Daniel and Amanda’s Weblog

July 7, 2008

Economic Stimulus… what to buy?

Filed under: wealth — theburts @ 8:07 pm

Daniel and I just received our economic stimulus check in the mail. We had previously signed a pledge (started by Ariah) to give away half of it… The idea is to use it to stimulate the economy while helping someone else.

So… what do we buy? Some ideas we have or have gotten from other people..

1. Buy items for Safe Haven or other homeless shelter.

2. Buy supplies for a women’s ministry (one was named that helps women after they’ve been in prison).

3. Buy medical supplies or other needs for our yearly Haiti trip.

4. Buy gift cards to local restaurants and somehow hand them out to people in need.

Any other ideas? Let’s hear your thoughts!

April 29, 2008

Condo for rent

Filed under: christianity,wealth — theburts @ 9:21 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Much of our lives lately has been consumed by fixing up our condo to rent. Cleaning (at which our two moms are INCREDIBLE), painting, patching, and more…almost every free night after work has been spent there getting it ready to show. Since it’s way too big for Amanda and I to live there (about 2,500 sq ft), and since the market isn’t the best for selling right now, we’ve decided to rent it out. It’s now officially on Craigslist here.

If we can’t find tenants who want to live in this nice part of town and pay this much rent for a big condo, we’re going to move in when our apartment lease is up and live there until we sell it. In the meantime, we’d be searching for a house, or apartment building, or farm, or something…

The last 2 years of my life have been somewhat formative; they have changed me a lot. Everything was easy until I discovered that it was possible to really follow Jesus’ teachings today, even in America where we’re sometimes so distanced from so many of the things Jesus taught about. Back then, I was climbing the job ladder and trying to make more money, I invested in this nice condo to begin building equity, I shopped at TJ Max (yes, even for home decor occasionally!), when I wanted something new I bought it without much hesitation…and then I begin reading about rich America and begin to see how I was buying into the American dream philosophy and too easily accepting what culture taught me was normal. I read things like this quote from St. Basil:

“Who is the greedy person? It’s him who doesn’t content himself with what he has. And who strips? He who steals what belongs to the others. And you think that you are not greedy, and that you do not strip the others? What was granted to you, in order for you to take care of the others, you took it and you made it your own. What do you think? He who strips the clothed is to be called a thief. How should we name him, who is able to dress the naked and doesn’t do it, does he deserve some other name? The bread that you possess belongs to the hungry. The clothes that you store in boxes, belong to the naked. The shoes rotting by you, belong to the bare-foot. The money that you hide belongs to anyone in need. You wrong as many people as you were able to help.” St. Basil (taken from Sojourners magazine)

So I (along with my friend Josh, going along the same path) moved out of this huge condo in Belle Meade to north Nashville, to an area that the city has all but abandoned. In community there, we often discussed owning property, money and finances as they relate to our Christian faith, investing…and I was often challenged to think differently about these topics, or at least see them from a different angle. So now here are some questions that all of this has led to regarding what to do with the property that Amanda and I now own. We chose to live in an apartment instead of buying a home right away, and continue trying to rent the condo to help pay off the mortgage. But now what?

1) We own a large home, 2,500 sq ft could house several people easily…are we being greedy to rent this out rather than working through Safe Haven to house a homeless family in it (like we’d originally planned with another house we were trying to buy pre-wedding)?

Whatever you think, we want to be held accountable on what we’re doing with $1300 a month income. It could be so easy to slip back into a life of self interest…

2) We don’t want to be in debt…we don’t believe that staying in debt is either healthy or what God intends for us. So in that way, paying off a mortgage is a very good thing to do. But we need to be encouraged not to overlook charity in the meantime. If we give all our extra money to the mortgage and none to the poor, we overlook the immediate need of our neighbors even though we still may be using the money for a good cause (getting out of debt). We want to be close to the poor now, not just in either distant acts of charity OR future plans to give lots of money. Yet getting out of debt will allow us to eventually do greater things for those in need. So my question here is: How do we balance these two good things?
A. Paying off loans / getting out of debt, so that we can be freed up to do more for the poor
B. Serving immediate needs of the poor

It’s basically the same as the decision to invest…I can give more money, probably, if I wait and invest it and have a million dollars in 10 or 20 years instead of 200,000 now. So which is the wise and stewardly thing to do? And to this I would disagree that the wisest way would always be to save, invest, and give the larger sum at some point in the future. I just know there has to be some balance to this.

