It was one of the scariest nights of my life. My husband and I were crammed into a single bed in the old nurse's residence in a major regional medical centre. The room was small and eerie, and the bathroom across the hall was shared with other occupants of the former nurse's residence. My doctor had to give express permission so that I could stay with my own husband, and his room in the nurse's residence was booked so that he could be near me while I suffered through being in the hospital. I wanted that night to last forever. I wanted to be in denial and not have to face what would come the next morning. I asked my husband to pray with me again. To pray that God would take my illness away. To pray for healing. I believed that God could heal me in the middle of the night, and that I could walk away the next morning, never having to deal with changing brain chemistry again. My husband read to me from the You Version Bible App on his phone, and I clung to him and fell asleep. When I woke up early in the morning, I was not healed. I was still sick. I was running late. I threw on my clothes and we ran to the hospital Tim Horton's and back to the part of the hospital that would end up separating me from my husband for two whole weeks. We had never been apart from each other that long. We power walked through hospital hallways as I ate my bagel and luckily arrived back on the unit in time to see my doctor, who only did rounds at the hospital once per day and usually arrived first thing in the morning.
I didn't know who I was anymore. I didn't know if I'd ever write again, or take pictures again. I didn't know if I'd ever work again. I didn't know if I'd ever make it through a day without feeling sheer terror again. I told my husband several times to leave me so that he could have a better life. I told him that I was sucking the life out of him. He believed for the two of us that the woman he married would come back to him again. The woman who cooked for him, laughed with him, had a sparkle in her eye, loved him deeply, spent hours writing on her blog, and took pictures in order to capture the beauty of nature and architecture and other subjects. The woman who could read her Bible without crying and feeling condemned. I thought I was doomed to be an invalid for the rest of my life. There were days when I got home that all I had the physical and mental strength to do was take a shower and pass out on the couch for the rest of the day. I looked through old Facebook photos and didn't understand how the woman who threw her husband a 30th Birthday Bash in May, complete with several friends, old fogie attire, and dozens of homemade cupcakes with hot dog gummy candy on top could have disappeared so fast.
The illness that hijacked my mind was threatening to kill me, and I was quickly slipping away. I could barely hold a conversation without feeling overwhelmed, frequently zoned out, and constantly felt like I was jumping out of my own skin. I was heavily medicated in order to sleep as I tried to drown out the screams of those who were much sicker than I was. It was torture. I missed my husband, and he was working 12 hour shifts and was two hours away. I used my calling card to hear his voice at night, and I would cry on the other end of the line. He fought for me, even when I was a shell of the woman I was before.
He took me home when I was still too sick to take care of myself. He loved me unconditionally when I was utterly unloveable and emotionally unpredictable. He made the decision that we should buy a house and move to the town about 12 minutes away from where we were renting a 550 square foot home. A town that had a grocery store and our bank, and other places I could walk to when I felt the need to get out and run errands. He bought a house that he knew would help pull me back into the land of creativity, and decorating, and writing, and organizing our finances. A house that has been the first place we've been able to call home since we were married in 2009. A house that he went to the bank for a mortgage pre-approval for alone while I hid under the covers in bed and cried. I was the financial planner of our household, but the thought of buying a house was more than I could fathom at the moment. He walked out the door with the folder I had mustered up the energy to organize for him with his paycheque stubs and other necessary documents. He walked out the door afraid. He had no idea what he was doing as far as mortgages went, but he knew what he was doing was best for us, even though I didn't understand that at the time. He made the decision to walk away from the lot we'd bought in the town we were currently living in. He made the decision to buy instead of build. He made the decisions when I was at times incapable of making the smallest decisions. Even picking out clothes in the morning was overwhelming at the time.
