Family of 4 Health Insurance Options

I've found that a lot of people do not actually know about the various ways to afford healthcare that are available today and meet the law requirements.  I will start out with the obvious ones that most people know about and then share with you some others that are available to Christians.  I'm just going to talk about the ones that I'm personally familiar with - if you know another option that is better, leave a comment!

  1. Traditional Health Insurance - this is your basic health insurance that has a premium, deductible and then copays or coinsurance.   These plans are usually the highest of all the ones I'm going to talk about today.  They are also usually NOT the best choice as your total yearly costs are the most expensive.  You can purchase these online, through the exchange (what a joke) or they are normally offered from your husband's employer and given at a reduced rate and you can pay your premiums with pre-tax dollars in a payroll deduction.
  2. Health Savings Account High Deductible Health Insurance (HSA) - these health insurance plans require an HSA (Health Savings Account) and are generally the best option when you look at total yearly costs.  The plan itself can have a high deductible ($3K or above) and then you pay a certain percentage up until your out-of-pocket limit.  You can set aside money to pay your medical bills through the HSA and it is pre-tax and stays tax-free if you pay only approved items with your HSA (medical, dental, etc.) and your premium is also pre-tax through your payroll deduction.  Most of the time employers offer this option along with the first one and this one is the least expensive as premiums are way lower and when compared to the yearly costs of the first plan, this one wins. 
  3. Christian Sharing Medical plans - these are plans only offered to Christians and are very affordable.  You pay a set amount each month depending upon age and/or family size, then you either only pay up to a certain amount of your bills a month and anything over is paid for by others OR you set your deductible and premium and once the deductible is met, you pay nothing.  These plans would be good for those who don't get a discounted plan from their employer or for those that don't foresee any medical needs of substantial amounts in the upcoming year.  The downside is that you pay your monthly premiums with after-tax dollars.

Let's look at a typical employer-given health plan:

  1. Traditional - $6,000 annual premium; $1,000 deductible then plan pays 80%; $12,000 out-of-pocket limit
  2. HSA plan - $3,500 annual premium; $3,000 deductible then plan pays 90%; $6,000 out-of-pocket limit

Now let's compare those rates with Christian sharing medical plans:

Family of 4 monthly premium -  $405
Yearly premium amount - $4,860
Responsible for bills up to $300 a month then plan pays 100%


Family of 4 monthly premium of $10,000 deductible plan - $184
Yearly premium amount - $2,208
Plan pays 100% after $10K deductible


Family of 4 monthly premium of $2,500 deductible plan - $500
Yearly premium amount - $6,000
Plan pays 100% after $2,500 deductible

Taking these plan scenarios, let's see what a medical crisis looks like within a year of these plans:

Worst Case Scenario - $55,000 medical bills

What you pay max for this year:
Traditional -  $19,000
HSA plan - $9,500 (can all be pre-tax dollars)
Christian sharing #1 - $8,460 (if bills are over $300 each month)
                                    $5,160 (if bills happened in one month)
Christian sharing #2 - $12,208
Christian sharing #3 - $8,500

You can see that the Christian sharing #1 is the cheapest option for a $55K scenario with the traditional plan costing the most.  However, most large employers give a portion to your HSA, so if they gave $1,000 towards your yearly costs, that would make the HSA plan comparable to the cheapest Christian sharing plan at $8,500.  You should also factor in the cost of using after-tax dollars to pay the Christian sharing plans and how the other plans will decrease your taxable income.  This can make a difference at tax time by putting you in a different tax bracket and you could factor in those numbers depending upon your personal situation to get a true cost.

When you choose a plan for your family, you can either plan for the worst case scenario or take the risk with a high-deductible plan and save on costs.  Let's say you want to take the risk, everyone is healthy and you don't foresee any medical bills (besides office visits) for the upcoming year:

No Medical Bills Scenario

What you pay max this year:
Traditional - $6,000 + office visits you pay
HSA - $3,500 + office visits you pay
Christian Sharing #1 - $4,860 + office visits you pay
Christian Sharing #2 - $2,208 + office visits you pay
Christian Sharing #3 - $6,000 + office visits you pay

The cheapest option would be the Christian Sharing #2 that has a very low monthly/yearly cost and a very high deductible, but this is risky business, you don't know if you will get in a car accident or someone will get very ill or need to be in the hospital.  If you take this risk, make sure you have the money in an emergency fund just in case!

In my opinion, the HSA high-deductible plan through your employer is the best option as it is the least riskiest but still gives you a great deal and you can pay all of your medical bills and your premium with pre-tax dollars and that also brings down your taxable income!

