** I had a reader challenge me on this post. She brought up reasonable arguments, and so I said ‘touche’. To her, living in FL and having the opportunity to take a dip in the pool did not constitute broke. I agreed with her that I have never experienced the Hell that is chronic poverty.
She also challenged me on giving or spending our last $40 on a family that seemingly was doing OK, considering they were also vacationing at our condo, instead of giving to someone who was really in need. The message of this blog was not to justify our giving, but to justify how awesome God is when you follow his lead in your giving.
The thing is, there are several different levels of broke based on a number of moving factors. This was our story. And in our story we uncharacteristically trusted God with our money. And then he showed up.**
You remember that one time your electricity was turned off because you were broke? Like busted broke? Remember what it felt like to unload your freezer into a cooler to keep the food frozen? Or how about playing a game in the dark with your two year old who thought using the flashlights were ‘cool’?
What about running down the stairs to beg the technician to keep it on for an hour so you could figure something out? Do you remember feeling mad at him for no reason and every reason all at the same time?
No? I hope not. I hope you never feel the ten pound weight of financial strain around your neck.
Or have this conversation with your husband ::
“Courtney, what’s going on? Did you pay the bill”
“Well, because there is no money.”
Simple as that. When the answer to his question was stripped down from reason and excuse it was simple. There was no money.
But this was my reason. My excuse.
Josh accepted a part-time position with a church in FL. We knew we would need additional income for us to survive. So we prayed. We waited before moving. Then we got an answer.
The company Josh was working for in IA offered him a part-time position as a remote employee from our home in FL. He was to be the first remote employee in his department. With the two salaries combined we felt confident that we could make it. We felt like God hooked us up.
So we packed the U-Haul and headed down the road.
Six weeks later, Josh was still waiting for the equipment to come from IA to start his remote position. There were hang-ups, procedures to be written, and red tape to remove. Six weeks later the money we had saved to move had long been spent on deposits, connection fees, groceries, bills, and all the things that money finds itself being spent on.
There we were, all unpacked and settled in our beautiful paradise condo and our account was stone cold dry. Our one credit card was maxed from immature spending and with each passing day we became a day later on our bills.
I started to prioritize the important bills to the can wait a few days bills.
Because we had just moved from IA. And in our previous hometown you could wait a few days before paying your electric bill. They would float you a grace period before blacking you out. Good ole’ Midwest.
Yeah not the same in FL.
So when the electric bill was put in the can wait a few days pile- you know wait until pay day which was that Friday- apparently it couldn’t wait.
Florida doesn’t mess around with paying yo’ bills. Hard core.
There was some money in our checking account. Some. As in just a little more than the actual bill and of course the $50 reconnect fee. We knew as soon as we paid it- for a solid week we would have pennies. Pennies for diapers. Pennies for groceries. Pennies for gas. This is why I was waiting to pay the bill- I didn’t want pennies for a week. A week isn’t that long though-
Unless you are broke.
Then a week is an eternity.
We talked about it. Prayed. Paid the bill.
And sat in the dark. Cause it takes forever for a tech to come back and reconnect your electricity.
Sometimes, there just isn’t any money. Sometimes you work, and work, and try to be responsible, and still-no money.
Sometimes you are the reason there is no money. You work, and you spend, you work, and you spend and then, no money.
Regardless of how one gets to that place, it is one of the scariest and unsettling places I have ever been. It affects everything. (or is it effects?)
This story has a pretty fabulous ending though.
After paying our bill, moving money from our deflated savings (as in $36) – we were able to scrounge together roughly $40 to live on.
We went swimming; because we lived in FL and that’s what you do when you live in FL. There was a family vacationing at our condo also hanging poolside. A huge family.
While we were making small talk I felt the urge to buy this family pizza. (Holy Spirit ya’ll!) The urge to buy pizza. Can you see how this would be conflicting to the chick whose power had just been shut off and had cashed in her quarters at the bank for gas? Yeah.
