Gaining more than money

This is week four of our Financial Peace Plan. All family members are still talking and other than some intermittent irritation, it is progressing smoothly. My biggest surprise in this whole process is what we donít spend money on now and the huge difference it made at the end of the month. Gone are weekend restaurant breakfasts. Also axed were dinners after church on Wednesday nights. No more coffee stops and I am declining lunch invitations. Mr. Harris cut out his occasional lunches too. Heís also kept us spot on with our grocery shopping, ensuring we buy exactly what we need for that week. He doesnít add extras, like I always do, because it exceeds our budget. Heís gone from not caring a bit to managing it all amazingly well. So well, we ended our month within the parameters we set at the beginning of our program. By whining, I mean winning, our way through our goals, we were able to write a large check and pay off a debt which had been irritating both of us. Granted, we still have far, far to go, but this was clearly some major traction in the process. It didnít feel as great as I thought it might, illustrating the truth that electronic or plastic money doesnít elicit the same emotions as cold hard cash. Mr. Harris stated heíll feel the full satisfaction when this bill no longer arrives each month. We had done it. We stayed on task for a whole month and met our goal. Can we keep it up long term? While being debt free once again would feel great, no matter how long it takes to accomplish, there has been an added benefit to all this extra effort. A friend at work repaid me ten dollars I had forgotten about. When he handed me the ten dollar bill, I was delighted because I had nothing in my wallet and hadnít had anything in there for weeks. For ten dollars to create such excitement is pretty sad, or is it? I spent the rest of the day trying to decide what to spend this found money on. It was mine to do with what I wished. Would I buy myself lunch? Or perhaps I could buy both lunch and coffee. It was heavenly to consider. When the time came though, something peculiar happened. I didnít want to part with it.
I kept telling myself to go ahead, spend it. It was my birthday week after all. It was mine to spend however I desired. I couldnít do it. I left it in my wallet all day and ate the snacks I had brought for lunch. I decided, gasp, I didnít even really feel like a coffee that day. Later that evening, I was in Wal-Mart on a work errand and it hit me. Zipping over to the candy aisle, I was nearly singing with joy. It took only seconds to find what I was searching for. What did I finally spend my coveted ten dollars on? I bought my husband and daughterís favorite candies and arrived home with treasures. Buying something for both of them, knowing they too had been doing without, was delightful and gave me such joy. Rather than fussing about our budget now, Iím actually pretty darn thankful. I had forgotten the gift of sacrificial giving and some of the simple pleasures in life. This plan requires a lot of work, but Iím gaining more than just dollars. Financial peace also brings joy.