Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Sleep Credit

Several years ago my mom sent my sister and me to Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. While it's normally attended by married couples who want to drastically change the way they utilize money in their household, thus changing their lives, neither of our husbands were up to the challenge at the time, so we two sisters went as a couple. I was doubtful I could impact our finances, seeing as how he wasn't attending the life-changing course with me and frankly, wasn't a supportive spouse in much of anything at that time, (I don't think he minds me saying that, either - he is fully aware of what a jackwagon he used to be.) but I went and I went hopefully.

It's a nine week course. By week four I had paid such close attention to what Dave had to say about the horrible decisions we had made and were making at the time that I had managed to spark a fire under Paul and we elminated $11,000 in debt by week five. We were selling things right and left - two boats (one big, one small, neither used anymore), furniture, knick knacks, clothes, several large pieces of junk and the kids were completely convinced they were next. We got all up in the "envelope system" and I proudly cut up five credit cards in front of the class during week five. My sister cut up 11.

After one serious mess-up two years later where I got a credit card unbeknownst to my husband and quickly ran up a large chunk of totally unacceptable debt, I 'fessed up to Paul, asked for forgiveness and he forgave. Whew. I got a part-time job to start paying off my mistake and within that year we were once again sans credit cards. The following winter we paid off my van and officially became debt-free.


I felt good. I mean good. So good that the thought of a van payment now makes me nauseous. Had we been paying ourselves first (as Dave Ramsey advises) these past few years, buying a new van this spring wouldn't be a nauseating event and we'd be able to throw some cash around at the dealership and walk out with a new-to-us van and still no debt. However, we haven't exactly been paying ourselves. Heck, we've had a hard enough time paying the electric bill and phone bill this past year, so yeah, we just slacked. We will likely have a van payment in the next month or two, much to my chagrin.

I'm a born and raised Baptist. Tithing could easily be in any infant Baptist's early vocabulary, - right after "mama" and "dada" comes "tithe". It's usually preached from the pulpit and preached HARD. The Bible tells us to give 10%. Most people limit that to money, but I've since learned we're also required to give 10% of our time and talents as well. Yes, really. Not only should we give that 10% right off the top of the ol' paycheck, we should also be giving 2.4 hours of a 24 hour day to God. Along with 10% of our talents. Most of us don't. We may get the money thing down and forget the time and talents altogether. Or maybe it's easier for you to volunteer and pitch in rather than write that check. Regardless of where you fall, none of us do it like we should. I get the money one down well and time gets about half-billing. Talents? I fail.

NOTE: I am not preaching nor judging, let me just say that outright, right here and now. This is my blog and I'm saying it how I feel. I'm not belittling or chiding, rebuking or scolding anyone. Hey, after my prolonged absences, you might wanna take what you're getting. :) I am merely writing today what God has put on my heart to write. Read it, maybe ponder it and either digest or spit out. Your choice.

Before we moved out here to Diva Ranch we bought a new bedroom suite. Bed, dresser, chest, nightstands and new mattress/box springs combo. We crammed all that gigantic furniture into our itty bitty bedroom in our 800 square foot house in town and we were happy. We moved out here to a bigger house where our bedroom furniture fit better and we were happy. Then I got pregnant. We both gained weight. We both started getting older. Suddenly our mattress seemed to have one goal in mind - to kill us in our sleep by way of our spines. One quick mention of the demon mattress and a friend offered to give us one that was just sitting in storage. We took it with many thanks and it was a fine mattress. It's still a fine mattress. It's a Serta and is in great shape, but it is just not the mattress for us. Have I mentioned we're old and fat?

We started researching mattresses and were intrigued by the Sleep Number beds, but seeing as how we are snugglers and sleep side-by-side, touching, all night long, one of us would be sleeping on that hump in the middle and we aren't anxious to give up the snuggling, even for a good night's sleep. And, just a hunch here, but I'm pretty sure I would end up being the one on the demilitarized zone hump while Paul snoozed away in his sleep number-y paradise. And I might end up bitter. And grumpy. And no one wants me any grumpier than I already am.

