Sunday, February 12, 2012

Our FPU Story

So, we are getting the privilege of sharing our Financial Peace University testimony this week in the two sessions we have currently going at our church. In preparation, I wrote out what will probably be the long version and will get condensed, especially since my husband is the main one sharing tonight. :) Neither one of us are big public speaker types, but we won't refuse a time to share how God has been SOOO faithful to us and to give Him the glory for where we are today.

So, I thought since i had written it up anyways, I would just share it here, in hopes that it will bring encouragement to anyone that may be where we were 3 years ago, and to anyone working the Dave Ramsey plan now. Keep at it!

Our story -

Thanks for letting us take a few minutes to share our FPU story with you. We were introduced to FPU by James and Cynthia Caine, who were willing to share their story and how God was using FPU in their lives. It encouraged us and led us to join FPU, and so we hope that in the same way, God will use what He has done in our life to encourage you.

We were married in November of 2005. We both entered into our marriage with a very simple financial plan – just that we wanted some money. But we both didn’t really have much else in regards to that. We were never really careless with our finances, neither being big spenders, but we still didn’t have a handle on it. All we did know was that we wanted to be good stewards of what God had given us, so we decided to join a Crown Financial small group about 3 yrs into our marriage. We learned a lot of great biblical principles about why we should be good stewards, but left without really knowing how to get there from where we were.

At the time, we figured that because our income was greater than our monthly expenses, our bank account should be growing each month. But that wasn’t the case. In fact, there were even months we had overdraft fees. And at the time, our only emergency fund was our credit card, which we also used for large purchases to pay off over time. We did not have any savings, and definitely thought that having a car payment was just how you did things. And even though we weren’t ready to start a family at that season of our lives, I couldn’t help but worry in the back of my mind how we’d ever be at a point where we could afford an addition to our family if we couldn’t even really make ends meet, just the two of us.

Fast forward to the fall of 2008, where we had the privilege of being in a small group with James and Cynthia Caine. Once they shared their FPU story with us, Immediately I could sense this was something God wanted to do at Community, and in our own lives personally, and so FPU was implemented the following January of 2009.

For us, one of the big light bulb moments during the first few weeks of FPU was about the detailed budget. Since we had never found a budget that worked for us, I was personally pretty intimidated by this point. (Budget was a bad word around our little one-room apartment, something I believed meant that I would have to do without what I wanted.) When we got into this part of the course, and realized just what money we had been spending, we were shocked! We had no idea that we were spending so much money in some areas, and definitely would not have intentionally set aside that amount of money to go towards things like eating out, where we had nothing to show for it later (except maybe in our waistlines).  All of a sudden, instead of being something restrictive, the budget became a source of empowerment, allowing us to consciously choose where we wanted our money to go each month, making sure that it lined up with what we valued and agreed upon.  It was really a life-changing moment for us. And we were able to identify areas we could start to put some of our monthly income into paying off debt.

Now that we had a plan, we were able to really face our debt with gazelle-like intensity. But we still knew, that because we both weren’t very good with finances, that we needed God to be doing all this through us. He honored our attempts to be obedient and faithful stewards, and there was time and time again when He provided either new forms of income, or met a need through some other way.

And you know how I mentioned that little fear in the back of my head that we’d never be able to have a baby. We could see a little bit of light in the distance, knowing that the money that was now going towards debt could someday be freed up for a baby.

As a testament to God’s goodness and faithfulness, only 7 months later, we were finished with Baby Step 2 and debt-free, except for the house. And we no longer had the idea that we needed a car payment, and definitely had given up the habit of using a credit card, period, forever. Two short months after that, we were pregnant with our first child, who is now 19 months old.

Even now 3 years later, we’re still as committed to the program as we were the first few weeks. Even though it’s taken us a little bit longer than average, due to having a baby and other life events, we are excited to say we’ll be finishing Baby Step 3 in a couple of months, and will be able to start investing for our future, at the ripe old age of 30. Praise God for His faithfulness and patience with us now and in the future!
I'd love to hear your story as well!

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