Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Debt Free and Lovin' It

A few of you know bits of the journey my family has been on to pay off all of our debts and get our financial house in order. It is a journey we started about 2 and ½ years ago just before we moved to Austin and just after starting a new job at PFI. For our first ten years we had lived paycheck to paycheck. There was too much month left at the end of the money. We were classic consumers using our plastic cards for whatever we wanted. Occasionally through the years we would try this thing called a budget. We would write some stuff down on a yellow pad, average out our expenses, and juggle things around till it seemed to work out. But that never lasted long.

We played the game of surfing our credit cards around to lower interest and payments. We used those nasty checks to make up for monthly shortfalls. We refinanced our house for a remodel and some extra lifestyle. Upon leaving an employer we cashed out a 401k to pay off some debt and buy some more stuff. We leased a van, and paid way too much for a small car for way too long. Basically, most of the stupid stuff that people tend to do with money, we did. We had nothing in savings and were 75k in debt (not including the house). I often wondered “How can I make this much money and have nothing to show for it?”

Then in March of 2007 we started taking this class at church about what the Bible says about managing money. Something in us clicked and we made a decision to grow up and start managing our money properly. But first we had to figure out what “properly” was. We went searching for more information and found a plan that worked for us. We had tried doing things our way and failed miserably so we looked to the wisdom of others. It was not easy, but I can honestly say it was worth it. Now $75,000 and 30 months later we owe not a dime to anyone. We have money in the bank, and a game plan for continuing to build our financial stability. We are teaching our kids these things in the hopes that they will not have to follow the path we did and end up in a much better place.

I am putting this out there to let you know it can be done and to provide some encouragement if you find yourself in a similar situation. I am not trying to sell anything and I am not a financial planner or advisor by any stretch of the imagination but I can tell you what worked for us (and millions of others around the country) if you happen to be interested.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Trinity Oaks Reunion

This weekend I had the joy of attending a reunion for members of the Trinity Oaks church of Christ in Dallas. I attended TO from 1983-1986. We moved away after my 5th grade year. That's a pretty short time and a long time ago so I don't have a lot of really clear memories from church. Mostly just flashes and a few names of people. But there are certain things that stick in my mind as "firsts" so I wanted to share them here.

  • First service in the church: I remember Arthur Hensarling would organize some of us young guys to pick up the attendance cards each week. Arthur was like a local grandfather to us kids. I'd get so excited when for Christmas I'd get a $2 bill from him in appreciation for collecting the cards (or at least that's what I associate it with in my memory). He also had the first car phone I ever remember seeing.
  • First learned to sing: Now I knew how to sing so when I say "learned" it's not a matter of ability. During worship I would not be singing and I guess my dad was sick of it. I remember one night when he took me out of worship to the "cry" room and had a little talk with me. I don't remember what he said or did (I don't think electrodes were involved), but after that I seemed to have a greater appreciation for singing in worship or at least was on the right road of faking it till it became real.
  • First started thinking of baptism: It was at TO that several of my friends and classmates began to make the decision to be baptized. I held off for quite a while as I didn't want to just follow the crowd and do it because they were doing it. I think I ended up waiting too long but eventually came to the proper decision.
  • First church politics: Now 5th grade is a bit young to be exposed to such things, but I remember one fund raiser for school selling M&Ms at church. I went to the youth minister and his reason for not buying any from me was that then he would have to buy from all the kids who asked. I guess they weren't paying him the big bucks that youth ministers are getting these days.
  • First major wilderness experience: My dad led a group of 4th-8th grade boys on a week long canoe trip on the Minnesota/Canada border. I remember rowing to the chant of "Coke" across the final lake before the pickup point. My dad always recites this line about "We're talking mist, we're talking fog". It was a great experience which we later repeated with a group from the church in Phoenix.
Most of my clear memories from Dallas revolve around my bestest friend Brian Davis who I have recently had the joy of reconnecting with thru Facebook. We met for lunch for the first time in over 10 years this summer and it was like we never were apart. The memories just flowed back. It was great to see him and his family at the reunion. Unfortunately, I don't think we'll ever find that Papa Smurf car.

