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Finance

A WHOLE flippin’ Month

First let me say…oops! It’s been an entire month since I last blogged!!! ¬†I seriously need some accountability here folks…HEEEELLLLPPP….pretty please (insert angelic smile here)…don’t let me go more than two weeks without yelling out for a new blog please LOL…( I ask for this mainly because I committed to do this unto the Lord and I really want to honor that). Help a girl out if you can.

When I last wrote I already had a new topic in mind and I thought I was ready to start writing and then the week before spring break happened and work was absolutely crazy…finalizing grades, report cards, an on campus field trip (the Zoo Mobile came, super awesome by the way! If you are a teacher in the Central Valley, I’d love to share more info about it and you can look it up here.) and Open House…plus all the regular teacher stuff! Let me say, spring break was worked for! Then during spring break I kept meaning to write, but it was spring break, ya know ūüėČ

And time just continued on and I wasn’t sure about my topic anymore, I thought I already had the research done on it, but then I couldn’t find the notes I had and doubt crept in…does anyone really want to hear about my thoughts on tithing during times of financial strain or debt payoff???? And does God even want me to write about it and does it go along with recording God’s faithfulness, which is the mission of this blog…even as I am writing this I feel like DUH! BaCall yes! That is why you were going to write about it in the first place (the God’s faithfulness part, not necessarily the people want to read it part, maybe hopefully you do)…

How easily I forget His faithfulness in my doubt… GRRRRR so frustrating how easily we or should I say I forget the blessings of His faithfulness.¬†I think I have been doubting¬†forgetting His truths and faithfulness a lot lately… in writing this blog, what to write about on the blog, paying off debt or should I say trusting that someday we will be done paying off this debt, if¬†we are where we should be to benefit our future and our marriage, that this all isn’t for nothing…and you see this could go on all day. A sort of funk settled in around me in this month, a depression if you will and thankfully God is even faithful in the funk. He has, twice now in the last week, at the depths of the funk pulled me out and pointed me right back to Him! I’m still quite in awe of it actually. In both circumstances it was rather instantaneous, which I can honestly say hasn’t happened to me before. I was getting ready to drown in depression and then instantly I was looking up.

There is this painting on my wall that really has been cementing in my mind God’s faithfulness in this situation particularly…I’m not quite there yet, but this painting keeps bringing me back to…this is God’s work and God’s plan, He put me here to abide in Him. The painting is a take on John 15:16 (the bottom picture below). It says, just in case you can’t read it…I chose you. I wanted you. I appointed you. I set you where you are.

It just keeps speaking to me over and over. He wants me, He chose me, and what speaks so loudly now is He set me right where I am to do what He has for me. I’m so thankful for this art and the way the Lord has used it to speak to my heart. I am renewed. (The top picture was made for me, my favorite lyric ever! Both were made by the lovely and very talented Jen Bell, you can find her work here¬†on Instagram. Thank you Jen, such a blessing!) The funny thing is I didn’t buy the painting for the verse, at the time I just loves the colors and the background and now this verse is coming alive! Love that!

And all this doubt right on the tail of such a huge answer to prayer in my last blog! I feel like such a dork…anyway I am going to write said blog about tithing, within the next two weeks (I do need to find the verses again, since I lost them). Hold me to it. It really is a cool story of God’s answer to prayers and faithfulness.

And with that said, I will give you a little update on how paying off the debt is going. No big news to report, but we are moving right along at a steady pace. April has been¬†a decent or normal month for us, we haven’t had any major expected or unexpected expenses and haven’t gone haywire on buying anything unnecessary or out of our monthly budget. With baby showers, bridal showers, and bachelorette parties right around the corner we did have to make some room in our budget to shower those dearest to us (here and soon-to-be here:) with love, which is so very important to Luke and I.¬†*Side note: I am so very blessed and thankful to have a husband that loves that I love to shower others with love and that is so generous and loves to bless others. Lots of love in this side not…hahaha!¬†

Back to our update… we are currently on track to payoff our next loan in June or July! Whoo Hoo!!! We would of course love to pay it off sooner if possible so that we can start working on the giant loan we have next in the line up…$30,000+ YIKES!!! That’s the one that haunts my thoughts and nightmares… a little dramatic I know…and a little true too…that’s another reason to trust the Lord right?!?!

Prayers as always are very much appreciated and if you need prayer feel free to comment below! I would LOVE for this to become a community of people that pray for each other!

 

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Finance

A Miracle in March Madness

This month has been a roller coaster ride and if you know me, you might know I am NOT a fan of roller coasters! Mainly because I have massive motion sickness problems, but also because I don’t have any idea why people like that feeling in your stomach when you go down a big drop…crazies! ¬†Likewise I’m not a huge fan of things not going the way I planned and this month has been anything, but according to plan…which I can now honestly say I’m thankful for!

