Wednesday, November 27, 2013

In Thanks-giving: Day 4

...still catching up; Colorado is incredible!

Lifting the Burden

"There is a wise old saying, 'Eat it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.' Thrift is a practice of not wasting anything. Some people are able to get by because of the absence of expense. They have their shoes resoled, they patch, they mend, they sew, and they save money. They avoid installment buying, and make purchases only after saving enough to pay cash, thus avoiding interest charges.
-President James E. Faust Link to full article

I have been raised in a religion that encourages and teaches financial independence, freedom from the bondage of debt as reiterated here by President Ezra Taft Benson, "No man is truly free who is in financial bondage. ‘Think what you do when you run in debt,' said Benjamin Franklin, 'you give another power over your liberty.'" Yet, when I began dating Jason, I was digging a hole down the opposite path.  Of course, like every other twenty-something, I had school debt, but I was still in school and any payments on those were deferred until after graduation- those weren't {the real} problem...I had credit card debt and poor spending habits.

My parents didn't encourage credit cards, and when I decided I would get one, strongly counseled me to use it carefully.  I entered my credit card agreement with the right outlook: it was only to help build my credit, and I would pay it off every month.  That is how it all started.  Soon I was whisking myself off to Ireland and shopping away relationship woes...needless to say, when I met Jason, my financial record was one to be ashamed of.  For those of you who know Jason, he has spent the latter years of his life living quite frugally.  When he took me on dates they were often free, if not, he talked people down to a price he thought was reasonable.  {This is only the tip of the iceberg by the way, I have seen him {successfully} finagle prices at Wal-Mart...we'll save those stories for another time!}

Aside from my spending disasters, Jason and I started dating right before my last semester of college, when I would enter my teaching internship.  This {unpaid} internship would take the majority of my time, so I would have to quit two of my jobs, and drop to just one.  I knew how important money-smarts were to Jason, so I worked hard to manage my finances without having to reveal how poorly I was doing, but with the shift from 3 jobs to 1, things weren't going well.  Jason and I normally alternated weekends in Greenville and Raleigh, and soon the revelation came of just how poorly I was doing.  For about a month Jason had been supplementing my gas money, so I could make it up to Raleigh, but on this particular Saturday while we were rushing to meet some friends, Jason walked into the room to find me hanging up the phone in tears.  My credit card bill was well overdue, and I didn't have the money to pay it.  That day Jason sat me down and we started working out a plan.

With Jason's help, I shut off my credit card and started a payment plan that would slowly allow me to pay off my debt.  It was set to take a few years, but with Jason's encouragement, I paid off my credit card shortly after we were married!  This experience truly opened our eyes, and we made a joint commitment to be debt-free.  Together we paid off our school loans and vehicle debt and set an 18-month plan in motion to pay off our house! 

Our financial plan was pieced together from principles we learned at church and from financial gurus like Dave Ramsey.  We calculated what it would take to live with no income for 6 months, and used that calculation to establish our 6-month savings blanket.  Next we set our budget, and all excess began going half to the house and half to another savings account.  The final step, aside from paying off the house, was calculating what we {me and three children} would need to get back on our feet if something was to happen to Jason.  We calculated that amount, and set up Jason's life December 2012.

Fast forward to 5 months later.  Jason's life insurance is in effect {and only needed for me and one cute puppy dog}; I'm out of work for the summer {because I'm a teacher}; I can't access our extra savings or our main account {which were both in Jason's name}; I can access our 6-months savings account.

What a road Jason and I have been on financially.  Six months after his passing, the only debt I have is our beautiful home that now has a low enough payment, that my single income can easily handle; I had the money to comfortably get by until I had access to our other accounts, and I started back working; I am still on track to pay off the house if I decide to do so.

What an incredible blessing that Heavenly Father's gospel set a base for us both, and that He then used us both to establish a financial foundation for each other.  Without each segment of this path, I would not have been prepared to live the way I am now.  I would be drowning my woes in new clothes.  I would likely have needed to sell our house and vehicles.  I would not be in Colorado spending Thanksgiving with incredible family.  Heavenly Father allowed Jason to come into my life at the moment I needed him most, and much of that was for the sake of my financial education. 

I love my Heavenly Father; I love the Lord; and I am grateful they gave me my Jason to love too!

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