Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Debt Story: Part 9

We were going on vacation. I didn't know exactly how it had worked out, but between Mike's overtime and the Memorial Day holiday pay we had enough to make it work. I carefully counted out all of our cash, placing each bill into it's special envelope. It wasn't until I'd read Dave Ramsey's book that I started pulling cash out and using an envelope system. The system had seemed archaic to me before, when in actuality, once I started, I found myself much less stressed out over what we were spending. It was much easier to peek into my envelope and say, "We have $20.22 for gas" then it was to say, "We have...uh...about...$20ish?"
So I placed our grocery money, vacation 'fun' money, and gasoline money into their envelopes and wondered if we'd finally have a vacation where we came home with money in our pockets. My aunt and uncle had graciously offered to let us use their vacation home about three hours away and I couldn't have been more thankful. It was gorgeous, in a community right on the Colombia River in the Okanogan Valley in Eastern Washington. With a swimming pool and playground at our fingertips, not to mention the theatre in my uncle's home's basement, I knew we would have a great time. While I was putting everything into my wallet Mike walked up behind me.
"Someone emailed about the car."
"Really?" Hearing him say that made me nervous. I had felt that I would be ok with only one car, but in the back of my mind I had honestly hoped it wouldn't sell. I just didn't know if being a real life stay at home mom was going to fly with me.
"Yeah, he'd like to test drive it in a couple of days."
" Do you think he'll buy it before we leave for our trip?"
"I dunno. Maybe? Possibly?"
My mind mulled over what it meant. No one had come to look at the car yet; I felt like I was going to be disappointed if it was purchased or if it wasn't. There was no winning with my emotions.

"So," Laura started as we sat in the sun on my aunt's sun-deck, enjoying the view of the river and listening to wind rustle the trees. "What made you guys decide to get out of debt?"
I laughed loudly. "YOU!" I exclaimed.
She looked at me in surprise. "Really?"
I told her briefly about how her statement about living debt free had really impacted us. I gave her a run down of our entire journey up to that point ending with ..."and now we're trying to sell our car. There's a guy who test drove it and is waiting for a loan to go through? We don't know if he's legit or not. I guess we'll see when we get home."
Laura seemed proud of our progress so far. We moved onto deeper conversation, as is our custom, but it had felt good to let Laura know, at least a little, how much she and her husband had affected our lives.
In talking with Laura, I realized that for the first time on vacation I didn't worry once about how much we were spending. Every dollar I pulled out of our envelopes was meant to be spent; I wasn't worrying about how we were going to catch up after we got home. The freedom and control I felt over our finances was a completely new sensation to me; for so long our finances had controlled us. It felt good to be one calling the shots.

Enjoying what I knew was going to be our last vacation for a long while ...

"Guess what?" I asked Mike excitedly.
"We've got money leftover! Can you even believe it? We went on a vacation paying all cash and we actually have money in our pocket! Let's go out for dinner!!" I was only kind of kidding but the house was a mess with our post-vacation mess and I really didn't feel like cooking.
"Yeah," he smiled at me. "Let's go out for dinner!"
I grabbed my purse and yelled for the kids to get into the car. Mike was on my heels; going out had become such a rare treat we both could hardly handle the excitement. Mike's phone rang as he was getting into the car.
"It's that guy," he said me to. "The guy who test drove the car."
"Oh? Answer it I guess." I'd given up that the guy was actually going to buy our car. It seemed he'd spent so long trying to get his specific car loan to go through, and he'd never haggled with just didn't seem possible.
"His loan came through. He wants to come tonight, when we're home from dinner. He's got the cash."
I stared at Mike in disbelief. "Really? Do we really want to do this? Are we really going to sell our car?"
"Yes...I think...I think we are. Wow. I think we are going to do this."
Mike came into the house, wringing his hands, his eyes wide.
I watched anxiously as our little white car drove down the road and out of sight.
"Where did you put the money?" Mike asked.
"In the cupboard," I replied softly.
"Oh my gosh ... did we really just do that? Did we really just sell our car? Oh my gosh ... "
"We have $3700 cash in our cupboard," I said. "With that, and your overtime...honey, we're paying over $5000 on our credit card this month. And we went on vacation."
We stared at each other.
Finally Mike said, "Thank you Lord. We're doing the right thing, honey."

Indeed, it seemed we were.


Together We Save said...

Wow - your story is amazing... I pray I can get on board one day. I just don't know if my husband will ever agree to it.

Yellow said...

Wow! Credit getting paid off and vacation! The last time T-rex and I went on vacation was over two years ago. Thank you for writing all of this it keeps me going when it looks to hard!

twyla said...

I love Remember When Wednesdays. I seriously got excited when I remembered it was Wednesday and then I got kind of nervous when I was typing in the web address to your blog. Nervous that maybe you were too busy to write today or again strayed from the story and I would have to wait another week to read more. I am so glad you are telling this story. It is both inspirational and exciting to read. Thanks for being so candid in you writing, Gen!

CM said...

Yay! What an awesome story!

I totally know the feeling. We are using the envelope system too. If the money isn't in there, we don't buy it or go anywhere until it is. But it's the best feeling not getting a huge credit card bill at the end of the month!

Good for you guys!