Monday, October 13, 2008

Financial Peace & God's Provision

About 6 months ago, a friend referred me to a book called Total Money Makeover, by this guy named Dave Ramsey. I am generally skeptical of books about money management because either they tend to be selling a bill of goods, or they are totally unrealistic and unrelated to my life ("If you just quit drinking a latte a day, you'd be a millionaire!" I mean, who really drinks a latte a day anyway - like I hadn't thought of cutting out that already!) However, unbeknownst to my friend, we were going through a financial crisis of sorts so I decided to check it out.

It rocked my world. Dave Ramsey is a Christian man preaching a very counter-cultural (but very wise) message : HAVE NO DEBT AND USE CASH. One of my favorite aspects about his "plan" is that no matter your financial situation, he encourages you to tithe first. I have read so many "expert" opinions stating that if you just used your tithe to pay off debt, you'd be better off - a fact I know from my own life experience to be untrue, both financially and spiritually. It was refreshing to find a financial expert who shared my values but was also realistic about the difficulty of living within your means (It is 80% behavior and 20% head knowledge).

I tried hard to get Crusoe to read the book too, since the budget plan requires the total commitment of both partners, but lets face it, unless it is a comedy, he isn't going to read it and a book about budgeting doesn't exactly sound like a farce (okay, well maybe it does :)! Enter Financial Peace University! Financial Peace is the Church curriculum version of Dave Ramsey's information with different video lessons on Super Saving, Dumping Debt and Wise Investing. Our church was beginning the classes so we signed up. I am proud to say that we are both now 100% committed to the budget, we are both loving the plan, and we have paid off more than $12,000 of various consumer debts over 6 months. Yes, you read that figure right!

I had expected Financial Peace to improve our financial situation, but I have to admit what I did not expect was to see God's provision so clearly in the crisis. We realized that part of our problem in accumulating debt was that we were looking to ourselves and our money to meet our physical needs instead of trusting God to provide them for us. Once we stopped filling our lives ourselves with stuff and processed food, we were amazed to be reminded that God not only meets our needs but consistently exceeds them.

Since we drastically limited our purchasing and instead began paying off debt, God has provided hundreds of dollars worth of free toys and clothes for our family, including 2 brand new $80 dinosaurs for the boys. When Noah accidentally broke our digital camera, Crusoe was despondent, knowing there was no money in the budget for a new one. A week later, however, a new digital camera arrived in the mail for FREE as long as Crusoe was willing to do a web review of the product. Most recently, we have been desiring family pictures, although every available dollar is going towards our debt. Once again God has been good to us and if we participate in our church photo directory, we can get a free family 8 x 10. It seems that God is now anticipating even our wants!

It has not been an easy road, and we still have a looong way to go to be debt free (darn student loans!). We clearly aren't perfect and stuff still breaks at an alarming rate around here (can you say "coffee pot", arrggh). We have to get up every day and choose to trust God with our money and to supply our needs when there is not very much of it. But we will keep on keeping on because we have taken to heart Proverbs 22:7:

The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.

We are tired of being slaves to our creditors and desire to be servants to only one Master, our Lord Jesus Christ. To Him be the Glory in our money and our lives!


jane said...

Thanks for sharing. I just wrote on a related topic today too!


Mrs. G said...

What a great post, Lissa! I was encouraged in our own struggles to read what God has done for you!


Sarah Jane said...

Thank you for sharing this. It is so encouraging to read about how He is providing for others, as He has provided/is providing for us!

Lauren said...

Amen! What a wonderful post. God Bless :-)


Deanna (aka Lady_Irish from SewingAcademy) said...

We've been using Dave Ramsey's approach for the last almost year. And we really love it! My husband sounds a bit like yours, as far as not reading "informational" books! But he did read the shorter version, which is more of a how-to than a "why". Anyway. We've paid off about half of our debt (not including our mortgage. *sigh*). Best to you and yours! I know this is an older post, but I just wanted to commend you both!