I swam over to Josh. Explained I was pretty sure we were buying pizza with our last $40.
He just said ‘ok-I trust you.’
I didn’t trust me though. Or the urge. Or Jesus. Or God. Or the move. Or the money. Or the reason.
I got out of the pool anyway, walked across the street to Pizza Hut and bought $40 worth of pizza.
The family was appreciative, we chatted a little longer and that was it.
It was a Wednesday. We went to church that night. At the end of the service a friend of ours handed us a white envelope.
“Someone told me to give you this” she says.
“Just someone”-then she smiled and walked away.
Just like that, there was money. Not a ton of money, but a necessary amount.
Just someone had given us $80. Just someone had doubled what we spent on the pizza. Just someone gave us what we needed until Friday. Just someone.
Josh and I still don’t know who the white envelope was from.
Josh and I do know that God is the best thing that has ever happened to our broke-messed up-selfish-money ignorant spending-selves.
You can argue me until your blue in the face about evolution, and science, and zodiac signs and things I am unlearned of- and I will tell you JUST SOMEONE gave me $80 after I followed an urge to spend my last $40 on complete strangers which means that JUST SOMETHING told JUST SOMEONE to follow an urge as well-
You will never convince me that God is not real. That he is not good. That he doesn’t care when you are busted broke and scared and stress eating over money and floating checks until payday. He is the JUST SOMETHING that moves JUST SOMEONE-s all over the world. He is. He is the hope-giver.
He is the JUST SOMEONE working through us.
So momma (or any reader), I know what broke feels like. I know the cupboards are bare and the numbers in your account are red. I know that you have cash advanced your last thirty bucks on credit to cover the thirty-five that will be charged if you overdraft your account. I know you are trying to figure out how to make Ramen Noodles taste different because you are having them for dinner AGAIN. I know your WIC checks are annoying and time consuming at check-out and you just want to crawl under a rock but you can’t cause you are BROKE and you need milk and formula. I know.
I know because I have lived every-single-one of these moments.
I also know HOPE. And just when you are at the end of your brokenness- be it literally, emotionally or spiritually, I know the JUST SOMEONE who will give you exactly what you need to get by. Not what you necessarily want. But what you NEED.
And if you find yourself chronically broke-because you know you didn’t need that scarf and new purse from Target you just wanted it– then it’s time to redefine your wants and needs.
Because you need to control your money. Not the other way around. And you need to let God help you.
Most importantly; inhale, exhale, decide to make changes, repeat, then implement the changes.
And pray. Always pray.
This is not a get-rich-quick plan.
It’s a blind faithfulness, lack of control, you gotta trust me plan.
That’s what Josh and I did. That’s how the adventure in FL played out. We were just fine after he started working remote from IA. Just fine. We managed to have more money than we needed every month and somehow managed to pay for a high-risk pregnancy (with the help of amazing people). Plus, we got educated about our budget, buckled down and paid off over $26,000 of bull-crap debt. HOLLA!
We still consider ourselves broke. But daily we talk, plan ahead, and decide that we will not be slaves to the dollar. Ever. The chains dig to deep.
Break them off friend. Hang in there.
You are not a slave.
Even when there is no money, there is hope.
Please don’t let go of hope.
~Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.~ Romans 13:8
RESOURCES THAT HELPED US::
1. Dave Ramsey. Need I say more. I have friends who swear by his envelope-cash system and highly encourage taking Financial Peace University. We have used several of his practices (debt snowballing, we just re-cut cable, etc)
If you want more info I can connect you with these couples.
2. I read a blog called Words of Williams that is jam packed with practical budgeting tips an tools. They also send you an easy to use budgeting sheet after signing up to follow blog. It’s great.
3. We tithe. And this number three we are always being challenged on. Talking real here- no tithe-no money in account. When tithing- plenty of money in account. I could write a post about this-PREACH!
4. Don’t give up.