it’s been over a month since we paid off our business in just two years. if you didn’t get a chance to read my previous blog about the crazy ways God provided and made it happen, do so before you continue on.
(insert “Jeopardy” theme)
now that you’ve read it, we’ve gotten a couple of comments/questions that boil down to:
1.) “well, God did provide but you are not giving yourselves enough credit.”
2.) “how did y’all do it?”
most have been ready to hear how much we sacrificed and how miserable those 2 years were. and though, yes, it was difficult at times, that’s not how it was overall.
1.) well, ultimately God did provide for us, because even though we were wise with our money (to the best of our ability and worked really hard to grow the business), He blessed the hard work and He answered our prayers that the business would grow. He also gave me the gifting and talent to work with people and teach not just kids, but adults at times as well.
2.) will take a little longer to answer:
no, we did not follow Dave Ramsey.
we’ve never been to a conference, taken a single class, or read one of his “books.” christa has literally listened to one podcast of his – and it was just a q&a. in the end, it did not settle well with us to spend $500 (that we didn’t have) to attend a 3 day conference about getting out of debt (that we very much had), or $80+ a piece (that we didn’t have) to go through financial “university.” though his methods are, in general, good and wise and has helped many people we know tremendously, it just wasn’t for us.
we made a budget and did our best to stick to it.
this is something we did before we bought the business because we talked about it in pre-marital counseling. we use mint.com because it’s (a) free and (b) it works for us. we don’t do a cash only budget, because frankly, it’s just inconvenient for us. when we bought the business, we re-worked our budget (many times), to fit certain needs.
we did make sacrifices, but nothing crazy.
-we did not eat peanut butter and jelly for lunch every day. we did not eat rice and beans for dinner every night, because it’s not worth sacrificing health to save 32 cents.
-we still went on dates every friday night, because that was non-negotiable for us. now, sometimes our dates were super cheap like the free nacho bar at Chuy’s and a movie at home, but hey-a date’s a date! other times we got to splurge and eat out and go to a movie.
-sometimes it was getting a $1.50 cup of coffee instead of a $4.25 latte.
-we didn’t get to go to all the musicals that were on tour and came into dallas (much to jonathan’s relief).
-even though anyone who has ever stepped foot into our tiny, one bedroom apartment knows that we needed more space, we stayed in it because our rent was cheaper than getting a two bedroom or renting a house (and that helped a TON).
-so yes, you do have to make sacrifices if you want to get out of debt. but you should identify your non-negotiables (realistic and reasonable) and work around those. after all a good marriage is worth way more than any debt.
sometimes you have to humble yourself and accept help (or ask for it).
this is the one we had most trouble with, and i think most people do. our culture is “the american dream,” aka “pull yourself up by your bootstraps.” don’t ask for help, don’t accept any charity, take pride in doing it all by yourself! but to be quite honest, this mentality goes against what Scripture teaches and how Jesus lived. yes, he worked. he was a carpenter. but during His ministry, he also accepted from others at times, even though he didn’t have to (remember that thing with the bread and fish? not to mention that time He made Ozarka into Pinot). he accepted a place to stay, food to eat, water to drink, among other things. but believers should live as if none of our belongings truly belong to us. not our money, not our possessions, not even our own lives. the early church in Acts lived in community with one another and shared everything. this teaches us that when you are struggling, even financially, it’s ok to accept help. we never asked for help, but we prayed for providence and this is how God provided for us at times – through the gifts of others. something we didn’t do was ask for help, which we probably should have done. there are many who have the gift of giving, and it brings them great joy to do so. this is also why it’s great that the church is diverse and the gospel transcends socioeconomic status, age, race, ethnicity, and culture. if we were all poor, we wouldn’t be able to help each other. if we were all single college students or young newlyweds, it just wouldn’t work. we can’t say we payed off the business “all by ourselves.” and that’s not a bad thing. not at all. it breeds gratitude.
lastly…it’s still important to give.
we know what it’s like when you are literally living from paycheck to paycheck. we know what it is like to have almost nothing in your bank account (or less than nothing). and it is in these times that it is so tempting to not give a dime, to justify you need every bit of money. but it’s so important to keep giving, even if it is literally a dime. in the same manner as accepting help as believers, Scripture is also clear that we have to give help even when we have little to nothing (to believers AND non-believers). this was hard for us too, not just in the sense of letting go of money, but we have incredibly missional friends. we have received letters over the past two years from dear people we love who packed up and moved overseas or went on short term trips. and we would have loved to have given to each of them, but we could only choose a couple and we could give them very little, but we prayed and did research about where they were going, what they would be doing, who they would be working with, met with them and felt like that was who we were to give to for the time being, and gave them what we could. and we can’t express to you the joy we get each month when we receive emails or facebook updates on how the Lord is using them. we both sponsored Compassion kids before we got married, and that never stopped during our time in debt. so even if you are in debt, you can and should still spare a little to give because it honors the Lord.
so that’s how we did it. but at the end of the day, the Lord has been good to us. and even if we were still paying for the business now, He would still be good to us because He has given us Jesus, and in the end, He is all we need.