Archive | February, 2013

Another Step!

25 Feb

I’ve had a great couple of weeks!

I had the opportunity to visit with my friends Vince and Lora last weekend. It was a fun trip! We hit a local burger spot known as Ferrell’s Burgers that I plan on making a regular part of my visits now.
I also got to eat some good home cooking. Lora is one heck of a cook! On Sunday I went to the church that Vince and Lora pastor. It’s always good to hear Vince speak, and Lora actually joined him for a little Q&A session. I really enjoyed that! On Monday, we all went to a local German restaurant, and then I headed home. It was a great weekend!

This weekend, I was able to pay off my first loan! I gotta say: IT FELT GREAT!!! I shared the good news with a couple of people who I knew would rejoice with me, and I plan on sharing with my accountability partner via a homemade thank you card! On to the next loan!

We received some disappointing news at work last week. The Undersecretary of Defense, Robert Hale, recommended a government furlough. If this furlough takes place, all government employees will lose a day’s pay and work for 22 weeks or until a budget solution is met. If you would like to read more about the furlough, please read here. Obviously, a chance at losing pay had me reevaluate my budget and my finances. While not optimal, I will be okay if a furlough is imposed. My debt snowball will be on hold, but God’s plan for me won’t!

It will be some time before I report on my next debt being paid down. I’m still going to plug away at my plan and will adjust accordingly for any bumps in the road!

FPU starts next week. I can’t wait!

What plans will you make to accommodate any changes to your finances?


Deuteronomy Promise

23 Feb

I really love this scripture from Deuteronomy. What a wonderful promise from God.

The Lord will command the blessing upon you in your barns and in all that you put your hand to, and He will bless you in the land which the Lord your God gives you. The Lord will establish you as a holy people to Himself, as He swore to you, if you keep the commandments of the Lord your God and walk in His ways. So all the peoples of the earth will see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they will be afraid of you. The Lord will make you abound in prosperity, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your beast and in the produce of your ground, in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give you. The Lord will open for you His good storehouse, the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand; and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. (Deuteronomy 28:8-12 NASB)

A Final Tally

20 Feb

ImageWell, income tax has come and gone.  Overall, I am pleased with how I handled things, but I sure did fall back into my old habits.  I handled most of my money pretty well, but there was some spending that occurred that shouldn’t have. Each dollar should have had a purpose, and I allowed some of my dollars to just be spent. 

I won’t go into specific details about how much I spent that I shouldn’t have.  I did make a final tally for myself, which is something I’ve never done before. I also reminded myself what I could have done with that money, which is a reminder I desperately need! I think it would have been okay for me to spend some of the money for fun, although my Financial Accountability Partner (FAP) had a different idea.  If I wanted to have spending money, I should have designated a set amount, instead of spending whatever I wanted.  I knew how much I needed to set aside for this expense or for that need.  I have done a better job of sticking to my budget, but I made the mistake of not budgeting every dollar of my income tax.  My FAP asked me when I was going to get back on the wagon.  I told her I was forced to get back on the wagon because my discretionary money has been spent.  I think we’re both relieved!

I’m still amazed at what God does – even if we fall short.  I have been in desperate need of a new pair of running shoes and knew I didn’t want to spend my income tax on it.  I was talking with a friend of mine who offered to help me buy some new shoes.  It was a totally unsolicited offer, and I couldn’t be more grateful.  I can’t wait to run in them!

I did run a 5k last Monday.  I ran it in 30:19, which is 3:00 faster than my first 5k.  My goal after my first 5k was to get below 30:00.  I’m much closer than I expected, especially considering I didn’t train like I wanted to.  I have a couple of 5k races scheduled this year and plan to run in a 10k this summer.  I will keep you posted on my results on the 5k races, and I will also update you on my training for the 10k.  I plan on adding a “racing fee” line on my budget.  Woohoo!

I also received an offer to attend Financial Peace University.  Some awesome people I know offered to sponsor me!  I’m excited to learn more about how to handle my finances.  I think it will be very beneficial to me as I continue to climb this mountain.  I’ve been at the bottom of the mountain for a long time.  I want to get to the peak!  I start my classes on March 4.  I am sure I will have some blog fodder from the classes.  

My main problem with my finances is my spending mindset.  I’ve shared this fact with you before, and it is still a struggle for me.  No class will help with this problem.  What will help is prayer, and a continued effort to shift my focus.  I make my bed to remind myself every morning how important it is to spend correctly.  I listen to Dave Ramsey podcasts to shift the way I think about money, and now I am ready for Financial Peace University!  I will continue to work on this area of my life, until I get it right, and then I will work on it some more!

So, I didn’t handle things perfectly these last two weeks.  But I did improve on bad habits.  I should have some good news coming up in the next couple of weeks, and I am sure I will have plenty to report from Financial Peace University.  Here’s to a new two weeks!

