What you need:
This is part of a series of living debt free I started last Wednesday. Catch up from last week if you missed it.
Before Rob and I went hard-core with the Dave Ramsey plan, I knew what a budget was. I had been on enough church committees or held leadership positions. I knew the budget allotted a certain amount of money for specific categories. Yet I saw the budget as “Don’t spend more than this amount–” almost like it was some sort of restraint.
I heard Dave Ramsey say that a budget tells the money where to go. It is like giving each dollar a name. So rather than the panic of purchasing items we could not afford, we have found freedom NOT restraint. You know exactly where your dollars are going and there are few, if any, surprises.
Every month Rob and I have “budget meetings.” He uses Microsoft Excel to create our monthly budgets, but there are so many other programs you can use. Rob has our expenses divided into four categories: Basic Household Expenses, Utility Bills, Saving/Investing & Special MonthlyExpenses. Most of these items do not change from month to month or else vary slightly.
We also use the term “allowance” on a regular basis. Rob and I each get an allowance every pay period. That is our personal money to use whatever way we desire such as to put towards a hobby, go out to coffee with a friend, buy clothes etc. I know people who call it “blow money” or “hobby money” or “personal expenses.” We have also used the term “hoarding allowance.” Sometimes we put all or part of our allowance into a personal savings to purchase something in the future. For instance right now I am saving a little bit of my allowance each pay period to buy a road bike. Rob just bought a mixer with his allowance. I find that when I take the time to save, the item has much more meaning. It has helped me with my “I want more stuff and I want it now,” cravings.
So basically if I were to go to the outlet mall and spend $200.00 on clothes today, it would have to come from my allowance or else be an item that we specifically put on the budget. This creates accountability. Again, no surprises.
I have always disliked math and I am not into accounting or numbers. I now love working with Rob on the budget. I did not always like it because it did feel like a restraint at times. Now when I see how much we have been able to accomplish working as a team, I am grateful. I have a much better attitude.
A couple of years ago when our oldest was two and our second child was a baby, we all got hit with some massive bug that our nurse friend thought was influenza. Our oldest had it and was over it within a couple of days. Then my husband, myself, and our baby son all got within 12 hours of one another. I still remember laying on the couch trying to give my two and a half month old son Pedialyte as my head was pounding and my arms and legs ached. On the other couch was my husband moaning in pain. He had to go to work that morning as well as do a funeral. He was absolutely exhausted. Our two-year old was freely roaming the house. It was the most terrifying feeling: “How do we do this?”
We had only lived in Oregon a little over a year. While we had a “church family,” we did not know people as well as we do now. It is difficult to ask for help when you are at your weakest point from someone you do not know very well. We had no choice.
We called two other families from church. It was a Saturday afternoon and they were both away. I called my friend who is a pediatric nurse and left a message. Her husband said I sounded so awful on the phone they could hardly comprehend what I was saying. She called back and said she could bring some Gatorade. I was too afraid to ask her if she could help me take care of the baby. I started crying and she said she would be right over. My friend was like an angel to us the next twelve hours. She took care of my son. She kept giving us Gatorade. She did our laundry and folded it. She fed the cat. She put my oldest to bed. She slept in our family room and helped me feed my son during the night.
What I learned from that experience is that if you don’t live near family (like we do) you need someone who can help you when these situations happen. It is so important to have supportive friends that can substitute for things your family would normally do. When my husband goes out-of-town for a conference or a business trip, I ask around if one of my friends is going to be home. I mentally want to make sure someone is on “stand-by” if I get sick or someone else gets sick.
Obviously when your mom friends get sick or have sick kids, you are worried about coming over and helping them. You do not want to catch what they have and spread it to your whole household. I think I became more of a “germiphobe” after three kids. But don’t be afraid to offer to run to the store for a mom and pick up Gatorade or Tylenol or Pedialyte. We’ve had people do this for us. They leave the items on the back porch so they do not have to enter our home.
We are approaching a tough time of year for moms. Cold and flu season is draining! My former pastor always prayed for the young moms in the winter months as they dealt with colds and illness. We will all get through it!
I have had prayer partners and “prayer cards” before. I have good intentions of praying for the person I am assigned to. Somehow the card that gets tacked to the refrigerator gets lost in a sea of crayon colored drawings, Christmas card pictures and hot lunch menus. I forget to list my “assigned person” up in prayer.
I am on the leadership for our moms group this year. Our coordinator had us make prayer cards. On the front is a picture of our family. The back we wrote our names, the members of our family, and prayer request for the whole year.
I asked myself how can I remember to pray for “my person?” Because I am a major list person, I started making “to-do” lists in a notebook I carry everywhere. It has grocery lists, task lists, reminders, prayer requests–just about everything. Tucked in the front of my notebook is my prayer partner’s picture. So every time I grab my notebook, check my list, or pull it out of my purse I constantly reminded to pray for my person. This has been a wonderful experience for me!
I know I have tons of my own prayer requests, but it is renewing and humbling to take someone else’s requests to the Lord and pray for them.