The Turning Point
When I searched for my knight in shining armor, I never expected him to ride in on a jet. But alas, my knight was really an Air Force pilot named K-Bob. Before too much time passed, Bob asked me to marry him and I accepted. As a born saver, I was always looking for a bargain, and with my fighter guy, I got a three-for-one deal a great husband and two beautiful stepdaughters. But the bargain thrills ended there.
As with many blended families, we inherited the financial aftermath of divorce, which included $40,000 of consumer debt and nothing to show for it. In those early years, we had a cross-stitch on the wall that said, "Blessed are the poor, for they be us." We had trouble making ends meet and even struggled to pay the rent and buy groceries.
After taxes, tithe and child support, we had about 23 percent of Bob's salary to live on and pay off debt. We did the math, and it wasn't positive. We discovered we were essentially living on the equivalent of an airman's pay (the entry level enlisted rank in the Air Force) even though Bob was a captain and a pilot.
Then the situation became even more complicated. We began to have more children five in seven years. Then Bob's military career included 11 moves in the first 13 years of our marriage. It became plain, very early, that it would be impractical for me to go back to my earlier profession as an insurance broker, so we remained a one-income family. If you're wondering how we made it, let me tell you.
I rolled up my shirtsleeves, took my business education and experience, and channeled it into paying down debt and learning to save money in the home. Two and a half years later, we were completely debt-free, and we've remained free of consumer debt ever since. Being debt-free made us feel rich in the ways that mattered most!
But it got better. God blessed our stewardship. On one income, with me as a stay-at-home mom, we were able to recover financially. Fifteen years later, we looked back on our marriage and realized that we paid cash for 11 different cars, gave away three of those cars, bought two five-bedroom homes (one after selling the other) and regularly took family vacations. We had a nicely furnished home, our kids wore decent clothes, and we supported more than 30 nonprofit organizations in a dozen different countries, giving away more than $100,000 over those 15 years. Our kids were on track to graduate from college debt-free, and we had a nest egg for retirement with a home that will be paid off by retirement. We also had other investments. (You might need to go back and reread how dire it was when we first married.)
God took our lowest point, financially speaking, when we were advised by an attorney to file for bankruptcy, and He made it our turning point. Our part was to learn to follow God's rules of money that I call the 10/10/80 Rule. Here's what we learned:
First 10 percent - give away. The sweetest dollar you ever make is the one you can give away.
Second 10 percent - save away. The safest dollar you ever make is the one you can put away.
Final 80 percent - spend wisely. The smartest dollar you ever make is the one that you spend wisely.
Bob and I have found that living in a nice home, paying the bills, driving paid-for cars, putting our kids through college and having money for retirement is a result of following God's rules about money. We realized that those rules began with tithing, or giving the first 10 percent of our income. We've come out of a deep financial hole, and we know that God can take your lowest point and turn it into your turning point, if you will follow His rules.