Monday, August 27, 2012

10 Best Decisions of our Married Life... #5 Live on Our Income

Recently I began to share something I composed some years ago to be part of a document for a niece as she got married in June 2004.  That document was created as a compilation of entries under the title:  
The Wisdom of the most important women in your life.  
Each woman who submitted an entry chose her own subject matter.  I promised to post my entry on this blog.  This is the fifth of our top decisions in the list of:
The Top Ten Decisions Guiding Our Married Life
By Uncle John and Aunt Linda Worden

5.We will live on the amount of money our employment provides:
            a. Pay no credit card interest
            b. Save some from each pay check for retirement
            c.  Pay cash for all purchases except items which do not depreciate.

Romans 13: 7a-8 Give everyone what you owe him:...Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another,...  Some of the decisions I am writing about are things we realize that we have lived out but may not have actually articulated until now.  This decision, however, is not in that category.  This was a very conscious, stated, clearly committed to decision from the outset of our life together.  We decided to trust our needs and wants to the Lord and let him provide for us.  There is so much I could say related to this but at this time I will just summarize how we managed this.  We have never had what most people in America would consider a huge income.  So from the beginning of our married life, we have had to live frugally.  We have learned how to do this and feel that all our needs and most of our wants have been supplied.  Sometimes our needs have been met in a manner which could only be an unforeseen answer to prayer.  For example, one month it looked as though we would be short just under $100.00 to pay our utility bills.  A letter arrived in the mail from someone who had never before given us any money.  The letter included a check for $100.00 with the explanation that they just felt it was something that they should do at that time.  Another example is this.  We lived in New York City at the time Uncle John’s father was scheduled for heart surgery.  Uncle John felt he needed to fly home to be with his mother at that time but we didn’t have the money for the trip.  We decided to book the flight anyway.  A day or so after booking the flight, a man from the church came to our door and told us that an accounting mistake had been made during the previous year and we had been underpaid.  He gave us a check in the amount we were owed - about the exact amount of the trip to Wisconsin.  So you see some of how God has taken care of us.   

But the most frequently used method of living frugally is that I have shopped want ads, estate and garage sales, thrift stores and consignment shops for all our furniture, most of our clothing and many of the other things with which we have our home furnished.  I often say that everything in our home has a story and it thrills me to share how God has provided for us at the same time that we have lived within our means.  Further training in this area comes as a free gift - my knowledge will happily be shared whenever you have questions.  We have absolutely no regrets for having followed this decision throughout our lives.  Now I have the joy of blessing my children and grandchildren, a friend in Argentina and others along the way as I find my “deals”.

Update in August 2012:

To add some notes for the above "decision."

The first way we avoid debt is to 
"a. Pay no credit card interest"
We continue to carry on this practice.  We use credit cards for everything possible because we accumulate miles which we use for flights as needed.  But we ALWAYS pay the full amount of our bill each month.  This practice has provided a number of flights as well as ease in paying bills.  We have our credit cards set to autopay the full amount each month so I never worry that we'll miss a payment and get charged a late fee.  This requires an adequate checking account balance but because of our commitment to this "decision", that has also been possible.  

The second way we avoid debt and provide for the future is to
b. Save some from each pay check for retirement
We do this primarily by automatic paycheck contributions of the maximum amount allowed to John's employer's 403(B) plan.  A secondary way has been to reinvest dividends and interest from investments.  We also invest the maximum allowed in IRA's each year.  Just prior to turning 60 years of age, we also invested in Long-Term Care Insurance. 

The third practice we have in place for living within our means is:
   c.  Pay cash for all purchases except items which do not depreciate.
Yes, we do practice this.  We have not borrowed money for ANY expense except the houses we've bought.  We have only owned two homes.  We did not buy a home in TX until our WI home had sold.  We rented in TX for 5 years - until prices came down and savings made a down payment possible.  Our TX home was paid off with inheritance money after John's parent's passed away.

No, we have not made car payments, nor furniture payments, nor house remodeling payments... 

I am fortunate that I married a man who shares my value for practicing frugality.  Neither of us feels deprived - which we aren't.  We are grateful that we have been able to commit to Biblical principles that work so that we do not have the stress of debt issues.  We are thankful that we can live in financial freedom.

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