Jeff and I just started taking Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University this summer. I’d heard about Dave and his program to get out of debt and get control of your money, and now we’re in! We’re three lessons in to the program and learning so much about creating and sticking to a budget. We’ve learned that in our marriage, Jeff is the “free-spirit” and I’m the “nerd”. So basically, I’m the one who does most of the organizing of our finances, though Jeff is involved and we make decisions together.
This budget though. I thought I’d ace this part. Jeff would like the budget least. I’ve done bits and pieces of a budget before, I understand how it works, I got this. No problem.
Or so I thought.
Jeff is totally good with the budget. He asks me how we’re doing with it and is so good about talking to me before making purchases to see if our accounts can handle it. He’s the one telling me we’ll get it – it’ll take some time (90 days according to Dave), but we’ll get it figured out. He’s relatively easy going about the whole thing. Stinkin’ free-spirit!
Then there’s me – the “nerdy” wreck trying to figure out how we’re going to do this. I’ve actually felt some anxiety about living on a budget. I also teeter on perfectionism so I’m constantly tweaking things trying to do it right. Hence Jeff’s calm reassurance that we’ll get it soon. They say there’s freedom in budgeting, so why the anxiety? Why do I feel like I’m in a budget straitjacket?
I’m afraid to fail…
I hate failing. I hate looking like I don’t know what I’m doing. Not getting this budgeting thing down will impact our family for years to come. If I fail at this, we’ll really be up a creek. It’s a lot of pressure for a nerd.
But I have to remember that no one is perfect. We all fail at some point in life. I have to be okay with the fact that right now we’re learning. We’ll make mistakes and fall a few times, but together we’ll get back up and try it again. It’s just like sin and grace. No one is perfect in life or faith, but God forgives and extends His grace to us anyway. We make mistakes and He erases them with Jesus’ blood. We fall down and He picks us up and brushes us off and sends us back out to try again. Grace really is amazing. And it’s necessary to faith, life and even budgeting.
It feels restrictive…
No more impulse buys. No more “I owe this to myself” treats. Now we see each purchase through the lens of the budget. It makes me feel like I can’t do what I want. I wonder what we’ll do if something comes up unexpectedly – not even an emergency, just something unexpected. Will we be able to do the things we want to do?
Because it kind of is. We’re learning in this class that a budget is about discipline. We’re retraining ourselves how to think about money and we’re being trained to tell our money what to do. Yes, it means we think more about what we buy. Maybe we buy more off-brand stuff. We eat out less… or we’re trying to. It doesn’t feel great right now, in fact it kind of hurts. But I know in the long-run it will be good for us. It will benefit us and give us a better life and marriage.
This Bible verse is used in the class, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11
How I feel about this budget right now is how we all feel about God sometimes. He’s given us His laws because He knows that we’ll benefit from them. To us those laws feel restrictive. We want to do what we want, when we want. And when we can’t, we feel confined, because we see freedom in being able to live how we want. But in His love, God gives us rules to follow. In His grace He forgives us when we break the rules. And in His mercy He guides us back to where we need to be and keeps us on track. And pretty soon, as we work with God and as He works in us, we find there actually is a lot of freedom in following Him!
I’m holding out hope there’s freedom in working a budget, too!