I made one zillion phone calls to the hospital and our insurance after Xavier was born, trying to pin down all the outstanding bills and figure out exactly what we'd owe. It is no easy feat when there are separate bills from the hospital and all the physicians; for example, we received a bill from the pediatrician that did Xavier's first exam, and a separate bill from the anesthesiologist that did my epidural, and another bill from the OB-GYN who delivered Xavier, and so on and so forth. I made meticulous lists. And two weeks ago, we paid off the final bill.
Or so we thought. Yesterday we got a bill for a whopping $1100 - which I know might sound low to some, and mind-bogglingly high to others - and I felt so defeated. Somehow we overlooked this one, thought we paid it when really we hadn't, and have that money earmarked for other things. So I've been really discouraged today, feeling like we've made no progress on our goals and are never, ever going to be truly debt-free.
But those are lies. Those are lies from the devil who doesn't want my husband and I to honor the Lord with our finances. He wants me to feel defeated and discouraged, and I firmly believe he kicks us when we're feeling especially weak - like after a whirlwind few days of travel, windstorms, no power for 24+ hours and a sleepless baby - which was our reality this past weekend.
But I'm fighting back. I thought about all the progress we HAVE made on our financial goals, and all the victories we've had along the way. And I want to encourage you, too, if you're currently on a journey of financial freedom, no matter where you're at on that road, to stop and count the fruit. Make a list. Write it down. Stick it to your fridge, or put a sticky note right on top of your budget. Remind yourself about all the victories you've won and let that serve as motivation to keep marching on!
We took Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University course in the fall of 2013, so I'm counting that as our starting point. Since then, as a married couple, we have:
- Saved $1,000 as spending/fun money for our Hawaii vacation (without pulling anything from our regular budget)
- Saved $600 to spend on Christmas last year by saving $50/month all year long
- Paid cash for a car last August when both of our cars died at once
- Paid every hospital bill in full as it came in - no payment plans
- Faithfully tithed every single month, and recently raised the amount we tithe to our parish
- Paid off my student loan from college
- Paid cash for an expensive plumbing repair that was needed shortly after buying our house
- Started an adventure fund by saving our change and cashing it in each month
- Saved a $1,000 emergency fund and have never dipped into it
- Started keeping a $150 buffer in our checking account to avoid overdrafts and never dipped into it
- Closed several credit card accounts, including my Old Navy/GAP card and Kohls charge - and cut up those cards
- Got disability and life insurance policies for me (we're working on Matt's)
- Lived without cable for almost three years
I'm sure there's more that I'm forgetting but those are the things that come to mind. And now I'm smiling! Because yeah, there's sooo many goals on our list. So many financial milestones to hit. But these victories? They aren't insignificant. They matter. No matter what your victories are - however big or small, they matter.
Count the fruit, friends. And press on.