Friday, November 19, 2010

How Debt Smothers

This post was featured in the Carnival of Personal Finance #284: Thanksgiving Preparation Edition at Sweating the Big Stuff. Go check out all of the great articles listed there for some really great and informative reading! You might just find a new blog to follow!

I hate feeling like there is no room to breathe. Debt has so many far-reaching consequences. This is one I never anticipated.

Currently our church is one of the fastest growing churches in the country. We are currently facing a growth crisis. The crisis is no room for children.

Let me restate that. There is plenty of room for children. There is not enough room for all of the children who are currently coming. Our church has over 800 elementary aged children every weekend and we can't accommodate them all anymore. It's a good problem to have. But it is a problem all the same. So there is a capital campaign beginning to make more room for the kids and provide improved space for the adults that are getting displaced because of the growing children's program. It will also establish a center for abused families in our city as well as in a city in Guatemala that we have ties to.

We were asked to make pledges this past weekend. We knew it was coming and had been praying about what we could do. I have faith that God can and will provide for the faith pledge that he laid on our hearts, but I only wish that debt and former stupidity wasn't holding us back from giving more.

We have pledge to donate $200/month for the next 24 months to this campaign. This is above and beyond our tithe. This is in addition to any extra gifts we already had planned. This is going to cut into our credit card repayment plan. And I hate that. But this is a real opportunity to invest in the lives of kids forever and that chance just cannot be passed up. So if we have to slow down our debt repayment, we've agreed that we can do that.

Now we face that pledge in addition to the fact that we were knocked back down to one income last week. We are still pledging it because we still have faith that God will provide the money since he provided the pledge amount. I am honestly not fearful about it at all.

But I am angry. I am mad at myself and at us for how much more we SHOULD be able to give. I make a good salary. I make more than enough to provide for our daily living expenses when we are down to one income. I make enough that even down to one income we should be able to donate more than that to this campaign at church. It makes me furious that we have to scrape by now and donate less now because of stupid mistakes that we made YEARS ago.

YEARS ago, people.

I know...we are heading in the right direction now. But I just really regret the full effect that our debt is having on our lives.

No wonder so many people think debt is stupid.

No wonder they are now crying out to the masses about how stupid it is.

I hope more and more people will realize it before it has to hit them hard. But I'm afraid they won't. And then they will have to feel as stupid as I do now.

And I wouldn't wish that on anyone.

What has debt kept you from doing that really laid heavy on you?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

And I Really Don't Think I'm Missing a Thing

You want to know how incredibly cheap frugal I am?

I don't have a smart phone. In fact, I barely have what would be considered to be a phone these days. I have one of those basic My-last-phone-died-and-I-need-another-one-so-I-signed-a-contract-just-to-get-the-base-model-free-one. Yes. That one.

I could get web service if I wanted to on this phone. But I don't. In the 13 years that I have owned a cell phone of some type I have never felt the need to be on the internet at any time and place of my choosing. Seriously. If I need to be on the internet I can do that stuff at home. Sure it's great sometimes for directions or information, but that's why we have a map and 1-800-free-411.

I don't Twitter from my phone. In fact, I barely Tweet at all. (sorry all of you adoring fans out there)

I don't Facebook from my phone. I typically check into Facebook 4 or 5 days a week from my home computer to see what is going on in the lives of people I actually know and care about. I sometimes post items regarding what is going on around this blog on my non-personal account. And although I should be better about that for those of you who do care, I just don't feel the need.

I honestly am okay with the fact that not everyone I've never met knows what I'm doing at all times in the day. I don't think I'm that interesting.

We have our mobile service with Verizon. It was once with Alltel, and we had the 10-circle of friends we could call for free (not using minutes). After the merger with Verizon, we still have that circle of 10 friends that we can change on a regular basis to suit our calling needs. And we can call anyone who has Verizon service without using minutes. And all of the people listed above we can text without any charges.

You know who else we text? Nobody. Seriously. If we see we're going to need to text other people, we add them to our 10 friend list. Free. Simple. Done.

So while all of the crazy people out there who feel they need the latest and greatest app for their smart phone, you go ahead and download that baby for a couple of dollars. Then you pay that premium associated with using your 3G/4G network at all times/locations. And you go ahead and sacrifice real face time with friends and loved ones.

I will keep paying for our pitifully simple service and enjoy time with those same people in person. Or via a phone call where we can have a real conversation rather than one in less than 140 characters at a time. And I'll use all that money I'm not spending on mobile service elsewhere.

And I won't miss a thing.

What about you? Can you not live without your social media on you at all times? Talk to me.

Photo credit: judy_breck

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

WFMW - Recandying

This is a repost from last year, but I definitely feel it's worth putting out here again for anyone who missed it!

Yes. I just made up a word. Don't look at me like that.

I've made an executive decision about the candy content in our house.

Patrick got LOADS of candy for Halloween this year (although this picture is not one we took). Too much for any one child really. When I took in all of the candy the wheels in my head started turning, and I had a brilliant idea.

Some of that candy will go in his Christmas stocking.

Is that cheating? Maybe, but I will explain the method to my madness.

He got far more candy than we want him to eat. And since we limit his candy intake it will probably take him up until December 24th to finish off his Halloween stash. Then he would more appear? I don't think so.

So I took some of his non-Halloween specific candy out of his trick-or-treating bag and put it in a bag with other items waiting for Christmas. He hasn't missed it a bit (except for one blue pixie stick that he had noticed had disappeared. It surprisingly was found IN THE HALLOWEEN BAG the following day). If your child is more attentive to his/her candy stash, you might want to slowly take a little out over a few days. It would be less obvious that way.

So instead of regifting, we are recandying this year. Cuts down on the amount of candy he gets across all of the holidays and saves me money at Christmas! Win-win I think!

So that is what is going to work for us this holiday season. Make sure you visit What Works for Me Wednesday over at We Are THAT Family to see what works for everyone else - this week is a fall recipe edition although I didn't offer one.

Photo credit: Amarand Agasi