I wrote here about the General Conference talk that changed my life in the years leading up to the Great Recession. Because this talk landed on me like a sledgehammer, we were able, through the Great Recession into 2009, to pay off 280,000.00 of debt. This included our house, a second home, a home equity line and two cars. Also during this same time, my husband was starting a new company and didn’t get paid for the first 18 months to get it off the ground. He did side gigs to bring home the bacon. I worked on my end to budget, save and figure out our bills and debt repayment. Once I realized we were paying $2500.00 a month in interest alone, we sacrificed to get our debt paid off. In the worst of times we got super focused and organized to change our life for the better. It was really hard.
In 2018 I tried using “You Need a Budget” budgeting software but in two years of trying I could never make it work for me. I am now using Quickbooks which tracks our expenses which is invaluable with our rental business. I now do our rental budget and our personal budget on a simple spreadsheet. I loved frugal writer Amy Dacyczyn so much, but she didn’t promote writing a budget every month. She just was very, very thrifty and tried to never spend money. I have finally learned, when we have a written budget every month, it tames the wild, savage beast in me that wants to spend without being held accountable. The beauty of a budget is you make every dollar do its job and you feel ahead of the game instead of behind, frantic and out-of-control.
We have gone through our budget, and our rental budget with a fine-toothed comb as I am sure many households have done recently. It actually feels good to be more on top of the details. There are many software versions of budgets and apps–I know my niece and nephew got their house paid off using Dave Ramsey’s “Every Dollar” free budget app.
I heard Dave Ramsey say that this pandemic can be a pivot point for us. The government is not going to save us. He said some restaurants are able to pivot and start doing curbside pickup. It will be leaner for them initially but they can figure it out. He also made the point that many companies were started during the last recession–in spite of it–Airbnb, Uber, Venmo and Groupon to name a few.
However, there is so much that is in our control! I asked a waitress, once I learned she was from Argentina, “How did you weather the storms in Argentina with all of the inflation and uncertainty?” She told me, “We had to own our own homes and cars, otherwise inflation made it impossible to do so. We sacrificed a lot to do that.”
It is with great respect that my family honors my Grandma Adams, who bought and paid off 12 houses in the Provo area during the Great Depression. That is when one in four people were out of a job. She was determined to educate her 5 daughters at BYU, and came up with a rental business to fund that. Her thrift is legendary, as one niece told of spending the night and noticing the sheets in the bed were made from flour sacks. As I cleaned out her oldest daughter’s house when she died, I found a ragged towel that had been patched so many times I kept it to remind me what going without looks like.
Finally, from the talk that changed our lives forever, President Gordon B. Hinckley said:
“I urge you, brethren, to look to the condition of your finances. I urge you to be modest in your expenditures; discipline yourselves in your purchases to avoid debt to the extent possible. Pay off debt as quickly as you can, and free yourselves from bondage.’
“This is a part of the temporal gospel in which we believe. May the Lord bless you, my beloved brethren, to set your houses in order. If you have paid your debts, if you have a reserve, even though it be small, then should storms howl about your head, you will have shelter for your wives and children and peace in your hearts. That’s all I have to say about it, but I wish to say it with all the emphasis of which I am capable.”