Friday, July 22, 2011

Death of a Credit Card

It was a time of strict budgeting, extra pinching of pennies, clipping coupons, meals of beans and rice, saying no to outings with friends, having garage sales, and so on. Although challenging, we quickly found positive results. So here we are...time to celebrate our one-year anniversary of paying off all credit card debt! 

A six-month-pregnant me showing no mercy to Mastercard and Visa

It all began when we were first married in 2005. We both worked full-time jobs and used our credit cards for purchases like groceries and gas. At the end of the month, the cards were always paid off. Our intention was to create good credit scores and accumulate points for airfare and other rewards. This system worked well until the economic downfall in 2008. Long story short, there were major life changes including unemployment, moving to another state, and a baby on the way. Our savings quickly diminished and we resorted to using credit cards for consumer purposes. We were unsure of how to pay them off at the end of the month.

Providentially, things turned around when my husband was hired as a student pastor in yet another state. We were richly blessed in various ways, and seeing how God was working in our lives we knew we had an opportunity to become financially responsible. Even with a lower income, we found ways to cut expenses and live frugally. In doing this, we ended up with more money than at a dual income!

Why it worked
  • Everyone in the family was on board
  • We budgeted everything down to the last penny
  • We communicated all purchases to each other

Much "credit" (no pun intended) must be given to reading and following The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. Also teamwork in our marriage, supportive friends and family, and most importantly prayer as God graciously delivered us from credit card debt.

I am always searching for wise stewardship ideas. How do you practice financial fitness?

Friday, July 15, 2011

My son, the consevationist

"No, Mommy! No!!!!" my preschooler tearfully exclaimed after I smashed a bug in the kitchen and dropped it in the trash. He opened the lid and whimpered. Although feeling terrible, I proceeded to explain why Mommy had to destroy all creepy crawlies in the house (in part to having an 8-month-old, who puts all things in his mouth.) Later that day, my son ran out the door with a paper towel containing a rescued yet squished earwig and threw on the deck.

My son, the conservationist (this time, saving a worm.)

Thanks buddy, for reminding me what an awesome opportunity we have in caring for our planet and its inhabitants. This experience reminded me of the early days with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. God created a perfect world and gave the following responsibility in Genesis 1:26:

Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."

Since that time much has changed. Sin entered and we now live in a fallen world full of death, violence, and hardship. What can we do about it?

I'm no scientist. I was only average in taking college biology. I know very little about global warming. But I cannot take a "laissez-faire libertarian approach to the earth's resources as a Christian option." I know God's word gives clear direction that we, as man, are to have "dominion" over creation in this life. 

So, my family will do what we can in subduing what God gives us. Simple things like reducing, reusing, recycling, conserving. And smashing bugs when my son isn't looking. Hey, if your a believer, prayerfully consider how you can join me in being good stewards of this terrestrial ball. 

For further reading on Christian conservation in a more educated and eloquent format - Blood, Gore, and Global Warming

Friday, July 8, 2011

Joy to Jam

After a three month hiatus from blogging I thought about making a comeback. Much has changed in the past few months...surface level transitions like moving back to Michigan but also changes within me. A friend recently said "Ashley, you seem as though your joy is gone." That was a wake-up call, because there is much to be joyful about. Perhaps this venue will allow me to share some of those blessings. To start off with something light-hearted: my first canning experience. 

Wild Black Caps

For the past few weeks our crew has gone black cap picking. Morning and night we have gone around the family property where berries grow wild and are in abundance. Even our preschooler picked and contributed to the project (although we are finding that he is best at consuming yummy berries.) The canning experience was not as scary and complicated as I first expected. With nine jars of homemade deliciousness later I have a feeling canning will be slightly addicting. Anyhow, here is the final product:

The simple pleasures in life are sweetly enjoyed in God's creation and with loved ones. In what ways do you find joy?