Saturday, February 27, 2010

Murphy's Law and the Emergency Fund

I've been in Step 1 of Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace/Total Money Makeover plan for about a week now.

Step 1 is to build a $1,000 emergency fund. Dave warns us several times that as soon as we've made a commitment to financial peace, Murphy's Law is going to come into effect. For some families the emergency fund is something they are able to do quickly, for most of us it takes several months because stuff comes up before we can accumulate the fund.

I stopped using credit cards and had a few hundred dollars in my emergency fund. Last Wednesday was my first court date and I was a nervous wreck. I had so many people lifting me up in prayer, however, and I felt it.  Unfortunately, I allowed my nerves and all the decongestant medications I'm on to get the better of me as I was getting out of my driveway.

Our neighbor parks his car directly across the street from our driveway. It's a narrow street so when we back out we have to turn pretty sharply to make sure that we don't hit his car. So on the day that I was already a basket case, for the first time in the 26 years I've lived on this street, I backed into his car.

Oh, the horror when you can't blame your mishaps on somebody else! This was completely and totally my own fault. Fortunately my neighbor was very nice about it, as was my insurance agent. I've never had to make a claim before. The previous traffic issues I've had have been the other driver's fault. So there goes $100 from my emergency fund to pay my deductible.

It could be SO much worse! As a matter of fact, I picked up a sub assignment at the last minute yesterday that practically covers what I had to take out.

As for the court date, it was a big nothing. My attorney prefers that his clients attend in order to get that first time in court under their belts and not feel so intimidated with the process. We also had a chance to confer before and after the appointment time. It was strictly a status conference and I didn't even need to go in.

This Tuesday will be a meatier date to address spousal support and attorneys' fees.  Amazingly, I'm not worried anymore. Between my friends having my back, my faith, and the wisdom of my lawyer having me go last week BEFORE I ever have to see the magistrate, I'm feeling pretty good.

Murphy's Law WILL strike at you, especially when you've made a decision to better yourself. I'm already learning to stay the course and have faith in the process.

Joyfully yours,

Monday, February 22, 2010

Total Money Makeover

I've made some really smart financial decisions in my life that have benefited my family.

I've also made some really stupid decisions that have hurt my family and myself.

Now that I'm facing life alone with limited financial resources, I know that I need to get smart and follow a system that works. 

I'd heard of Dave Ramsey before, but didn't really know much about him.  Then a couple of friends started reading Total Money Makeover. I heard that he uses biblical principles and that he's a straight-talker. I asked opinions of some of my other friends and heard glowing remarks. "It's not easy, especially at the beginning," one friend said, "but it's created a whole new way of life for us that is debt-free except for our house." 

I borrowed the book from the library. (Pet peeve: Someone else who borrowed the same book decided to underline and highlight all the way through it. If it's your own book, fine. I don't understand the mentality that says you can do anything you want to a book that is on LOAN to you!! Grrrr!!!) 

The first two steps are already difficult, but I'm determined to follow them. No credit cards (one of my problem areas) and save $1,000 in an account that you can easily get to. I have some money in retirement accounts, but nothing in savings that I can access.

This is the beginning of a process for me. One that ties in with my new life.

In fact, the first court date is this Wednesday and I am a complete mess about it. It's "only" a scheduling date;  nevertheless it's going to be emotional for me. The last time I was at the court house was in 1979. My soon-to-be-husband and I went there to get our marriage license. Now we'll walk up those steps again, each of us with our lawyer, in order to start the proceedings to end that same marriage.

I won't know for some time how my future will unfold in the way of my living conditions or financial security. I do know that acknowledging that I need to have some kind of plan is the only way I can make it.

I'm looking forward to my makeover, in every area of my life, no matter how scary or challenging it may be.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Women of Strength

The company you keep has a direct bearing upon the kind of person you are. If you choose to surround yourself with people of a critical nature you not only will feel inadequate yourself, but become too quick to find fault in others as well.  There are some people who enjoy complaining about anything and everything. Boy, do they bring me down. I find that gratitude and love requires less energy than constantly finding something to moan about.

I've been fortunate enough to find many women of strength to influence me, laugh with me, lift me when I cannot carry myself, share their joys and sorrows with me, and inspire me to be a better human being.

My aunt sent me this poem several years ago and said that I was a woman of strength in her life. I'm flattered that she believes that. For my own part, I can only say that the words in this poem are what I aspire to be some day.

A Strong Woman versus A Woman of Strength

A strong woman works out every day
to keep her body in shape, 
but a woman of strength looks deep inside
to keep her soul in shape.

A strong woman isn't afraid of anything,
but a woman of strength shows courage
in the midst of her fear.

A strong woman won't let anyone
get the best of her,
but a woman of strength gives the best
of herself to everyone.

A strong woman makes mistakes
and avoids the same in the future,
but a woman of strength realizes life's mistakes
can also be blessings and capitalizes on them.

A strong woman walks sure footedly,
but a woman of strength knows
when to ask for help.

A strong woman wears the look of confidence on her face,
but a woman of strength wears grace.

A strong woman has faith 
that she is strong enough for the journey,
but a woman of strength has faith
that it is in the journey that she will become strong.