Stand Beside

15 Feb

I attended a youth conference once, and the speaker talked about worship and how it can impact the people around us. He said that when you worship the Lord, someone beside you might be impacted, and their worship might increase.

I wonder if that is true in other facets of our lives? If I were to stand beside someone who is financially fit, would my financial fitness increase? I would like to think so. I certainly long to have the financial discipline that I see in others. And iron does sharpen iron (Prov 27:17).

We do have to allow ourselves to be sharpened. If we stand beside someone but run every time the iron comes out, we won’t be sharpened. I don’t know about you, but I want a diamond financial mindset. I want it to cut glass!

We don’t need to totally rely on others to sharpen us or to stand beside us. God had given us others for a reason. He said that it’s not good for man to be alone. So, He gives us others to help. But, God is always with us and beside us. “I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me (Psalms 16:8 NLT).”

I have a few people that stand beside me in regards to my finances, some more closely than others. A couple of years ago, I would have run at the sight of iron. Now, I find myself running toward it! And I think about the iron when I get ready to spend. It’s so helpful to me now. How fortunate I am to have people that I trust to sharpen me! I want to continue to walk with those who are wise! “Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.” (Proverbs 13:20 NLT)

If you find yourself requiring sharpening, find an iron and make yourself available. The results are priceless.

Who do you allow to sharpen you? How do you allow yourself to be sharpened?


Big Steps

7 Feb

If you’ve been to my blog before, you know I’m walking trough the Dave Ramsey plan right now. I started this blog as I started this plan, and I am happy to report that I have made it to Baby Step 1, which is my emergency fund.

I am so excited because I’ve always struggled with saving money. It was so important to me to have a firm goal in mind when I decided to start this plan. I’ve made goals to save before and always faltered for one reason or another. The firm goal was a big help.

As I got closer to the goal, I became more excited. And I wanted to find ways to get there faster. My snowball was building momentum! I started trimming other areas of my spending and changing some of my spending habits so I could put that money towards my emergency fund. It actually started to become fun!

A challenge for me at the beginning of this process was how I handled the money in my envelopes. If there was money left in one of those envelopes, I would spend it on me. Now, I am trying to spend less than that envelope because I want to put that money towards my snowball!

I have to thank my financial accountability partner here. We will call her “Courtney.” She’s challenged me and encouraged me through this whole process. I have immense respect for her and the way she handles her money. She is humble and gracious, and I owe her a debt (pun intended) of gratitude for all her help. Of course, I’m not going to pay her to make up for it! And she wouldn’t want me to anyway! So, I will thank her here instead!

I’m on to the second step and the first debt. By my calculations, I should have that paid off soon. Check back soon for details! I will keep you posted!

What methods do you use to keep yourself motivated to save? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

Challenge Accepted

4 Feb

What an interesting and challenging couple of weeks I’ve had! I have had three unexpected financial needs come up. Thankfully, I’ve had the money to pay for them, but it has been a little disheartening.

The money that I used was actually my tax refund. I blogged earlier about how I would spend that return. It’s a good thing I didn’t make too many plans, as I had to spend the money in a few ways I didn’t expect. How disappointing! But, I would’ve been able to take care of those expenses anyway because of the money that I had saved.

The bumps in the road did remind me of how far I am from where I want to be financially. And I still struggle with how I spend my money. This past weekend, I bought some things for my dog and also bought something for myself. I probably shouldn’t have, but I did. I also turned away from several opportunities to spend money, including a 50% off sale at my favorite thrift store! So, I need to focus on the positive decisions that I made and reflect on the negative as a learning point.

I have to be honest: that money was and still is burning a hole in my pocket! I want to do so much with it, but now it’s drained to the point that I can’t do anything with it anyway. I’ve used it for practical purchases pretty much, with just a few dollars spent on “fun.” I want to be careful with how I spend because if I let myself go on a spree, I may reinforce my spending habits and lose the focus that I’ve gained. Trust me – this has happened before!

My prayer is that I will continue to spend in a way that glorifies God. I want to spend pragmatically. Right now, I don’t have money to spend on anything else. That continues to be my struggle. It’s MY money, after all!

For the most part, not having a ton of spending money doesn’t feel like a burden anymore. It’s actually exciting to think about where I can put that money and what I can do with it. The baby steps work, people!!! But, old habits die hard, and I still want to spend some money!!! I’m just thankful for my friends who hold me accountable, and especially my God, who wants to see me become all He has created me to be.

So, tomorrow is a new day. I can honestly say that I’m pleased with the progress I’ve made so far. I still have a lot of work to do, but I am still excited about this process. I’m thankful for my personal cheering section; it’s kept me on track. I will keep you posted on my spending habits.

How do you handle bumps in your life (financial or otherwise)?

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