Notes - I didn't include Flexible Spending Account (FSA) plans because I have no experience with them and because you lose the money at the end of year if you didn't spend it.  The HSA is by far the better choice if your employer offers it as the funds roll-over from year to year.

Force vs. Choice

I share a lot of my thoughts on here because this is MY blog, so obviously it will reflect MY thoughts.  I'm not a preacher, teacher or self-proclaimed prophetess (thank God!) - I simply share my thoughts, opinions and convictions/beliefs as a Christian wife and mother.  There are some people that will not allow you to have your own opinions because they simply don't think anyone should have a differing opinion from their own or they don't feel free to have their own and don't want you to either.

Here is the problem we face in the church-world today.  People are being forced to follow a method or opinion and they are not allowed to have a CHOICE by exercising their free-will, which is God-given.  You can't take your opinion and force people to follow it.  We should only follow the Bible and anything outside of that is open to interpretation and many people have differing views or convictions.  However, if it is something that is in the Bible, no Christian should have a problem following that, as it is biblical.

There is where legalism comes in - that word that most of the time is abused and thrown around by people who would rather sit back and live like a devil.  The proper use of the word is when men make rules to follow and claim it was God that told them so and if you don't you are sinning.  These are things that are not in the Bible or they are not clear and then they are taken to a new level and taught in a way depending upon a man's opinion.  I'm not talking about rules of an establishment - everyone has those and they are just that; rules - I'm talking about man-made rules that are claimed to come from God and the risk of not following them is condemnation to hell.  There is a difference and we must understand the nature of each.

Say a man thinks that wearing red is wrong for a Christian woman to wear.  He then claims God thinks so too (without any biblical proof) and he preaches that women that wear red will split hell wide open.  This is the force that I'm talking about - forced to abstain from the color red through fear of hell, based upon one man's opinions and not God's Word.  This is where men take away God-given free will of the people and force them to follow a man through false teaching.  Preachers must be careful when using the sacred desk to share their personal opinions that have no biblical backing, as it can not only become abusive to the flock, but will destroy countless people for all eternity.  The only thing about the color red, is it will be the color of this man's hands when he stands before God to give an account.

Remember, we have a choice in everything we do!  When you feel like you are forced, then you are probably doing something that you don't really choose to do in your heart.  If it is something that God commanded you to do (like be a keeper at home, dress modestly, etc.) then you need to get your heart right.  If it is something a man told you to do (not wear red, don't accumulate wealth, etc.) then you are following a man and/or false teaching.  The Bible is our baseline - we must not make up things based upon our opinions (unless they are based on biblical principles) and tell everyone else they should do them or risk hell-fire.  God has given us all FREE WILL, we have a CHOICE, don't let anyone FORCE you to do something that God Himself doesn't even require of you!

Summary of Financial Budgeting 101

I hope you all enjoyed this series on financial budgeting, here is the summary of what we talked about a few more things I wanted to share.  I'm also including a link to my Scribd account that has free printables for budget planning.

I shared with you all our financial story and how we learned many lessons the hard way that brought us to where we are at today.  Thankfully, we were able to pick up the pieces and put them back together again and this time do it correctly.  We are still working towards our financial goals but have learned enough to share with others what not to do!  Thanks to Dave Ramsey, we have learned how to really have financial freedom and live like no one else.

Credit can be tempting because it gives you immediate access to what you want, even though you don't have the money for it.  Using credit is actually a sign of immaturity - just like a child wanting it NOW - think about the girl in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, sadly, that is most adults today too.  They want the clothes, shoes, purse, car, house, trips and all that NOW - so they put it on credit and then spend today paying for yesterday's desires.  BREAK THE CHAINS!!!!  As Christians, we shouldn't be bound up by debt.  Christians should be the ones that can show control (temperance) and hold off on purchasing things until we have the money to pay for it.  We should be the ones living modestly within our means and showing the world that you can be content with the things God has blessed you with - not with what Wells Fargo or Discover has chained you in.

I showed you why and how to do a budget and then even shared scenarios on how a family of 4 could live on low-middle incomes.  I also shared you with our family budget and how we manage living on one income while still giving to God, saving for the future and insuring our lives from financial crisis.  Most of the time the reason we fall into debt is because we don't have a plan for crisis situations.  You NEED an emergency fund, not a credit card.  You can't afford to pay interest and you can't afford to be without an emergency fund.  Why would you pay Visa $6,500 for borrowing $5,000?  You could have had that $5K in savings and kept your additional $1100 in interest.  You can give me $6,500 and I will give you $5,000 - sure, be that stupid - someone is making money off of your stupidity and your immaturity and lack of self-control!  As Dave Ramsey has said, you have Discover-ed bondage.