We’d love your input! May the Lord lead us in his footsteps, even through dangerous areas. And, on a lighter note, may he direct our paths, or at least keep us in good humor, as we venture over our heads in condo repairs. :)  Peace.

January 29, 2008

Choosing Ourselves

Filed under: christianity,wealth — theburts @ 9:36 pm

I love messing around with my guitar. I’m not very good, and should spend my practice time more efficiently, but I really enjoy figuring out new chords and transitions. So here’s a song based on that tinkering. (Amanda finally insisted I put words with it and stop playing the same old tune over and over again for no purpose, hee hee)

If you read the sharing wealth series, that’s what the song is about. The words are posted in the description of the video, but I’ll post them below as well. Hope you enjoy, but more so, I hope it convicts everyone (including me) a little bit.

“What if we would take up our cross, denying ourselves? Could we really let go of our place, and lift up everyone else? What if we saw Jesus Christ in the face of the poor? When folks are hungry, broken and broke, could we open the door?

No, that gospel is too dangerous
We’ve got too much to lose
As for me and for my house we will serve you, Lord
But somehow we’ll still choose

Ourselves

What if we were satisfied with only what we need? Find some luxuries to do without, and not be mastered by greed. Having one coat, could we be content? Or do we need four? Is it true that riches deceive, because we’ll always want more?

What if we lived in a world, that was turned upside down? Where it’s better to give than receive, what kind of joy could be found? What if Christians fasted and shared, until all had enough? Could we wait until there’s no one who lacks, before we buy more stuff?

No, that gospel is too dangerous
We’ve got too much to lose
As for me and for my house we will serve you, Lord
But somehow we’ll still choose

Ourselves

You ask us to deny ourselves, and follow You
But, Lord, that’s so hard to do.”

January 20, 2008

Why we share our wealth, Part 4

This is the last of the “Why we share our wealth” part of the series, I promise. A few days ago, Amanda and I sat down and wrote down all the Bible verses we could think of that had to do with money and riches. We wrote them on some of the 2,000 different colored envelopes we found in the trash, and planned on posting them around various places in our house to remind us of why we shouldn’t move to a mansion in Belle Meade (a very Mindy Fine thing to do…not moving to Belle Meade, but the scripture cards, haha). I actually just referred to those cards when writing all these blogs…and because of that, I failed to include a very important passage that’s already ON our wall. It’s an example of giving everything until everyone has their needs met, and it was being lived out in a very real way…so much so that there were no needy persons among them. A lot has changed since then, for we now have the opportunity to help those beyond our cities with just the click of a button. But even if we just all started with our own cities and pleaded with other rich brothers and sisters to do the same, we could recreate this scenario:

All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.” (Acts 2) “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need. Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.” (Acts 4)
No one claimed that any possession was his or her own. These radical disciples actually shared everything until there was no one lacking. This is what we truly want to see happening in the world, or at least among people of faith. And, as Gandhi reminds us, we must start with ourselves…”Be the change you want to see in the world.” So that, my friends, is why we share our wealth. May God continually give us the faith, hope and love to do so.

Now for the fine print:
1) Most of what has been discussed and suggested so far has dealt exclusively with sharing money, or giving away possessions with value attached to them. Let it be known that I don’t think that’s enough. After Jesus told the rich ruler to sell everything and give it to the poor, he also said “follow me.” And I think, if we truly follow Jesus, we will be among the poor and oppressed. He wants more than our cash, to quote Derek Webb, he also wants our time and our voice. Charities are great, but they also keep us at a very safe distance from the ones receiving the charity (Shane Claiborne wrote a good bit about this in Irresistible Revolution). Mother Teresa, too, said, “Let us not be satisfied with just giving money. Money is not enough, money can be got, but they need your hearts to love them.” We could give away all our excess for an entire lifetime, but never really spend time with the poor, and I believe Christ calls us to do better.
2) When we mention that we share our wealth, we don’t want anyone to believe that we are “saints” in this area. If you didn’t notice in the last post, I suggested that we must give away everything except that which we need to live…until all the poor are cared for. How far should we take that? I’ll let everyone figure that out for themselves. :) For us, we choose to have enough that we can still carry on our professional careers successfully, for one thing. If I lived in a tent with one change of clothes, I could survive….but it would not be healthy for me and Amanda at this point, and I would likely lose my job. So we do have an apartment and more than one pair of shoes. Yes, we do live simply and with less stuff, but we also have a long way to go. That realization doesn’t bog us down with guilt, but encourages us to set goals to work towards. Change is hard and not overnight for everyone. Rewards are not always immediate, either, but we all need to be constantly looking for ways to be more Christ-like in this area.

