(You already know I love alliteration, and I love talking about money. It was another great pairing.)
First up, with the sale of our house on June 20th, we are now officially 100% debt free!! (Feel free to join me in the Happy Dance. Since it is our family's Happy Dance it requires no rhythm to participate.) Let me tell you, debt free feels fabulous. We have never had much, if any,consumer debt, and that was nice, but 100% debt free is amazing!!
In honor of being completely debt free for the first time since January 2002, we decided to set a new financial goal: to save in order to buy our next house completely with cash. No mortgage. No loans. We are slotted to remain in Panama for three years. That would put our return date sometime in March 2014, but because life is a bit unpredictable with company moves, I've decided to use June 2014 as our return to the States date. We started the plan in April of this year.
39 months. 39 months to save for a house is not very much time. We did have equity in the house and some savings to begin with so we aren't starting at zero. Not knowing where our next location is makes it tricky to compute what our final amount should be. Instead, we sat down with the budget and cut out every extra anything to save as much as possible.
Now, in the name of full disclosure, we cut out everything we wanted to or felt like we could. The household helpers are still in the budget. We still have a smaller dining budget. We are still saving for vacations. And, of course, there is tithing.
The tithe has always and will always come out first. And for a while, I was satisfied with that. And the savings was buzzing right along. Then, a sermon threw me off my game. Pastor Steve preached on a few verses in Proverbs that I've been skimming over for years. Proverbs 30:7-9, The Message. (click to view other translations)
And then he prayed, "God, I'm asking for two things
before I die; don't refuse me—
Banish lies from my lips
and liars from my presence.
Give me enough food to live on,
neither too much nor too little.
If I'm too full, I might get independent,
saying, 'God? Who needs him?'
If I'm poor, I might steal
and dishonor the name of my God."
Now, I'm sure that lots of us have read this before, but assuming we aren't Oprah or Bill Gates (if either of whom are reading the blog, please email me!), we glossed over it. How could we ever have enough to not need God? Not likely. Even if we save enough to have no mortgage, we would still need God. That isn't what struck me. What struck me is what I was keeping from God by saving for my goals. Ouch.
A new goal has taken shape. We are saving as much as we can for our new mortgage-free house. Except that which the Lord calls on for His purposes. Now some people might be saying, "uh, Lis, does God email you the numbers?" No. But He isn't always very subtle.
This past month we'd been able to save an extra 30% toward our housing goal. And to be perfectly honest, I was quite pleased with our hardwork and ability to save that much more. Told my Hearts ladies. Told my bff. Told Tony- several times. I was tickled. Then, yesterday's church service happened. Tony asked me how much we could give to the missionaries. I was good with whatever number. He gave me the monthly number. I said that was fine, but I prefer giving a onetime gift. Fine. Didn't think about it again. Until it hit me.
That gift, in a single lump sum, is exactly the extra 30% we'd saved this month. Good thing God knows I need obvious!
Money Mondays will be our weekly tracking of our financial goals in the light of His eternal goals. (and I can't wait to see exactly the house He has for us in 39 months!- or if He has that goal for us!)