Plan.  Think ahead.  Don't think that nothing will happen to you.  Be mature - wait, have self control, be modest in your lifestyle by living within your means or even BELOW your means!  If others can do it - why can't you?  Do you need to re-prioritize your life?  Start now! 

Here are some free printables on my Scribd for budgeting:
NEW! Budget Worksheet
Monthly Budgeting Expense Worksheet
Bills Due Worksheet
Another Monthly Budget Worksheet

There may be situations where you fell into the pit of credit because you didn't have the emergency fund saved up yet.  At least you are aiming for the future, so don't get discouraged!  You have to climb and fight your way out but you WILL get there!

Family of 4 Living On $30,000, $40,000, $50,000, and $60,000 a Year NET

I've showed you our family budget and now I would like to show some budget scenarios for a family of 4 to give you an idea of how all this works.  To make it easier, I'm using these annual incomes and considering that they are AFTER-tax incomes.  Generally for a family of 4, you would subtract $5,000 in taxes - factoring in state tax and the child tax credits.  That will give you a nice buffer.  So if you make $35,000, budget for $30,000 and so forth but as the income goes up, so do the taxes but I'm keeping these incomes low so that shouldn't be an issue.  Also, don't forget that your retirement contributions are pre-tax, which lowers your taxable income.  That is how I make these average monthly incomes work.  If you have an HSA account with your insurance plan, you will lower your taxable income even more!  But that is another topic in itself.

*I'm going to estimate that these families have a fully-funded emergency fund of $5-10K, so that they can purchase a higher-deductible medical plan.  They are also paying for disability, life and car insurance and have no car payments.  These would be ideal scenarios.  Imagine how much they would save if they had paid-for mortgages!  But in the meantime, let's assume they have a mortgage on a small, 2 or 3 bedroom home.  If you are wondering what each expense category covers, refer to my budgeting post here.

Family of 4 Living on $30,000 a Year - Average Monthly Income of $2,500

$30,000 after taxes

Charity = $350
Savings = $320
Housing = $700
Utilities = $180
Food = $280
Personal = $130
Transportation = $230
Medical = $230
Clothing = $40
Recreation = $40
Debt - 0

This family has a high-deductible Medi-share plan to save on premium costs and they have their emergency fund fully funded to pay for any medical crisis that may happen this year.  Or, this family can get medicaid coverage because they are in poverty.  If they do that, they can then budget the medical money into other areas.  Their savings amount goes to fund their retirement and savings account.  They have to live in a very small home because they are living within their means.  They keep their costs down and consumption to the basics until they can pay off their mortgage.  Once they pay off their mortgage, they can either increase the other areas or add more bulk to their savings.  They find free things to do as a family and only reserve $40 for eating out or having friends over for dessert.  They shop consignment stores for clothing or the mom sews.  Many families live on this income and they make it work but it isn't ideal for sure but it can be done.  There is just NO room for debt! 

Family of 4 Living on $40,000 a Year - Average Monthly Income of $3,333
$40,000 after taxes

Charity = $420
Savings = $600
Housing = $850
Utilities = $213
Food = $300
Personal = $150
Transportation = $250
Medical = $400
Clothing = $50
Recreation = $75
Debt - 0

This family does as the family above by saving 15% of their income for retirement but they will obviously give a larger portion and have a larger retirement.  They are also saving extra for misc. purchases that they choose to save for.  They can afford a higher housing cost than the $30K family but with that comes higher utility costs.  They spend more on food and personal items because they can and they also pay for a lower-deductible Christian sharing medical plan than the prior family but it costs more a month.  They are able to spend more on clothing and recreation but not so much as they can splurge yet until they pay off their mortgage.

Family of 4 Living on $50,000 a Year - Average Monthly Income of $4,167
$50,000 after taxes

Charity = $510
Savings = $712
Housing = $1050
Utilities = $300
Food = $450
Personal = $200
Transportation = $320
Medical = $400
Clothing = $75
Recreation = $150
Debt - 0

This family is doing everything the prior families are doing with funding their retirement with 15% of their income and saving extra for whatever purchase they have on their list at the time.  They decided to get a larger home and with that comes an increased housing cost and utility cost.  They spend more on food and personal items but they decide to keep the same plan as the family before with a Christian sharing medical plan.  They still are frugal in their clothing expenses but decide to spend more in recreation because they like to go on field trips to the zoo or museum and this also increases their transportation costs as they use more gasoline for these outings.

