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Last week, when we were all waiting to hear if the government was going to shut down or not, I read a lot of things on facebook. I was very disappointed with a lot of people’s reactions as far as money was concerned. I saw statuses that said military wives need to go out and get jobs, or go back to school. I saw statuses that said, that people need to prepare better, always have money set aside, and learn from this “shutdown experience.”
While I agree that people should use their money wisely, and that people should be prepared, I argue for the people like my family who DO use our money wisely, and do try to prepare in these situations, but were still worried about the shutdown. We live on a very tight budget. Everything my husband makes is budgeted out. We don’t go out to eat every night, go on vacations, or buy things we don’t need, yet we were still not “prepared.” We have an emergency fund, and for that I am thankful, but sadly for us, our emergency money was dwindled when my husband got into a car accident about a month before the worry of the shutdown. A lot of our emergency money went to that, and so we did not have a lot of extra money set aside in preparation.
Unless you make a lot of money, I don’t think you can ever be “prepared” for something like that. And having people on Facebook judge other people’s financial status made me mad. What if you do everything you can, but still live paycheck to paycheck? It’s doable. We don’t go hungry, and we pay all our bills on time, but it’s still rough sometimes.
I have had people tell me they think we are rich because we live on base. I seriously want to laugh. Living on base has NOTHING to do with it. I have also had people tell me that they think we are rich because I am able to stay home and not have to get a job. I say to that, it is only by a miracle that God has allowed me that privilege. Sometimes I don’t know how we do it. But we do. Yes, I don’t go shopping, get pedicures and manicures, and go out to eat every day. But I know at the end of the day we will have enough to do the things we need, and sometimes have a little extra to do something fun.
So you want a little peek at the inside world of our finances and how we do it? You may remember me doing several blog posts about Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, if not here is a post that kind of goes over the basics: Money Matters.
Last year in January we started Financial Peace University at our church. It was the best $100. we ever spent for a class and it changed our lives and our views on money and saving. Since then we have been working our way through the principles and primarily working our way through our debt. Examples: Our credit cards, school loans, car payment, and anything else that may fall into that category.
We also switched over to a mostly cash budget. How this works is we have it set up to pay all our bills automatically from our account to whatever the site is for each bill, credit cards, car payments, loans, etc. All those are paid online direct from our account. We minus that from the total my husband makes a month and take the difference out in cash per paycheck.
We have an envelope set up for each necessity. Examples: Clothing, gas, groceries, tithe, date night, fun money (for each of us), car repairs, and haircuts. (There may be more, but that is all I can remember off the top of my head!) Each paycheck we put an amount of money that was already decided upon when we made our budget, into each envelope. When the money is gone, that is it. We always have enough for everything we need, and if something does not get used or there is some leftover it stays in the envelope and gets added on to the next paycheck’s amount. As my husband makes more money or as we get extra cash we up our budget in the places we think needs it most.
I already mentioned we have an emergency fund that we keep in the bank. It is literally only used in cases of emergencies. If we need to use some of that money then, the next paycheck all extra money goes to building it back up, so we always have it. Right now all our extra money is going to getting us out of debt. All of our tax return money went to our credit cards. And let me tell you it felt so good! We plan on not using credit cards again, unless we absolutely have to. We are not throwing them away, but instead trying to put them in a place where they will not be a temptation to use.
Anyways the point of this post is to say, don’t judge others. You don’t know how financially stable they are, and maybe just maybe they are already doing everything they can to make wise use of their money and do the best they can! If you have any questions about budgeting or the Dave Ramsey program, I would be glad to answer them for you. Without our budget, there is no way we would have been able to keep up, especially with having a baby.