Part of being an adult is paying bills. I have a considerable amount of debt because in the past I lived outside of my means and charged things I couldn’t afford. This year I made a vow to pay some of that debt down.
It’s always on my mind, but it started in earnest last December. I had an overdraft charge because I forgot to deduct my car insurance (in my check register) which I had recently set up for automatic debit. I went to the bank to ask if they would forgive the fee since I am rarely overdrawn. They did but then tried to talk me into opening a new credit card with a balance transfer option. We realized it would not help me, because you could not transfer from cards within the same bank which is what I needed. But, they suggested I find another credit card company and open one and take advantage of that company’s balance transfer offer. I found a new card company and was able to transfer one and most of another card to it so that I will not have to pay interest for 18 months.
I thought I was on my way! In January I slightly increased my giving at church and have maintained it. My birthday is in February so I was anticipating my car tag being due and a professional license renewal fee that would also be due.
My church was offering a Dave Ramsey course. I took one a few years ago but thought I would enjoy a refresher for free. This time I embraced some of the ideas I had trouble with before and was surrendering to the plan. However, I am making a career change and there was an online certificate course I wanted to take in order to help me get a job in the summer. You have to spend money to make money, right?
I thought hard about how to pay for it. Should I wait until I could save enough and pay for it? I checked on-line and they had a $100 discount for only a few days, so I decided to go ahead and pay for it. There were payment plans but they worked out to over $350 more over time. So, I took one of the credit cards I had just transferred from which now had a zero balance and charged the course to it thinking I’d get my tax refund back and by the time the bill came I could use that and some extra from my next month’s pay check to pay it off. In theory this sounded like it would work out great.
But, my tax refund was not what I anticipated. I thought I was getting back $375 in federal but I looked at last year when calculating my return. This year I only got $46 back. I did get some back in state money but nowhere near the course fee. Then, I got sick and did not have enough sick time to cover all the hours I had to take off. I was one full day short so I had a reduced paycheck by that amount.
While still reeling from that, I found out that my home’s escrow account had a shortfall last year, so I had to pay it plus higher monthly payments afterward. It wasn’t much but enough to feel it for a moment and keep me from making headway on paying for the course.
Next, I walked out to my car one morning and it would not crank. I had to buy a new car battery. After talking to friends I found out that my new one cost much less than others’ had (but still about $25 more than what I thought it should). I looked at the receipt and saw that I had been given a discount perhaps from the service manager with whom I had one date with a year ago.
My security alarm company was no longer in business, so I had to find someone else to take it over and begin monitoring it. I had been putting off getting it updated, but felt like I needed to take care of it. It was a little more than I anticipated–$175 to reset and switch everything over. But, good news again, since my parents referred me, I got the next 6 months of monitoring for free and they got a $100 gift card. Cool.
But, by spring I needed an oil change. I took it to the dealer and they said I needed $1,500 in repairs. Where in the world was that going to come from??? I waited a few weeks then when I had some vacation time, I took it to a mechanic that had been recommended by a family friend. Thankfully, they said it did not need all the work the dealer had quoted and it turned out to be $430 instead.
Then the next month my bathroom sink started leaking out the bottom pipe. While I was getting it fixed, my dad persuaded me to get a new sink basin & faucet (the old one was rusty) and have the plumber install them while making the repairs. So, all together that was another $430.
I got past that, then my car air conditioner started blowing hot air sometimes. I have a black car and live in the south and it is just in time for summer. I didn’t know what I was going to do about that. But, thankfully, I think I’ve figured how to keep it blowing cool except if I make a couple of stops and have to turn off the motor for a few minutes then crank it back up. Hopefully I can make it through the summer without having to get it worked on. I’ve been riding with the windows down a lot which helps, but it can get pretty hot!!!
Now it’s time for my job to end. Tomorrow is my last day. I will get paid for another 2 months. I’ve had an interview with promises of follow-ups and am just waiting and hoping that will happen. However, I received information about COBRA last weekend. I had assumed that I would have benefits at least through my last paycheck. However, there were no dates listed on the paperwork and it was rather confusing. I got worried because I have no savings with all of the emergencies that kept coming up. I used what I would have built my $1,000 emergency fund Dave Ramsey preaches about. Also, the monthly COBRA fee was $200 more than what I anticipated so I really wasn’t prepared for that. And, what if I have to wait 90 days to obtain benefits once I do finally find a new job? This notice almost was my breaking point and is what made me sit down and start writing about it. If I were a different person, I’d be thinking I was under some kind of attack. I am taking it pretty well but with a lot of anxiety.
