January 11, 2011

Around the Bend

Well, here I am sitting and blogging again.  I have to admit that I love to blog, and I do not find it a chore.  When I started my blog back in 2004, I would sit here and say to myself, "I don't have anything to say."  I would try and come up with some original comments, but nothing seemed to develop.  It wasn't until a year or so later, that I got personal on this blog, and I began to share my thoughts and feelings about my days, my weeks, or other events in my life.  The more I wrote about my feelings, the easier it was for me to add posts.  I guess this blog turned into a journal, and that is how I use it now.  I am comfortable writing about myself, my predicament, and my feelings -- especially my faith in God and His Word.  The more I express myself, the better I feel; and the better I feel, the more positive the outlook.  It is a win-win scenario, and I am blessed by the process (or journey).

So here we go again, blogging about my feelings, and well, not really sure if anyone is out there reading (or even cares)!  LOL!

Today has been interesting, and it is only 10:18 a.m. local time (Phoenix, AZ USA).  Some blessings have come into my life this week, and the first is the opportunity to pay off my credit card.  Oh my goodness -- let me tell what relief that was (even though it was short-lived).  I have had a running balance on that card for six years, and each month, dreaded paying the minimum amount.  This month I took some of my savings and paid the balance off!  WhooWhee!

My hope was to keep the balance at zero, and then over the next few months spend up to $200 (then pay it off).  My goal is to repair my credit (build it back up), and my banker told me that the best way to do this is to spend 1/3 of your limit, pay it off, and then do it again.  This shows creditors two things:  one, that you don't need the full amount of credit; and two, that you have the ability to pay it off each month (so you look responsible). 

My son needed a laptop for school (Well, really?  No, but everyone has them at college, and it seemed logical to try and budget for one).  I was hoping to use some of my financial aid/loan to buy him a computer, but that money has not been disbursed yet.  I decided to pay off my credit card, and then put the laptop back on it.  It was more than the 1/3 my banker suggested, but I should be able to pay it off completely next month (when my loan money arrives).  This meant that I didn't have to take that money out of my savings account, since I will probably need that money for bills/mortgage.

I cannot believe how easily I forked over $700.  I mean, just six months ago, I would have been paralyzed with fear over spending that kind of money.  I still struggle with prices, and the other day when I was in Walmart looking at new TVs (ours is not working properly due to the Blu-Ray/HD cable box), I found it difficult to fathom spending $1000 on a electronic entertainment box.  Though I would like a new TV, the outlay still shocks me.

It is a funny thing because the Lord told me that in the spring of 2011, we would need to make some big purchases.  He was concerned about my ability to do it, you know, really do it.  I like the idea of buying things (like furniture or a new car), but I don't want to actually spend the money on these items.  LOL!  In truth, I have had to learn how to spend money (I know, don't laugh at me).  A year ago, I would not be able to shop at Walmart and purchase $100 worth of groceries without breaking out in a sweat at the register/checkout.  I still say to the Lord, "Lord, I am spending too much money on food."  He tells me not to worry, and I do it; but that feeling of not spending anything still hovers over me.  I have put back necessary grocery items before (time and time), and now I put them into my basket with a deep breath.  My trust is in the Lord, and so far, He has managed my money well (His money, OK?)

I was fearful of spending money this Christmas, and normally, I would try and budget $100 for everything.  This barely covered food, and gave one gift to family.  It was a Charlie Brown Christmas, and while I was grateful for what I had, I always resented the fact that I couldn't buy what I wanted to buy.  I am not a shopper, so I wanted to buy two gifts and not one (not luxury items, either).  This year, however, I was in better shape financially, and I was able to purchase the two gifts of my choosing.  Oh, it felt so good.  I just did it (still whining a bit -- old patterns take a while to melt away).  I remember spending $400 at Best Buy, and when the cashier asked me for my card, I whipped it out and said to my son, "Oh well!"

Then yesterday, we sat down at the computer and ordered him a laptop from Dell (using my college discount).  When it came time to checkout, I typed in my card, and hit PAY NOW.  I did it, and I walked away.  Of course, later at Home Depot, I whined a bit to the Lord, worried that I did the wrong thing.  Ok, so bad habits really die hard!

The Lord knows my needs, and He knows that this year, in addition to some computer expenses, we have some major repair to be done on this house.  I will be the one paying for the new roof.  I will be the one hiring contractors to fix the bathroom shower.  All of this will come from my pocket, and the Lord needs me to be comfortable spending necessary money.  He is not giving me free reign to spend willy-nilly; oh my no!  I only spend what I believe His Holy Spirit has approved.  I prayerfully consider each purchase, do my due-diligence (like with the laptop -- several months of research and testing before choosing the one we did purchase), and patiently waiting until He says it is Ok to buy something.  By following His direction, I have been able to budget and save for some nice things, pay off old debts, and save money in my account. 

Financially, I am better off than most employed people.  I have low credit debit, good savings, and a nice checking account.  My car is paid for, insured, and in good running condition.  I am managing my school loan debt, and working PT to help cover food and miscellaneous expenses.  Soon I will be working FT and then I will have more money to manage.  The process though has taken time, and I am now at the point where I can confidently purchase items of need without stressing over them.  The Lord has helped me learn how to spend wisely, to budget, and to manage His resources well.  I am so blessed, and I know that I will never be in debt, never be near financial ruin again, and will always have savings for a rainy day.  God is so Good to me.

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