This post is not glamorous, but, honest. I'm thankful for my German heritage and to come from 2 lines of folks who managed their money, valued hard work, and living within their means. They may not have had much, but they had enough. I am thankful to have enough. I am thankful to have a spirit of self-discipline to say 'no' and to keep my wants in check. I am thankful for Dave Ramsey for writing 'Total Money Makeover' and making money management seem do-able - not complicated or too time-consuming. I am thankful to serve my family with this 'gift.'
I heard a few weeks ago about Germans' hatred of debt, having an innate desire to be free from debt and not burden another. This has been instilled into generations of Germans that it is considered a national trait. When I heard this, I thought, "Oh! That makes so much sense!"
Furthermore, a couple of weeks ago, I read an editorial about the cycle of poverty. It has been documented that generational poverty actually impedes the ability to plan long-term. Those who have lived in poverty for generations, paycheck-to-paycheck, simply focus on the immediate needs - never thinking about planning for the what-ifs in life. Again, I thought, "Oh! This makes so much sense."
My second reaction was one of gratitude. My grandfathers are both German. They were savers. They were planners. They were disciplined. As I said, they didn't always have a lot, but they always had enough. Because my grandpa Herman was such a planner and saver, what he left for my Gramma Faye has been enough to sustain her for the last 23 years - and allow her to be a generous giver. I consider this a great legacy.
When I got my first "real job," I realized that I needed to start being responsible with my money. ...but I didn't know how. When I asked my dad about budgeting, he said, "Just keep track of how much you spend each month - and there's your budget." Fair...but, not what I needed. I didn't need to know what I was spending my money on; I needed to know how to spend my money; how to save it.
Enter Dave Ramsey's, Total Money Makeover. This book changed my life. He gave a recommended percentage to spend each month on necessities, showing me how to live within my means. He recommended how much to save; how much to give - encouraging generosity. Within a year, I had enough money saved in my emergency fund to off-set a month where I didn't get paid (paperwork mishap; my contract ended and no one knew it). Because I had planned, I didn't freak out. While I did the 'dirty work,' I looked at this provision as a gift from God - because He laid it on my heart to be responsible and also the spirit to say 'no.' (self-discipline)
The budget became such a routine that I just kind of forgot about it. ...and then I got married.
Enter two different approaches to money management. Enter two people who thought the other one would take care of the details. Enter two different expectations. ...enter chaos.
I am one who lives by expectations - especially others'. My example prior to marriage was that the man handles the money. My dad was a great money manager; my mom spent it. :) My grandfathers managed the money. The married people in my life who talked about marriage were an example of the same pattern: man manages; woman spends. I thought that to have a marriage that lived up to others' expectations; that 'honored God', ours would have to look like this.
Conversely, Dan's mom managed the money - so he expected that I would to. I remember going out to dinner and he'd sign for the check, then give me the receipt. I balked. WHAT was he doing? WHY would I want that? I don't want to carry around his receipt! Why is this MY problem?
A year into our marriage, we were still having this 'discussion' of responsibility. [Downton Abbey quote-time: Cora, "Oh, I hope that we aren't having a disagreement in here." Violet (Dowager Countess), "Oh, is that what you Americans call having a discussion?"] My friend Heather mentioned that Dan must thinking highly of my ability to ask me to take on such a role. This completely changed my perspective. I could use my ability to serve my husband and our family...or I could be a wretch about it. Hmm...which choice would be more loving and honor God the most?
So, I'm thankful for God sending us His Spirit - his power - to change our hearts, attitudes and perspectives. I'm thankful for the ability to see beyond the immediate and have a long-term, and eternal perspective. I'm thankful for the corrective teaching and conversations.
...but really, as I completed my weekly/bi-monthly duty of balancing the budget, I'm really quite thankful that we have enough.