Today’s guest post is by Amy, a dear friend for 13 years and counting. We became friends in the 5th grade, when Amy came up to me on the playground and asked if I wanted to swing (I said yes.) Since then, we’ve survived Jr. High together, her family’s move 12 hours away to another state, being reunited as college roommates, and serving each other as Maid/Matron of Honor at each other’s weddings in 2009. Amy is currently getting her Masters in Statistics (she’s smart, I tell ya!) She has also never owned a credit card (WHAT?) But she and her husband are paying off some student loans, and also live on a tiny income, and this month they started budgeting… here is a little bit of their story!
This month, my husband (Jeff) and I have begun the wonderful journey/adventure of budgeting. We have dabbled in budgeting before, but it usually fizzled out after a couple of weeks. For the past nearly two years since we got married, we have just taken the philosophy of living simply and only spending what we need with a little elbow room. I have never owned a credit card, and Jeff has one that we only use for small purchases (like gasoline- however, that has recently been seeming like a bigger purchase!) and pay off each month. We thought we were doing pretty well, especially considering we only pulled in about $14,000 our first year of marriage and bumped it up to about $20,000 for our second year. Pretty impressive, huh? Well here’s the whammy—we have about $40,000 of school loans to pay off. Yikes! Of course, we feel that the education and experience of college was well worth the cost (it is where we met, after all). However, that large debt can feel pretty heavy sometimes. We do not want to be bonded by the money that we owe. Which is why we have begun the journey to become debt free. We don’t quite have a time line set up for when we plan to have it all paid off, but my vote is for ASAP!
My Special Ingredients
So how is this even possible? How can a family that the government defines as “impoverished” ever hope to get out of it?
The road can often look intimidating…
and surrounded by swamps…
there is a finish line…
and maybe even a small cake…
There is no entirely fool proof plan to guarantee smooth sailing, but here are some ingredients that, I believe, are essential to any budgeting plan.
What are you willing to give up? What must be preserved and what can be kicked to the curb? We live in a society that is obsessed with convenience, speed, and overall pleasure. It’s up to the budgeter to determine what they are willing to sacrifice for the sake of the budget. Some may seem trivial (like my husband’s refusal to switch to a cheaper toilet paper- our bums are just not ready for that), and some are more intense (like, say, the idea of moving into someone else’s home).
This covers several relationships:
Spouse: Couples need to trust the other to remain faithful and true through thick and thin. They didn’t put “for richer or poorer” in the wedding vows for no reason. Be honest with your spouse about how much you spend, where you spend it, and what you spend it on.
Self: Be honest with yourself about your struggles, strongholds, and status of thought about money. Is it an obsession? Is it a tool or a crutch?
Savior: This is definitely the most important. Jehovah Jireh- the Lord provides. We are safe under the protection of His wings. Trust in Him, and your worries will melt away. Ultimately, He is all we need.
I’m a statistician, so here you go. See http://www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats for more.
*At least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day.
*The poorest 40 percent of the world’s population accounts for 5 percent of global income. The richest 20 percent accounts for three-quarters of world income.
*According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty.
*Infectious diseases continue to blight the lives of the poor across the world. An estimated 40 million people are living with HIV/AIDS, with 3 million deaths in 2004. Every year there are 350–500 million cases of malaria, with 1 million fatalities: Africa accounts for 90 percent of malarial deaths and African children account for over 80 percent of malaria victims worldwide.
*Water problems affect half of humanity.
*Almost two in three people lacking access to clean water survive on less than $2 a day, with one in three living on less than $1 a day.
*1.8 billion people who have access to a water source within 1 kilometre, but not in their house or yard, consume around 20 litres per day. In the United Kingdom the average person uses more than 50 litres of water a day flushing toilets (where average daily water usage is about 150 liters a day. The highest average water use in the world is in the US, at 600 liters day.)
*Approximately one half of children in the world are living in poverty.
*In developing countries some 2.5 billion people are forced to rely on biomass—fuelwood, charcoal and animal dung—to meet their energy needs for cooking.
*The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the 41 Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (567 million people) is less than the wealth of the world’s 7 richest people combined.
A Quiet Tongue
“Do all things without complaining or disputing.” Philippians 2:14
Budgeting can be tedious and a constant reminder of what you don’t have. It is important to hold your tongue in those situations. As mom always said, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”
Read Proverbs. Read Kate’s previous posts for the month. You get the point.
So, how did we do?
Tune in Monday to hear how Amy and Jeff’s first month of budgeting went!