Ever since Jenny and I got married our personal finances have been area of struggle for us. Many of our (what do you call those things?) disagreements came as a result of a conversation about money. Jenny is a better organizer then I am so we agreed when we just started out that she would take care of paying the bills. A few months in I opened a credit card bill and saw that we hadn’t paid our previous bill. For some this may not be a big deal but I had never had a late fee (that I couldn’t get out of) in my life. Mercy and understanding have never been a part of personal tool belt and if I recall our little conversation that night left one of us in tears. It wasn’t long after that I took over and it took an entire month for me to miss a couple of bills. Thus starting a trend of trading the responsibility of paying bills for the next five years. We would have seasons where we would try different budgeting strategies but none of them ever worked for us. My favorite attempt was when we identified all of our different expenses and placed Monopoly money into different envelopes that represented the expense. We then would place a bill or receipt into that envelope and withdraw the money. It worked great!-for three days. Often times neither of us really owned the responsibility of watching our money and I’m still clueless what happened during those seasons. Through it all we would have different conversations with different friends asking what they did but to be honest I never really listened to what they said. They would ask us what we did I would usually respond with the most honest answer I could. We have no idea – we just pray and tithe.
This past year we have seen the lowest of lows as well as the highest of highs. Not only did we take the huge step of purchasing our first home but we also chose to gut and remodel it as well. We received some unbelievable monetary, physical labor, and actual things (aka a van) this past year. It has been very humbling. Yet even after receiving all of this generosity Jenny and I continued to look at our bank account and get depressed. Some how each month we were finding ourselves in a greater hole then the month before. We would try our best to identify any area that we could cut back on and besides my eating out habits we couldn’t find anything. We didn’t travel, we didn’t make any unneccessary purchases, we were healthy (but still trying to pay Lydia off) and yet we accumulated more negatives.
Three things happened in the past few months that have turned everything around. The first being answered prayer. I’m not making it up. I pray that God would figure it out because I can’t. The second thing was finding out that we were overpaying on our taxes in the sum of $500 a month. When you add that up plus two kids you get a pretty signficant boost in the form of a tax return. The final thing that has revolutized our finances is online bill pay. I know we are behind the times and many have been doing this for years but it is new to us. Although I had heard about it I really didn’t understand what it was. When we moved we changed banks and I decided to give it a try. This has been amazing for us. I’m more likely to punch in some numbers on a computer then I am to pull out a check book and put something in the mail. I’m sure there will continue to be seasons of both feast and famine so I’m going to keep leaning into option number one. Prayer!