Are You Financially Frustrated?

Financial frustration could be defined as low income, lack of savings, or debt. It could be student loans and credit card debt, or maybe you’ve had hardships in other parts of life and your spending is out of control. I feel that more and more Americans are financially frustrated… more than would ever admit to it. We’re all striving for the American Dream, right? 😉  It could be from falling on difficult times, from choices made, or a combination of the two. Being financially frustrated is emotionally draining. It could even start as simple as having low income and you end up spending out of control because you don’t know WHAT to do or HOW to fix the situation. We’ve definitely been guilty of that one from time to time.

We are financially frustrated, although I don’t like admitting it either. Multiple items in that first paragraph affect us. In Erin Odom’s book, More Than Just Making It, which is the inspiration for this blog series, she writes, “Sharing our financial details started us on a journey of financial freedom.”

If you are financially frustrated… how long can you handle the emotional stress of living this way? For us… We’re at the end. We’re emotionally tired, and we are ready to make changes – despite how uncool or radical they may be. We are ready to go from financial stress to financial success.

“Regardless of your financial situation, there IS hope.” Join us on our journey to financial freedom… where we are learning how to be More than Just Making It.

What We are Personally Doing Now to Gain Financial Freedom:

  • We are reigning in our spending. Our budget is set. It is strict, and we are holding each other accountable in our spending as we stick to it each month.
  • We are selling our house. We have family that is generously giving us a place to live when our house sells so that we can save money.
  • While we would love to follow the rule of “live off of only one income”, we only have one income so the next step would be to live off of half of that income. Can we do it?! We’re going to try! When our house sells, this will eliminate our mortgage and the cost of utilities – which most likely makes up about half of our income.
  • Pay off our student loans. Between the two of us, we have about $28,000 in Student Loan Debt. That number makes me cringe, but when our house sells, it will be our only debt. We plan to chip away at it month after month until it’s gone.
  • Our intentions are to live off of half our income, put a quarter of it towards student loans, and a quarter of it towards savings for a future down payment.
  • We actually have an even bigger goal to pay cash for our next house… whether that means building one and doing it a little at a time or a tiny house, or just whatever we can do. I don’t know if this will be possible, but it sure would be nice!

    From Financial Frustration to Financial Freedom
    More Than Just Making It 

Do You Have a Spending Problem or an Income Problem?

In Erin Odom’s book, More Than Just Making It, she makes it easy to determine whether your financial struggles are because of your own spending decisions or whether your struggles are from lower income by providing a list of the signs for each.

I found it really helpful, and it helped us realize that we need to make some decisions to gain the financial freedom that we are pursuing. For us,  increasing our income isn’t really an option at this point that we can see, so we need to lower our monthly expenses (Hello, mortgage and utilities – I’m lookin’ at you). So I’m going to share with you the signs for each from Erin’s book. Maybe it will help you too. 

Signs You Have a Spending Problem:

  • You make a budget, but never stick to it.
  • You borrow to pay for things you can’t afford.
  • You shop to satisfy and emotional need instead of a necessity.
  • You max our credit cards and only pay the minimums each month.
  • You continue to overspend on material items to fit the lifestyle you want to have.
  • You hide your spending habits from your spouse.

    In her book, Erin shared from one wife’s story… “I didn’t purposefully hide it. He simply didn’t ask, and I didn’t tell him. I managed all the finances, the spending, and tracking with no accountability. I felt like a terrible wife. I tried to fix it, but I couldn’t manage to get us out of debt.”

    Signs You Have an Income Problem:

  • You have trouble stretching your budget to cover basic necessities.
  • You struggle to pay for groceries, rent, utilities, or others from month to month?
  • You have more “month than money”. You can’t afford food or gas during the last week of the month and sit at home, scrounging around the cabinets.
  • You have no debt, but are still struggling financially.
  • You dream of adding categories to your budget lines like entertainment or clothing.
  • When you research the poverty level, you are at or below it.

-From Financial Frustration to Financial Freedom
-More Than Just Making It Series

More Than Just Making It… an Update!

Last week I shared with you about our plans to sell our home and move in with family in our pursuit of financial freedom. It’s always seemed like such a crazy idea, one that didn’t seem logical or make much sense. However, we feel like this is what God is calling us to do. We’ve prayed about it and sought wise counsel. We received the yeses we needed to move forward on this, so that’s what we’re planning to do.

