Tuesday, October 29, 2013

In Which I Share How My Parents Budgeting Succes Blesses Me

I wrote the following post in hopes of winning a contest.   I did not win, however I still wanted to share my Mom and Dad's budget success story because I think it rocks! ( I wrote it from my mom's perspective.) 

I was at a friend’s house this week and she had a beautiful gallery wall of her family.  Pictures of she and her husband, their children, grandchildren, weddings, and significant life events lined the entry of her home.  At the precipice of the wall, hung a plaque that read, “All because two people fell in love.”  Reflecting on their story through this wall, I could see the impact that the thread of love makes in creating beauty. 
My budgeting story has had a similar impact in my family.  Our gallery wall of debts paid, freedom found, early retirements taken, time spent with children and grandchildren, people taken through Financial Peace University, vacations spent, and volunteer hours counted is, “all because two people got on a budget.”

In 2005, my daughter introduced me to Dave Ramsey and I’m so glad she did.  As a result of our “gazelle intensity”, my husband and I paid off $107,000 in debt in 4 years and 3 months.  We did this by:
  • Having monthly budget meetings where we gave every penny a name and spent our money accordingly.
  • Not using credit cards.
  • Applying unexpected income to the debt.
  • Using cash for groceries, gas, and my hair (after all, if you look good, you feel good).
  • Going on planned vacations to celebrate milestones of debts paid
  • Using the debt snowball (paying off the smallest debt first and once it was paid off, applying that money to the next largest debt).
My husband and I have been debt free since 2009.  In 2010, I was able to retire from my job!  Not having to work has freed us to be able to serve our children, church family, and many others:

  • One weekend a month we watch our daughter’s 5 children (ages 6 and under- including a set of twins).  This allows her and her husband time to reconnect and breathe.  
  •  Our son has twins (born on the same day but 2 years after my daughter’s twins), as well, and my husband and I watch his children 2-3 days a week while he and his wife are work.
  •  We started Financial Peace University at our church and have led over 20 groups.
  •  We counsel individuals and couples in the area of finances.
  •   My mother lives out of state and her health is diminishing.  I have been able to travel to her home and stay with her for extended periods of time. 
  •  I volunteer at a gift shop in a hospital and have accumulated over 500 hours of community service.
None of this would have been possible if I still had to punch a clock.  I am so thankful to be out of debt.

If you want to get out of debt and see changes in your life, the key is to get on a budget.  To start a budget you will need to:
  • Write down your income.
  • Write down all of your expenses beginning with food, shelter, transportation, and clothing.  A Google search will lead you to budget sheets and software.
  • Add in a budget line for blow (fun) money.  This is a pre-determined amount of money that is set aside for you to spend any way you like. 
  • Write out exactly where your money will go and spend it accordingly
Using online bill pay through my bank is a real asset to sticking to my budget.  When we get paid, I immediately pay our bills, then I get cash and place it envelopes to keep me accountable. 
In November, I will turn 60.  As a gift to myself and our children, my husband and I added a line to our budget called Caine Family Cruise.  As you can guess, we are going to take our 4 children, their spouses, and our 8 grandchildren on a Disney Cruise. We saved for this trip for a year and it is completely paid for in cash.  I could not think of a better birthday gift than to spend time with our loved ones.   

Discipline in the area of budgeting bled over into discipline in other parts of my life.  In 2012, I started a weight loss program wherein I had to “budget” my calories.  I have lost 30 pounds and kept it off for nearly 2 years.  As you know, discipline begets discipline. 
Getting on a budget has brought so much freedom to our lives.  On a daily basis, frames are added to our gallery wall and our family tree is bursting with beauty. 

If you ask Cynthia how she is doing, she will say, "I'm blessed!"  It is her joy to share life with her husband of nearly 40 years, James.  She enjoys exercising, volunteering, shopping for herself and her grandchildren (with cash) and going on annual Mother's Day vacations with her 3 daughters.