First up- the grocery budget. I'm not talking about it. Here's hoping that the wisdom gained in August will allow for a smoother September. (and if I never eat pb&j again...)
As August creeps to a close (Could this month have been any longer?), it's time to update the house savings. As some of you may remember, we are working to save 100% toward our next house. This month, we were able, in spite of the evil grocery budget, to save 120% of our monthly goal. I would be more pleased about that number had I not known where we started the month and the potential savings. Oh well, better luck next month. But there's a problem. I'm not sure I want to do this anymore. I'm just not sure what I want anymore. Pass the syrup, people, I'm waffling!
Yes, I'm a waffle. Money and waffles are a constant for me. Tony laughs that I'll only be happy either living in Bel Air or in the Kenyan Bush. There's no middle ground with me, but this house-savings plan is really bringing out a new twist for me. And I still haven't found my footing. Let's go over what I know for sure:
1. I HATE debt. I really really hate continual payments for stuff that I already have.
2. Financial responsibility runs through my veins. I can't just blow it all in Vegas. I'm genetically incapable of that.
3. I truly BELIEVE that everything we/I have is from the Lord. It's all His to do whatever He wants.
4. Money doesn't do it for me. I'm not impressed by money. I'm not motivated by money. I don't want or need more money. No part of me would be fulfilled with just a little bit more.
Now some truths about me that aren't related to money, but suddenly are relevant to this conversation:
1. I'm a big picture person. The little details of life often get lost behind the big picture.
2. My big picture is not long term.
3. I have a deep sense of my limited time on this earth.
Kind of a strange combination of views from within me, I know, but here's what has been screaming in my brain:
Why am I saving so much money for a future goal when I haven't been promised an earthly future?
I have no promise that I am going to live to see a new house. I have no guarantee that my children are going to be alive when I will be purchasing my mortgage-free house. Dave Ramsey has a saying that goes something like "Live like no one else today, so that later you can live like no one else." I get the wisdom in that. I understand why he says to save and pinch today so you'll later have financial peace. I see exactly where he's coming from, and we have done all of his baby steps and even some more grown-up steps. But the thing is we are not promised a later. And if you knew you- or your child- only had x amount of time left, how would that change your money thoughts for today? And how would you spend your time? (Don't be confused or naive. We each only have so much time left.)
I don't have an answer for everyone on that. I don't claim that anything I'm saying is for anyone but me to read. I'm not even sure I have "the" answer for me and my family. What I do know is that my family, thanks to the mercy of the Lord, is in a solid financial place. I also know that I do not want to leave Panama in three years with nothing but money in the bank. (See Money Rule #4 above) I'd rather have to take out a small mortgage because we chose to live a little. Or a LOT. I'd rather have a mortgage because we chose to give a little. Or a LOT.
I want my kids to see Panama. I want them to see all of the world. I want them to give. I want them to see the good God's money can do when God's people give it and themselves freely. I want them to grow up knowing the world is bigger than the tri-county, or tri-country, region. I want them to grow up having learned and lived together. I want the reality of God's vast creation to affect them. To change them. I want to pick up in the middle of the week and fly 2000 miles away to serve with missionaries who have asked for help. I want to give school supplies to the entire second-grade class of Curundu- a poverty stricken area of Panama. I want to tell the kids, and myself, "no" to more stuff so that we can say "yes" for giving more to others. I want them to see that wise stewardship has very little to do with a great deal, or budget, or goal. And I don't want my savings goals to stop it.
I don't need any more money. I don't need more time. I need to use my money and my time more freely, without constraining it with my temporal goals. Debt free feels great. It feels free. But freedom comes at a cost. Sending a mortgage check to the bank because I gave and lived too much to afford a debt-free home? There might be eternal wisdom in that. I'm not sure. I'm still waffling.