Financial Shape in 2008: Monthly checkup

It’s July and time for another Financial Shape in 2008. The year is halfway over! How are things looking for you financially?

Here’s our update:

Short Term Financial Goals for 2008

1) Have our fully-funded emergency fund in place (6 months’ worth of living expenses) by the end of April. As of March 11, 2008–DONE!
2) Switch health insurance plans and open an HSA. We
were approved for our new health insurance plans in April and have also
set up our HSA. Done!

3) Start up an IRA and invest at least 5-10% of Jesse’s income in this. Started in March. (We plan to increase this to 12-15% of Jesse’s income as soon as we purchase our home.)
4) Open up a mutual fund for each of our children and invest $50 per child per month in it. Started in March.

5) Save up and invest $30,000 this year towards paying cash (100% down) for a house in 3-5 years. Now
that Goals 1-4 are finished, we’re working super hard on Goal #5!

It seems like the story of our life recently has been unexpected expenses! Between medical bills, increasing costs, and car problems after car problems after car problems (oh and did I mention car problems?!), it’s been a little mountainous here and I’ve had to fight the urge to feel frustrated. I know God is allowing these things to teach me patience and perseverance.

At any rate, I am here to tell you that we put a whopping $0 in our house savings fund this month. I’ll be honest and tell you that I’ve struggled to not feel incredibly discouraged about this–especially because I had high hopes for this past month. However, I am trying to learn to turn my would-be frustrations and discouragement into gratitude.

While we ended up spending a lot more money than we’d planned on and we didn’t save anything like we’d hoped, we have so many things to be thankful for: a nice rental home with air-conditioning, plenty of food to eat, an emergency fund, steady income, two beautiful daughters, one running vehicle (currently!), good friends who’ve encouraged us so much recently… the list could go on and on. We have so much more than we need; we are truly blessed!

Hopefully next month I’ll have some savings to report, but for this month, I’m trying to focus on counting my blessings instead of calculating our lack of savings.

How did you do in June? Whether
or not you posted financial goals for 2008, please take a moment to
post about your financial successes and failures in June and the areas
you hope to improve in July. Then, come back here and leave your link
below. If you don’t have a blog or would rather share anonymously, feel
free to leave your update in a comment. Let’s all keep each other
accountable to be better stewards of
our resources!

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  1. love3c says

    We are working toward our goal of paying off our mortgage in 7 years. We bought our house a year ago, and should have it paid off (if it is God’s will for us to do so and He blesses our efforts) in about 6 years.

  2. Jenni says

    It’s encouraging to hear your financial triumphs as well as your struggles. We too had more expenses the past couple of months, and even though we thought we were “ahead” because we had saved money on our food budget and gas, we ended up behind once we factored in the expenses for a car seat for our son, car repairs, and travel-related expenses. But we, too, are thankful. We still have some ways to go before we will have an emergency fund of 3-6 months, and owning a house in the Bay Area in California seems like wishful thinking at this point, but you never know. Thanks for your posts!

  3. says

    Thank heavens you wrote something about finances. I’m currently 34 weeks pregnant & I’ve had to have a fewww hospital visits during my pregnancy. Being young it’s not easy to deal with the stress of the adult life I’ve forced myself into. I’ve had some troubles and had to move from home and live with my grandmother who is retired. I tried my hardest to stay working and paying my bills but after my last hospital stay, the doctor and I agreed it would be best to stay home. Anyways, I just got a HEAP of hospital bills my step father brought over totaling close to $1040… I was just wondering if anyyone would happen to have any ideas or resources such as grants etc. that i could do in order to knock it off in the quickest way possible. With a baby almost here, bills are not something I want to drag along.

    Sorry for how long this comment was but if anyone has info I would GREATLY appreciate it!

    God Bless!

  4. says

    100% down plan…I love it. If only I’d have heard about Dave Ramsey 4 years ago before I married and bought a home!
    Thanks for sharing your goals- achieved and unachieved!

  5. says

    I know that discouraging feeling! Whoooeeee do I know it.
    You’ve got to look at how far you’ve come though. You haven’t accrued debt, and you have got a fully funded emergency fund! WOWZA. That is something to be proud of!
    The house will come, and when it does, it will be that much sweeter.

    I’ve found the more you sweat to get something, the happier you are when it finally comes. :)

  6. says

    It’s okay that you had an off month, we have them all the time. You are in good company! :) The best thing to remember is how far you have come already. You and Jesse have done so much in a short amount of time and God has blessed you with the means to accomplish most of your goals. You’re doing just fine.