Family of 4 Living on $60,000 a Year - Average Monthly Income of $5,000
$60,000 after taxes

Charity = $600
Savings = $1425
Housing = $1050
Utilities = $300
Food = $500
Personal = $200
Transportation = $300
Medical = $400
Clothing = $75
Recreation = $150
Debt - 0

This family can live comfortably at this income as they are funding their retirements as all the previous families but they are also saving a lot more for other purchases.  They could also pay off their mortgage incredibly early by living on the lower income levels.  They can spend more in housing but they choose not to, so their housing and utility costs remain the same as the previous family.  They like to spend more on food and clothing but they keep their recreation and transportation costs about the same as the previous family so that they can fund their annual vacations and other big purchases.  They also keep the same Christian sharing medical plan to keep their costs low.

If you make more than $60,000 a year, it might be a good idea to live off a lower income and build wealth.  Set up your 6-month of expenses emergency fund, fully fund your retirement, pay off your mortgage, etc.  If you could live off the above scenarios and save and/or invest the rest - you could retire very early or even save to travel the world.  The possibilities are endless and it is in your favor.

Many families live in the $30-40K range and they have more than 2 children!  So tell me how a couple living on $50K can't seem to make ends meet?  I know families with upwards to 9 children that make it on very small incomes WITHOUT GOVERNMENT ASSISTANCE and they live well and are happy.  God can make any budget work - God and the biblical principles of the bible!  Do what the Word says and be content with what you have and enjoy the showers of blessings that God pours on you year after year!  I call it basking in His bounty!

If you aren't debt-free and don't have a fully-funded emergency fund, then you would have to tweak other areas of these budgets to accommodate for higher medical and debt payments.  You can easily move money around the different categories as it suits your family.  If you want a larger housing cost, you will have to lower other categories.

I've seen budgets that did NOT work on paper but somehow every month God provided - don't lose hope, aim to do right and God will help you!

Our Family Budget

My husband doesn't want me to share our income or amounts of our expenses but he did say I could share our percentages.  You can read about recommended percentages in the last post I did.  Here is our budget and where our money goes:

We have always given more than needed to cover anything that we may have forgotten that was given to us in gifts, food or whatever.  Sure, we probably don't need to do that but we choose too and besides - it is all God's anyway and He said to prove Him in Malachi:

Malachi 3:10
Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

Give God 10% and give yourself 10%!  Currently we are building our long-term savings, moving expenses and our retirement fund.  We have been building our retirement since our 20's and will be millionaires when we reach 65, we have even knocked off 4% for inflation.  Our future is set and that is what helps me sacrifice now, knowing that we will live like no one else when we are 65 because we are living like no one else now.  On our financial plan, we will own a home in full, own a second home from inheritance which we plan on selling, have millions in retirement and have had insurance to cover any financial crisis up until that point.  All of this on ONE income - so for all those that say we are so poor having the wife stay at home - let's talk when we reach retirement age ok?

We rent a mobile home and we have a good deal, one that you just shouldn't be able to get in the area we live in but God provided!  Other than that, we only pay renter's insurance.  If anything breaks for leaks, the landlord fixes it!  Our utilities are phone, internet, electric, water and garbage.  We don't have cell phone bills but we do use an emergency cell with Tracfone that we pay only $120 a year for.  I'm home mostly all day - we simply don't need a phone bill larger than $30 a month!

We are believers in insuring for the future as we learned that lesson through NOT insuring things, which I spoke about in our financial story post.  We insure our rental home, car, health, life and retirement (though retirement isn't insurance, it is savings).  Being prepared when the storms come can help you not have a total breakdown as I've seen others have.  We learned from Dave Ramsey not to depend on Social Insecurity because by the time we are retirement age - it will be a miracle if it is even around.

You may have noticed that a lot of our income goes to medical, this is because we currently had a lot of medical bills with my 2 surgeries and my son's hospital visits.  We also pay this amount even if we have no bills because are funding an HSA with pre-tax dollars that remain tax-free.  I think that every family should take advantage of these accounts!  Premiums are only going to go up, so we are accepting that a very large portion of our budget must go to medical insurance and our HSA, since I also plan on having more children, which means more c-sections.  For my pregnancy and c-section in 2012, it cost $75,000!  We only paid about $6,000 of that - thanks to insurance!

