only help my unbelief


The pros and cons of growing up
January 19, 2009, 2:53 pm
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“I can’t believe we’re going to buy a car,” Christian said Saturday while we drove to Greenville.

“I know; it’s such a grown-up thing to do,” I affirmed.

As it turned out, we’re not quite the grown-ups we thought we were. It hadn’t occurred to us that the sellers wouldn’t want to take a check, so we drove to the nearest gas station and took out fourteen hundred dollarsin $20 bills.

Christian was blocking the view of my vest pocket where I was stuffing the wads of cash as we took money out of the ATM, $200 at a time.

Buying a car was fun. We may have fumbled a bit here and there in the process, but we made it back to Columbia with one more car than we owned on the way up there. It runs, it’s in good condition, and my time spent driving to hang out with Christian is going to decrease drastically.

There are other things, though, that aren’t quite as fun about growing up. Paying taxes is at the top of my current “Why-I’d-rather-not-grow-up” list. I’ve done my taxes by myself for the past two years, but this year they’ll be more complicated than last year. I’m going to help Christian with his taxes, too, and his will be even more complicated.

Getting married is a good part of growing up, and in the last couple weeks I’ve discovered that getting married has perks beyond the actually getting married part. Our wedding registries are modest – we only asked for things we really, really needed – and so when I got a package that included a comforter, bed skirt and kitchen utensils, and then another package today with a CrockPot, I could hardly contain myself. If all I have is a a wonderful husband, a warm, cozy bed and the ability to cook to my heart’s desire, I’ll be content for the rest of my life.

Another con – answering questions about what I’m “going to do with my life.” Lately I’ve been listening to the song “Have Thine Own Way” over and over again, and I wish that I could play that song as a response to that question. So far, my plans only go as far as April with a whole lot of specificity: Get married. Then the plans become vague and ambiguous, mostly having to do with pursuing Christ in such a way that I can be an excellent wife and prepare to have and raise godly kids. But somehow, that’s just not enough for everyone.

When I was 10 or 11, I made a list of “all” the things I would do when I got to college, which was my way of listing all the things I could do when I was old enough to decide what I did. The List: 1) Each month, make a bowl of brownie mix and just eat the batter; 2) Eat a bagel every morning for breakfast.

If only life were so simple.

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Here we go, 2009
January 1, 2009, 8:00 am
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So I’m not a huge fan of pointless New Year’s resolutions, but I think that it’s always good to take stock of where you are and see areas in which God still needs to grow you. After all, even the Psalmist prays, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me, and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139:23-24)

In order to keep myself accountable like I mentioned in my post yesterday, I’m gonna stick these resolutions over in a page on the right sidebar. I’ll check back in once a month and see where I’m at.

I haven’t included anything like “Read the Bible more” because 1) that’s something hard to measure and 2) I don’t want to treat my relationship with God like I treat my workout plan at the gym. He’s eternal and holy and precious, and if anything else, I want to pray more that I would be like Jesus. But that’s not going on this list, because I want that to be the cry of my heart.

Spiritual

  • Finish memorizing 1 John before our wedding
  • Start memorizing a longer book of the Bible (maybe one of Paul’s epistles; Philippians?) and finish it before the end of the year
  • Write Lisbet, the little girl I sponsor through Compassion, at least one letter a month
  • Work with the children in my Sunday School class to memorize the rest of the first 10 questions of the First Catechism (we can do it, Lee!)

Physical

  • Compete in a 5-10K race
  • Lose 10-15 pounds before our wedding
  • Lose 25 pounds by the end of the year
  • Avoid soft drinks and other sugary beverages / no soft drinks until after the wedding

Financial

  • Have less than $7,000 to pay off of Christian’s loan by the end of the year
  • Plan a budget for each month and stick to it
  • Save up enough money throughout the year for next year’s Christmas presents
  • Stay within our wedding budget

Miscellaneous

  • “Compete” with Christian to see who can read the most books (more about this another day)
  • Pursue more freelance editing opportunities and other forms of alternative incomes

I feel like all of these things are do-able, mostly because some of them I’m already in the process of doing; I just want to continue them in the new year. For example, Christian and I have both been sticking to a budget for the last three months. We’ve both stayed within a few dollars of our budget each month, which has been an awesome discipline. As far as Bible memorization, I’m about 1/3 of the way through 1 John, and it is a joy.

I think the hardest part will be the physical things. I purposefully didn’t say anything like “work out four times a week,” because that’s destined to fail in the face of busy schedules and unexpected engagements. Losing weight isn’t all about working out; it’s also about eating healthfully, so I think that it’s definitely attainable – it will just require a lot of sacrifice.

What are your New Year’s resolutions? I promise not to make fun. 😉



The obsessive-compulsive’s guide to saving money
July 16, 2008, 5:00 am
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A few months ago, I learned about ING Direct at Jason’s Web site. Intrigued, I looked into it. Basically, it’s a high interest savings account. Nothing more, nothing less. It was appealing because I wanted to find a motivating way to save money for the future.

The clincher was, if I used one of the referrals on Jason’s blog and deposited at least $250, I got an instant $25 in my account. Also, ING was rated one of the most secure banking sites on the Internet. And so I signed up.

You link the ING savings account to your checking account at your bank. Transfers from the bank take 2-3 business days, and once the money is in the ING account, you can’t get at it for 5 days. That means you shouldn’t put all of your money in the ING account, because in an emergency, it won’t be helpful.

The best thing about it, I think, is the ability to create multiple accounts. For people with OCD like myself, this is basically paradise. Why is it so good, you ask? Because you can name the accounts whatever you want.

The main account I transfer all money to is called “Chelsey’s Money.” Then I’ve got “Living expenses,” where I’m aiming to put six month’s worth of living expenses; “Presents and gifts,” so that I won’t be blindsided when Christmas comes; and then there’s one called “Future,” which is just for unforeseen expenses that I couldn’t possibly predict.

Oh, and then there’s an account with a very small amount called “Interest,” where I transfer all the cents from the other accounts once the interest gets added each month. This may sound silly, but being the way I am, I can’t stand seeing an account balance of something like $121.56. $121 looks so much better, so I just move $0.56 into the “Interest” account. It may not make sense, but it makes me feel better. I know. Don’t worry about me. I’m OK.

So far, I’ve been so encouraged at how ING has motivated me to save. If you decide to try ING out, then consider using one of my referrals. If you sign up through my referrals, you get $25 in your account, and I get $10. As Michael Scott would say, it’s win-win-win. Oh yeah, and I won’t know that it’s you who started an account – I’ll just know that someone did, so your privacy will remain intact, if you’re worried about that.

To get this special deal, just send me an e-mail. I’ll send you the referral e-mail, and we’ll both be on our way to saving more money.

For more information on online savings accounts, check out this post from Five Cent Nickel.