January 18, 2008

Why we share our wealth, Part 3

Paul, there are a few people in the assembly here who dress really well, ride nice camels, and their homes have rooms and beds they don’t even use. They’re super nice and well versed in scriptural knowledge, but I wonder if they’ve read Christ’s teachings regarding riches. You see, there are hundreds in this city who are without shelter and food, and it seems like they, being rich, could share a lot more than their regular tithe. But I’m afraid, Paul. I don’t want to say anything, because I think they would be offended. And I am on salary here. What should I do?
-the epistle of Timothy

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
-the epistle of Paul to Timothy

Ok, so the first one was made up. But you see my point, I hope…a reminder that rich people existed in the first century as well. And they were exhorted to give and share generously to take hold of the “life that is truly life.”

Here, in one paragraph, is my understanding of how much the gospel of Christ calls Amanda and me to give…then I will post a few verses to support it. It’s not a number, by the way, or a percentage of income. Neither of those work out so well when you have such a huge gap between the poorest of the poor and, well, us. So here it is. Ready? Until all the poor of the world are fed, clothed, sheltered and tended to, Christ calls us to give everything away except that which we need to live. And face it, we don’t really need most of the things we have to live. Again, we aren’t anywhere close to perfecting this one, but that’s what we see in the gospel and where we want to head. Now, will that time come in our lifetime? Or ever? Well, probably not. But God doesn’t call us to be successful…he calls us to be faithful (Mother Teresa).

Remember the gap I talked about between the poor and the rich? Jesus told a story about a poor widow who put in two copper coins, where the rich were throwing in large amounts. Jesus said she’d given more than all the others. “All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” So it’s not the amount. If I’m able, by being a doctor, to give large amounts, that doesn’t make me any more generous or righteous than the person who can only manage a hundred dollars here and there. I think it was Dorothy Day who said “It’s not how much you give, but how much you have left, that matters.” What if all Christians followed that rule? We need more people to give until it hurts, until they can’t give anymore.

When John the Baptist was preparing the way for the Lord, the people asked him what they should do. Among other things, he offered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.” With many other words, Luke writes, he preached the Good News to them. Could that be the first practical lesson on the Gospel?

Jesus echoed it in the sermon on the mount, after telling us to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us. “If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

Also, as recorded by John, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” (I John 3)

Amanda and I are trying to take scripture for what it says and not excuse ourselves for any reason. How can we justify having two winter coats and knowing there are freezing women and men under the bridges? Fashion isn’t a good enough excuse. Not wanting our friends to see us wear the same coat all the time isn’t either.

One more scripture, and it’s been probably the most influential one for us. But you have to go look this one up…it’s too long to post. Matthew 25: 31-46.

Mother Teresa hit the nail on the head about this passage; “Each one of them is Jesus in disguise.” If we treat everyone in the entire world with the love we’d treat Jesus, or with the love that we’d treat our own brother or sister, son or daughter, we find ourselves giving till it hurts. We find ourselves unable to justify many expenses, living simply so that others may simply live (a motto of ours, but we don’t remember where we got it, sorry).

And again, without love, giving means nothing. It’s not about money or fund raising programs, it’s about loving God and loving our neighbor. If we give hundreds of thousands every year and live without one single luxury, but don’t have love, we gain nothing. Amanda and I want to constantly focus on this, striving to give purely out of love rather than legalistic requirements. We know we need to love more, and we desire to grow in that love every day. OK, I lied, one more verse.

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (I John 4) Which reminds me of my all time favorite play ever, Les Miserables. Victor Hugo wrote something similarly profound in it, sung by Jean Val-Jean in his dying breath. “To love another person is to see the face of God.” Lord, be merciful to us when we fail to love you in the least of these, and let us look at every opportunity to share and give as a chance to see the face of God.