We own our car and just pay for car insurance, gas and maintenance (oil changes, etc.).  We plan on always driving a used car and never having a car payment.  I can wait on my dream car until I'm a millionaire in retirement - we have goals and car payments aren't part of my dream!  We buy clothing usually yearly or whenever needed.  We normally don't buy clothing each month.  We don't do much recreation that costs money but we do get take-out quite often, so that would be part of that category.  We have no debt except for a few medical bills left but that is paid for with our HSA.

The last two categories I haven't talked about yet are food and personal.  Our food budget has gone up very high due to my ill health but now that I'm regaining my health, I plan to get it down again.  Personal money is for my husband's haircuts, his spending money, homeschool supplies and miscellaneous needs like diapers, wipes, soap, etc.

The debt category didn't even make our pie chart because it is ZERO!

I hope that you enjoyed looking into our family's budget and how we use our money, I plan on doing a mixture of family scenarios in the next post!

The Why and How of Budgeting

What is a budget and why do we need one?  A budget is simply a way to keep track of where your money goes.  The Google definition is: an estimate of income and expenditure for a set period of time.  The reason why it would be good to have a budget is simply so you can SEE or find out where your money is being spent.  You don't really know unless you see it on paper - exactly what goes where.  If you want to get anywhere in life financially, you need to name every dollar!

Now onto how you do a budget.  There are some numbers you will need to find out before starting your budget, so write these down in a place you can refer to whenever you need to readjust your budget.

  1. Income - how much money is coming in to your home in any given month.  If you don't know, look at your pay stubs or take the hourly pay and multiply it by 160 hours for a typical 4-week month.  Include any child support or any miscellaneous incomes into this number.  
  2. Expenses - this is anything that goes OUT or that you pay for, how often (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc.) and if they are regular or just a one-time expense.  

Generally, you would do a budget each month but if your income and expenses are quite constant, you could probably get by with only doing a budget quarterly, or 4 times a year.  If you are like me and love to crunch numbers, well - you will be doing one quite often.

Here is a list of common expenses that almost everyone will need to budget for, I'm using the general categories that Dave Ramsey uses:

  1. Charity - this is where you would include tithe, offerings and any other giving.
  2. Savings - this isn't just what you hope to save in a savings account, this also includes retirement plans and other investments.
  3. Housing - includes rent or mortgage payment (and all that entails like property taxes, homeowner's insurance, etc.), renter's insurance and repairs if you own.
  4. Utilities - phone, internet, garbage, water, sewer, electric, gas
  5. Food - pretty self explanatory
  6. Personal - this is a catch-all for the needs, things like haircuts, toiletries, homeschool purchases and whatever else you feel that you need to purchase.
  7. Transportation - these are things to do with transporting you and/or your family that are needed like car insurance, gasoline and maintenance.
  8. Medical or Health - health insurance, dental insurance, medical bills, prescriptions, contacts, etc.  I also include disability and life insurance in this category.
  9. Clothing - budgeting a certain amount every month but you don't have to spend it each month, you can save it like we do and shop for clothes once or twice a year.
  10. Recreation or Fun money - whatever you do to have fun that costs money.
  11. Debt - all debt you have that is outstanding - car payments, credit cards, loans, etc.

Once you have your total income and total expenses written down, it is time to get down to crunching the numbers.  You will also want to know how much taxes are taken out each month.  I do our taxes each year, so I've calculated a certain amount that we claim and I know our tax rate, so I deduct that percentage from our monthly income. 

You only want to budget your total income MINUS your taxes - that will be your NET pay.  So starting with you net pay, subtract your expenses.  If you have money leftover, you need to place it into one of the categories and if it isn't needed - put it in savings in some form!  You should have what is called a zeroed-out budget - give every dollar a home.

Dave Ramsey recommends a certain percentage of your income towards each category and I did a pie chart to show you what this could look like:

Charity - 10-15%
Savings - 10-15%
Housing - 25-25%
Utilities - 5-10%
Food - 5-15%
Personal - 5-10%
Transportation - 10-15%
Medical - 5-10%
Clothing - 2-7%
Recreation - 5-10%
Debt - 0%

Our Financial Story

What better way to start this series than to tell you our financial story.  I will begin at the beginning of our marriage about 15 years ago when we were both working.  We had money rolling in and we were 20, we didn't budget and had no idea where that money went every month.  Once I started staying at home, we only lived on my husband's pay and it was a big shock to us to say the least!  There were times we didn't even have money in the bank and just prayed we would make it to the 1st or the 15th!