It started with us thinking that we wouldn’t be able to pay any extra on our debt this month because of some expected and unexpected expenses, read more about that here. That was definitely NOT according to my plan! I was pretty bummed out at first, but I decided that God is faithful even if we don’t have the money to pay extra on the loans this month…through His mercy and grace I was able to believe that it was an opportunity for God to reveal His glory even more. During this conversation with God (the process of going from bummed out to believing God is still faithful despite circumstance), I asked in a pondering sort of way, if He planned to use miracles to pay off any of this debt or if it was going to be more of a faithfully chipping away at the debt a little at a time, over time. I’m not sure if it was even a direct question that I expected an answer to…the best way I can describe it is a pondering of how the Lord would work in this situation. Over time I was sure to get His answer, but I never expected it to come so soon or so clearly.

The next day, not thinking anything of our previous conversation I stumbled upon His answer. It was clear and directly an answer to my pondering. A card with my name on the front in my box…I opened it without a second thought (maybe a baby or bridal shower invite, a thank you card, a note from a student or a fellow teacher), but in this envelope was so much more than I ever expected. It was a miracle, an answer from the Lord in my hands! I can’t ever remember an answer to a prayer being so specifically answered, especially for something I frequently consider my fault, my problem, my mess and silly or even frivolous to even bring up to others (good thing the Lord has other plans or else this blog wouldn’t even be here sharing this miracle :/). Now that I have effectively built up suspense… in the envelope was this beautiful card with $200 dollars inside.

 

Everything about this card was perfect. I absolutely LOVE what it says “If we could see it all… we would be amazed at what God has planned for us! Believing with you for God’s best!” WOW! talk about an answer to prayer and what a blessing to get a donation to help with our debt! He spoke right to me through this wonderfully amazing faithful person! I was so overwhelmed by this miracle I instantly started balling hysterically and Face Timed Luke, who thought I was dying hehehe…I guess joyful tears don’t look that different from “I’m dying” tears via Face Time. I was very overcome and couldn’t really speak, I’m what you would call an emotional person, so I just showed him the card. We both just marveled over God’s faithfulness and this amazing person’s obedience and love. I still can’t get over it. I’m teary-eyed now. I am so very very thankful that you answered His call and showed me your love and His answer to my little pondering. Thank you my dear dear anonymous card giver!!! You are so very special to my heart! I appreciate you more than words can ever express. This most certainly helps with our “March Madness”!!!

I wanted to start¬†this blog to record the Lord’s faithfulness. So that I could look back at the end of this year and see all of the amazing things He has done for me¬†(even though He has no need to do so other than He loves me personally). This one miracle makes the whole blog for me. It is now worth continuously coming back and marveling at the glorious God we serve.

But He did not stop there…our taxes were surprisingly a few hundred dollars less than we were originally told and somehow our estimates for refilling our emergency fund and paying for the car to be fixed were off. To be honest, I still really don’t understand how the numbers worked the way they did, we were quite diligent in preparing for how much we needed to spend this month. And yet we have around $1,200 extra to put towards the student loans this month. The Lord just keeps on surprising me with His faithfulness! Thank you Lord!!! And thank you again to my miracle giver!

Can’t wait to see what else the Lord has in store and I am so happy to have you on this journey with me! Thank you for reading!! Please continue praying with us for trust and faith in the Lord and funds to wipe out this debt for good!!! And if you need some prayer, please feel free to put it in the comment section! Let’s pray for each other!

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Finance

Faithful

God is faithful!

Isn’t that awesome?!?!? I’m a little teary eyed over here… the exciting news hoped for last week is… we paid off another loan today! $8,000!!!! ¬†I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a lot to me! I had NO idea at the beginning of this year that come February 2nd we would have saved $8,000 to put towards paying off a loan.¬†We had some of the money saved from the end of last year, but a good portion of it we saved from this last month¬†(EVERYBODY that includes Christmas and buying our loved ones presents). How can this be? Oh wait… God is Faithful!