As I walked upstairs tonight in our new house to begin writing again after deciding the pain of depression and loss and grieving what was was no longer going to hold me back from speaking out in love to those who also walk through deep valleys, I stopped to admire the door frame as I walked into our office. There were sections where the white paint had worn down and old paint was showing through. Sections of brown. Glorious remnants of history in an old house that I have fallen in love with because my husband chose to give me the gift of space and freedom and beauty when I couldn't comprehend that what he was doing was best for us. I paused to feel pure joy welling up in my heart as I thanked Jesus for the sweet gift of this house and a husband who honors his wedding vows. How much more has Jesus given all of us the gift of beauty and freedom and love even when we couldn't comprehend what he has done for us. I was sick, and now I'm not. I was lost and I've found my voice again. Through the broken memories, shattered dreams, and nightmares of what has happened, ashes have been traded for beauty as my heart slowly begins to heal.
Healing is a sweet gift. If you don't know who you are anymore, let others remind you. When you're lost, let love find you. You can survive the seasons of tragedy that threaten the very core of who you are. You can walk out with courage, and hope, and realize that you are stronger in Jesus and in the love of others than you ever were before. You can let your heart begin to melt and your smile will begin to creep up on you in life's littlest moments until you realize you are able to feel joy again and you are just so happy to be alive. I am privileged to journey through healing with you. I am privileged to be loved.
How has love sustained you in times of loss and struggle?
As you are already aware if you've read any of my previous blog posts, my husband and I are following Dave Ramsey's debt snowball plan for paying off our debt and saving for our future. Dave Ramsey is a Christian financial guru (for lack of a better word). By the time he was 26, he had a net worth of just over 1 million dollars from real estate investing. He had used debt to build his wealth, and he and his wife ended up losing it all. By age 30, they were bankrupt. The Ramsey's managed over time to pay off all of their debt and Dave has dedicated his life to helping others pay off debt and manage their money. A friend sent me a Facebook message recently to let me know that Craig Groeschel's church (LifeChurch) has a free Bible App called YouVersion that now has a Dave Ramsey reading plan. Journey with Dave through the Bible as he teaches you, "Dave Ramsey's Financial Wisdom from Proverbs." I read Day 1 today, which includes a Bible verse from Proverbs and a Devotional Sidebar. The Devotional for the first day is called, "Day 1: Know Your Stuff." One quote of Ramsey's that I particularly enjoyed from today is, "Money is sort of like a thoroughbred horse. When it's properly trained, it combines beauty and power like few things on earth. But left on it's own, it becomes wild---even dangerous. Know the condition of your flocks and pay attention to your herds. If you don't manage your money, the lack of money will always manage you!"
Amen brother. My husband and I have been in the place where our money managed us. We struggled constantly and were barely even able to put food on our table at times. Fast forward a couple years later and
we have an Emergency Fund, have paid off two student loans, and are saving up to build a house. If we can make a financial turnaround, you can too! Download "Dave Ramsey's Financial Wisdom from Proverbs" today! Go to https://www.youversion.com/reading-plans/463-dave-ramsey-proverbs
to download the FREE appAND http://www.daveramsey.com/new/baby-steps/ to begin your journey to financial peace
We've bought into a lie in our culture that fitness has to be expensive. Gym memberships can cost $50 or more per month, yoga studios may charge $200 or more for 10 weeks of classes, and then some people pay for a personal trainer on top of this cost (I'm not judging you - I did that once. I think my wallet actually cried). Have you ever added up what you're spending on your gym membership each year? Maybe it would be cheaper for you to get some of your own fitness equipment. You can find cheap, used ellipticals online for as low as $200. Small weights cost around $10 at Superstore. Do you really need to pay $900 a year or more for lots of equipment that you may not even use? Because my husband and I are paying off debt, I am too cheap right now to even buy a used elliptical. Did you know that you can buy workout DVDs for $5.00 at Walmart? I've been dancing up a storm to "Cardio Dance Slim Down" by The Firm. I have a blast doing the dance workout numbers on it, even though my husband often stands behind me and laughs at the instructor or cheesy dance moves. I don't know why anyone would laugh at "The Butterfly" or "The Big Rig Pull"? The copyright on the back of the video is 2006, but some of the dance moves are a little outdated. Ok, I laugh every time the instructor says, "Let's take this to the club!" Really? Despite the cheesiness of the video, it is an excellent workout - it's 45 minutes of cardio that really works your core. I like that I can have my own personal Zumba class right in my living room - I don't have to travel anywhere, there aren't people staring at me wanting to laugh their faces off (well, maybe my husband is), and I don't have to adhere to a class schedule. Find cheap ways to workout, and use the $ you would have spent on a gym membership to pay off debt or save for your future.
