First of all, happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers, grandmothers, and mothers to be, whenever that may be. I hope you all had a great day today and that you felt appreciated. If you did not, please know that you are, even when those around you don’t realize how much they appreciate you.
Recently I was given the opportunity to take a personal finance class through my Church, well, it’s ongoing for about 10 weeks. I was asked to attend so that my sons would attend. They are having all the older youth take this class as they are soon embarking on adulthood and everything involved with caring for themselves. It’s a great opportunity for review or learning if we haven’t learned yet, and a great reminder to be more frugal for some (like me), who forget to keep track sometimes.
As I was listening and reading through the materials there were several quotes about controlling spending and staying out of debt for the most part. But the instructor also talked a lot about the freedom associated with financial control. There is some necessary debt in our world today. Few people can buy a home or car with cash, most people need to get a loan for those types of things, but the rest of the things we acquire in life rarely need a loan or debt associated with them if we are planning and saving. I would even go so far as to say that most education does not require a loan if we are willing to work through school.
When my husband and I were first married we learned the value of staying out of debt. Before my husband and I got married he had no trouble making money. He made really good money in fact. Because he always had money however, he never saved money, and I never had more than a small part time job that didn’t add up to much before we got married. But after we got married, it seemed like nothing we did ever panned out to much more than just scrapping by. Looking back, I don’t think that’s a bad thing necessarily. I learned how to budget what little we had to keep us mostly out of debt. However, one particular day, as we were sitting on the US/Canada border, driving home to Alaska, we stopped to get gas and our credit card was declined. It was maxed out. We had just a few hundred dollars to our name and a couple thousand miles to go to get home. We made it back home with less than $100 in our pockets and around $3,000 in debt. Fortunately that was the credit limit on our credit card at that point in time.
I had never owed anyone anything before that point in time, anything I wanted I saved for and then paid cash. My husband had never had any debt he couldn’t pay for by the end of the month, so for both of us this was extremely stressful. We didn’t have any jobs lined up and weren’t sure what we would do. We were living in our shop building which was all paid for, so there was no living expenses in that regard, and we didn’t have electricity, so no bill there. We were also very fortunate to have his parents living next door, and they kept us fed while we figured out what to do next. I am so grateful that was our only bill at the time. We did find work, and it took a few months, but we were able to get that credit card bill paid off. But it burned into my soul the desire to never be in debt again.
My oldest daughter recently took an online personal finance class. She was here in Alaska for the first part of it, so I got to hear a lot of the material, and she was super excited about what she was learning, so what I didn’t hear, she shared with me. It talked about exactly what the quote above says, controlling your money, not letting it control you. When we are able to do that, we gain freedom. Freedom from others controlling where our money goes and what happens with our money. We gain freedom of conscience as well, and it makes it a whole lot easier to sleep at night. Some of the lectures also talked about money as a tool. I had never thought about that before. It also talked about utilizing money to accomplish your goals, rather than letting your money, or lack of control of your money, control your decisions and the direction of your life.
I am really excited to participate in this class, especially with my boys. Recently I have been thinking I needed to watch what I was spending better, but life happens and I don’t really get it done, it seems like a lot of work. But this class has kicked me in the butt and I am going to get it done and get back on track with my budgeting and control over where our money goes and why. We still don’t have any debt, but I could be a better steward over what we have and I know if I put my mind to it, this class will help with that. I am excited for this class, and will probably write about some of the things I am learning as I go along.