ever since. ;-) We are within a year of paying off all our debt. It’s very hard but so worth it in the end. Thanks for putting yourself out there with this. I’m sure it’s a huge encouragment to many – including myself! :-)

  13. I know what you need so you never have to replace a roof again; Welsh Slate.

    Slate or tile roofs are the norm here and they NEVER need replacing. Ours is 60 years old (tile) and our last, 120 year old, home had never had its (slate) roof replaced. Why do you guys put temporary roofs on your homes? It was the same in Canada. We were astonished when we were told ours needed replacement after 15 years.

    Maybe that’s a business opportunity for you guys? A forever-roofing company?

  14. just got back from our weekend away,so good for hubby and i to reconnect. so i’m now getting caught up on your blog. i’m so happy that you have seen God at work. yes, He does triumph at last minute intervention. and that reminder that we cannot please Him without faith is so appreciated.

    why do we fear over finances? i’m not sure, except that we see our sorry lack of self sufficiency when we are in a pinch. but that just reminds us to remember it is not the goal to be self sufficient, but to be dependent on God. He feeds the sparrows and clothes the lillies. finances and health problems do me in, but God allows me to relearn these lessons over and over. i figure if my life can be a testimony to God’s faithfulness and goodness then my life is glorifying Him and maybe will further His kingdom.

    blessings to you guys, and thanks for being transparent,
    gail in idaho

Comments are closed.