What are your cheap workout ideas?
Ramen noodles are not the epitome of health. In fact, the Compliments brand has 190 calories, 6 grams of fat, a whopping 550 miligrams of sodium, and 29 grams of carbohydrates per 1/2 of a package. Despite these nutrition facts, if you were a fly on the wall of the lunch room of my employer, (not that you would want to be - that's just strange) you would catch me eating ramen noodles on a semi-regular basis. You would also catch me throwing away the broth after I eat them so as not to drink MSG, which is also not good for your health. Why then do I choose to eat ramen noodles? Because they are CHEAP! If you've read any of my previous blog posts, you would know that my husband and I are following Dave Ramsey's debt snowball plan for paying off our debt. Dave Ramsey encourages couples who are paying off their debt to eat beans and rice, but that would require buying both beans and rice, when all I have to buy is ramen noodles. (Not that I actually eat them everyday - the rest of the time I eat the leftovers of whatever my husband and I had for supper the night before). Every time I say no to eating out and say yes to eating a cheap lunch, I am saying yes to paying down our debt faster and I'm also saying yes to the house we're saving up for and plan to start building in the Spring of 2014. When you're paying off debt and saving for your future, every dollar counts. So that my friends is why I eat ramen noodles.
What do you eat for lunch at work?
Today, I am thankful that my husband's Manitoba Student Loan has been paid in full!
Andy and I are so excited to announce that we officially paid off his loan as of June 11, 2012. What a huge financial relief that is for us! I wrote here about how we were getting close to paying off his loan, and about where we've come from financially: http://www.jennajeske.com/1/post/2012/05/16839.html
Andy and I have 4 student loans we are trying to pay off, and we now have one down and three more to go! Financial freedom is getting closer as we walk through a difficult debt-free journey. If you are struggling financially, and want to know how to get out of debt, check out Dave Ramsey's Debt Snowball Plan here: http://www.daveramsey.com/article/get-out-of-debt-with-the-debt-snowball-plan/
Click on the other links on his website to find out how to manage your finances successfully. No matter how far you've gotten off track financially, there is hope! May God bless you as you seek to honor Him with your finances.What are you thankful for today?
From the beginning of this blog, I have practiced financial transparency in hopes that the debt free journey my husband and I are on will inspire others to pay down their debt as well. I wrote extensively about our finances when I first started this blog in this post http://www.jennajeske.com/1/post/2011/09/i-want-to-scream-were-debt-free.html
. I want to kick our society's trend of keeping up with the Joneses in the face. It is ruining our financial, emotional, and spiritual health. It is causing us to seek after materalism instead of the God who created us.
I wholeheartedly agree with Proverbs 22:7, which says, "...the borrower is slave to the lender" (NIV). Yet, I speak not with a spirit of condemnation. I speak with battle scars on a path marred by mistakes, tears, and redemption.
Growing up in a wealthy area, I learned to seek hard after wealth, beauty, and status. As a result, debt followed. When I married my husband, our debt combined, and we struggled to make ends meet. We made financial mistake after mistake, and we had no idea how to budget. Then, we stumbled upon the wisdom of a man named, Dave Ramsey. Through his book, "The Total Money Makeover," Dave taught us how to do a paycheque allocation, draw up a realistic budget for our family, and how to live on a cash only, envelope system of managing our money. He also taught us how to follow his debt snowball plan for paying off all of our debt. I would like to say that our financial walk has been easy since then, but I would be a liar if I said that we haven't had any setbacks. We've had plenty. I am happy to report, however, that as of May 4, 2012, Andy's Manitoba Student Loan has a balance of $168.39. Praise God! In my original post detailing our finances on September 7, 2011, his loan had a balance of $2,292.45. We've come a long way, baby!