I called Human Resources today to get answers. I will have insurance for a month after my last paycheck which means I am covered for three more months. That will give me some time to put money into savings so if I need to pay COBRA for a month or two I can. I may need to look into the Healthcare Marketplace, but then I would have to start over with a new deductible so it may not really be a savings. Knowing I still have time before my benefits end is such a huge relief. I really didn’t see how they could cut it off before that, but nothing surprises me these days.
The last two weeks while I have waited for a second interview I have been thinking about how the Bible says the birds are fed and the flowers are clothed so God will take care of us too. I looked up the exact verses and took comfort in them:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6: 25-34 NIV)
I’m not sure why I’m going through this right now. However, the worst thing that has happened through all of this is I’ve only made marginal gains or maybe even owe a little more on my credit cards. But for the most part the expenses I’ve encountered have been less than they could have been or were expected to be and many times I have been able to pay as the crisis arose so that it wasn’t really a crisis.
I know that God will provide but it is hard to have faith and believe without worrying. In the past God has provided jobs at just the perfect time and my leap of faith in trying something new worked out. Ultimately, it was not the best path for me, but God is telling me to try another path which I am now pursuing. I believe He will guide my way and take care of me on my journey.
Dear Lord, please help me to have faith in your plan. Please let your will be done and not mine. Please put me where I can do my best and use my talents to help others as well as continuing to grow myself. Please help me not to worry about the future, especially money, and help me to know that I will survive the hardships.
Help me to have faith that I can pay my debt later, in Your time, not mine. Please let me surrender to You rather than trying to control things myself. Please help me to know that even if things get really bad and I cannot pay for my house and have to go bankrupt, that you will still be with me and help me through it. Please comfort me and help me realize that is far from happening and to not doubt your power and how you send help through people and unexpected gifts. Remind me that I may bend, but I will not break.
Please give me peace and security and help me to do what I can to help get out of my situation but let me not forget that I ultimately must rely on You. Please help me use these trials as a time to grow closer to You and grow in my faith. Thank you Lord for all You do for me.
I wrote this in late May. I am still looking for another job and have a lot of “irons in the fire.” Somewhere along the way, I prayed for God to somehow give me more money along with all these bills and debt. I really didn’t know how that could happen so I kind of dismissed the thought almost as soon as I had thought it.
I got a dreaded jury summons in June for county court. I also had jury duty for 2 weeks in late February/early March of this year for U.S. district court. Before I just had to call and never had to go in which was awesome. I couldn’t believe I could have it twice in one year! This time I got picked to serve on a trial. Yesterday I finished 4 days on a jury panel. I had to cancel an interview, but I will get $120 for my service and now have an interesting experience and new appreciation for our American legal system. The manager I was supposed to meet with was understanding, said “no worries” and that she will let me know her next interview date.
Today, I received a check for $705 for damages to my front bumper caused by a guy who backed into me in a parking lot a couple of weeks ago while I was going to drop my resume off at a company I was interested in. I didn’t get to leave my resume there after all that happened. I’m not sure if I will try to go back.
But, these two inconveniences meant money for me I hadn’t planned on. They’re not the way I would have done it, but God works in mysterious ways sometimes. My car is 9 years old and already has slight damage on my rear bumper I never fixed. I am planning on putting the money into savings and just living with the new additional minor damage. Maybe if I was not going to get it fixed the Christian thing to do would be to let it go and not make the guy’s insurance pay me, but since I don’t have a job I can’t think that way and turn down a gift.
The $120 jury duty will cover the $96 ticket I got for running a stop sign two days before I got hit in the parking lot. That was just a bad habit finally catching up to me. In the words of Brad Paisley in If I Could Write a Letter to Me: “Always stop completely—don’t just tap your brakes.” And speaking of Brad Paisley, I saw his autobiography on clearance today for $5 so I splurged and bought it and will enjoy reading it!
So, moral to the story: God does provide. I need to find a job within the next 3 weeks before my final paycheck. Yes, I have a small amount of terror running through my mind at that thought. With this money it gives me a little extra cushion and a little more faith.
People I have interviewed with will be making decisions soon and there are more interviews forthcoming. New jobs are posted nearly every day. I really think everything will be OK. God keeps giving me these reminders with the strange ways in which He works. Again, it’s not the way I would have asked for if I had thought to be specific and it wasn’t necessarily fun or easy but in weird ways I never could imagine, my prayers are being answered and God continues to take care of me. Thank You, Lord!!!