And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
So for pretty much the 30+ years my beloved and I have been married, we have been “working” on our finances. Initially, it was just a matter of trying to be responsible with our money and not get in over our heads with debt.
As the years went by and my hubby and I grew in faith and Biblical understanding, we committed to be good stewards of what God gave us. We tithed and put together a responsible budget, even meeting with a Crown Ministries finance counselor and following the principles of Larry Burkett’s book Debt-Free Living.
Truth be told, our success was short term. Some of this was circumstantial – unanticipated life and salary changes threw us for a loop. But, really? We overspent.
Chris and I discussed our different theories of spending, saving, and giving.
The conversations often escalated when we actually sat down to go over our budget. But eventually, we would get through what we considered the grueling work of pulling together all our expenses, assets, and debts…and we would attempt a cash box. That’s literally a shoebox with dividers and envelopes for each category of expenditure. For example, Home is one envelope and Electric and Gas is another, Water bill is yet another, etc.
Each week we attempted to gather our cash weekly, but something would come up, like the busyness of raising our kids and handling all their schedules; the cash box would fall to the wayside.
Inspired by my partner at Circles of Faith, Kimberly Amici’s sound money management, I started feeling a strong pull to get back to a system. She explained that n her 20s she was in debt. She decided she would do everything she could, including switching dining out with eating lots of hot dogs in, in order to pay her bills. She dedicated herself to living on a budget and not overspending…making her tithe a top priority. She was successful and continues to be financially sound. I was ready…I wanted to do the same.
But where to begin? How could Chris and I get on the same page about our finances?
Could we really live by the solid financial Biblical principles we knew were right? We needed help!
Enter Dave Ramsey. I knew Kimberly had listened to his radio program. I had also heard of many others who had experienced breakthroughs in their finances through his books and workbooks, radio programs, events, and courses. I Googled Dave Ramsey and found a Financial Peace University course starting near our home. The timing was perfect – it began a couple of weeks into the new year on a night we could both commit to. We were both ready!
I gave the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University class to Chris and myself as a Christmas present.
We were both eager to begin the class. A little nervous, we headed to an unfamiliar church to meet with a group of people we had never met. Kind of like, “Hello we’re Elise and Chris and we’re going to share with you some intimate details about our finances for the next 10 weeks.”
The course consists of group discussion, a video series, book, workbook, and lots of helpful forms. Dave Ramsey espouses what he calls 7 Baby Steps toward becoming financially fit – what it means to be good stewards by putting together a zero budget that ultimately incorporates spending, saving, and giving.
Dave’s motto is “Live like no one else so you can live like no one else and give like no one else.” In other words, choose today to make sacrifices that will eventually get you out of debt, allow you to live well but affordably, and ultimately allow you to give generously.
Dave Ramsey’s 1st Baby Step was a challenge to save $1000 to put into an emergency fund in the event of a…well, emergency!
That sounded ridiculous to me. At that particular moment, I could not imagine pulling together $1000. We were living on every cent that was coming in and then some (in other words, accruing debt regularly). How would we ever skim $1000 off our monthly income…and how long would this take?
On our way home from that first class, we were challenged, a little discouraged, but mostly determined. Dave Ramsey speaks the truth, but he also inspires hope, and that's all we needed. As we discussed the possibility of saving $1000, I had a light bulb moment.
“Chris…what about that change we’ve been saving all these years?”
We had one of those huge plastic water cooler bottles and had been putting our loose change into it for many years…I’d say at least 10.
“Ya think? I don’t know. I doubt there’s that much in there.”
“Well let’s check it out.”
When we got home that night, we lugged the huge heavy bottle, filled with change, out of the back of Chris’ closet. It was pretty full. We had no idea how much was in there but it was certainly worth finding out.
Chris did a little research and found a local bank that would be perfect. to open up a savings account. We decided we’d in a couple of days, on Saturday, and use the automated change counter. Chris called and let them know we’d be coming in and the head teller said she’d have a few people ready to help us.
On that Saturday morning, it took us about an hour to empty out all of that change through the narrow neck of the bottle. A lot of the coins were rolled, so that made it extra difficult to pour out. We put the change into a number of plastic zip lock bags, then put those into a couple of rolling suitcases. They were too heavy to carry in one!
Excitedly, we made our way to the bank. How much had we collected? Would we get anywhere near the $1000 we were determined to save? Well, at least this would be a start…
There were four employees ready to help us unroll all those coins and dump them into the machine. Everyone was very good-natured and cheered us on.
We watched the coins add up…$98.03, $186.42, $292.58…$982.64!!! Tears fell as I squealed with delight and we promptly added the additional $17.36 needed to reach our goal.
We achieved what had just days before seemed an impossible goal. It was a moment I’m sure we’ll never forget. <<Click to Tweet
We had very little faith, but with God all things are possible.
I firmly believe God knew that the change that would be worth far beyond its face value. That money added up to the hope and encouragement we needed to keep pressing on till we could live like no one else so we could give like no one else for His glory!
We have yet to take all 7 Baby Steps, however, I am confident we will get there. Because enrolling and graduating from Financial Peace University, budgeting, praying as a united team has allowed us to move forward in our ability to be good stewards of any and all of what God has given us.
And we will never give up till we are debt free!
How about you? How are you doing with your finances? Are you where you want to be or far from it? I’d love to hear from you!
Elise Daly Parker has been married for 28 years and is mom to four mostly grown girls. She is a writer, editor, writing coach, and blogger. She believes we all have stories that matter--big life bios and small meaningful moments. Elise believes our stories are a reflection of God’s glory and are meant to be shared. They have the power to inform, reform, and transform. She loves God, family, friends...and really likes travel!