Above, Andy's actual note made while talking to someone at the Manitoba Student Loans call centre, and my comments afterwards
Soon we will be at a status of one student loan down, three to go. We will then be able to take the $68 per month we are paying towards this loan, and apply that to the loan with the next lowest balance, thus accelerating our debt snowball. If you are in debt, and feel like you are drowning financially, there is hope! Check out Dave Ramsey's website: www.daveramsey.com
. He has plenty of resources to help you get back on track financially. No matter how far in debt you are, you can have peace again... check out the "We Did It" success stories on Dave's website for some inspiration:
http://www.daveramsey.com/articles/article-list/category/lifeandmoney_wedidit_user_generated/Everything that we have financially is really God's, not ours, and we need to honor Him with our finances!
I thank Him for the journey my husband and I have been on financially, and what we've learned over the past few years. May our story inspire others to honor Him financially as well.What do you think about debt? Why?
Dave Ramsey tore a strip off me today. No, I didn't receive an angry phone call. I simply went onto Ramsey's website to read financial articles, and one particular rant of his caught my eye.
Ramsey is a financial expert with a world renowned business devoted to helping people pay off debt and whip their financial affairs into shape. He has a nationally syndicated U.S. radio show and is also an author and public speaker. My husband and I read Ramsey's book, "The Total Money Makeover," and it saved our finances. After getting married in August of 2009, my student loan debt combined with my husband's student loan debt to produce a huge debt load for two 20-somethings with Bachelor's degrees that have no marketplace value in North America. We struggled greatly to make ends meet, frequently worrying about what we would eat next and how we would put gas in the car. Neither of us had any idea how to budget, and our financial outlook was bleak. Reading "The Total Money Makeover" taught us how to do a paycheque allocation and budget, and it also taught us how to make a plan to pay off our debt. http://www.daveramsey.com/store/prod326.html
We now plan to have all of our student loan debt paid off in the next couple years, and then we will begin taking the money we were using to pay off our student loans and using it to save for retirement. If you are a teenager or young adult, or the parent of one, you need to read the transcript of a radio rant by Ramsey entitled, "Student Loan Meltdown."
The link is below:http://www.daveramsey.com/index.cfm?event=askdave/&intContentItemId=122967&ictid=text2
Before Ramsey launched into his on-air rant, a young woman from Texas named Sarah had called in to his show to ask him a question about her family's finances. Sarah had taken out $130,000 in student loan debt in order to earn her Bachelor's degree in Psychology. After earning her degree, she was unable to find work and is now a stay-at-home mom. After answering her financial question, Ramsey launches into a rant about student loan debt. It was as if he were speaking directly to me. Ramsey made it clear that he loves stay-at-home moms - which is good, because I plan to be one some day! However, if my husband and I don't pay off our student loans, we will be unable to live on one income, and I will be forced to work instead of being at home with our kids. In his rant, Ramsey says, "You know what a psychology degree without a Master's degree is worth? NOTHING! Nothing! Absolutely nothing! You can't get a [job] in a factory with that degree! You know what a theology degree from Columbia is worth? NOTHING! It had no marketplace value! Think, people."
I have a Bachelor's degree in Psychology... I once heard someone say that with only a Bachelor's degree in Psychology, you might as well learn to say, "Would you like fries with that?" Luckily, I have a lot of administrative / accounts receivable experience, and have been able to find good jobs in Canada. For many American young adults with a Bachelor's degree in Psychology, life has been a different story - with rising unemployment rates, their job future can look pretty bleak. I also chose to go to a state school, and had an academic scholarship, so my total student loan amount owing is just over $20,000, which is much less than the over $100,000 some owe for Bachelor's degrees from ivy league schools or other private institutions. However, we still struggle to pay my loans, and I no longer believe that any amount of student loan debt is beneficial for any young adult.
Above - If I could be the student loan tooth fairy for all University graduates, I would!