January 16, 2008

Why we share our wealth, Part 2

Ok, so we’re rich. Now what? Let’s take a peek at some of what Jesus says to (or about) the rich.

Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matt 19, Mark 10, Luke 18…just after he told a rich ruler to sell his possessions and give everything to the poor, and to follow Jesus.)

I think that’s enough to widen our eyes and put a fire under us. Jesus lets us know that it’s very difficult for us to enter the Kingdom of God. Why? I’ll get to that. First, let’s visit some of Christ’s teachings as recorded by Dr. Luke.

Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life doesn’t consist in an abundance of possessions.” And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”‘ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12)

Jesus continued, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, 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, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.”

Alright, I’ve heard this passage a hundred times growing up. It ends with this climax, “Seek his Kingdom, and all these things will be added to you (NKJ).” It’s a great verse. It speaks of how the Kingdom of God is so much more than possessions, or wealth. We shouldn’t be spending our time going after the things the pagan world goes after. We shouldn’t worry, we shouldn’t fear. God will provide.

I never really remember reading the next part (I’m sure I just skipped it because it only applied to the people who were too attached to their possessions, not me). “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Earlier, I asked “Why is it so hard for us rich folk to enter the Kingdom?” It’s because we will trust in our possessions, in our riches. We no longer need to depend or rely on God, because we can provide everything we can imagine for ourselves. All we have to do to build a bigger barn is withdraw some of our stash, and all we have to do to feed ourselves is to haul our SUV to our barn (or Outback). This is why this upside down Kingdom was so popular among the poor of Jesus’ society. They saw a dream in Jesus’ words of a system overturned; where the humble were lifted up, the mourners laughed, and the poor became rich.

The rich, however, were so caught up with their temporary “fulfillment” that they couldn’t see the need for this kind of a Kingdom. And so are we, often. Sure, all Christians claim dependence on God and interest in the Kingdom. I do. But I guarantee that you could name something I wouldn’t want to sell so I could give the money to the poor. We have to start being less attached to our possessions. Of course, it’s one thing to say we’re not attached, and another entirely to act on it. Jesus calls us to act on it. Not just the rich ruler, mind you, he asks everyone to sell possessions and give to the poor. And he says that where our treasure is, there he’ll find our heart. (When you find time, I suggest you go meditate on this scripture.)

At this point, it would be easy to stop. We’ve established:

  • Be on guard against greed
  • Don’t store up for ourselves but be rich toward God
  • Don’t be too attached to our possessions
  • Don’t worry about our lives, our food and clothing, like the pagans do
  • Sell possessions and give to the poor

Ok, fine. I can give to the poor, claim every single one of these other things and still live a luxurious life, right? Millions claim it. But what we claim about whether or not we’re attached to our possessions, about where our treasure is, and about whether or not we worry about stuff, doesn’t amount to much more than a stinky pile of crap. What matters is how we live. And that’s where we’re heading in the next post. How does all this change how we live?

Amanda and I, among many others, desire to look different than the pagans. We feel that following Jesus Christ completely will lead someone to look strange. If we buy, invest, recreate, work, give and worry exactly the same as the pagan world, how can we claim to not run after the things the pagan world does? If I my life looks identical to that of the pagan optometrist with the same salary down the block, I’ve got a problem. Jesus’ followers in the early church history were recognizable. Are we?

(Please be advised that if you answer only “we’re forgiven” to the question of how we’re different than the pagans, I will get upset. If you read a Bible that says the only area where Christians should differ from pagans is in our forgiveness, we read a different Bible. God isn’t looking for people who will simply make a statement for forgiveness and heaven-readiness…he’s looking for courageous men and women through whom He will bring heaven to earth.)

January 15, 2008

Why we share our wealth, Part 1

I’ll start this series with a simple confession. Amanda and I are rich. That’s not to brag, and it really doesn’t have much to do with our income. It has to do with the fact that we are among the top few percent of the richest people in the world. Probably most of my readers, you included, are also rich by that reasoning…check out the statistics if you’re not sure.

We have enough money to rent a small apartment, we own a car, we never have to worry about going hungry, we have several changes of clothes and shoes, we own a computer and enough furniture for our apartment, we have recreational equipment like camping gear, snorkels, and bikes…I could go on and on. The reason I think this distinction is important is that it helps us relate to certain teachings of Christ. When Jesus addresses the rich, he addresses us. It’s easy to act like we’re “middle class” and ignore those passages, as if they simply don’t apply to us. But for Amanda and me, we need to look up and tune in.

