Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thursday Thought

Curt and I talk a lot about financial responsibility. We share our story in our book, when we speak, with people at our church and friends. We aren't ashamed of our story-- of the low places we've been financially. We firmly believe in the verse "And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." (Luke 22:32) And we believe that God orchestrated our situation and the timing of getting out of debt when we did so that we could share our story during this dark economic time, offering hope to others. And also on a more personal level, so that we could be prepared for Curt's unemployment during the first half of this year.

On Saturday we drove to Boone NC for a book signing and had some uninterrupted time in the car to talk about money. This is a topic that used to send us into battle mode. We couldn't talk about the state of our finances without it turning into a major fight. I am happy to report, there was no fighting involved. But there were some tense moments. Because we are still cleaning up the mess that got made as Curt was unemployed. We are so grateful for his job-- it was God's provision financially as well as personally for Curt. He's enjoying working again. We're enjoying a steady paycheck.

But we can't pretend that those 6 months didn't happen. And we can't live as if they didn't. We need to buckle down, to recoup our losses and get back into "no matter what" mode. No matter what we're going to rebuild our savings. No matter what we're going to evaluate the necessity of what we're spending. No matter what we're going to clear up the medical bills that have resulted from a few unfortunate events. (We shared in our book what our no matter what's had to look like when we were getting out of debt.)

We determined that it's time to put our noses to the grindstone again. To get vigilant. To be laser focused on that target of a healthy financial picture. We had it once, and I believe we will have it again. As I told Curt the other day, we had no income with 6 kids for 6 months. We can't expect to have emerged unscathed. God did protect us in miraculous ways. He did make us so aware of His goodness during that time. But we also have some remaining work to do to get us back where we know we should be. We have to be relentless. The point is to recognize what's happening and respond properly. It's to catch yourself at the top of that slippery slope before you go sliding down. We were at the bottom of that slope once. I don't ever want to be there again.

If you are in the middle of a mess-- or worried you're headed towards one-- make time to talk to your spouse and create a plan together. Pray first. Ask God to help you talk about this touchy subject without fighting. Ask God to help you see a solution. Ask God to knit your hearts together.

He will do it. It might not be overnight, but He will do it. Curt and I are living proof. I am so glad we can talk about finances in a constructive way now, and that we can make a plan and work on it together. That's what makes all the difference.
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Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your blog and I visit everyday and it is such an encouragement. I bought two of your books this year and loved them both-The Mailbox was awesome! I finished it right before visiting Wilmington, NC this summer. Loved it! I also read Learning to Live Financially Free and it helped a lot. Only one issue-my husband is not a believer and doesn't necessarily agree with the giving principles I shared with him from it. We are in a financially difficult time and having two different viewpoints on how to help it, it is really hard. Still, thank you for all you wrote in it as it helped me personally. I will try to implement as many things from the book as I can. Any advice for my situation? For now I will continue to pray. Thank you so much for your blog and your books, you are truly an encouragement!

Angel in MA

Marybeth said...

Anonymous-- I wanted to respond with my husband's thoughts on this, and not mine. I think it's better to ask a man what another man might be thinking! I gave up trying to figure that out long ago!Here are Curt's thoughts:

I would tell her that to respect her husband's beliefs and not force hers on him. Out of respect for him, she wouldn't "force" tithing on him meaning they wouldn't tithe on any of his income. It would be fair for her to say to him that because of her beliefs, she wants to tithe on money that she brings into the home. So for example, if he makes 4000 a month and she makes 1000, she would give 100 to her church and explain to him why she feels so passionately about giving. Make sense?

I hope this helps! Thanks for your kind words!

Zibilee said...

My husband was also out of work for about six months, beginning a about two weeks before Christmas. It was a scary time, and we prayed daily for God to work in our lives and help us out of the mess we were in. God provided for us in some pretty amazing ways, and helped us to stay afloat during that dark time. My husband actually found a job just about a month before we would have begun to be in some big trouble, and we thank God for that too. It's funny because we think that we have control over our lives, but the reality of the situation is that God oversees everything, and it is only when all our control is stripped away, that we can learn to recognize that and lean on him. I am so glad to hear that things are better for you and your family now and that you are getting back on track. God is amazing and wonderful, and always watching out for us, even when we can't or don't see it.

Allison Morrison said...

Isn't it terrible how Satan will use money to get between you and your spouse? We have an OK financial picture...our goal is no more debt and to climb out of what we're in. We just seem to be spinning our wheels though...

Anonymous said...

I'm in a very dark place regarding finances. Some I created and a lot of it happened with a medical situation. It seems like every time we take 1 step forward we take at least 2 back. I'm so very discouraged in this area of my life. This has been going on for many years and I am so very weary.

Marybeth said...

Allison and Anonymous-- don't give up! Make a plan and work it! Let it strengthen your prayer life and dependence on God. I know that bleak place you are in Anonymous. It's so hard to be in that place. Take it one day at a time. Ask yourself "Do I have what I need for today?" Don't get ahead of yourself as you have no idea what God might have in store tomorrow. Yes, He will let you walk through the mess you made. He did us. But He also offered us help, many times at the 11th hour. I think He uses hard financial times to increase our dependence on Him and to make us more aware of His involvment in our lives. He really does make all things (even our brokenness and desperation) work together for good.

At least, that was true for us.

kjean said...

Your blog has been an encouragement to me today. My husband and I are believers, and we are in the process of beginning to deal with our debt. It is so overwhelming! For a long time my husband felt so overwhelmed and inadequate that he left the finances up to me, saying simply "pay the bills". Well, most of the time we didn't have enough money to pay all of the bills. We ended up getting behind on quite a few of our payments. And to make matters worse, we fell even further behind last winter because of the weather and unexpected expenses.

God is at work, and He is uniting our hearts in this. Thankfully we are realizing that we need to make some changes and really be aware of where our money is going. God has been showing us that a large portion of our income is going to pay off debt each month. It is so discouraging and scary to face how much we owe, and I wonder how we will ever get it paid off. But at least now our eyes are being opened and we can truthfully deal with our situation together.

Thank you, Marybeth, for your honesty in sharing your struggle. It encourages me to know that we are not alone.

Anonymous said...

By God's grace, our family lives very stable financially. Yet I am concerned that we don't have a good plan.

There was a time in the last 6 months where my job was uncertain, but God with all of his goodness brought us through.

How would you recommend to getting a plan that works and includes all we need, saving, etc.?

My husband tends to be less willing to give and we have struggled with this at times. I think he feels the pressure of being the main provider.
Teresa C.