I have read so many great and inspiring stories about living debt free, pinching every penny to pay in full for your home or pay it off as soon as possible. These couples did a good thing in being able to do this. However, every one's needs and circumstances are different and usually by the time I finished their story I felt unfaithful in our finances, and not encouraged but discouraged. I felt discouraged because I know our budget and how many areas I cut back, and still I am not able to pay extra on our mortgage. We do not use cell phones. We have an Internet phone that is $35 a year for unlimited local and long distance; we have a prepaid cell phone for emergencies like when the power goes out and we can not use the Internet. I shop at thrift stores, a lot. Most of our furniture has been given to us. I cook and prepare our meals. We had a vegetable garden last year and plan to have one this year. I use cloth diapers for our babies. I write these things to give an idea of ways we try to be frugal. But maybe you are asking, "Brooke, couldn't you pay just a little bit extra on your mortgage?" My honest answer would be "no we can not."
There are three reasons why, in our present circumstances, we will not own our home earlier than later: I want to stay home and take of our children, I want to purchase good, nutritious food, and we want to give to God's church. You do not know how many times I have tried to work and rework our budget, and how merciless I have been to myself because we do not pay extra on our mortgage. I have come to believe, with my husband's guidance, that if it does take us the 30 years to pay off this home we can still be faithful Christians that have served God well with what we were given. Like everything else that can become an idol in our lives -- paying off your home early has the potential as well.
Not in any way do I want to bash the couples that have done this or are trying to do this. Maybe, and I'd like to think so, they were completely faithful in their efforts. If we could fulfill these three goals listed earlier and still be able to pay extra, we would in a heart beat. But we are not going to compromise on those three points. If I am not going to stay home with my children and take care of them what would be the point in even having them while paying someone else to keep them for 8-9 hours a day? My children will remember me being with them more than nice clothes or whatever else a second income could bring in. Second, good food in this house is priority. And it doesn't even look half as healthy as I would like! Kraft mac-n-cheese three for a $1 is no temptation for me. Good, simple food is an investment and savings down the road. Lastly, giving to His Kingdom is wonderful and you always get back more than you gave. You just might not know it at the time. Maybe you are thinking, "But you could give more to His Kingdom later if you owned your home faster." That is true, but there is no guarantee that we will even be here in ten years to do so. We are living now and now is when we are going to give. These three areas mean more to us than "financial freedom".
This humble, poorly written post is for those trying to live faithfully, having babies to God's glory, living in a small house, working hard all week long to feel like you are just making it. You might not have your three to six months income saved like Dave Ramsey suggests (which is wise advice) but it doesn't mean you are irresponsible and unfaithful. I hate to use this phrase because I hear it so often, but "modern Christianity" sets these "faithful" check lists that aren't really necessary. We homeschool our kids, check. We own our home at age 28, check. My wife bakes all our bread, check. And the list can go on. All of these are good to do, but not all of us can do them at the same rate as our neighbor. That is okay. Be faithful with what you have, be encouraged with what you can do financially instead of being discouraged by what you can not, and serve Him faithfully with the knowledge and resources He has given you presently.