We moved a lot in town from apartment to apartment because I was never satisfied where I was and I gave my husband a hard time about it.  He let us move those many times because he wanted me to be happy.  Here I was, supposedly a "Christian" wife and discontent with everything my husband tried to provide for us.  Needless to say, our marriage wasn't going very well either.  We had our first child 3 years into our marriage and we had no money to pay the medical bills.  So, we applied and qualified for medicaid and my pregnancy and c-section were covered.  However, after I had the baby, I was no longer covered and sickness came off and on throughout the years and so did medical bills.

Years of discontent fueled reckless spendingWe never could get ahead because I was literally the millstone around my husband's neck that drained our finances and him!  We ended up with massive amounts of medical debt, credit card debt and a car payment that we could not afford to pay.  There was seemingly no hope.  Then, I decided that I wanted to leave Alaska because it was Alaska that was making me so miserable I thought.  I told my husband I was going to move to Washington with or without him.  I prayed for $20,000 and God gave it to us through an inheritance we didn't know was coming to us (why I don't know, I sure didn't deserve it!).  So my husband reluctantly decided to move us to Washington in 2006.  We paid for the move and I was able to secure him a job before we even moved.  Everything looked great but God didn't call us to where we were and I was about to learn quite a few lessons on never doing that again!

Upon getting a higher-paying job in WA, we had the choice of whether or not to buy health insurance.  I didn't want our money used to pay for something we didn't NEED as I was better, I mean who NEEDS health insurance anyway?  That is only if you have cancer and things like that - we were young and we would be fine.  Shortly, thereafter I ended up in the hospital for 13 days and we ended up with $40,000 worth of debt.  In the meantime, I had rededicated my life to God and gotten "right" and started being a submissive wife to my husband.  I no longer let my discontent rule our lives, however God was going to teach us a lesson that we wouldn't forget.

We had wanted to apply for financial assistance to pay the $40,000 medical bill but I remember when praying about it - God distinctly told us NO!  We were going to pay this debt and we were going to learn some lessons.  When I called the hospital billing to tell them we were not going to apply for assistance but pay this debt ourselves, they had an interesting story to tell.  Someone came in and wrote off $26,000 of the bill.  They don't know who, no one authorized it and they don't do that and she was perplexed and after talking with others in the office - no one knew WHO or HOW but it was someone with administrative privileges and we didn't owe $26,000 of the bill!  We still had a lot more left to pay though, that along with more credit card debt and a car payment had us back in the chains of debt.

We came across Dave Ramsey and read his book and my husband decided that we were doing this - we were going to be debt-free and never use a credit card again!  We were also going to pay for insurance because we didn't want to go through what we went through again.  We did the gazelle intensity and ended up paying close to $81,000 in debt OFF by 2011.  We were finally DEBT FREE!!!!!  We drive a paid-for car, we have no debt, we buy only what we can afford and our medical bills are paid with money we set aside in an Health Savings Account (HSA) that is tax-free.  We learned our lesson and so thankful we did!

We have had medical bills since then but thankfully, they are small in comparison to what they would have been had we not had health insurance!  We haven't touched a credit card in 5 years and don't plan on ever doing so.  We decided to live by biblical principles not just in our lives but also finances as well.  God has only blessed us and during times where we should have sunk under the weight of financial distress - God lifted the load off of us!  We didn't need Discover or Visa - we had God now and He is the only master we want to serve!

Financial Budgeting 101 - Index of Upcoming Posts

I've had a lot of response and traffic to my budget post of a family living on $40,000 a year.  I realize that this is an area that we need more help in and though I'm not a financial expert, I sure know the way to deal with your finances is by following Biblical principles.  I hope to make this a series worthy of your time and may you be able to gain insight in bettering your financial future.

I will be linking to these as I go through the series over the next week or so, this will serve as in index of these posts:

  1. Our Financial Story - here I will tell you our family story and how we learned the hard way financially
  2. The Why and How of Budgeting - this is where I tell you why you should budget and how to do it
  3. Our Family Budget - I will show you our budget in percentages on how we divide our money
  4. Budget scenarios - I will share with you various financial scenarios on varying incomes/expenditures
  5. Summary - this is where I sum up the entire series up and share printables for you to utilize

*After this series, I do plan on doing a "Living Debt Free" series, which will give you ways to cut back, save and make your financial dreams a reality!

My Herbal Medicine Cabinet

I've always been interested in natural things for healing of the body as opposed to taking medications that may not even work but almost all the time cause a myriad of side effects.  Also considering that, medications have caused my weight gain over years.  I'm actually finding more relief in natural herbs, than I ever did on medication!

