Friday, October 5, 2012

Aligning Finances

Greetings friends and family,

Tomorrow is a BIG day for Easton and Layla.  They get to attend their first wedding.  We haven't excluded them from previous weddings, we just haven't had anyone close to us get married in the past few years.  They are both excited because Kendra and I portray excitement when talking about it.  They have absolutely no point of reference for what a wedding is like.  We are expecting an eventful evening of dressing up and sharing the special event together.

The thought of Layla dating makes my teeth cringe.  I'm not ready for it now and I know I won't be ready for it when the time comes.  However, If Layla has the mindset of this next image, then I'll be content knowing I did my job as a father.

Oh, my beautiful princess.  She flutters through the house skipping sideways up and down the halls.  There is a song in her heart and a spring in her step and a smile on her face almost all of the time.  Summer may be over for some parts of the country, but here in Phoenix we are still above 100 degrees for the daytime high.  The pool is too cool already, but we can still have fun in the garden hose.

I'm envious of their ability to have a gut-busting, laughing good time with something as simple as a spray of water and a plastic tub in the driveway.

Kendra discovered the sidewalk chalk colors are extremely vivid when writing on wet pavement.  Easton wrote his own name!  Although we'll need to work on the S, he's well on his way to literacy and that makes me smile just like him.

Layla is more eager to learn how to read.  Her penmanship shows it too.

Halloween is just around the corner.  We all have our costumes ready for the season.  The commercials during cartoons are having an influence on them.  I know this because we never ever talk about paranormal activity or ghosts, but today they were wandering blindly around the house making spooky sounds.  They waited for our scared reaction and then ran into the closest wall face first.  

October 1st is the start date of our Dave Ramsey "zero based budget" or "allocated spending plan".  Whatever you call it, I'm having trouble adjusting.  In this brave new world where every dollar is spent on paper before the month begins, it's impossible to get away with impulse purchases or non-essentials.  The effects on our finances will be extraordinary, but this whole self-control thing is the most difficult aspect to implement.  Kendra is understanding these concepts and grabbing hold whole-heartedly.  The catalyst was a conversation we had a few months ago.  Our options are:

1. sell the house and move into something cheaper
2. Kendra get a job to increase our income
3. budget our money and transform our spending habits

We chose option #3 and will see how it goes.  The kids only spend two mornings per week in school and even just that short amount of school time is costing us an arm and a leg.  We are 100% debt free except for the mortgage on the house, which is a great place to be financially.  We've made many good decisions over the past decade including being very good stewards with our money.  I firmly believe God will continue to show us favor financially because of our giving and stewardship.  Why would God give us more money if we haven't managed what he already gave us?  The rules we live by are:

1.  If we don't have the money to buy something, then we DON'T GET IT!  I know, it sounds old fashioned and counter-cultural, but I'm continually amazed by how many people don't understand this principle or live according to it.
2.  If it costs over $100 then Kendra and I must AGREE on it or else we don't buy it.  Period.  If we don't have agreement, then we don't get it.  This is the reason I don't have a motorcycle (see #5 for more details)
3.  Give at least 10%.  Right now we are giving about 13% of our gross income as tithe and offering.  Less than 10% is stealing from God and I'd rather be on the other end of that scale where God knows he can trust us with money to be used as a vessel to bless others.  We are blessed to be a blessing to others.  That is a family declaration.
4.  We are one in finances because we are one in marriage.  We have ONE checking account and ONE savings account.  Both of us have access fully to all of the finances.  I trust her and she trusts me.  She sees every single dollar that comes in and every dollar that goes out.  This is OUR income and OUR bills and OUR bonus.  There are no secrets between us and nothing good can come from separate financial lives between spouses.  Maybe separate accounts "works" for you or someone you know, but combined finances provides a whole new level of unity in marriage.  If you doubt me go read the story of Medb and Ailil and see how the wrong mindset destroyed a kingdom.
5.  I listen to my wife!   Women are given a special innate gift some refer to as intuition, which I call discernment.  Ignoring her input or not even giving her the chance to provide input can have devastating impacts on a family's financial health.  
6.  Murphy-proof your family with an emergency savings fund of at least $1,000 cash.  I can't imagine the stress a mother or wife would feel knowing their family had zero dollars.  There is a peace and security Kendra has knowing we can weather problems of life.  Just having an emergency fund means Murphy's Law almost doesn't apply.  Murphy visits our neighbor's house where they live paycheck to paycheck.  

This isn't rocket science, but these basic concepts have aided in our success story.  Hopefully they help someone or at least Easton and Layla can look back and have a clearer picture of why we did things the way we did them.  So much to learn...

See you soon!

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