This got me thinking about budgeting and paying off debt vs just spending the money we make…with our budget, living with my in-laws, and the faithfulness of Christ we have been able to save $8,000 in about 3 months. WOW!!! I had no idea we even had that much money or spent that much money. I worked my whole first year of teaching and yes we had rent and such, but we really saved nothing to pay extra on our debt…and in three months of working at it (I should say three paychecks not exactly 3 months) we saved that much money?!?!? We have always had a budget and really stuck to it, especially while I was in school, but last year we didn’t save or succeed in paying off debt when we finally had the money too do so; we just spent. I am learning a lesson I didn’t plan on, when you don’t save you spend so much more than you realize! I really want to be a good steward, even after paying off debt! I am so thankful for this unexpected lesson.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming…the numbers! So we moved in to my in-laws at the beginning of August. From August through December we paid off two loans totaling a little over $10,000. From the end of December until today, February 2nd, we paid off another loan, just over $8,000. Let me say it again, GOD is FAITHFUL!!! I’m gonna geek out on numbers for a second…so hold on…that means we have paid OFF $18,000 in about six months and with our monthly payments included we have actually paid about $23,000 total towards student loans in those six months. WHOOOHHOOO!!! Here is where it gets a little complicated to explain…we are walking with the Lord towards the goal of $54,000 paid OFF in 2015. That goal includes paying off the three private student loans we have. $54,000 was the round estimate of those three loans. We have paid off a little over $8,000 of that with the loan we paid off today. Which would leave us with $46,000 to pay off the rest of this year, BUT (the Lord is Faithful) when I went back to add up the two private loans we have left I got $43,500 not $46,000 and lets be real $2,500 less is a whole month of saving!!!

 

The next loan we hope to pay off is closer to $10,000. Please pray with us for the money to pay that one off as soon as possible so we can start tackling the BIG BEHEMOTH, which is closer to $34,000. We will continue to believe that the Lord is faithful and trust in Him.

More importantly please pray that we grow closer to the Lord and trust in Him more and more each day!

Next post I will share some tips on how we are sticking to our budget, admits living in the real world and still actively loving on people.

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Finance

The Plan, The Purpose

So my original plan was to write a post at least once a week and well, as you can see, that resolution went down the drain in week two…oops! Well…here I am trying to pick¬†that goal back up. (If you are reading this, for the love of Pete, please keep me accountable ;).

Anyhow I would like to share the details of our plan and the purpose or at least my current purpose for this blog. I started to write, God feel free to change up the purpose as you see fit and then I remembered I’m kind’ve a recovering¬†control-freak and realized that scared the poop out of me. Fear aside, Lord let the purpose always be yours over mine (just in case you were wondering that’s the trusting part I’m working on/struggling with). Since we’re talking about it, let’s start with the purpose. I need a record of this journey and that is the whole big grand purpose…not just the paying off of these loans, but much more importantly the journey of trusting the Lord,¬†having faith in Him, and His will for our lives. So often, actually always…ALWAYS, He is faithful and maybe in the moment we (by we I mean me) realize He is faithful and more than worthy of our complete trust in Him. Then life continues to happen and His faithfulness slips from our mind and worse yet our hearts. At least that happens to me, a lot. I vaguely remember from the recesses of my mind that The Lord has over and over again, for no other reason than He loves me, personally and intimately shown me how faithful He is, but I can’t quite recall the details, the feeling. So this blog is to stop that ridiculousness from happening. (Who am I that the all mighty God should pursue me!?!?!) And that is my purpose everybody, all four of my friends whom read this because you love me ūüėČ

Also if The Lord decides that someone, somewhere can benefit from this blog in someway, even better!

As for the plan, the plan…the PLAN! I guess the plan is our budget, budgeting is no joke BTW. ¬†While Luke and I were engaged, we were very very blessed by Sequoia Community Church in Fresno. The church did a group study of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University and we happened to join the group. Thankfully we started our marriage already done with baby step number one, a $1,000 emergency fund. But more than four years later we are still on baby step number two, pay off all debt. You can find all 7 baby steps here. It took us a while to get our feet off the ground with our debt snowball. We had to figure out how to work together as newlyweds to even do anything with money, make a budget and stick to it, then I went back to school, then I found a job, and most currently we moved in with my in-laws (what a blessing!). Now we have refined, cut, and trimmed our budget.

We do our budget twice a month, about the 1st and 15th. I get paid at the beginning of the month and Luke gets paid twice, around¬†the beginning and middle of the month. With this plan we decided to make sure we sit down together and write out the budget. It is much easier for one person to do it alone, but that isn’t the best money saver or relationship builder.

Here is about what our budget looks like:

Tithe

Groceries

Gas

Car Insurance

Student Loans (principal and interest payments)

Phones

3 other small personal bills

Dog Money (food, vet, medicine, etc)

Miscellaneous (doctors appointments, hair cuts, prescriptions)

Then we have our “fun money”:

Eating Out

Date Night

Luke’s Fun Money

BaCall’s Fun Money

*If you would like to know amounts for these things feel free to email or comment below.

