Monday, November 26, 2018

Watch Out, World3: I Need a Lifesaver

My first step was to budget and follow our money in a way that made sense to us. I talked to many folks about how they managed their finances. Including my parents who lived debt-free their entire life with one tiny exception: the occasional XX-days-same-as-cash and their mortgage.

Now, they had six children. Took us on family vacations. Put all of us through additional education after our high school graduations. And retired quite comfortably.

I wanted that legacy to continue.

So, what budget tool would work for me?

We had to diminish our debt so we tackled it by adapting our own methods.

Debt Reduction Ain't Easy

It took two tries at debt-consolidation to realize that was not the answer. In both cases we ended up with the loan to consolidate and added more debt onto our credit cards. No reduction happening, yet.

Plus, I had an impulse buy issue. 

You know those handy-dandy items located by the checkout lanes? Those were made for me. I would stand there and the candy would look delicious. Then the kitchen gadget became something that I could use. Then I'd see ...

Well, something from those stands always ended up in my cart before I got to the register.

Impulse is so difficult to control. And I've never found an Impulse-Buyer-Anonymous group. 

Then, there are those mail-order catalogs. And, today, the online shopping makes it even tougher to manage.

Fortunately, I decided if I didn't have the cash in my pocket, I couldn't buy the object. Debit cards were not available just yet so it was a matter of either writing a check or paying cash. I hate writing checks so cash was the answer. If I didn't have the cash, I couldn't buy it.

That helped. Sort of. I mean, I still had a credit card in my wallet - just in case...

The spiral into that debt hole was deep, sharp and swift. Made me think of a whirlpool or eddy in a deep, deep, swift-running river.

Throw Me a Lifesaver!

And I don't mean the candy.

I had to do some serious soul searching to find what was triggering the impulse purchases. It quickly became evident I had a perspective issue and a heart issue .

First, my mother dropped a realization nugget in my lap: she simply made the comment "You know, when your dad and I started out we didn't have all the appliances and conveniences we do today. I don't see why kids believe they are supposed to have all these things when they get started."

You could have knocked me over with a feather when I realized I was trying to create for my home exactly what I'd become accustomed to when I left home. Yet, I didn't have the income and long-time growth my parents had built on.

So the sense of entitlement had to go. That was easy. Done. Gone. I could adjust that.

Then, in Larry Burkett's books (I now found a Bible study on financial management Larry wrote) I learned over 70% of Jesus' teachings dealt with material goods. You see, where our money goes is a great MRI to reveal our priorities. 

Clearly, I had a priority of myself, my kids, my spouse, my ... my ... my. Acknowledgement was the first step but how to overcome ME!?!?

Well, I knew that Jesus said "where your treasure is, there will your heart be also". So, I began down a path of changing my treasure's location.

I had no idea what I was in for.

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