  7. says

    Keep at it Crystal. You’re doing great. There will always be setbacks somewhere along the way, but you WILL get through them and back on track again. The car repairs ad infinitum happened to us last summer and fall. It set us back 7 months. But somehow, since then we have found extra money in our budget and we’re much further ahead than we thought we would be. Not back to where we would have been w/o the car repairs, but we can’t have everything, can we? :)

  8. Tripnmama says

    We too had a not so stellar month…it always seems to be random medical things that set us back. I guess with triplet toddlers I should really budget more in the “medical” category :)

    But luckily we have great insurance so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

    Just curious about your Goal #4…why the mutual fund instead of a 529? Or maybe this is something in addition to college savings???

    Anyway, love your blog!!!

  9. says

    To Sarah – the best advice I can give is to work out a payment plan with the doctors/hospital. You don’t want to delay or they will send the bills to a credit agency. Let them know what you can afford for payments and be faithful to it. If you can pay a bill in cash, see if they will give you a reduced rate for doing so. Of course $1,000 is a lot of money, but for several hospital stays that is not much compared to what many people have to pay. Best wishes.

  10. says

    Crystal–It’s easy to get discouraged when you hoped to put more than $0 in the house savings fund this month. I’m glad you’re looking at the bright side! And maybe God has a reason for this (I’m sure He does). Maybe delaying getting into your next home by a few weeks/month or so means you’ll get something even better than you would have otherwise! Who knows?

    @Jenny– I’m sorry to hear about your mounting medical expenses. I’m not sure of any grants that are available for medical expenses. Even though $1k can be a scary sum of money to face while pregnant, try working out a payment plan with the hospital.

    Typically, they’ll work with you as long as they know you’re willing to pay the entire balance. Good luck!

  11. says

    Crystal, I’m really happy to see you achieve these goals! We’re working hard on ours and our steps seem so sloooow at times. But, I know it will come and I’m always encouraged to read the walks of you and others!

  12. gina says

    I’ve been reading your blog for about three months now and I’ve cringed everytime you’ve had one of these financial shape blogs – because we’re not anywhere near where we need to be and I’m afraid to even try. This month however I really appreciated your sharing that you weren’t able to put anything towards your goals. It would have been easy to not share this. It blessed me – really it did.

    Thanks for your honesty.

  13. Robin says

    For Jenni:
    If you are pg and have had to stop working, you should find out about government health insurance. I know in FL pregnant women are covered if necessary through Medicaid, and there is also a plan called “medically needy adult” where the state pays part of the bills accumulated for medical care if the patient can’t. Your doctor’s office may be able to help you apply for these programs, or call the hospital you plan to deliver at and ask them.

  14. Brenda Hanley says

    Before I even heard about Dave Ramsey, my husband and I had to sell everything we owned. He was in construction in CA and I owned a Day Spa in CA and business was slow for both of us. We realized we had to make a major change. So, I sold my business and he packed up his and we decided to sell everything. We had been in our house for 12 years and I had a hard time letting go of it. I thought I would be in CA forever. My clients were like family to me. But, God had other plans. It was a miracle that we were able to sell our house and our stuff, pay off our debts and have a good amount of money left over. My husband tried to get hired with a company in CA but after 6 months with no offers we prayed about what to do next. We decided to buy a 38′ trailer and travel to find my husband work. We ended up in Texas and he found a full time job. He is making a modest steady wage and we are happily living in our little home. There are so many benefits 1. It takes only 30 minutes for me to clean it. 2. We have become closer as a family living in a smaller space. 3. The cost for our space, utilities, wifi, pool access is only $500 per month!! We are following the Dave Ramsey plan and I am enjoying my children. I do plan to get back to work as a teacher so we can buy a house on our 2 year savings plan. I am so thankful that we were able to start over and have a plan and hopefully pay for a house in full. I am learning to be thrifty and use coupons and stay within our budget. I just want to encourage other women struggling with their budget! YOU CAN DO IT! Be grateful and thankful for what you do have! Even if they are small things. Oh yes, stay out of debt!!! Drive a beater car and be proud of it! :)

  15. says

    Maybe your dream home has a delay in coming on the market, so your budget had to have a month’s delay (with car bills) so that your dream home will be all ready and waiting when you reach 100%! :)

    I don’t know… I’m just trying to make it feel better! :)

  16. says


    To add to the other comments you have received… Some hospitals have a program called something like “Hospital Help.” They won’t tell you about this and you have to ask. But if you make under a certain amount of money you can fill out some paper work and they may write off a portion of your expenses. I know people who have done this. You should see if the hospital you are using has something available like this.

