Monday, January 7, 2013

PT 2 Okay, we're here, now what? a guest post by Mike

This post is the second in a short series on faith and finances, written by my husband.  You can read part one here.

Fear is a funny thing.  Depending on what type of personality you have, it can steer you in different directions or none at all.  I'm the type of person that has to be in motion at all times, either physically or mentally.  When I add a dose of fear into the mix of constant motion, it is like getting a shot of adrenaline.  You may not necessarily know where you're going, but you're sure not going to be where you are when you're done.

2009 was an extremely challenging year from both a personal and professional standpoint.  The auto business was actually okay during the spring from a sales standpoint, but talk of the bankruptcies of both GM and Chrysler by summer really made the value of those cars challenged to say the least.  This sent a shockwave through the industry and created much uncertainty for businesses and people who made a living selling those vehicles.  This in turn made my irregular income even more volatile which caused a large amount of strain at home.  At one point, with my wife and child at home, we had a total of $12 until my next payday.  Writing about it now is making my chest tight even thinking about it.  I had moved my family across the country, and we were in very rough shape.  I felt like a victim and carried the mentality of one.

As 2009 moved along, the car market continued to improve, and we never missed a payment.  I watched our account like a hawk so that we would never pay an overdraft fee.  Additionally, I would figure out exactly how much we had for the following two weeks (which I was pretty good at), and Kate and I would agree to a pseudo budget (the real deal would come much later).  The summer was quite a struggle with my sister's wedding (which we knew of for at least 6 months) and a family medical emergency back on the east coast as well.  Both of those things rattled us financially, and I honestly felt like the boy who had his finger in the dam that could break at any minute.  The stress lasted for at least another 2 years.

The rest of 2009 and beginning of 2010 rolled along, and we almost decided to move back to the east coast due to the recent family medical events.  The car business continued to improve, and my career seemed to be getting back on track.  I was reading a significant amount in order to grow within my field, and it was having a significant and defined impact.  However, we still had a ton of debt, and our faith was very lukewarm.  Simply put, our lives were not in sync, and we were spinning our wheels.  Fear was still causing me to make decisions.

While reading, I came across a book titled "The Idiot Factor" by Larry Winget.  His essential point during this book was that you are whoever you want to be.  The culmination of your decisions and who you decide to surround yourself with are the driving factors in who you are, how much debt you have, how people treat you, your position in life, etc.  Quite honestly, I felt like I was reading a book that my father would have written.  Nobody speaks like this today and a good dose of reality was exactly what I needed.  This book was the first step for me in truly thinking of myself as being in the driver's seat vs. being a passenger on the bus. 

Things really started to get better from a career standpoint after changing my mentality (although we were still in a ton of debt).  Fear was something that I was able to fight back (or so I thought), but there was still something missing.  We simply weren't getting ahead in our lives.  I felt like we were driving through snow with a 4WD vehicle, but we couldn't engage the front axle.

The fall of 2010 changed all of that.

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