Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Financial mistakes we would not have made if I had listened to my husband.

We had just returned from Christmas Eve service, and prepared for our traditional Christmas Eve gifts, usually new jammies. We open one gift each and get dressed and ready for bed. My mother started this tradition with my siblings and me, probably so that we would look good in our Christmas morning pictures. It is a tradition that I have tried to follow as well.

Being the scrapbooking and history-preserving mommy I am, I got out the camera and started snapping pictures, one of Gadget Boy, oh, he’s so cute snuggling with his little baby sissies; one of Chels and Miss Busy in their matching sleepers. (Only three kiddos at this time in our lives.) Snap-whir, snap-whir, snap then click. No snap-whir? No more film, “Oh, no! That can’t be the end. There has got to be more film in the buffet drawer!”

None, zilch, nada, not a single roll of unused film. What to do, what to do! Panic!

Now, we have to back up a bit in the story. For about a year, I had been trying to start an online eBay business, buying things at discount stores and then selling them for a bit of a markup. I had a friend who was doing this and making good money. I sold a few Longaberger Baskets I didn’t want anymore and some fabric liners that I made for them, quite a few of those actually. The only problem, I had to drag all my stuff over to Teresa’s house and use her camera. I loved visiting with her, but she was pretty particular with her stuff and wouldn’t let me touch her camera, she did the picture taking. What a pain. I wanted my own. Wanted—didn’t need, only wanted. Why didn’t I remember those words? They would cost me dearly.

I found out the make and model and started looking. This was back in 2001, and digital cameras were big, bulky and expennn-sive! The one I wanted used a 3.5” floppy to store about 18 pictures. Perfect! (I can’t believe that as I write this only 7 years later, that my camera now stores over 800 photos on a card one-fourth that size!! Hilarious!) The only problem, this baby cost over $600. I didn’t have that kind of cash just lying around. But wait, I could apply for store credit. Well, to make a long story short, well, to shorten it considerably anyway. I got the camera, a protection plan, floppies and a camera case. $700, payments were $50 a month. No problem, I could easily pay $100 a month and get it paid off before Bear found out about it.

That was during the summer, by Christmas I was still paying for it, the payments hadn’t gone quite as planned, Bear had gotten laid off and was looking for work again. Money was tight, and I couldn’t tell him about the camera just yet. That’s why I panicked!

So now back to Christmas Eve, while I didn’t have film for my 35 mm, I did have a perfectly good digital camera, and lots of blank floppies. But I didn’t tell him. I couldn’t tell him on Christmas Eve! I don’t think I told him until almost Easter. It was bad, he was angry, and rightly so.

This was the start of a lot of financial infidelity. Not paying the bills, mortgage payments got behind, car payments, etc. We lost our minivan, turned it back to the bank and then had to pay off the remainder of the loan over the course of the next 5 years. I felt like we were not on the same page. We were not together as far as the finances, and it was causing a rift in our marriage. It caused a lot of unrest, mistrust, and dishonesty; mostly on my part.

As far as the camera went, the payments got behind, there were late fees, finance fees, and interest at an incredible 22.5% that was accruing monthly. The original bill for $700 ballooned up to about $900 before we got it under control. The seven months I thought I had to pay it off became more like 4 years. The great thing I was doing for my business? Well, I didn’t sell enough on eBay to pay for the floppies, let alone the camera, the bag and the extended warranty too.

So for Christmas we only had about 3 or 4 pictures, just on Christmas Eve, and I remember the hardship and the strain I put on my marriage every time I look through our Christmas album. With financial counseling from our church elders, we have overcome most of those particular struggles, but overspending is something that I constantly have to resist. I try to be frugal and spend wisely, but then the ugly green greed monster inside lifts her ugly head and the gimmies resume.

Some verses that help me: Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.

Contentment with what I have, contentment with who I am in Christ, I do not need to fill any desires at Wal-Mart, I have no needs there. I am well taken care of, my husband provides for us and I will trust him and honor him by being faithful in this area of finances.
Now go over and see what Sue has to say, she does a much better job than I do.


Jenny said...

I could write a book on that one! Just a quick one that is funny now is when we first got married I had some furniture (and the credit at the store bill) and one credit card that I didn't tell Chad about. I figured I "needed" to be a little independent. All was fine until I started staying home and had to some how pay the bill without us starving to death as I used grocery money. At church one night the preacher preached on "infidelity" and somehow in my heart I made a connection and went to the alter in tears, then cried the whole way home. By the time we got home and put the kids to bed, and I could confess to having the credit cards he was thankful that it was just "credit card infidelity" and not what he had been thinking. It's a fun memory now, but not so much at the time. We made mistake after mistake but hopefully...prayfully we are not in that cycle again!

Thank you for sharing and encouraging us!

Praise and Coffee said...

Oh, no I don't do a better job girl. That was an awesome post!

I pray that women will avoid these pitfalls because of your honesty- and come clean if they've already blown it.

Thanks for sharing your story!! You are a wonderful writer.


Susan Kelly Skitt said...

Here via Sue. Thank you for sharing so honestly. Finaces are a tough area for me. It's something God has to work on big time. I will continue to pray and seek His face.

Reformed Grits said...

Wowzer! Thanks for your transparency! I'm sure he's NEVER made any financial mistakes though, right? ;-)

Emily said...

awesome transparency. It's so awesome that blogs can really touch people and make them think! This is one of those.

Hard lessons are the BEST ones, right?

MaryLu said...

Mrs Grits,
Yes he has made some financial mistakes but that would not be honoring to God or to my husband if I talked about his mistakes!

The rest of you, thank you for your kind comments, but I have by no means "arrived" in this area, (or any other for that matter, I'm just trying to pass on a bit of wisdom I have learned.

Trish D said...

Thanks for sharing - this has been an issue for us, too (things were tight one month, so I floated some excess on our credit card, but didn't tell him. And then in happened a few months later, so that went on the card, too. And of course it wasn't being paid down...) We've worked through it, and thankfully my husband was very gracious, but I still fight guilt over the true cost of my selfishness for our family. I know that's Satan just re-hashing my sin and I really am fighting to give it over on a daily basis.

Minister General said...

WHEEEEW! MaryLu awesome post! Thank you for sharing your personal story. Tell Bear that I hope all is well. God Bless you.

Renee Swope said...

Mary Lu,

You are a gifted writer and your words are very encouraging! Powerful post with transparency that cuts to the core in all of us. There is no room for secrets in marriage I've learned - God will get them out in the open no matter what it takes b/c He knows the enemy loves to do some damage in those dark corners.

Thanks for being so real and challenging all of us to look at our spending and our relationships with our husbands carefully. I used to hide receipts when we first got married because I didn't want him telling me what to spend or not spend. Oooh girl. God had some working to do on my heart. Thank goodness for online banking which has brought great accountability for me and my man.

You are going to be such a great chaplain's wife. Think of how many will be helped and set free b/c you're willing to share so openly.

Big hugs,

kmom3 said...

Thank you for passing this on. Oh, how hard it can be to "come clean" with our husbands and yet it is so vital to our marriages! Sigh. Thanks for your honesty. Transparency really does lead to healing....for ourselves and for others!

Amy Wyatt said...

Thank you for being so honest and vulnerable with this post. We too have had some of these same issues in our marriage and spending habits in the past. The enemy knows where to attack doesn't he?
Thanks for the reminder that I'm not going to find my contentment at Wal-Mart or the mall either.
This was an encouraging post. Thanks!

Lelia Chealey said...

OH boy...have I been down this road before. That will be a future post, but boy do we have a lot in common!
Knew I liked you~you just "GET" me. ;)


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