Our original plan was actually to move into Justin’s family’s Fifth Wheel Camper. I guess I’m just crazy enough that I thought I could make that work. I don’t know – It just kind of seemed like an adventure and a fun challenge for me. I follow Allie Cazazza – the minimalist mama who works from home, homeschools, and traveled with her family of 6 in an RV for a while. It sounds pretty crazy, I know,  but I also really love the concept of minimalism. Like, I REALLY love it. Ever since I read The Life Changing-Magic of Tidying Up,  I’ve been slowly purging our home of unnecessary clutter. It actually started out as one big purge, but then I also periodically purge our home of more things we don’t use or don’t need. It is so freeing when you have less stuff, yall! Less to organize, less to manage, less to clean… which ultimately leaves you with MORE time – the thing we are all desiring more of!

So anyway, this past week or so, I started purging our home even more – because moving your whole family into a camper means you really can’t take much with you. I was looking at Pinterest and “glampers” in my free time, but then Justin’s family told us that they never really intended for us to move into their camper. They said they want us to move into their house, which is actual a metal building that they are working to make into a house, and that THEY would move into the camper. Honestly, I didn’t know what to think at first – it’s already hugely generous that they would allow us to stay in their camper and not let us pay them anything for it. But now they are giving up their home for us It’s so extravagant, and I’ve never met anyone more generous than they are! I still don’t know what to think.

But wait – there’s more! (That just felt like an advertisement commercial.) 😉 This weekend, we went over to talk to them about the whole process, and they showed us some of the work they’ve done. They’ve installed some kitchen cabinets, a stove, and a sink now to make their place more homey. And then they asked ME what I thought and what I wanted to do with the rest. If you don’t already know this about me, designing is one of my FAVORITE things. I have been designing my dream house since I was a teenager – before Pinterest was ever a thing. I love how it’s changed too. The ideals and things I used to have sketched out are now so different than they were before. Now, while I do still have a dream home in my head, it’s not the home I want to spend my time working on. Instead, I want to design and organize the home we live in now – and the home we are about to move into soon. I am SO excited about this project. I can’t even tell you how much!

As much as I love designing – the whole process of it all – it’s never been something I’ve had the opportunity to do. Sure, I organize our home and decorate it the best I can, but as you already know – our budget has been tight so I haven’t been able to do too much to it. I took what I had and did the best I could, and I’m pretty proud of it. From making curtains with vintage fabric I found in my great-Aunt Bertha’s attic (I guess all that hoarding comes in handy sometimes) to Dirt Cheap finds…. seriously, what we would we do without Dirt Cheap?! I’ve made it work, and we’ve truly been blessed in this home. It’s been the perfect place to start our little family!

But now I get to design a new home and make it work for us! Actually, they already had a vision for it, which when they describe to me, sounds perfect! I’m sketching out things like kitchen cabinet placement – thinking about what will go in this drawer and on that shelf before it’s even put in place. It’s such a fun process! My whole intention with this is to make it work for us now, but ultimately make it fabulous for them when they move back into it. See, they’ve had the vision for it, but have not had any reason to prioritize getting it completed in any certain time frame – it’s been working perfectly for them, as it has been. Until now. Now we’ve all got a vision, and we’re working toward the same goal. It’s going to be fun to collaborate and see it all come together. It’s such a unique opportunity.

And yall – as we told Justin’s grandparents this weekend of our plans to sell our home and move closer to them – they were ecstatic! See, not only will we be moving close to Justin’s parents – but also very very close to his grandparents as well. Four generations all living on the same land. This couple is such an inspiration too… they are very excellent in their finances. They do not finance things, they are debt-free, and they built their house themselves on this land they purchased. It’s kind of like a one-bedroom cabin in the woods with a big ole wrap-around porch. It’s incredible, and it definitely tells a story – lots of stories. If there’s anything that says #Goals, it would be them and what they have done with their lives.

I’d like to share a few nuggets from my Bible study this week. It’s SUCH a good study, yall. I’ve gotten so much from it, and I’m seeing God speak and answer the prayers we are praying. 

“You don’t need to know all the details of how everything will work out before you say yes. You just say, yes, up front, knowing that if He’s invited you to do it, He will empower you to carry it out.”

“His mundane, frustrating, time-consuming task was actually a divinely orchestrated conduit to bigger purposes. He could not have known how God was working on the other side of this circumstance or how God was preparing and aligning events and people for his arrival. And neither can you. All you can do it fully engage in the task before you today, believing that ‘all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to His purpose’ (Romans 8:28).”

