Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Brutally Honest

Every story starts somewhere.  And over the years, I've revealed just a little of ours in pieces.
Tonight I thought I should put some of the pieces together in an over-view.
I knew I wanted to stay home with my babies once I became a mom.  I had a vague plan on how I was going to do that.  I had started my own public relations company and planned on running that while being home with babies.  After my first few clients, I realized that would not work.  It just took much time out of the house.
When I became pregnant, I quit my job at a very unhealthy place.  That was the smartest move in a life-view.  That was not the best move for our finances.  I held part time jobs for the next many months.  After the baby was born, I went to work where my husband worked, so I could work on an opposite shift of him and we could take turns taking care of the baby.  That was definitely a short term plan. 
Soon I found appraising and started working towards that license.  All this time since quitting my job while pregnant, I never got up to close to what I had been making at that job.  But I told myself it was ok because things would get better.  We charged quite a bit of things then on credit cards.  We did the equity line thing on the house.  Getting in to appraising, I took out a personal loan to be able to afford the software at my own computer.
After awhile I had my own appraising business going.  I had a couple good clients that I liked and worked at a comfortable pace. 
On the life front, we had a death of a sibling, which led to a downturn that almost ended our marriage.  Rebuilding from that and having more babies went hand in hand with more credit card spending.  Then almost simultaneously, my good clients restructured and my work dried up while the hubby's company got bought out and his job was gone.  Here we were, four babies, a fragile marriage, a mountain of debt, and no income.
I was never so scared.  It wasn't just us, it was our babies.  What were we going to do?  I felt like we were sliding down a cliff with nothing to grab on to.  We met with the bankruptcy attorney and started those proceedings.  There was nothing else to do.  We lost a lot.  We lost the house.  For the first time in my entire life, I had to sign a lease to rent a house.  I had never rented anything.  I had bought my first house when I was 19.  It was shattering to me.
But, we had the kids.  We couldn't stay down.  The day the bankruptcy was final, I started looking at how to rebuild our credit.  And we did it.  At the end of the 3 year mandated time, we bought a house.  And we were doing better.
Then came a phone call.  There was an accident.  Luckily the hubster was ok.  The accident was in the company truck.  And the details didn't matter.  This time when our household income dropped, we weren't near as in debt as we were before.  We were stronger this time.  But that same fear came back.  And it soon dawned on me that the we were missing something.
Yes we had rebuilt our credit.  Yes we had less debt.  But we still had debt.  I had thought we were doing so good.  But had we?  Always in the back of mind was the scripture that the borrower is the servant of the lender.  I never outright stated that the Bible could be wrong, I brushed it off like, that was written a long time ago and things were different now.  That just wasn't true.  That still isn't true.  It is a truth of life that the borrower is servant of the lender.  And it didn't matter that we could play the credit score game good, we were still in debt.  We were still under these companies.  They still had a hold in our lives.  They cause stress.  They steal peace.  And they steal our ability to bless others.
It was around then that I read the Dave Ramsey book.  And God's timing for that message was perfect.  I was ready to hear it.  I knew we had failed.  I thought we had been rebuilding so well, but we hadn't.  It still wasn't right. 
We have been at this for almost two years now.  Our budget is still a work in progress.  Our plan is not perfect, and I don't think it ever will be.  But we are on the right road now.  Sometimes it feels like a long road.  And when I get discouraged I read these stories of the people that are free from this burden of debt!  Other people have been where we are and where we have been.  Other people have been there and they are free now.  And we will be free too!
Tonight I am thankful for the opportunity to share our story.  We are real.  My family is real.  We have made some ridiculously poor decisions.  We have made selfish decisions.  We have decided in the past that what we "deserved"  was way above what we really needed, or what we had funds to afford (and I'm not talking monthly funds/payments, I'm talking actual funds to purchase) - and we have paid for those decisions mentally, emotionally, and financially.  Tonight I am thankful that we have more than changed our spending; we have changed our mindsets, we changed our lifestyles, we changed our futures, and we are changing our family's future!

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