I'm stocking up my herbal medicine cabinet slowly but I eventually want to have it all on hand, learn how to make more remedies and be able to rely on those and steer clear of harmful toxic drugs.  I know there are some situations that may call for such things, but in reality, most ailments can be easily treated with natural herbs, remedies and/or diet and exercise.

I've done some posts on this before, which you can find under the "natural remedies" category but here are things I'm using or going to be trying this month:

What I Already Use (or have used)
  • Garlic
  • Turmeric
  • Ginger
  • Fish Oil
  • Black Currant Oil
  • Milk Thistle
  • Peppermint
  • Chamomile
  • Lemon Balm
  • Red Raspberry Leaf
  • Psyllium Seed/Husk
  • Echinacea
  • Astragalus
  • Eucalyptus
  • Calendula
  • Raw, Local Honey
  • Vitamin C powder
  • L-lysine
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Lemon juice
  • Probiotics
  • Rosemary
  • Tea Tree Oil

What I Will Be Using NEW This Month
  • Ashwagandha
  • Slipper Elm
  • Bentonite Clay
  • Dried Elderberry
  • White Willow Bark
  • Sage
  • Thyme

What I Want to Try Later
  • Chasteberry
  • Rhodiola
  • Shatavari
  • Mullein 
  • Oil of Oregano
  • Essential Oils

A great resource that I use is National Geographic's Guide to Medicinal Herbs, which was written by Dr. Tieraona Low Dog.  She is an awesome woman and I've read a lot of her work, she works with Dr. Weil who runs an Integrative Medicine college in Arizona and is also known for his extensive knowledge in medicine - both conventional and natural.

Serving Others in Humility

My mind was brought back to my dad once again and his humility.  My dad would hold foot washings at our church growing up a few times a year.  We would move the pews to face each other in a long line across the church.  Then, a volunteer would get a large basin full of water, a pitcher to refill along the way and a towel for my dad and a woman volunteer.  The woman would go along and wash the women's feet and my dad would wash the men's.

I remember my dad with that towel strapped around him, kneeling down at each of the men's feet and quoting:

John 13:14-15
If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.

This is what Jesus said to his disciples after he washed all their feet.  You can read the full account in John 13.  Jesus was showing them how they should treat one another, but most importantly how none of us should think ourselves better than another or be so high that we can't kneel and wash another's feet.

Some commentators had said that Jesus didn't mean for them to do it but only to bring them to humility in my mind.  I suppose that is so, but my dad chose to do it and God blessed every time!  My dad would cry as he went along and so would everyone else.  I remember crying because of the love in that place as my dad humbled himself to wash the dirty feet of others.  Then, seeing his church members cry also as they realized how much their pastor loved them.  He loved them enough to humble himself and do as the Lord Jesus had done.  It was a special time and one that when I bring it to remembrance, pours the humility and love of the act all over me.

How about instead of criticizing one another, looking down on them because they aren't doing what we are doing, or have done, that we instead - wash their feet?  Just thinking of washing the feet of those you criticize should bring humility in your heart and show you your own pride.  If not, then maybe it is time you brought out the basin and served them.

My dad had a heart for people (and still does) and that is something they will always remember.  I will leave you with Barnes' commentary on this important lesson Jesus taught:

It is the manifest design of Jesus here to inculcate a lesson of humility; to teach them by his example that they ought to condescend to the most humble offices for the benefit of others. They ought not to be proud, and vain, and unwilling to occupy a low place, but to regard themselves as the servants of each other, and as willing to befriend each other in every way. And especially as they were to be founders of the church, and to be greatly honored, he took this occasion of warning them against the dangers of ambition, and of teaching them, by an example that they could not forget, the duty of humility.

Why I Love My Husband

I get a lot of requests for posts on marriage and though I don't feel like a marriage expert, I know what love is and entails.  Our marriage has been tested in some of the most extreme forms and it has withstood the storms and temptations to dissolve.  This post is going to help propel women to think on what they love about their husbands.  I find that a lot of time, women that want to leave their husbands or say they 'fell out of love' with him - have forgotten what it is that attracted them in the first place and all that they love about him since they've been married.  May this inspire you to think on the ways you love your man!

