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2009-02-10

Celebrating Financial Milestones!

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"We're debt free!!!!!!!!"


In case you don't recognize it, that's Keith and I screaming Dave Ramsey-style. He allows people to call in to his show and scream on air that beautiful phrase which fills me with giddiness. In order to participate in this call-in, you have to meet the following requirement: Be completely debt free with the exception of your mortgage--and that's us right now!

We've never incurred much debt in our married life with the exception of Keith's school loans, an unexpected medical bill, and now our mortgage. However, God has been gracious to provide us with wise biblical teaching on sound money management along the way, and as a result we had realized the importance of purposefully seeking to pay off all of our debts as fast as we could.

The medical debt has long since been eliminated, but we still had that ornery student loan that hung on like a leech. Bit by bit, we chipped away at it. Finally with part of our economic stimulus rebate, we made the very last payment!

One thing we have learned along the way is to celebrate when you reach a new goal! So, that's exactly what we did. We called up some of our good friends who have been on the same journey to honor the Lord with their finances, and invited them to join us for a celebration dinner--our treat. We hired a babysitter and headed out to a Mexican restaurant with our friends. We toasted our success--or rather, God's provision--and enjoyed adult conversation. Afterwards, we finished up with some yummy snow cones. It might not seem like anything big, but since we rarely go out to eat--and never without our children--it felt like a luxury.

Some of you might be thinking that the money spent on that dinner would have been more wisely used if it had been set aside towards our next step on this journey (growing an emergency fund). However, "splurging" a little on a celebration is actually a very wise and frugal move.

When you celebrate, you refresh your spirit. It gives you some new motivation to keep on keeping on. If you trudge through the very hard work of saving and scraping with nary a stop for fun and celebration, you're much more likely to give up altogether.

Here are four tips for celebrating those financial milestones:

1. Have a plan so that you actually reach a milestone in the first place!
We've used the Crown Money Map personally, and it's very similar to Dave's Baby Steps. I would recommend either plan. You can also celebrate intermediate steps that may not be one of the bigger goals in order to keep you motivated along the way. Celebrate the simple things like setting up your budget for the first time and then actually keeping it for a month.

2. Plan for your celebrations.
The encouragement to celebrate is not encouragement to lose sight of wise stewardship and frugality. Don't spend money you don't have on your celebration! Make sure that you plan to wisely set money aside if your celebration is going to be an expense. By the way, your celebration doesn't have to cost money! It might be as simple as spending the evening curled up next to your honey as you watch a favorite movie borrowed from the library while eating homemade popcorn. Celebrating is simply about doing something special and at least a little out of the ordinary to mark the attainment of a goal.

3. Make the celebration fit the milestone.
If you kept your very first budget for the very first month, it's probably not fitting to celebrate by taking an Alaskan cruise. Again, don't use the celebration principle as an excuse to be a bad steward. On the other hand, if you just paid off your house, you need to do something more exciting than buying a snow cone, for Pete's sake! You get the picture, I'm sure.

4. Give credit where credit is due.
Ultimately, it's because of the Lord that we're able to reach a new financial milestone. Take time to praise His goodness and provision!

Thank you, Lord, for what you've done for us in our own lives and for providing us with biblical guidance, the encouragement from friends to keep on going, and the means to reach this new milestone!

2 comments:

The Lettus Family said...

Awesome Brianna!!!!
We're hoping to scream that same thing in about a year!!!

Brianna said...

Thanks, Heather! I'm telling you, it is a wonderful feeling.

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