Starting New Rhythms…
This morning I woke up late after having a bit of insomnia. In part, I blamed the two cupcakes (sugar, chocolate, gluten and all!) that were leftovers from my granddaughter’s 1st Birthday Party on Sunday. Second, my 17-year-old hadn’t sent me a Snapchat saying he was home from work (our agreement so I don’t wake up at 2am wondering if he made it home safe!)
However, after some technical difficulties accessing Session One of the online Bible Study, Rhythms of Renewal (which perfectly describes all the things I’ve felt God prompting me I need to do for 2020 and beyond, and also duplicates the messages in the several books I’m reading including The Next Right Thing, Placemaker, and Free to Lean — I finally watched the video and interacted a bit on the discussion. So, now, even though it is nearly noon, I am sitting here with my third cup of coffee (a delicious blend of Keto creamer with a splash of honey and coconut milk) ready to post the first of a Ten part series I’m titling TOP TEN: A Look Back and Forward at the Past Decade and the Decade to Come. This post is PART 1….
A Decade in the Making
First, it’s been so long since I wrote a post, WordPress is too different for me to take the time to navigate. Eventually, I hope to go back and correct formatting issues. But for now, I need to take this opportunity on a snowy Tuesday afternoon to reflect back and focus forward. (NOTE: I started this post three Tuesdays ago! Today the snow is melted and we have sun shining on a very wet property after several days of intermittent rain)
It is not hard for me to believe a decade ago, my life was in the beginning stages of several transitions and restarts that would relocate our family twice, provide many opportunities for growth, and allow us to connect with family and friends we would otherwise not connect with had we stayed in Idaho back in 2011.
Financial Reset Lessons
I don’t want to bore everyone with the details of our financial struggles. But when a trade (hardwood flooring installation and refinishing) is the main source of income, the two biggest challenges are answering how much and when the money will come in. When you also include a large family and that my husband and I started out living paycheck to paycheck, managing finances has always been a challenge in one form or another.
So back in 2010, when things were fairly good and consistent, but our business partnership was failing, seven years of gradual stability began to crumble to the ground.
Eventually, we had to give up everything we had worked toward and start over financially. It was very hard for me as I felt I had managed our finances and our family so well during that time. But I had to let it go.
And thus began nearly a decade of restarting. Eventually our income became stable again, but our expenses living in California were very high. I learned to live without credit cards, but we still found saving extremely difficult.
So when we both lost our jobs at the end of 2015, were were back at the starting line once again. Only by God’s grace did we still manage to make our car payments on time and had started to rebuild our credit. I made sure we paid no interest and kept any credit card use to a minimum so we could pay things off quickly. More on the jobs in another post, but eventually we both obtained work again until the move to Idaho presented itself.
Again, I will focus on the moves in another post and will link that once I publish it.
Patterns of Surviving and Thriving
Though I was determined to never face a reset with our finances again, I prayed for the resolve to manage things well and really focus on saving this time around.
When our business grew ridiculously fast after our move back to Idaho, the intense amount of income threw us both off. We had never managed that amount of cash flow before. It felt good to be able to pay for everything, and pay off our credit cards each month. Still, the savings factor became an issue when we had to make some crucial business decisions.
On the cusp of being able to finally own a home again, we did our best in balancing the choices.
Still, we haven’t arrived. Yes, through hard work, lots of prayer, and God’s grace, we did finally buy a home. But our finances are not where I would like them to be.
I tend to take on the mentality of consuming (buying things!) when we have a chance, an underlying fear if I’m honest that when our income drops again– at least we will have all this stuff still. But I try to tell myself it’s not so much about having things, because when it comes down to downsizing, I’ve rarely had an issue with getting rid of stuff.
For me it’s the environment. Creating a sense of home and having what we need on hand to be good hosts when we have guests. To have things of comfort after years of discomfort. To take advantage of a sale because a penny saved is a penny earned, right?
I feel this pressure to create a beautiful home and have clean, functional things that also spark joy — like the bedroom set I finally got after twenty-five years of using second hand items and living without a dresser or a bed frame.
I think my patience wears thin as this thing deep down says our time of abundance won’t last.
But I know that’s a lie steeped in fear and I must — I must stop before things get out of control again.
And my first step is to focus on the beauty of my world that is already there and that doesn’t cost a thing! Well, of course we are paying our mortgage, but I have plans for that backyard. In fact, I hope by next week to post the first of several progress photos of a little gardening project me and my three-year-old grandson are working on.
Though I may have to invest a small amount in supplies, my goal is to spend the least amount possible to create small areas of peace, joy, and beauty inside and outside of my home.
Financial Freedom in the Next Decade – 2020 and Beyond
Though I feel our finances are a private matter, I am sharing to hold myself accountable. I pray every day as I start with God’s word and remind myself like the song Holy Water by We The Kingdom says:
…I don’t want to abuse your grace. God I need it every day. It’s the only thing that ever really makes me want to change.– Holy Water by We the Kingdom
“Financial freedom” is such an ubiquitous and ambiguous term. Do I have the financial freedom to buy anything I want? Do I have the financial freedom to buy everything I need? No two people will have the exact same definition or yardstick by which that ‘freedom’ is measured. I’ve also found that the more assets (stuff) one acquires, the more savings they have, the threshold that defines their financial freedom will shift in similar proportion. Do you have freedom if your microwave breaks to purchase a replacement? What about your car or house? Do you have financial freedom if you cannot afford an emergency $500k medical procedure? I guess I’m saying that, for us common folk, only the complacent will label themselves as free from financial concerns. Diligence will always be required whether one is surviving on $30k a year or living posh on $300k. True too are folks making $30k that have little or no financial stress while the $300k person is constantly in financial fear. No real point here, just pondering out loud. I see the term ‘financial freedom’ and it always makes me think, “Hmm…what does that mean?”
I always love to read your ramblings:) For me “financial freedom” is more of a state of mind. That our finances… be it your example of $30k or $300k don’t consume me to the point of anxiety or stress that ultimately makes it difficult for me to engage in the creative activity of writing. Some will say that means no debt, substantial savings, and multiple sources of income. But your right, one devastating financial blow and that might not save someone from financial hardship. In the end, my point is that I’m resolving to write regardless of our financial status in the next decade or longer. That’s “freedom” to me! :)