Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Story of God's Provision (Part 2)

In case you missed part 1, you can catch up here.

May of 2010 came and went and we were blissfully happy! We were married and living on our own, both of us for the first time. Before we got married we joined bank accounts, combined all our finances, and decided that to get the best benefits from our credit card we would use our credit card for all of our purchases to rack up points and earn cash back. This seemed like a really great plan. We would pay off the credit card every month with the money from our bank account, and we always had enough. Until we didn't.

We paid for everything we possibly could with that credit card; rent, gas bill, electric bill, phone bill, insurance, groceries, water/sewer bill, clothing, eating out, Netflix, etc. It all got charged to the credit card. This was in addition to the money that was automatically coming out of the bank account each month for my student loan payments, car loan and our tithes to the church. And then there were the unexpected charges like when our cat, Stank, got really sick and we had to take him to the vet. Or when our "built-in" pantry shelves fell down and we had to buy something new to replace it with. Those things really add up, especially the unexpected charges!

Eventually it got to the point that we started having to take money out of savings to pay off the credit card completely. Our pay checks were just not enough. It started out as not much, just $25, then $50, then $100 and it kept increasing until we'd dwindled our already not very large savings account to just under $1,000. When this happened we ended up not being able to pay the credit card in full every month. Granted this didn't happen right away, it took several months for us to start racking up this debt. But by this point, my spending habits had been formed and it was REALLY hard for me to cut back. Before getting married I was so used to buying clothes whenever I wanted. I've ALWAYS been a thrifty shopper, but when you are really struggling financially, even being thrifty doesn't make up for buying frivolously. I never hid my purchases from Collin, but it got to the point where he would get really upset with me for buying something new that wasn't a need. And I would get really defensive and many arguments broke out because of my spending habits.

The first year of marriage is hard enough on its own, adjusting to life together, figuring out all the idiosyncrasies of living with a new person, but to add financial stress on top of that is no cake walk. It was hard. Very, very hard. We fought a lot and most of the fighting stemmed from something dealing with our financial situation. And it didn't make things any better that our work schedules were so different. I worked "normal" hours from 7-4:30 and had every other Friday off (still do), while Collin's schedule changed all the time. Working retail will do that. At this point the TLE (Tire & Lube Express) was open from 7am-9pm. Most days Collin worked from 12-9. However, that didn't mean he would get off at 9, sometimes it was close to 10 when he would get home from work and by that point I was ready for bed. And then even once the TLE began closing at 7pm, most days Collin would still be at work until 8 or 9, including Saturdays! That was hard in and of itself. We didn't have a "normal" life as I had always imagined it would be.

So our first year of marriage was quickly going by. We weren't getting to spend much time together (another bad thing for my shopping habits... when I was bored/lonely I would shop), and we were quickly accruing credit card debt. It came time for us to begin thinking about either renewing our lease or moving somewhere else. When we got our renewal notice in the mail, of course our rent had been increased. We both decided that there was no way we could stay in our town home, especially not with a rent increase since we couldn't afford it at the price it was. We started praying about what we should do and where we should move. We thought we had it all figured out but then our plan fell through. However, God provided us with a solution. It wasn't one that I embraced with open arms. But as I look back now, it was the absolute best thing for us at this point.

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