I know this isn't a video, but today I wanted to share something that I think is, in many ways, more deeply uplifting than the Mormon Messages I've been sharing lately. I want to share a little today about debt management.
Admittedly, I'm terrible at math. Terrible. You know how I feel about even trying to calculate seam allowances. But being good and wise about budgeting and debt elimination has more to do with commitment and good choices than it does to do with math.
Bryan and I have worked hard throughout our lives and throughout our marriage to live frugally. Even though we just moved into a nicer home and bought a lot of new furnishings, we planned for this in many ways, including all the yard sales we had before we moved. I am thrilled to report that we haven't yet gone outside our budget as we've bought new things for our home. Sitting down and doing the budget and knowing that brought me by far more peace and happiness than the nice things we've bought.
Though I do want to take a moment aside here and mention that very little of what we've bought for our new place has been brand new. Most of it we've carefully selected from thrift stores, Craig's List, yard sales, and the like. And the few things that we have bought brand new have been much cheaper than name brand alternatives. Come on, folks, a $6 toaster is perfectly adequate.
Still, in all our careful planning and frugality, the hard fact of professional student life is that our life right now costs more than our current earnings. And that brings on debt.
I think on the surface some of us feel differently about debt than others. Some people hate it and shy away from it. Some people embrace it as a key to open new worlds of opportunity. And some people--most of us I think--use it out of real or imagined need and then try our best to pretend it's not there. But of course pretending it's not there doesn't make it go away.
Bryan and I are in the midst of making some important financial decisions. And even though Bryan's taken business and accounting courses and we've both taken university courses on family finance, we can still use all the help and wisdom we can get. Good finances are always important, but having a family just makes them that much more vital. I'm sure you all know what I mean.
In this month's Ensign there's a fairly short, but very practical article on debt elimination. (You can read the article HERE.) We have a pile of magazines sitting on the back of the toilet in our downstairs bathroom and it just so happened (Haha--I'm laughing to myself as I wrote that. Of course it didn't "just so happen." It's so easy to see Heavenly Father's hand in our lives.) that Bryan and I both read that article on debt elimination within a day or two of each other. When I mentioned the article to Bryan and he said that he had already read it, we began to talk (again) about our upcoming financial decisions. It was another helpful place to start.
Then today I was looking at the article again and I noticed in the fine print at the end that there's a radio interview with the author available online. (You can listen to it HERE.) It's about 30 minutes long, which is a nice little bit of listening, I think, for a Sunday afternoon or evening. :) Bryan and I just finished listening to it and I must say that it was very good. I especially appreciated the way the interview covered going into debt for higher education (i.e. college degrees). Usually the idea of going into debt for college gets lumped in with the "it's okay to go into debt for these things" category and little more is said on the subject. But that wasn't the case in this interview. They talked about when it might be more wise to take time off from school and work to save money for the next semester. They talked about higher paying jobs that are more surely available right after graduation versus those that aren't a guarantee. As I listened I couldn't help wishing I had heard these wise words back when I was still in school. Let's juts say that having a degree in Home and Family Living doesn't exactly bring home the bacon.
Still, in spite of it's "what kind of job am I supposed to get with this?" nature, I did learn a lot in my field of study. And one of the things I learned over and over again is that money and our stewardship of it plays a huge role in our happiness in life. Managed well, it can bring real peace. Mismanaged, it can bring real fear and acute contention. This is something all of us can attest to.
Bryan and I are going to continue to work toward our financial goals. And the links I've listed above have already helped us a lot as we think about the decisions we need to make. I know that finances and budgeting and debt are words we all cringe about, but I hope you've been able to feel the peace of the Spirit as I've shared my thoughts on it today. Debt can trap us. But Heavenly Father will always work with us to bring us into financial freedom.