I've been unsure whether or not I should write this post because money is kind of one of those taboo topics. So I figured I'd just type it up and then decide later if I would post it. I hope, if I do post this, that you will read this and be encouraged. Obvious Update: I posted it.
It's official! We are debt free! (Well, other than our house, of course.) We decided to use our tax refund to pay off my remaining student loan debt and boy did it feel good to sign into my account and see this:
Account Balance: $0.00 and Status: Paid In Full. What a beautiful sight.
We have been blessed to not have a significant amount of debt in our marriage. We've been fortunate to avoid credit card debt (we make payments every few days as we spend the money so we don't get tricked into thinking we have more money than we do, but we still get to benefit from credit card rewards like cash back, etc) and we have been incredibly blessed with either being given cars or being able to buy our cars outright. So the only debt we have had has been our home mortgage and our student loans - both of which (in theory) are "good debt" because the thing you are investing in should* appreciate in value. But let's face it, any amount of debt is no fun because by definition you are paying more for something than it should cost.
We paid Eric's loan off several years ago and we've been plodding along making our monthly payments (plus a bit more to pay down principal) on my remaining loan balance. We had figured it would be paid off Spring of 2014. But when we got our tax refund, I calculated what we needed to put in savings to cover my lack of teaching income in the summer, subtracted the cost of the home repair that falls under that should-know-by-now-that-as-soon-as-our-tax-refund-comes-something-will-break category (this year it wasn't so bad, just our disposal which required a plumber's help to unclog the drain plus the new disposal which my awesome and manly husband installed by himself) and realized there was enough leftover to cover our remaining debt. Now, the planner/scaredy-cat in me wanted to just put all of it in savings and stick with our current repayment plan. You know, "just in case."
Just in case...
something in our house breaks
something on our cars breaks
we don't raise enough funds to cover our next adoption costs
we have unexpected medical bills
But then I realized that all those "what ifs" and "just in cases" were Fear talking and Jesus told me not to live my life out of fear. And then I remembered how every time we have had a major financial liability (our old car's transmission blew up, our new (to us) car's engine blew up, our roof started leaking, our sewer line backed up and needed to be replaced, our 15-year-old hot water heater gave up, our rotting window in our bedroom needed to be replaced, NOT TO MENTION the nearly $10,000 in fees and expenses we've paid toward our adoption so far, etc, etc) we have always had the money to cover the expense via savings or tax refunds or the generosity of our family and friends. And then my daughter walked in the room singing, "All I have need of, His hand will provide. He's always been faithful to me." And I thought, "Okay, okay, Lord, so You're saying I need to trust you to take care of me and not rely on my savings account to do so? Student loans it is."
And you know what? Boy did I feel good entering in that final payment on my budget spreadsheet and typing zeros in the cells for the rest of the year. And now I get to allocate that money somewhere else. Probably to savings/adoption fund, but I've already had some fun contributing to some other family's adoptions as a sort of celebration. Hooray! Huzzah! and Rah! Rah! Rah!
Now I do want to say one clarifying thing:
When I discuss our own financial situation and decisions we've made I am truly, truly, not judging anyone for their financial choices if they differ from ours. Frankly, it's none of my business. And also, I'm too preoccupied with the log in my own eye to busy myself with the speck in yours. And besides, this post is not about money (okay, it is sort of). It's really about trusting God to be who He says He is. It's about listening to Him when He's trying to remind me of the things He's done for me and the things He promises to do. And so, here's what I want you to know - my testimony, if you will (and I'm stealing this line from the Sara Groves song Lila was singing): God has been faithful. He will be again. His loving compassion knows no end.
Okay, not quite. Inspired by this fellow adoptive mama's Give it Forward idea, we decided we want to contribute what would have been next month's student loan payment to the adoption fund of another family (or two). So leave a comment and nominate a family you know who you would like to see receive a little extra support. Then, I'll put all the names in a hat and pull one out. I'll give you till next Friday (March 30th) to nominate and I'll announce the chosen family or families that evening. Fun! Okay, go!
*School loans are an investment in education and training which make you more marketable so you can get a good job, so they typically have a high return on investment. And in a better economy, a home would appreciate in value and you would have an asset that is worth more than the cost you paid for it. Unfortunately, we bought our home in 2006 and approximately 6 months later the housing market fell apart. We're known for our awesome timing. Good thing we love our little house!