Saving for the Sanity

Mom Life and Organizational Tips

WISDOM WEAPONS: Tools to Help You Thrive

Austin and I found ourselves on a rare date night. We wound up in a bookstore sipping coffee, enjoying each other’s company, and the silence. As we browsed the books several got our attention, but as usual, we were going to leave empty handed. On the way out, a colorful book caught my eye. The book was misplaced in the store but seemed to be calling out to me. I picked the book up, flipped through the pages, and realized that book was misplaced just for us! Long story short, we purchased the book and began to read through it quickly. I’ll share details about the book later….

A few years prior my husband challenged us to pay off our mortgage in five years. We are both ambitious people, and had reached some wonderful goals in the past, but this one was crazy considering we were 33 and 31 years old. 

Well, he drew up the plan and we began the process…complete with a sticker chart!

As the year passed, it became hard. We sometimes wanted to stop and go on a spending spree, but for some reason we never came to that conclusion at the same time. If he was ready to quit, I’d be all on board and talk him off the ledge. If I was ready to quit, it was like he had a new found energy for it. It was crazy how the motivation continued. 

Fast forward about 2.5 years into the plan and we felt God beginning to change our hearts and intentions regarding this endeavor. What initially began as selfish motivation to get a bigger and better house to keep up with “the Joneses”, slowly began to shift. Little did we know, God was at work!

We were feeling the push to do more, to make an impact. Our heart’s desires were being transformed. We both wanted to become people who made a difference in the world, even if it was just in a small way.

Our pastor was preaching one Sunday about being an ordinary Christian. He basically challenged the congregation to reflect on how we were being the hands and feet of Jesus in our community. Right then and there that Austin and I looked at each other with tears in our eyes. It was clear; we were not going to be up with the Joneses. God was calling us to do more; we were being asked to impact His Kingdom. 

Remember when I said it would get hard and we both wanted to quit? It got really hard! 

Around year four and five of the plan, it was like everything that could tempt us to give up, did. The air conditioner went out ($8,000.00). Then, I came home from work one day and the power company had contracted a tree specialist to remove trees around their poles. For us, that meant they were clear cutting our woods…and the list goes on.

Trees!?! I know, for some the trees would be insignificant, but for me, the trees are a big deal. One reason we bought our house was because of the privacy and our personal draw to nature. This happened with nine months left on our mortgage. I was so distraught I cried for days!  Anyway, we actually began looking for houses. Once we told our small group leader Ryan about our house search, he immediately recognized the enemy was at work. If not for Ryan being our accountability partner, we might have given up on the plan with only a few months to go. So thankful God led Ryan to intervene. 

Now to the bookstore. 

Five months to go on the mortgage. Nonprofit stuff is coming together, but I wanted to quit. I start to think people wouldn’t take us seriously. No one will need help, the economy is booming and our launch date would be the time when folks receive their income taxes returns. No one in our social group knows about our plan….can we even do it?  This is silly, who does this!? You would not believe the mental battle Austin and I experienced as we rounded the corner on this effort. 

Low and behold a pandemic unleashes across the world…and a few tornadoes hit our area. Isn’t God’s timing impeccable friends? I’m not saying those are good things, I am saying God’s plan for us to begin His work was unfolding right before our very eyes. I can’t help but be amazed about how God worked all these events and the timeline together, for His good.  

Giving is the Good Life – by Randy Alcorn

A book by Randy Alcorn called Giving is the Good Life was the piece that sealed the deal. I call it a WISDOM WEAPON. His words were written just for us it seemed; they are also meant for you! Straight from the Word of God Randy laid out what a good life really is…not from a worldly perspective, but from God’s point of view. This text helped us to realize our life had purpose beyond ourselves. We also learned that God actually has ownership of everything in our possession anyway. Material items cannot take us anywhere, so why do we invest so much into them? 

We are so thankful for the challenge set forth in Randy’s book to radically give (pg. 121). His words and his challenge moved us to do the Kingdom work we were being called to do.

On April 15, 2020 we paid off our home mortgage at the age of 36 (me) and (38) Austin; we also have two small children and I am working on my Doctorate in education. We began The Paid in Full Project, our giving ministry, on that very day. 

By no means are we rich. I actually work in a public school; my husband is a computer engineer. However, by acting on what God led us to do, our Heavenly father is providing resources to complete His work.  

We are thankful to our Lord and Savior, but also to Randy as His words that inspired us to hang on and be faithful. We also know that God, in his mighty way, will grow every dollar to do immeasurably more than we could ever imagine possible.

