The hubby and I are working our way through Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. It's been an eye-opening journey thus far. We've been fortunate not to acquire tons of debt during our nearly five years of marriage, but like the vast majority of families in America, we've subscribed to the "buy now, pay later" mentality.
With baby #2 set to arrive in around 10 weeks and a new home mortgage (we just bought our first home a few weeks ago), we decided that now was the time to make sure our finances were in order. In the past, I've generally been the one responsible for paying bills, checking the bank account, ensuring that everyone gets paid. Thankfully, we've been able to pay our bills each month, but we've also done a fantastic job of spending every penny that has come in. Looking back, I wish we would have done a better job of saving. I don't know if I was afraid of the accountability that would come from writing everything down on paper and seeing where our money was actually going, or if I just thought that ignorance was bliss. What you don't know, can't hurt you . . . except that it can.
One of our first assignments in the class was to set up a $1000 emergency fund. Fortunately, with the help of Christmas gifts, we were able to check that first baby step off of the list. It's a great reassurance to know that if the car breaks down, or if we have an unplanned medical emergency, we have funds set aside to bail us out.
The second step is to pay off all debt and cut up those ole credit cards. In our first month we completely got rid of all credit card debt. Admittedly it wasn't much, just a couple hundred dollars worth of textbooks and baggage fees from Christmas vacation, but when it came time to cut up the credit cards, I froze. What if I needed them? I immediately felt convicted. It was as if God was saying "Who do you trust? Me or those credit cards?" Ouch.
Do I truly trust God to provide "daily bread." Note: I did NOT say daily Lexus or flat screen TV - God is not in the magic genie business. His blessings are always intended to serve a purpose - to further His kingdom not our own self-centered endeavors. He wants maturing children, not spoiled ones. If someone has told you that God's purpose is to serve as your own personal holy ATM machine, they're a little off from the mark. Yes, God loves to bless his children, just like we love to care for our own, but "blessings" are not always found in the form of "bucks." That being said, scripture does show that when we are faithful with the "talents" (Matthew 25:14-30) entrusted to us, that God will entrust us with greater responsibilities (to further his purposes). After all, when it comes down to it, everything belongs to Him. He just lets us manage it for a short while.
In my family right now, it seems like money and manna have a lot in common. We have enough for today and we have to trust that God will provide enough for tomorrow. I seriously doubt that we'll ever be wealthy, and that's OK. My prayer is that like the widow Elijah helped (1 Kings 17:7-16), we can come to the oil jar and find that we have enough for yet another day and enough to help those we can.