I've been married to the most wonderful man on this earth for 14 years now and our love is even stronger than those many years ago when we first began a life together.  We have been through so many things over the years that others may have threw in the towel for but our love stood the test of time.  There are so many things I love about my husband but these are what really fills my mind today:

  1. He loves me!  He is so full of love for me and treats me like a queen everyday of my life.  There is no doubt that he loves me and even others have remarked of his deep love for me - he doesn't hide it!  He doesn't want or desire anyone else - I'm still just as hot to him as I was the day he met me and he tells me so all the time!  Everyone he works with knows all about me and our children - he loves us so much!
  2. He comforts me.  I've been through a lot of pain and illness in my life and since marrying my husband, he has been such a comfort to me in all I've gone through - past and present.
  3. He is my best friend!  We are not only in love but he is also my best friend.  We can share our deepest thoughts, fears and shortcomings and bond and help one another.  
  4.  He is a dedicated follower of Christ.  He is so humble and doesn't think highly of himself.  He loves God and is very dedicated to spending time with the Lord.  His very dedication inspires mine.
  5. He is a dedicated father and husband!  He spends his free time with us.  He doesn't do social media because he sees how much time it would take away from us and he doesn't want to be involved in other men's matters.  He will stop anything that I feel or my daughter feels is taking away from our relationship - he puts God and his family first!
  6. He provides!  My husband is man enough to provide for his own.  He doesn't need to prostitute me out on a job to make the ends meet.  His manhood shows through being the sole provider.  I love that about him!  Man enough to make enough!
  7. He has compassion.  He cares for others and gives them the benefit of the doubt most of the time.  He is also advising me to let things go when others have done me wrong.  He truly has a great heart.
  8. He's handsome - I would say more here but let's just say he is attractive to me! ;-)
  9. He is hilariously funny!  He always keeps me laughing with his wit and humor!
  10. He is talented.  He composes music and songs and sings them.  He is intelligent and helps in homeschooling the kids when I don't know something.  He is awarded frequently at his job from his hard work and great customer service.  
  11. There isn't anyone that doesn't like him!  My husband has never had an enemy and everyone likes him.  He gets along with everyone because of his easy-going nature, which he got from his parents.
  12. He is a steady man.  He isn't impulsive and he is very careful and takes his time with decisions.  He balances me very well!  He never endangers our family by taking risks.  He keeps us debt-free with his wise spending.
  13. He is a leader.  He doesn't think he is much of one but I know he is!  I couldn't be what I am today without God and my husband - he has helped make me a better person.  He instructs his children in the right ways and doesn't allow them to do, read or watch inappropriate things.  He leads and safeguards his family.

Think of all the ways you love your husband today!  Keep the fires going and always stay newlyweds in affections.

Purging - A Lesson in Faith

Purging sounds so much more accomplished than decluttering, don't you think?  Not only has God been purging things in my life and even those around me but I've also been purging physical things in my home.  I held on to a lot of things but realized that maybe I'm holding on to some of them because I'm afraid of poverty.  I hadn't voiced this to anyone but God knew and it was recently shared by my pastor in a bible study - the fear of poverty.  I was thinking - wow, I hadn't even shared that and yet, God let the man of God know that someone needed to hear it!

Fear of poverty can cause you to hoard things or hold on to things.  In my case it was thinking that I wouldn't have the money to replace the items later on when I would need them.  For example, I was saving my daughter's old clothes from all the way back to when she was a toddler up until recently.  I was saving the clothes for our next baby, but we got a boy - so, I realized that if I saved for the next baby, those clothes would be there a long time before she would even be able to wear them.  However, when I decided to get rid of them and even sold a few, I started closing up and became scared to let them go.  I was scared I wouldn't be able to find such nice things again and scared that I wouldn't have the money to buy my next child clothes.

I finally was able to let go of the sentimental value of them but I still held on to the fear of poverty.  Not only did God reassure me in the recent study that I shouldn't fear that - He also showed me that fear of poverty was actually unbelief.  Unbelief is something that is not given much attention in the Christian world today.  Yet, it has the same ability to send you to hell as does murdering someone.

Revelation 21:8

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

God has taken care of us when we barely had any money and in our time of plenty.  Not only did God always provide our every need, He also fulfilled some of our wants!  Satan wants us to think that if we let go of something there will be a time we will regret it and we will be without.  If you let go of those clothes, your child will be naked and without he says.  That isn't faith talk - that is faithLESS talk!  That is fear-based future planning and not something that we should heed.

You could even have everything set for your future all nice and in pretty little rows, figuratively speaking - but things could come and take that all away in a moment.  That is why we are commanded not to trust in riches (abundance of external possessions) because they are not certain - only God is!!

It is one thing to have a storehouse and be wise, but it is another to hoard because we fear the future.  God can take care of us, we don't need to be ruled by fear of our future.  If we are in God's will, we can rest in that and know that He will meet all of our needs!