The Money Story, Revisited
I’ve covered this story before, but it’s been a couple of years. We’re going to be teaching another session of Financial Peace University (New and Improved! Only 9 weeks long!) in a couple of weeks, and I always like to start it by sharing my family’s money story. The story continues, and some things have changed. So, it’s time to revisit it.
When my wife and I got married almost 16 years ago, we were both broke and in debt. We both had credit card balances. I had a car payment. She had a student loan. Neither of us any money saved in the bank. Financially, we were in sorry shape. Fortunately, we were both young and in love. Our relationship was strong and we didn’t know any better.
Unfortunately, we were both young, and we didn’t know any better.
After a couple of months of failing to pay the bills on time, I turned my back on it all and handed the money management of our home completely over to my wife. She handled the payments and the debts while I went out and started bringing in an ever-growing income, and that suited me just fine.
She’d whittle our debts down month after month and finish them off when we received a windfall, like a big tax return or a cash gift for the holidays. It would have been a good system if I’d been more involved, or if we’d had a better understanding of the principles we needed to follow to treat our money correctly. Instead we’d wind up using the freed up money poorly.
A new car. A mortgage. Appliances and furniture. Every loose dime was tied up with a new payment, and credit cards caught our slack. We’d pay it all off quickly enough, but there was always something new, and it was always what we thought we could “afford” – not what could we actually pay for out of our savings.
Twelve years of this nonsense. Twelve years of bigger incomes and zero financial headway. Twelve years and I have no one to blame but myself. I’d finally had enough. With our third child on the way we knew that everything had to change. Fortunately, my wife knew how to start.
We began with a few couples gathered together in a family room reading through Dave Ramsey’s book, the Total Money Makeover. We bought in completely. We struggled through writing our first budget. We talked and fought about things that we’d ignored for over a decade. We compromised, made hard choices, and sacrificed together.
Nearly four years later, we have money set aside for emergencies and no consumer debt. No car payments. No student loans. We’re saving for the future. If all goes well, our house will be paid off in just four more years. I’d say that all the pain was worth it.
It doesn’t stop there, though. To keep ourselves fired up we went to a Total Money Makeover Live Event. The next time our church did a Total Money Makeover book study, we were helping to lead it. Then we took FPU at a local church to learn more, and the next time it was hosted there we were helping to coordinate it, and we’re ramping up to do it again for the third time.
These days, I read four or five work and money related books a year. I’m constantly trying to improve my knowledge about the right principles to follow regarding money. It’s drawn me closer to my wife. It’s made me more available to my children. It’s given me a purpose, and all of that is thanks to God.
Also, I’ve started to coach and mentor people who are struggling with their finances. People who are searching for a plan and principles to follow. People who are struggling and fighting, learning how to compromise and sacrifice. I even took a trip out to Nashville recently to learn to do it better.
The last few years have been a wild ride.
Maybe you’re at a point in your life where you’ve had enough. If you are, great. It’s time to start learning how to do it right. Read a book, take a class, find a mentor. Find a voice that inspires you to change. And you don’t have to go as crazy as we did, but it helps.
What’s your biggest struggle with money? Do you have a money story to tell? Have you given up? Have I gone completely mad? Comment below or drop me an email to let me know.
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