  17. says

    You guys are doing GREAT. And like you said, nothing is a surprise to God. He knows what you can handle. I mean, you are such a great source of encouragement for thousands of women trying to learn how to be good stewards of what God has given each of us. Josh and I have been struggling this month financially. We are a self-supported ministry who went to lead worship for all the Eastern European IMB Missionaries in Hungary last month, Josh’s book just got published and I am sitting in the studio recording a new worship album. We are more broke than ever before, but God has orchestrated all the details thus far, who am I to doubt Him and even suggest that He will fail to provide for us NOW, even when we don’t know when we will get our next pay check. Thank you, thank you for your honesty and help on this journey!

  18. says

    Months like that are hard, aren’t they? I know we’ve had our fair share of them. The thing that keeps me grounded (and grateful) in financial stuff like that is that God is not surprised by it at all. He already knew the month you would have, the car expenses, the frustration and disappointment. He’s already made provision for you, and His grace is enough. Perhaps the money will be made up in unexpected ways, perhaps it will push your savings goals back a month or two. Either way, rest in His plans, not yours- He is absolutely good and faithful!

    I know that you know all of this, but I know that sometimes I need reminders too. :) I often (oh so often) lose sight of the bigger picture, and forget that life cannot go as I hope or plan it might (which I know is a really good thing!).

    It’s encouraging to see the goals that you have achieved so far this year. I haven’t been participating in this challenge, per se, but we are working through the baby steps as well. We are currently working on our savings, having finished off our car debt last December (after already having been out of debt once- oops), and started to live off of last month’s income a few months ago. Savings are going full steam ahead, and we hope to be close to the 3 month savings mark by the end of July! Yippee!

  19. Dian says

    Crystal, can you make a post about your health insurance ? My hubby has a POS health insurance from his place of work, BUT it’s expensive ($550 for the whole family) with approx total of $1500 deductible. This year, we’re thinking of going to the catastrophic plan (over $200 per family), but the deductible is way too high ($13K). We always get insurance from his place of work. In his last job, it was like $180 for the whole family with $2000-ish deductible for a PPO plan, which is very good. His new job provides with better income, but the insurance sucks. We’re ready to venture on individual insurance. I’m sure you’ve done your homework in regards to insurance. Can you share with us ?

  20. Heather says

    Your attitude and the rush of sweet comments from everyone is so encouraging. My husband has been unemployed for 4 months now – at first because of a serious injury, and now because the job market seems to have dried up while he was out. 4 months ago I was getting ready to start our debt snowball with 5k, but we have had to use that for medical bills and living expenses. I am working full time while he looks for a job and watches our 7 mo old. I am struggling with self-pity, selfishness, complaining, jealousy, bitterness because I never wanted to be a working mom, fear about what will happen if these interviews don’t turn into jobs – you name it. But God is using many different avenues to change my heart for the thousandth time – hehe, He’s the God of the internet too!

    And Tasha, thanks for what you said in your comment – very moving. I printed it out so I can re-read it over the next few weeks.

  21. Alyssa says

    Indeed you are blessed! Your house savings goal for this year is more than my husband makes in a year! Wow! And I thought you all lived on a “modest” income.
    I’m not complaining-God certainly takes care of us and we have everything we need.
    I guess I’m just still a bit amazed!
    By the way, I love your blogs-you have helped me so much!

    Money Saving Mom here: Alyssa, we do live on a modest income (he recently got a raise-yay!-so it’s about average income right now) from my husband’s 9-5 job; however, we have worked hard in the cracks of time in the last few years to put a lot of extra side-income-earning things into place. And those months of effort are finally starting to pay off! Read this post for more:

    Hope that helps!

  22. Cassie J. says

    Our emergency fund will take a hit this month also from medical bills. We had to change medical insurance plans a few months ago and they excluded allergies from our coverage for my 5 year old son. Well, he now knows that “nut” and “peanut” are the same thing and I know that when you mention “peanut allergy” they get you in to see the doctor really quickle in the ER! Total bill $760.00.

  23. says

    Thanks for the update – it’s an encouragement to see you pressing on despite your setbacks. I think we all have those months at some point.

  24. says

    What did you use to set up the mutal fund for your children? I’ll admit I’m not very financially savy when it comes to investing… but I’d like to go beyond just putting money into my retirement plan and IRA.

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