You have to decide for yourself whether or not you are rich and wealthy. Don’t compare yourself to just those around you, either. Christianity wasn’t began in the United States, and we need to have a broad world view when we consider anything related to it. We’ll give everyone a day to figure out if you are rich or not, then we’ll be back tomorrow to talk about what that means. There will be lots of scripture, so bring your Bibles. :)

January 14, 2008

The “Why” Series

We realized not too long ago that there’s not much in our blog explaining the reasoning behind living the way we do.

We recycle, we redeem food and other items out of dumpsters, we don’t buy new furniture, we try to shop only at secondhand stores, we are trying to have a smaller eco footprint, we refuse to follow the “American dream,” we don’t have cable and don’t watch a lot of TV (except for last week, as Amanda mentioned), we are peace lovers, and we try to share all our excess with our less fortunate neighbors worldwide.

We are far from where we want and need to be. We could live more simply, use less energy, and give away more. In all these things, though, we try to approach the issue not with legalism and judgment, but with creativity and fun as we seek out ways to implement our convictions into daily practices. And it is fun! Living simply hasn’t turned us into miserable, unhappy ascetics. On the other hand, we’re finding out how much joy there is in a lifestyle of “living simply so that others may simply live.” And finding alternative ways to recycle or “precycle” has been an exciting adventure, not a dull and mindless task of guilt-ridden necessity.

With all that said, we decided it would be beneficial to all parties for us to write a series of blogs on why we live the way we live. What motivates us to live simply? Consume little energy, or dumpster dive? Does it come from our peers, our rebellion, our frugality, or our disgust with the industrial / corporate world? Probably all of those things have influenced us. We’re all affected by others, by advertising, and by our upbringing. But we are going to be looking at why we do stuff, and we invite you to that discussion.

I mentioned that this discussion will (hopefully) be beneficial to all parties. It was already mentioned that we feel our archive of blogs so far hasn’t really done the best job at explaining our why behind things, so we hope to offer some explanation to our confused readers out there. The second party is us…we want to do this primarily to review and remember all of the reasons why we live differently. It’s easy to forget one’s motivation, even if it’s practically lived out on a daily basis. We want to strive to always do what we do for pure reasons, and this will force us to take a close look at our lives. In one of the most famous writings on love, the early apostle Paul said this:

“If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

Ultimately, this points to the very basic reasoning behind all of it. Everything we aspire to do in our lives comes from a world view that, by faith, claims there is a loving God who wants us to live in unity with Him. Love God, love your neighbor. Without that, we gain nothing.

Hope you’ll enjoy the series! I hope it will challenge and inspire both you and us.

November 2, 2007

October Budget Results

Filed under: christianity,wealth — theburts @ 1:32 pm
Tags: , , ,

Exciting, right??? I’m using a shocking, thrilling, captivating title so that more people will come read our blog. Hey, it worked, didn’t it? You’re here!

So we definitely learned some things in October. We’re not sure we like the envelope system for permanent use, but we decided to use it for 2 more months and then revisit it. The alternative would be to just share a google document (which we both updated whenever a purchase is made) and just be very deliberate about not going over the budgeted amount for whatever category. The problem with envelopes is that they’re not with you all the time…so for the occasional thing you have to get that wasn’t planned, it requires paying with a debit card and then fixing it when you get home. Which can be difficult on the budget balancing.

Anyway, here are the results:
Gas – 162 (we went over by 2 dollars, this will be much easier in nov cause I’m riding my bike more and more)
Groceries – 115 (under by 85 bucks!! if this continues, we’ll need to lower this amount…especially because after hours grocery shopping will be getting easier and safer as it turns colder)
Entertainment – 92 (2 bucks over our entertainment/eating out fund. oops)
Personal/Clothing – 62 (under by a good bit, 38 dollars. amanda needs a warmer coat for the winter time though, so next month might be a little closer)
Car/Bike Expenses – eek. so October we were under by about ten bucks from our budgeted 75. Unfortunately, the guy I bartered a contact exam with found something else that really needed to be done, so we’re spending 200 total on that. still a great deal, cause he’s fixing the brakes, rotors, and a boot on the axel (I didn’t know axels wore boots) for a very reasonable amount, but still…that puts us way over our budgeted amount for november. We do want to try and keep that car for as long as possible, though, so hopefully it was a good decision. [Revision: I just picked up the car and he ended up not having to fix the axel, once he cleaned it off it wasn’t as bad as he thought. So nevermind that $200 for right now. Yay!]
Miscellaneous/Gifts – 183, under by 17 bucks. 40 of this was for a year subscription to Sojourners, and my new cell phone (87, blush) came out of this too.

