When I met my husband at 20, I didn’t know how to balance a checkbook.
For the first seven years of marriage, David and I didn’t keep track of our checks or ATM withdrawals. Whatever financial penalty we suffered due to unnoticed bank errors, we just counted as the cost of freedom. After one too many bounced checks, however, David bought a computer checkbook to bring some organization to our lives. But when the technological novelty wore off, he turned over the responsibility to me, which was like giving a toddler a chess board and being surprised when he gnaws on it. My jaunt as financial planner lasted until I got the phones disconnected, while David’s lasted until he realized he couldn’t mail the bills due to a lack of stamps. The pendulum of financial responsibility has swung back and forth so many times, it’s hard to know who’s more inept. (Although David is certain the distinction belongs to me after I bounced our tithe check at church.)
Our laziness extended to other areas of life as well. When a light bulb went out, we sat in the dark for months, wearing mismatched socks and putting Preparation H on our toothbrushes until one of us caved in. Additionally, David would drive by Blockbuster with a due video sitting on the passenger seat just to avoid making a left turn. He’d think, “Would I pay three dollars to not have to return this video right at this moment?” Of course, it never was just three dollars. In fact, we’re the reason the company got rid of late fees. They got so rich off David, they decided to let the rest of America slide. Even once, David sold his Honda Accord only to have the new owner call us a week later saying she’d found a never-watched Reversal of Fortune in the trunk.
But after 9/11, we grew up a little.
David joined the Army and was deployed to Iraq. He left me with complete financial responsibility over our family. (And we were $70,000 in debt, in spite of my husband’s Ivy League degree, living paycheck to paycheck.)
Here’s the story of what I did while my husband was in Iraq. Hint: It didn’t include the lottery or any other get-rich-quick schemes. It required a J-O-B. In fact, I got two. I followed Dave Ramsey’s advice, though he describes his plan as the same advice “your grandmother gave you, but we keep our teeth in.”
If we are outraged at how Congress and the president have out-of-control spending, maybe it’s time to bring the same level of criticism to our own behavior.
In fact, Ramsey recently told the Christian Post, “There is a lot of fear in our country right now. People are fearful about their financial situation and the financial situation in Washington. When people stop fearing what is going to happen and take control of their situation, only then will our economy begin to recover.”
Read the details of our story here. (And don’t judge me for selling my husband’s Landrover while he was in Iraq!)