The list is in this order because this is the order we pay them in, I guess it is our order of importance. Our tithe, groceries, gas, dog money, miscellaneous money, and fun money are repeated on both halves of the month. The car insurance, student loans, phone bill, and the 3 other bills are split between the halves of the month. Our fun money is rather small to make sure we are putting as much as possible towards our debt, but in FPU (Financial Peace University) it suggests you do this so you are not too tempted to overspend. It has worked very well for us. The budget is flexible, if something unexpected happens we can change it, but our goal is to stick as closely as possible to the budget. With this budget we have about $2,800 extra to put towards our student loan debt.

To summarize our goal is to follow the above budget as closely as possible and pay $2,800 extra a month towards the debt and trusting The Lord for the rest. We are hoping and praying to payoff between $54,000 – $66,000 in 12 months. We move out of my in-laws in about 12 months FYI.

Just to give you and myself an idea of what that really means, I used a loan calculator to see what that looks like. With the numbers I just shared the calculator said it would take about 1 year and 6 months to pay off the $54,000 and about 1 year and 9 months to payoff the $65,000.

We are trusting the Lord!

 

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Finance

A New Year and a New Adventure

Welcome to my new adventure! I say new adventure, but I’m really hoping this is more like the third part of The Hobbit, the home stretch of a journey with new adventure of it’s own. Don’t worry, I’m long winded, I’ll catch you up on parts one and two. This adventure is about faith, trusting the Lord, and debt. It seems odd or unusual to write that sentence… faith, trust, and DEBT. But that is exactly what this adventure is about…

THE CURRENT ADVENTURE aka Part 3 of The Hobbit:

December 30th is the day this leg of the adventure started, I spent some time with some godly women whom the Lord used to plant prayers, thoughts, ideas, curiosity, and most importantly faith into my heart. Henceforth was born this plan:

Luke (see part 1 & 2 for who that guy is) and I plan to spend the next 12 months working our tails off and (more so)¬†trusting the Lord to pay off $54,000 in debt. As you might have guessed we don’t have ¬†or make all the money it would take to pay this off, hence the faith and trust. (If you have really big faith pray for $66,000).¬†¬†More on the current adventure to come.

*It is really nerve-wracking and quite vulnerable to put these numbers online. Please be kind with this knowledge.

Part 1:

This journey started in 2004, maybe even before… wanting to live for Christ was my intention, but I didn’t know how to or where to turn. There were things: hurts, abuses, and people in my life that ¬†hindered me and some that I allowed to hinder me in my journey towards and with Christ. My seventeen year old self, with much thought and prayer, decided escape was the best route. I did well in school and maybe I should have applied to many schools, cheaper schools, but Azusa Pacific University was on my mind and in my heart. A private, Christian university sounded like the perfect place to get rid of and escape from those¬†things¬†and also a great place to grow. And I did!

I grew in my faith by leaps and bounds and started the lifelong journey of eradicating those things from within me. It was a long, hard, tumultuous, exciting, fun, and humbling year. Some unforeseen circumstances led me to only spend the one year at Azusa. I continued my higher education at a slightly (very very slightly) less expensive private Christian school, Fresno Pacific University. I loved my time there and continued to grow and mature in my faith, which led me to an amazing church, wonderful Christian friends, and to one of my greatest blessings, my husband Luke.

Maybe you see where this is going or maybe you already know because you’ve spent at least a minute with me… Either way the answer is a big fat student loan… student loansssssss, I should say. Tens of thousands, lots of tens of thousands of dollars. I try really hard to be smart with money…to be a good steward, to honor the Lord with my spending, saving, and such. But lots of tens of thousands of dollars in debt does not sound honoring to me. I struggle with this a lot…was I not following the Lord when I took out these loans? Did I mishear His direction? Or was this just His plan? I honestly don’t know, but here I am and I can say I’ve grown closer to the Lord through my time at both universities and He is molding me into who He wants me to be.

Apparently who He wants me to be next is someone who has stronger faith, trusts Him completely, and who has no or at the very least much less debt.

Part 2:

In 2010 I married Luke and we started dreaming of our future and what the Lord has for us to do. We decided/discovered that adoption, having children, being debt-free, and possibly having some sort of home that we care for/ invite people into make the list. So we decided in August 2014 to move in with Luke’s parents who graciously obliged. Thus far we have lived in their beautiful home and have been greatly blessed by them for five months and have paid off about $10,000 in student loans (that is not part of the $54,000 we are aiming for in the next 12 months). ¬†As you can see much more hard work and faith are needed to make this happen and we are ready to see the faithfulness of the Lord¬†in however he sees fit to show it.