My husband and I have felt God leading us to pay off our debt for some time. But He has clearly indicated that we are to do it His way and not the world’s way. We have no budget but instead keep a balance of cash in the bank, a cushion against bouncing checks. Yes, we have tried a budget but as I have mentioned before neither of us is good at focusing on it, it makes us both very stressed and cranky, and it holds us back in the area of giving (give freely so that one hand doesn’t know what the other hand is doing is a constant cry from my heart.) I realize that every single money ministry out there explains how to do this with a budget but it doesn’t work for us and God has made that VERY clear to us. So, that is where we are, paying extra on one big debt at a time (we have already paid off Rachel’s hospital bills both from her birth and from her hospital stay and ambulance trip a few years ago, as well as my husbands doctors bills and the car and hope to pay off the new windows and continue to pay down my college loan in the next six months), and keeping a small cushion in the bank with a home equity line to back us up in an emergency.
God has taught us a lot about ourselves and how He wants us to manage our money in the meantime, blessing us when we are keeping our eyes on Him and trusting, and withholding funds and sending us multiple emergencies when we start relying on ourselves and our “plan” (not all the emergencies are warnings, but some of them clearly have been). Because we have a base salary that is stable (my husband’s work) that pays ONLY for the basics and minimum payments and rely on extra incomes from both of us for paying down debt and treats it is very clear when we are moving in the right direction. 🙂
Having said all that, this weekend was an interesting experience money wise. One of the reasons my husband said to go is that we had paid the entire months bills and knew how much money was in the bank. (This is one of our trouble areas–putting off paying bills.) We knew how much we had left and that in the coming month my husband would be starting a third paying gig, which would allow us to pay down one of our debts completely in a few months, but which also meant he had to spend some money up front (for those who don’t know my husband is a work-at-home programmer, plus runs a well-read blog, and makes web-comics–which starting next month he will get PAID for. Woohoo!!!! Since he uses screen shots for his images it means purchasing games to make fun of. :)) This is where things always get financially crazy for us. We have a habit of counting our chickens before they hatch and jumping in with both feet. This time was better than others and the Lord checked us at the perfect time. Literally.
As I mentioned before He kept me from leaving Monday as I had planned. Instead I picked up groceries at Trader Joes (money I knew we had and had planned to spend on groceries already), we had a big storm, and I had a dead battery. I decided to hang out on Tuesday and spent some time online at CJ’s work, checking my email, feed, and blog. At one point I had nothing that needed done and I felt prompted to check our bank balance. Praise the Lord!!!! There was our bank account, with several items pending, which in one hour would have taken our account into the red and would start the snowball of bank fees. I was able to immediately transfer funds from two other accounts–one to pay off all that needed paid, the second to give us a cushion until I could get home (I knew that two checks were on their way which would more than replace the cushion).
God is SO GOOD! Not only did He bless the trip and make sure that I had enough cash for all I needed, including gas and groceries, but He protected us from a huge crash that would have ruined much of the work we had put into saving and paying off debt. We didn’t accrue a single bank fee, everything went through, and nothing bounced. Had I ignored the prompting to check our balance for even one hour, we would be in a very different financial place right now.
The interesting thing about this is knowing that we are doing things the way God has led us to do them–which is very different from the world’s way or even other Christians’ way.
Yesterday this was brought home to me clearly as we sat listening to two sales men try to convince us to “buy it now” and “lock in this awesome price, $2,000 off our normal price”. As you might know by now our house has issues. Big issues. Lots of them. We are not very good at dealing with these issues except in a piece meal do-it-yourself sort of way and my husband wanted to see what this company (who did our windows) would offer us for the job. My husband’s idea was to find out how much it would cost to get the work done after we paid off the next big debt. They wanted to lock us in now and he would have none of it. (I am so proud of him–it was very tempting).
A lot of what they said made sense from a worldly point of view. However, the factor they were missing was God. We are trusting God, our Jehovah Jireh, to protect us and to help us pay for each job in His timing. This was not His timing, this was THEIR timing (they kept calling asking if they could come out.) The two salesmen were flabbergasted that we didn’t jump at their offer. In fact, one of them said that in all his years of doing this he had NEVER seen anyone turn such an offer down. We know that God will protect us and He will provide the funds when the time is right.