Sunday, July 10, 2011

Debt Freedom

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.


Kathy Haynie said...

Mark and I read that article, and we were inspired by it, too. We made some changes to our budget based on the article. I know that you and Bryan will be thoughtful in making the best decisions for your family.

The first summer Mark and I were married, he couldn't find work. I was in school full time, and he was home full time with all you kids. We were very frustrated at the time, but now we realize that Heavenly Father knew we needed that bonding time with you kids.

Kathy Haynie said...

PS - I'm able to read your blog today thanks to free wifi from Wyoming. Yes, that's right...I'm at a rest stop in Cheyenne, eating lunch with Mark, and using the "Free Wyoming wifi" network. (Who knew that Wyoming was locked up??)

Kendra said...

Nice, Katie. I am having this same problem right now with our family moving to grad school. If I think about it I get really really anxious, worried and doubtful but then I remembered we prayed about this and felt it was right. And then I feel peace. But I probably go through this cycle 50 times a day:) It's emotionally draining.

Jessica said...

I can completely relate to this post! My husband was still in school when we first got married, 10 months after marriage our son was born, and I stay home with the baby.

Money management was never something I mastered in high school and so now being in the :real: world things HAVE to be different.

Our church offered to teach Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University and we jumped at it. It has been life changing! In a very short period of time we were able to pay back quite a bit to our debts and are continuing to try to make Godly choices. So worth the time and even the small start up fee for this class!