Don’t forget to add WISDOM WEAPONS to your bag of tricks. They may come in the form of a book, people like Ryan, or from sheer determination. No matter what motivates you, just know these WISDOM WEAPONS are the key to completing your greatest accomplishments!

Paying It Forward,

Sherrie Brookie

www.thepaidinfullproject.com

Fighting Over Finances: 3 Ideas to CALM the CHAOS

Do you and your spouse have fights over finances?

Well, my husband and I don’t! 

NOT. EVEN. KIDDING. 

Part of the reason why we don’t fight is because we are on the same page about financial goals (to the point where he has created a monster) but we also have some non-traditional ways of doing things. 

  1. Get Three Accounts

At the beginning of our marriage, my husband and I participated in marriage counseling. 

This counseling can look many different ways, but ours was led by the pastor of our church at the time and one of the sessions was about the “F” word. Yep, you guessed it…FINANCES.

He had some great ideas, but the idea that has had the most significant impact for us has been the suggestion to open three separate bank accounts. Here is how it looks for us:

The Main Account

The Austin Account

The Sherrie Account

Every payday ALL of our money goes into one account: THE MAIN

From the “main” account every single dime is slated for something. Even if it means just adding a dollar amount to the line item called “extra,” that money is allocated.

Austin has a template that he uses to plug in all our our expenses.

2. Budget A Monthly Allowance

On a monthly basis, Austin and I are awarded allowances from our income. Now, we ain’t talking the big bucks here by any means; it’s not even 10% of our paychecks! It is a very low amount, but we can live with it and it’s enough to say we rewarded ourselves for working so hard. 

This is where discipline comes into play though. You can’t go over your allotted amount! If you know a big expense is coming up, you must save the previous month (or months in some cases). 

The best part about this idea is I don’t have to answer for why I went to the QuickTrip after work just to use my debit card on a $0.79 gigantic soda …just so I can feel the bubbles on my tongue. 

Austin doesn’t have to explain to me why he purchased 2-3 songs from iTunes every week or why he continues to purchase Clemson Tiger paraphernalia on the daily. 

You know why …because it doesn’t matter. If items are within his allowable limit, I say buy it all day long!

This practice gives us FREEDOM. 

I speak for myself here, but I love the fact that I get to decide how I use my nickels and dimes without having to answer for every decision I make. That can be exhausting! 

No bickering about who spent what or how much was spent when you do it this way! Save the penny pinching for the household budget. This is your little cut! 

Your allowance may be $20 per month, or it could be one whole paycheck. Either way, this plan works for every scenario. Trust me, your marriage will improve when it comes to finances!

3. Have Budget “Meetings”

Look, you both need to be in the know here. Really, you need to be on the same page if at all possible when it comes to the inner workings of your household budget. There is no way around the issue.

You are both stakeholders in your home.

Look at it this way; businesses have budget meetings and many times they attribute that to their success. Is your household not sort of like a business? You have to purchase materials and supplies. You have incoming and outgoing expenses. You sometimes have employees to pay (maybe a child’s allowance). Why not make time to sit down and discuss where you used to be, where you are now, and where you want to go? 

Plan for the future of your “business.”

In saying all of that, I am going to say this: keep EVERYTHING flexible. Plan how often you meet, but change it up if it is not working or is not often enough. Maybe you are meeting too much and it is causing anxiety. BE FLEXIBLE. 

Set a certain amount of money aside for allowances and stick to it! Once it is gone it’s gone. If I spend all of my allowance on shoes and clothes, I will not be able to make it to that paint night with my group of homegirls. 

In our case we have not given ourselves a “raise” in 11 years because we wanted to reach financial goals more than we wanted to go out and buy stuff. E L E V E N years y’all. 11. And I kid you not over that eleven years I received over $22,000 in raises alone and we stuck to our allowance budget. BUT I DIDN’T DIE DID I !?! (insert laugh cry emoji)

Finally, in 2017 I got a new job and needed more professional clothing so we did bump my budget up a little, but it wasn’t significant AT ALL.  BE FLEXIBLE.

In conclusion, I urge you to focus on future goals. 

A tool that Austin and I use is sticker charts. Yes, I know it seems a little silly but what a motivational tool it can be! I read a study long ago about how the majority of Americans were visual learners; some with an average 8th or 9th grade education. It made sense to me. Grocery store ads: cater to the visual, Pinterest: caters to the visual. Television ads: cater to the visual. You get my point! When you put that sticker on your chart every month, you are seeing progress. Progress feels good. But accomplishing goals…that feels amazing! 

Could your marriage use a boost in the budget department? 

Let me know how you keep the chaos under control in your marriage.

Paying It Forward,

Sherrie