So then we looked into the Tempur Pedic beds, but started hearing that they sleep hot and seeing as how I'm on that slippery slope to menopause and hot flashes and night sweats are some of my closest companions these days, I wasn't anxious to sleep on a bed I knew was going to raise my body temp by 452*. We decided to try a memory foam topper, around 4" deep, to see if we liked the foam. We figured even if we had to spend $100 or so, it was better than dropping a few thousand then discovering I was at a dangerously high risk of nocturnal sponataneous combustion. None of the Walmarts we visited had Queen sized toppers and on a whim we wheeled into the furniture store next to Walmart that had a gigantic banner plastered to the outside of the buildling advertising their Tempur Pedics. The salesperson immediately told us the horrors of foam toppers (and that they didn't carry them anyway, which he said with obvious disdain and disgust) and convinced us to try a full memory foam mattress. Lying on those Serta memory foam mattresses was just a gateway rest that led straight to the real Tempur Pedic mattresses. We should have known.

We laid on all three Tempur Pedics and the middle-of-the-road in firmness and price was the one we loved. He quoted us a price and offered us interest-free financing through 2013. We conferred and decided to finance it and pay it off with our income tax return. That wasn't necessarily a Dave Ramsey-esque line of thinking, but it worked in our minds. The salesman said he could give us a yes or no on financing in 7 minutes, so we filled out the necessary forms and then we waited. I prayed while we waited. I prayed that if this was something we really weren't supposed to do - go into debt, albeit temporarily - that it wouldn't go through.

And sure enough, we were denied. Paul was embarrassed. Especially after the salesman dismissed us rather rudely. Apparently, credit approval is how he bases the worthiness of humankind. I wasn't upset. I was disappointed, because that bed felt sooooooo good, but I also knew that God had a plan. Paul fumed all the way home from Joplin. He fussed over our dismissal and wondered at the reason we were denied. The next day I checked our credit. I couldn't get our score without paying, but I did check our credit and saw all the good and bad and ugly on the report. The credit cards were mostly good. Discover Card was bad. Bad bad bad bad BAD. But I knew that. Discover did some bad things for us and we to them. It got ugly. All of the vehicle loan accounts were reported good with no delinquencies.

When the letter came in the mail telling us why we were denied, we also got our credit score (for FREE  - so there's how to avoid that $14.95 fee to get it online. Just apply for credit and get denied!) and it's really pretty good. So why were we denied credit on that heavenly mattress?

Because we have had no recent accounts opened or closed.

Yessssssss. Success! We have successfully lived debt-free long enough to NOT HAVE ENOUGH CREDIT! We've had people tell us we're shooting ourselves in the foot by not having credit because then what if we need credit and can't get it? Well, we're counting on God to take care of us there. And we know He will. So there are no worries on our part regarding our credit - or lack thereof. Dave Ramsey has a credit score of zero. Ours will start going down and keep at it, this we know. We obeyed when God told us to live debt-free and now we are tithing and being blessed, we are saving up for the things we want and paying cash for them rather than using credit, we are trying very hard to truly have financial peace.

And a mere week after the denial letter came in the mail we got a phone call from a friend asking us if we'd like a memory foam mattress. For free. It's not a Tempur Pedic, but it's delightful and will hold us over until the time comes we have the cash to wheel and deal ourselves into a debt-free Tempur Pedic. And then? Man, are we gonna sleep easy.


Anonyvox said...

I sincerely believe that whole, "You need to have some active credit so that you can get it when you need it" thing is just bull-honky dreamt up by the credit corporations to keep people hooked. It's totally counter-intuitive. I think you guys did the right thing, and clearly everything worked out in the end. Good job!

Melessa Gregg said...

So a memory foam mattress is all that? Dave and I (also old and fat) are looking to finally buy a new mattress. We got one when we got married 15 years ago. It had been someone's guest room mattress before that. (Yikes that's an old mattress!)

Sam's has the memory foam toppers, FYI. Or really FOI (for other's information) since you got lucky!

My point in making this comment? That I've been married 15 years, my DH FINALLY seems to be outgrowing his jackwagon phase and should we buy the $100 topper from Sam's? :)

And also, it's good to see you blogging again.

Cazzie!!! said...

I love this story... it is what we are working towards also... and we are getting there with very dedicated hard work too. thankyou for sharing xoxo

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