personal finance

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

Ditch the Drinks and Save $1,000+ Per Year!

A thousand dollars?

Yep! A thousand dollars …but maybe more depending on a few things.

Answer these questions for me:

  1. How often do you and your family go out to eat per week?
  2. What do you order to drink?

If you said anything other than water, you are wasting your money!

I am not talking about times when you are going out for a special occasion or celebration. I am talking about your typical Tuesday night at the Chick-fil-A or Zaxby’s.

(Bless your heart if you don’t have a Chick-Fil-A or Zaxby’s in your area). 

Y’all I have one bad habit. Just one. Other than that I am perfect. 

I LOVE me some soda! I have recently weaned myself down to one per day and plan on dropping it completely. However, I am notorious for hitting up a drive-thru just for a big gulp…that was until I realized how much it adds up!

Let’s do some math, shall we?

I am going to use my family as an example. We are a family of four and typically go out for food twice per week. This might mean breakfast on Saturday morning and dinner one night per week because we are off with the kids while they play sports. 

4 people X 2 restaurants per week = 8 drinks per week

8 drinks per week X an average of $2.50 per drink = $20.00 in drinks per week (this is a low estimate by the way!)

Now let’s multiply our weekly $20.00 X the 52 weeks in the year

Drum Roll………………it comes out to $1040.00!

Not only is this practice good for your wallet, but it’s good for you waistline as well!

I love a win-win-win! The times where my wallet, my waistline, and my overall health benefit, I consider myself blessed.

I also want you to remember my motto when trying to make this switch. BE FLEXIBLE. 

Maybe you like your drinks at restaurants. I am here to tell you that’s okay. How about you order water every other time? You will still wind up saving over $500 per year. I get that life is too short to limit yourself all the time, I just want to challenge you to live the best life you can live. 

For me, living a debt free life is the best life I can live. Making small changes like this allowed me to have my house paid off in by mid 30’s and before my first child finished kindergarten. So, give it a try? I would even go so far as to journal about it for the first few months just so you can see the progress you make.

When I made this small switch I began tracking the savings on my phone and could not believe how suckered I was into buying one of the most marked up items in the restaurant biz! 

Over time, I started seeing savings in the hundreds, and I knew I had made the switch forever.

Get that snowball rolling y’all!

What do you do to keep restaurant rates down?

Paying it Forward,