• Teresa

Finding Financial Freedom

"You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others"

How can one help others financially when they have nothing in their pockets? I inherited my Dad's bad financial habits. Before things get out of hand (i.e., bankruptcy), I am getting my finances under control. My Mom taught me to save but it is really hard. My Mom used to say, "có dòng nào, xài dòng nào" meaning whatever dollar you have, you use it up (and not save any of it). My Mother explained the important of thinking about tomorrow. What if you lost your job tomorrow? How will you feed yourself or pay your bills? You need to think about the future.

My Mother is right. You should have seen me panicked two years ago when I went to the Emergency Department at Saint John's for ovarian cyst that caused me to be out of work for a few weeks! The medical bill came back with an outstanding balance of $800 after health insurance coverage. I have no idea where I was going to find $800! All I could think of was to call and ask if payment plans were an option.

Since I was in college, I have tried to get my finances in order. I gave my Mother my credit card to hang on to. That was short lived because I demanded to have my card back.

I even opened a savings account and a secondary checking account where I move 20% each of my paycheck but then I transfer funds to my primary to cover bills and miscellaneous. (Sometimes I wonder, "what's the point of having a savings account or a secondary checking account if I keep transferring funds?")

Three years ago, I created this awesome looking budget binder. It contains information about monthly budget, daily expense tracker, bill payment tracker, debt repayment plan, and more. Unfortunately I stopped after three months when nothing changed.

I thought of debt consolidation but was advise against it because I would be in more debt.

Like a few others that I have encounter, the one stressor of my depression is finance trouble. I am troubled when I accidentally overdraft, when I miss a bill payment, when I have no idea where the next source of incoming is coming from and I do not want my financial problem becomes my Husband’s problem. I caused the mess and therefore I need to fix it. It is not fair to have him pay for my problems. He is already taking care of me by providing shelter, running water and electricity, high-speed internet and cable. Heck, he even pays for food sometimes! He makes the monies and I turn that into our home by ensuring our utility is paid and get food on the table. (Yeah, I don't make much as a part-time Certified Nursing Assistant; most of my income go towards my personal debts and bills.)

I am only 29-years old and there are times when I feel like I have lost hope with no way out. I cannot imagine having a family in my current situation. (Babies are expensive!) Even though I am not a churchgoer nor have a religion affiliation, despite my family is Roman Catholic, I pray. I ask God for guidance.

"The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender." -Proverbs 22:7

I know what I need to do. I need to change. To get myself out of debt and find financial freedom, I need to change my behavior.

Earlier this year, I signed up for Financial Peace University (FPU) at Eagle Brook Church (Blaine). I started the class on Monday, January 21st and for the first time I felt hope; hope that I can do this and have the resources to do so. It will be hard. Some behavioral changes need to be made. It is possible. For once I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and it is no longer dark. With the support of the members at Eagle Brook Church and family, this time will be different. I will be debt-free. It will not be a quick process but with the resources and support, I will succeed this time.

Whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.” - Proverbs 13:11

P.S., Ironically last year, I received this cash envelop as a gift when I bought clothes from Poshmark. I remember the note card thanking me for my purchase and "to enjoy this gift that was made from the heart." I thought it was stupid but kept it anyway. It is funny how God work sometimes. On Monday, my Husband’s second cousin’s wife showed her cash envelop at FPU and it created this "ah ha" moment. So we'll see how well I can work this cash envelop method.

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