This was referring to Saul’s task of going out to look for his father’s donkeys, and coming into a position of royalty when He did so. I think of this one , especially today, as I’ve spent time this week cleaning up, purging, and taking all of the pictures of our home – my mundane and time-consuming task. (You mamas know how difficult it is to clean your home when you have little ones in it.) Somehow we got it all done. It’s all ready, and I’ve written up the listing to post. However, I’ve come into a little snag and technical difficulty with the website giving me an error message, preventing me from listing our home for sale. While I could view this as a frustration, I know that God’s timing is perfect, and His plan is superior. I’m just fully engaging in my task at hand, “doing the next best thing”, and knowing that God will work everything together for our good. Yes.

So our home is now for sale and ready for showings if you know of anyone looking to buy. 😉

I do not know all that God has planned for us. Really, all we know now is our very next step – the one we are getting ready and planning to take soon. I’m just very excited about whatever He has in store for us, and I’m excited that I get to do one of my favorite things in the process. I never thought designing and decorating a metal building into a home would be something I’d want to do, but God always gives us the desires of our hearts – because the more we seek Him and His plans for us, our desires become what He’s created us for and desired us for all along!

More Than Just Making It

Our family is about to make a big change. In the pursuit of financial freedom, we are getting ready to sell our house. Although all of our bills are paid each month, and we are not behind on anything (Thank you, Jesus!), we are just “making it”, and we believe God has called us to more… which reminds me of my word of the year, increase. Although, sometimes “increase” might look a little like “decrease” because with this process of selling and moving, we are downsizing.

We are blessed to have generous family members who are allowing us to move in with them so that we can save money for a while. In hind sight, we probably should have done something like this when we first got married or at least before we had children, but anyway here we are. We are doing it now.

I’ve been reading over my prayer journals and thinking about how God has always provided for us over the years of our marriage. He has provided for us and blessed us in so many ways. We would not survive without God’s provision. There are so many things that we have that we would not have if it weren’t for God’s prompting of his people to bless us in various ways – from random checks and gift cards given to us, our house full of beautiful furniture, nursery furniture given to us, a lawn mower given to us, clothes provided in the form of hand-me downs and from people who just like to buy for our children, etc. There are even things that weren’t “needs” but just little kisses from Jesus where He’s given us desires of our hearts. Two days after seeing a set of lockers which I’ve always wanted to have at a flea market (with a hefty price tag), I was given a set for free. We were also given an upright freezer before we had Layten, at a time when I was really getting prepared and doing lots of freezer cooking. I can’ t tell you the last time that Justin went shopping for clothes, but people randomly give him clothes all the time – usually in the form of “My wife bought this for me, but it’s the wrong size so you can have it.” That happened a few weeks ago and the $90 price tag was still on the shirt. Kisses from Jesus. We are blessed.

We are blessed and we have a great desire to bless others in all the ways that we have been blessed. We give when we can, but we’re ready to be more on the giving end than the receiving end. With that, requires our financial stewardship and more persistent journey towards our financial freedom.

Right now I am working diligently right now to purge some of the unnecessary clutter and get rid of things we don’t need. Anybody want anything? 😉 We are praying that our house will sell quickly, and that we have the supernatural peace that God gives with this decision.

We’ve sought the wise counsel of a few trusted people, and all three encouraged us that this is the right move for us. I’ll be honest that while my husband’s peace is unwavering, mine has been fluctuating with this decision. Giving up your home and most of your belongings is a big deal. Moving your family and your children into a much smaller space is a lot to think about. I’m a systematic thinker, but this system and process is not an easy one for me to figure out. There are many factors that have to be taken into consideration and discussed. Lack of time also makes it difficult.

Now I’ll share some words from my Bible Study this morning on peace from “Discerning the Voice of God” by Priscilla Shirer…

“Despite the challenge ahead of you or the naysayers around you, His voice will cause you to feel anchored by a solid sense of calm about the task He is sending you to perform.”

I am praying for this “solid, gripping settledness deep within, despite the difficulties we may face.”

Although my peace has been fluctuating, He does “keep returning to me a sense of confidence, a new-every-morning assurance that He is working everything together, that we can accomplish the task He’s sending us out to perform.”

“Even though I’m scared, the God of Peace is speaking. He’s converting the normal formulas we consult to determine our next steps, and He’s causing them to add up to a peaceful resolution.”

Pray with us that we receive this unshakeable peace. Pray that our house sells quickly. (We’ll be posting it soon.) Pray for us that we stay strong and continue in our financial stewardship. We’re really excited (and nervous!) about this journey, but we’re ready to be “More thank just Making It.”