So there’s the first month. For the second, we increased my fun money a tiny bit to more closely match Amanda’s, cause last month was pretty rough on that one. :) We’re leaving everything else the same, and just paying off more loan whenever we get around a thousand spare money built up in either of our accounts. We’re ahead of schedule on the loan…BUT, now it gets real. I think we had a little extra in our accounts (even in my business accounts) when we started last month, but now it’s even, and things are going to start being much more realistic. So here goes November!

And on an aside, we hope it’s ok to share with you. Ariah has dialogged about this before, whether it’s right to give actual numbers. Whereas we don’t post how much we make or give, I do think it’s ok. I believe that being a Christ follower requires us to be good stewards and to live responsibly…partly in not storing up treasures on earth, and always being generous to the poor with our excess. So why can’t we discuss the details of our budget? Why can’t our pastor tell us we’re spending too much on entertainment while there are brothers and sisters who are lacking? I just don’t understand how we can compartmentalize our spending habits and say they don’t relate to our walk with Jesus…comments?

October 15, 2007

Halfway through

Filed under: Married Life,wealth — theburts @ 3:10 am
Tags: , , ,

It’s October 14th, almost halfway through the first month of our new budget. Since Ariah’s talking about numbers, here is part of our budgeted items. It’s the first time we’ve set a budget together, so we realize some things are too high and others too low. We welcome any comments or insight! Here are the basics:

Groceries $200
Rent $625
Entertainment $90
Personal Items (shampoo, clothes, etc) $100
Fun Money $80 total between the 2 of us
Gifts/Miscellaneous $200
The rest are things like car expenses and gas (which are about to be cut down since I’m starting to ride my bike more often), school loan and mortgage, vacation ($100 a month to save up for our next vacation), giving (we don’t know how we’re going to give yet, so we’re starting an online ING account called our “Acts 2 and 4 account” until we figure it out), cell phones, and car insurance.

Here’s a rundown on how we’re doing in the middle of the month.
*Entertainment: We played two rounds of mini golf today (had a 2 for 1 coupon), so that totaled $10 including a Snapple halfway through. Leaves us with $50 in our entertainment envelope.
*Groceries: Still doing really well on the groceries one, partially due to our “free” after hours grocery shopping (did we mention we took Daniel’s MOM dumpstering the other night up in bowling green, KY? heheh), and partially due to us already having some food in the freezer and fridge when we started the budget. AND other free meals like at the parents’, using gift cards, and a free meal tonight paid for by Costco!! So we have $174 left in that envelope.
*Fun money: Daniel’s fun money is still gone, and Amanda’s is doing OK.
*Personal: We haven’t used anything from the personal envelope yet.
*Gifts/Miscellaneous: Daniel chose to get a phone that cost money when he got his “New every 2” upgrade, and he failed to consult with Amanda. Oops. We decided that this category and the personal category are going to be things that we must agree on, so we keep some accountability there. So with that and $13 for Daniel’s birthday presents, we’ve used about $100 of the $200 allotted in that category.
*Rent: Although rent is usually constant, this month’s free because of the flooding and eventually having to move out for a week so they can repair. So yay for flooded apartments. :)

So when we talked about what might need changing in future budgets, Amanda feels that we could lower both groceries and gifts/miscellaneous, and Daniel feels like we could lower personal and also gifts/miscellaneous. We’d love to hear your input…where we’re spending too much, or areas we could cut back that we may have not considered. As Ariah mentioned, it’s tough to know how much to divulge…hopefully this isn’t too much. We’ve intentionally left out amounts like income and giving. We’d love to have dialogue about those with a friend, so that we can be challenged in that area, but we don’t feel like the public internet is a place for that.

Ok, stay tuned for more updates! Love and peace,

Amanda and Daniel (this was our first co-written blog)

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