Ramsey later gives a warning to parents of young adults in his rant when he says, "If you have a 20-year-old or an 18-year-old walking around, grab them by the ear and tell them they should not get a useless degree from a private university that you cannot make a living with and then choose to go home and be a stay-at-home mom with $100,000 in student loan debt." Ramsey goes on to warn young adults themselves when he says, "This is how life happens. You say you're going to be a professional at something and then you change your mind--YOU LOST THAT OPTION! You lose these options when you go this far in debt. You are forced into a situation where you are choosing between your children and student loan debt to get a useless degree!" It fires me up as well when I think about all of the women who feel called to be stay-at-home moms, but who are forced to work full-time instead of staying at home with their children because of student loan debt. This is not right, and most of us don't think about the consequences of student loan debt until it is too late. Over the past few years, my husband and I have had to say no to countless opportunities to hang out with friends, family gatherings, ministry opportunities, buying a house, and having children because our student loan payments are so high. I am not writing this to complain - we got ourselves into this situation. I am writing this as a warning to other young people who are considering taking out student loans. Think about what you can realistically make per month with your degree of choice. Then think about all of your future bills, and factor in how much student loan debt you can realistically afford to pay every month. Also realize that if you are married someday, you have no control over the amount of debt your spouse will bring into your relationship. Whatever debt you have combines with whatever debt they have when you get married. My favorite line in Ramsey's rant is, "There is no student loan tooth fairy!" You will not magically wake up one morning after graduating from University with a large lump sum of money under your pillow to pay off your student loans with. Proceed with caution financially before you find yourself swimming in debt.
Are you a young adult who wants to pursue higher education? What are some creative ways you can think of to pay for your education without taking out student loan debt? (If you need help thinking of some, I listed several in the blog post directly below this one).
Yesterday, I traveled two hours away to the city for an appointment, and was blessed by two of my great aunts who took the time to have lunch with me. My Auntie Do made a wonderful lunch for us in her apartment. She is the most positive person I've ever met. She and my Auntie Marguerite are nonagenarians (someone who is over the age of 90) who are still living independently. The three of us enjoyed salad, buns, a 7-layer casserole, and rhubarb crisp with vanilla ice cream for dessert on my Aunt's gorgeous china. After lunch, we sat and sipped tea, cherishing the time we had to spend together. As we sat, the topic turned to finances. My Aunts talked about the importance of having medical benefits and a good retirement savings plan. So many people don't stop to think about saving for retirement, and then struggle to make ends meet with an inadequate pension. Auntie Marguerite talked about the importance of patience when saving for retirement. So many of us see the funds sitting in an RRSP and want to prematurely withdraw them. We are ok with taking a huge penalty in order to do so, but doing so is at the expense of having adequate retirement funds when we actually need them. My Aunts were hardworking women with hardworking husbands. Everything they have in their retirement, they put away bit by bit, in good faith.
Below - On the left is Auntie Marguerite at her 90th birthday party with Auntie Do on the right
My Aunts and I then jumped into discussing how so many young people are overqualified for a career in their field and are deep in debt because of their education. This rings true to me as my husband and I seek to pay off all of our student loan debt using Dave Ramsey's debt snowball program. http://www.daveramsey.com/article/get-out-of-debt-with-the-debt-snowball-plan/
After reading Ramsey's book, "The Total Money Makeover," and learning how detrimental debt is to anyone's financial future, I absolutely agree that school debt should not be accumulated - unfortunately I learned that a few years too late! There are other creative ways to pay for an education; such as working part-time and going to school part-time, finding an employer who will pay for education, applying for scholarships and grants, and going to a community college while living at home.
One thing I love about my Auntie Do and Auntie Marguerite is that they are content with what they have in life. Combined, they have lived over 180 years here on Earth and have seen many good times and many bad times. Through it all, they have learned to survive through all circumstances, and have a plethora of good memories despite the hardships they've endured. A plaque on the wall in my Auntie Do's kitchen reads, "Life is like an onion; you peel it off one layer at a time, and sometimes you weep." Oh how true that saying is. As you journey through life, I hope you learn to be content in all circumstances, and I hope you work hard to whip your financial life into shape. If you are looking for financial advice, listen to your elders. Ask them questions. Let them tell you their story. They come from a time where people only bought what they could afford. Our materialistic culture is foreign to them, and can get you into mounds of financial trouble if you let it. Have you taken the time to listen to the financial advice of an elder? If so, what did he or she say?