Several of the people at the reunion I had encountered at Harding. But some of them I hadn't seen in 23 years. It was great to reconnect with them. I didn't spend much time at TO, but I could tell that those who had through the years were touched in great ways through their love for God and each other.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Is our worship too formal?

I had the privilege and pleasure of writing a blog post as a guest on a local church blog where one of our members often posts in "response" to one of his earlier posts:


Thanks Bob for the invitation. Make sure to read some of the other stuff there too. It's thought provoking.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Murphy Strikes

Murphy struck our cars yesterday. The rear hatch on the van had its hydraulics fail yesterday. So Kathryne had to take it to the Toyota dealership to get that fixed. We're letting David and Becky borrow our van for the month and we drove to DFW and back last night to meet up with them and give them the van, 4 hours each way. On the way home from DFW the tire on my car went flat...at 1am...1 hour from home. So we're on the side of the interstate with trucks wooshing past. I put on the spare and it was low on air too. Thankfully I had an air compressor in the emergency kit to air it up and get us home around 2:15am. I discovered that changing a tire on the side of the interstate at 1am is much better than any caffeine at waking me up.

The kids slept in the back seat through the whole thing.

So after driving 8 hours to and from DFW I was trying to go to sleep in my nice comfy bed. As I started to doze off, I was dreaming that I was driving. In my dream, I started to fall asleep while driving.

Now I'm sitting in Goodyear getting my tire fixed. Well, getting it replaced. They just told me it was really messed up on the inside.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Ran across this wonderful way of stating the basics of Christian belief in God.
Some Things I Believe...Part 1
If we talked like this more often rather than using fancy words and dogmatic statements we would be much more "salty".

Sunday, February 15, 2009

We want to Chase the Cheetah

Kathryne had a great post on her blog about

Tonight I also sent an email to Dave Ramsey (our financial mentor) about the same thing. He was talking about this a lot last week on his show.
Here are some links I found about the story of what Chase is doing:

Here's the text of the message I sent. I wonder if he'll read it on air...

I heard you talking about Chase's slimy actions regarding their credit card fees and interest rates. Our last item on our snowball is our Chase credit card of about 16000. We're currently working on saving up to pay on or van fleece of about 14000. Next paycheck we would be able to pay off our van but given our disgust with Chase, we've decided to pay them off instead. We're not even sure if we're in the group that would be affected but are doing this on principal. We also have our primary checking and savings account with them and will be looking to move those away shortly. I know we're breaking the "rules" of the debt snowball by not paying off the smallest first but you always say that this is about behavior and their behavior has been atrocious. I hope you'll forgive us this minor deviation.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Ever had a coworker (or friend or schoolmate or family member, but in this case coworker) who was quick to point out problems or tasks that needed to be done but would never think of trying to handle it themselves. "It's not my job", "I've got other stuff to do", "When is management going to take care of this?", etc...

Those things may be true, but as part of a team, everyone is responsible for the work of the entire team. It's the silent "I" in "Team". We often hear that it's not there, and in the sense of the fame and glory of the Team there should be no "I" present. But when it comes to who is responsible for the success or failure of the team, it is each individual's responsibility to their very best.

This is the premise of the book QBQ: The Question Behind the Question? It's a book about personal responsibility and accountability. If you haven't read it or it's sequel Flipping the Switch, then I highly recommend them both. But be ready for a challenge to your sense of security in the status quo.

This is more of a venting blog than anything else. But maybe someone will decide to pick up the books (or borrow my copies) and change their view of work and life forever.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Death* and Taxes

did taxes last night and actually owe a bit of money :( have the money saved up to cover it :) delays paying off the van 1 month :(

*No death, just taxes
**No IRS agents were harmed in the writing of this post

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Video of the year

I don't usually like to post just links to videos, but this is truly hilarious and being the big Star Wars fan I am i figured this would be appropriate. Plus i really needed some laughs today and this provided them.

"Star Wars: Retold (by someone who hasn't seen it)"