Financial Ponderings at Christmastime

About a year and a half ago, Kyle and I made the rash decision to get married. We were two poor (well, one poor and one somewhat less poor) college students half way to our degrees. We were facing paying tuition for two college students in addition to married housing, college books and things that our parents used to pay for like health insurance. Also, instead of splitting utilities bills 8 ways (yes, I had 8 roommates when I was single), we were looking to pay for it ourselves. Paying for internet, water, and electric in one bill is significantly more expensive than splitting it 8 ways. Kyle was working 15 hours a week at an early morning custodial job, and while I worked full-time over the summer, my hours would be cut to 10 hours a week during the semester.

Getting married sounded awfully expensive.

But Kyle and I both felt strongly that not only should we get married, but that we should get married in the summer after our sophomore year in college.

I’m a planner. I like to know exactly what is going to happen when and how we’re going to pay for it. Looking into the future at two more years in college made me nervous, and I had more than a few breakdowns worrying over how we would pay for college, much less life.

I decided to turn my financial problems over to the Lord, and we got married in August 2010.

It’s been a year and a half since then, and I can say that we have been blessed beyond measure. It turns out that when you’re married and legally impoverished, the government is more than happy to give you money for your education. In combination with affordable tuition at BYU, our Pell grants, a good deal on our rent, Kyle landing a better job with more hours (and a raise this year!), a half-pay scholarship, some family generosity, tax refunds and frugal budgeting, we have been able to make it work. Not only have we been able to make it work, but we have some fairly significant savings in our bank account.

I’m also going to graduate from BYU this April 100% debt free. Due to the generosity of Kyle’s parents in giving us a Jeep when we got married, we don’t have a car payment. We have no credit card or consumer debt. As a result of the Pell Grants and tax refunds we’ve received, we don’t even have student loans. We can pay for everything that we need, and a few things that we want.

I’m looking out to this summer. The reason that we have been as frugal as we have been is because we’ve been saving for this summer. It’s going to be expensive. Kyle is searching for an internship, and it is likely to be outside of Utah. In order to keep our current place we will have to keep our contract through the summer. We’ll be paying rent on two places, there will be moving costs, the cost of living, and there’s no real guarantee that it will be a paid internship (although we’re hopeful). We’ve also been saving up for a trip to Virginia to see a good friend of mine get married and visit Kyle’s sister in May. Oh, and we’re going to have a baby sometime in July. That costs money, too.

But as I ponder how blessed we’ve been over the past year and a half and the money that we have been able to save so far, I feel peaceful. I feel like we can face life together, and that if we’re wise and frugal that at the end of the summer we will be in a manageable position, financially.

And as I consider the peace I feel now, my thoughts turn to Christmas. One thing that my parents taught me was that Christmas is a time for giving, particularly to those who are in need. All of my most significant memories from Christmases growing up involved giving to other people. I can barely remember more than a few gifts I received growing up, but I remember many times that my family gave to other families who weren’t as fortunate as we were. As I think of the blessings that Kyle and I have received, it makes me want to pay it forward by contributing to somebody who is in more need than we are this Christmas. I always keep my eyes and ears open for opportunities to serve and give at Christmastime, and I would encourage you to do the same. You might not be in an ideal situation, but if you cast your mind to things that you have been blessed with and are grateful for I’m sure that you will find that list can become quite long. Whether it’s a gift of money, groceries, or time, consider giving a little extra this Christmas. Think about trying to give more than you receive this Christmas, because giving is good.

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