Keeping a Budget: Our Story

Since starting this series I have received emails from folks who are struggling to get by and even a little doubtful about their ability to make it.  I can relate.  I thought I’d share my story of how we overcame huge financial obstacles and learned the value of a dollar the hard way.

Four years ago when my husband and I moved to Texas, we had exhausted our savings and were literally down to our last dime.  After trying for years to struggle through the economy in Michigan, we finally decided it was time to move somewhere where the work was still plentiful.  By then we were in pretty bad shape.  We had to start over from nothing and rebuild our lives.  And by nothing, I mean $0.00, give or take $20.

I can’t say I regret the years of trying to hang on, even if it shook us to our core and drained our energy along with our bank accounts.  We were, after all, trying to maintain a life close to our family, friends and church.  If we had given up a little sooner, I believe we would have a mind full of what-ifs and regrets, wondering if we might’ve made it if we held on a little longer.  Still, it was rough.

Moving didn’t solve all our problems.  We were able to find work, but were living paycheck to paycheck for months trying to reestablish a savings.  Then the unthinkable.  Our youngest child was diagnosed with autism.  After that, every extra penny would go to his therapy.  The last thing I wanted to do at this point was empty our new savings and live more of our lives in financial uncertainty.  But looking into the eyes of that beautiful little boy, I knew I had no choice.  The experts told us he needed 40 hours per week of behavior therapy to have a chance at a normal life.  The most we could afford was 15, so we weren’t about to hold back a single dollar.

I’m not the kind of person who likes to live day-to-day.  And I admit I had a freak-out moment or twelve.  But I learned through these years to lean on God and not on my own plans because I had no choice.  The lesson learning process wasn’t pretty.  I wish I could say it was.  I’d love to say I was at the feet of Jesus, peacefully thanking Him for stretching me as a person.  But that’s not how it went down.  I was at times emotional.  Unreasonable. And occasionally I gave in to my hopelessness.  The journey wasn’t pretty.  But the destination was.  The lessons I learned about money and faith are now ingrained in me.  I promise you, these are lessons that would not have come any other way.  And I desperately needed them.

Today we are on the other side of it.  This season that seemed like it would last forever is behind us.  We budget.  We scrimp.  We save.  We coupon.  We value every dollar.  These are lessons we can pass on to our children.  And so the ugly mess we endured for years is no longer ugly at all.  Today it has become something beautiful.

“…to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness….”   Isaiah 61:3

 After all these years, I finally have a true understanding of what that means.  Our ashes have been turned into tools that have taught us how to be better people.  I hated going through it.  I’m glad it’s over.  But I’m also glad it happened.

I’ve heard it said that our “mess” is our “message”.  If that’s true, then this is mine.  If you’re struggling in any area of your life.  If you’re suffering the consequences of your own bad decisions.  It’s not the end.  You will walk through it and you will emerge stronger and better.  Your mess will be a message someday too.  That’s the beauty of redemption.  Stay hopeful.

Our triumph over financial adversity sends one resounding message.  If we can do it, anybody can. It’s not about being good enough or having family support or an ideal career.  It’s only about daily choosing to put one foot in front of the other and walk through it, learning as you go and having faith that all will work together for good.  It’s about wanting it badly enough to make changes.  You can change your financial story.  No matter where you are now, you can transform your mess into wonderful story of hope.

Set up your budget.  Stick with it.  Use cash envelopes and spending journals and any tools that will help you.  Try new things.  If you fall down, get back up and try again.  Set big goals for yourself to keep you on your financial path.  We did it.  That means you can too!

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Comments

  1. Thanks for all the work you do! This is a truly genuine post that really has touched me.

  2. I love all your stories of life and trust and faith in Jesus. We too had a strugle in our lives and I would not trade it for anything and Jesus knew we needed it and it also taught our children as they helped and watched. Today they know the value of a dollar and to thank the Lord for it. The best known people in the Bible struggled and failed and God forgave and lifted them up and gave them wealth not necessarily in possestions but rich in what is truely important. Thanks and bless u in raising your special son, I see u already are.

  3. Thank you for allowing God to use you to reassure me. This came at the moment of darkness for me and it has given me hope that I too will see light hopefully sooner than later:). Yours is the only newsletter I have kept in the process of simplifying our lives. Thank you. You’re authentic.

  4. It has taken me years to figure my finances out and I still am not quite there yet. I wish I had more savings. I wish I knew what I know now when I was younger and maybe I would not have made the mistakes that I made over the years but I can’t go back and I have to use all that I have learned to make the best life I can.
    Thank you for this series and for all that you do to keep us all informed.

  5. As a family with 2 children on the autism spectrum,I can relate all too well to the money problems caused by medical needs.We still struggle at this time but with every year that goes by it is getting easier.We no longer do therapy sessions for our children but trust that God will continue to lead me in ways that I can do what needs to be done myself.I started homeschooling our youngest(12 yr old) 3 months ago and it has been a struggle but with God’s help all things are possible.I have found so many things on your website that has helped me save money and teach my children.Thank you for everything you do and all of your encouraging words.