Auntie Do talked about a gentleman's story that was addressed on a recent episode of a well-know financial guru's show. She said that the man on the show was depressed by his career situation and wanted to go back to school, but he was still swimming in debt from his last degree. The show's host told him that there was no way he should go back to school until his last degree was paid off.
My husband and I were in the middle of a staycation (much cheaper than paying for an actual vacation, and quite relaxing and fun) when we received a letter in the mail. We opened it and discovered that we owed $500 for an unfortunate life happening. A few days later, another envelope came. It said we owed $500 to the CRA. My husband received a Graduate Retention Tax Credit last year, which we already applied to his student loan. After calling them, no one seemed to know what was going on. They finally said he didn’t file his taxes in 2006 and 2007. He actually did, with the help of tax professionals that year. We are still trying to straighten out that situation. I knew I had two choices when we got those letters in the mail. 1. Become very discouraged about trying to pay off our debt since a good chunk of our emergency fund would be gone. Or 2. Be thankful that we had an emergency fund in the first place, remember that God is ultimately in control, and press forward. I chose #2. We will continue to press forward in paying off our debt, even though we do have to back-track a bit and re-save our emergency fund. Life happens to all of us. We can plan all we want, but disappointments and setbacks take place anyways. What matters is that we press forward. If we take three steps forward, and two steps back, we will still be one step ahead of where we were before. I don’t know where you are on your financial journey, but if you’ve make the conscious choice to pay off your debt, you will have setbacks along the way. Satan doesn’t like that you are tearing off the chains of financial bondage, and he will thwart your attempts. Last week, after feeling on track with paying off our debt again, I was referred to the Periodontist for an issue with my gums. Next Friday, I will be having gum grafting surgery (some skin off the roof of my mouth will be cut off and stitched onto my gum line). The surgery is partially covered by our dental insurance, but will still cost us $268. Another hit to the emergency fund. However, I chose again to not be discouraged. We have still taken many steps forward financially despite the steps back we’ve had to take. The good news is that God ultimately prevails when you continue to honor Him financially. We know we will win as long as we press forward with Him and continue to fight for financial freedom.
If you don’t know who Dave Ramsey is, he has made it his life’s work to help other people build solid financial foundations.
The “We Did It: Inspiring Success Stories” on his website are posts by ordinary people who have paid off their debt and achieved financial freedom.
One story in particular struck me today as extraordinary.
The link to this story is here: http://www.daveramsey.com/articles/article-list/category/lifeandmoney_wedidit_user_generated/ During the 30 months the family in the story spent paying off their debt, their car broke down 4 times, they totaled their car in an accident, they had to buy a new cheap car, their house A/C went out, and their house water heater died.
They pressed on and now are debt free with some savings in the bank, just in time to have their car and their furnace both needing major repairs.
They could have gotten discouraged many times and given up on their debt free journey, but they didn’t.
They took many steps back, but they still had enough steps forward to win financially.
They ran towards their goal and broke the chains of financial bondage holding them down.
They are an inspiration.
You and I need to press forward. One day we can post our story on Dave Ramsey’s website and encourage others who are on their debt free journey. Now that’s what I call financial encouragement for a long debt-free battle!
May God bless you as you pay off debt. Have you been discouraged by a recent financial set-back? What can you do to find encouragement for your journey?
I enjoy going onto Dave Ramsey’s website to read the “We Did It: Inspiring Success Stories.”
If you are just tuning in to my blog, I love to feature fun frugal fashion finds whenever I acquire a new item for my wardrobe in order to inspire other budget-conscious women to bargain shop. My husband and I are living on a strict cash budget in order to pay off all of our student loan debt, and I don't have a lot of money to spend on clothing. I have been encouraged to find that there are wonderful, cheap clothing finds out there for anyone who is willing to look for them.
Today's Item: Skinny jeans found at Mark's Work Wearhouse.
If you want to accentuate dress boots while wearing jeans, skinny jeans are a must. This pair is ultra comfortable with a stretch band waistline.
Price..... drumroll please.... $9.99!!!!!
I couldn't believe it when I saw the price tag - Mark's Work Wearhouse is currently clearing out their old denim inventory, and lots of jeans can be found for ridiculously low sale prices.
What is your fun frugal fashion find?