As I had mentioned in my last blog post, despite the fact that we were financially sponsoring 6 children through Compassion, I knew that it wasn't enough. God was calling me to do more and to give more, so we added 2 more lovely children to our Compassion family (Ingris from Honduras and Mary from the Philippines), and hit the end of our monthly "giving budget." (Although, I am currently on the wait list for a 2nd Correspondent child, so I am really excited to see how that turns out!)
I have been so convicted during the past 2 months about restructuring our budget and changing our spending habits. After all, where your money is, your heart is there also. Our money and hearts were on our TV, blu-ray collection, and my closet that literally could have been a commercial for Old Navy. We've already made some cuts that I've mentioned before, such as cutting pretty much all personal spending. I quit my Diet Coke addiction 3 months ago, which pretty much doubles my life expectancy and saves me wads of cash every week (okay, that may be a slight exaggeration, but still!). Eating out (or ordering out) has become a rare treat rather than an easy fallback plan. It's way more fun to make your own pizza, anyway. :-)
Recently, we took it one step further. I was inspired by a post on OurCompassion about Dave Ramsey's "Total Money Makeover." Naturally, I have had a copy of his book and workbook sitting on my shelf, untouched from the CBD warehouse sale back in November. So I picked up his book and decided to really make an effort with it.
While reading his book it hit me...just how much of our paychecks go to paying off debt. It's sort of sickening really, especially since Mike is only in the beginning of his mandatory master's degree program, so we're just taking on more debt. I try to imagine a life where our only expenses are rent (or a mortgage), utilities, groceries, and gas, and I literally can't imagine that. We're paying off both of our undergraduate student loans, the beginning of Mike's graduate degree student loans, and Mike's car. And that all adds up. Sallie Mae gets the vast majority of our money. If we can snowball our debt to pay off those loans, there will be so much flex to our budget, and the prospects of that are incredibly exciting! I literally can't imagine having the kind of lifestyle where you can just give without forethought. I'm not expecting to become wealthy on Mike's private school, special ed teacher's salary combined with my salary as a nanny, but if we can manage our money right, we can live simply and give greatly (and save, too). I am so energized by this prospect that I'm literally giddy with excitement (and practically paralyzed with fear at other points, because it does require some crazy spending cuts).
No matter what though, I know that God has our backs. We can trust in him. We have had odd jobs literally fall into our laps this week. How amazing is our God, to hand us these opportunities? I feel that the more we trust and the more we give, the more he is providing us. It's pretty fun to watch it all unfold.
But of course, I have had my doubts. It is no fun watching your loosey-goosey grocery "budget" go from $60-70 per week to $25. I thought, "no, there is no way I can cook and feed the two of us healthy food for only $25 a week." Yesterday, in an impulse move on my way home from work, I ran into Market Basket (an inexpensive grocery store here in the Northeast which rivals IKEA in its chaotic setup and frenzied pace). I grabbed a basket, ran through the departments at lightning speed and purchased the essentials for our next week of meals, and watched my total ring up at the checkout counter. I had no idea what I was spending but I was hoping it would be reasonable. Imagine my surprise when the cashier told me that my total was $25. Even. To the cent. Exactly the amount my new budget afforded us. I literally laughed out loud. I feel like God was telling me that yes, I can do this...this new budget can work! And we can use it all to his glory.