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In the last few weeks, I have been starting several posts that I have yet to complete. There is so much I have learned in the last year about money and I know there is so much more to learn. I don’t claim to be an expert. We are an average family that lives on one income who has made plenty of mistakes. I believe that the greatest knowledge comes from learning from those mistakes.

I started this blog to keep us on track to our debt-freedom goal. Along the way I have picked up a few readers. For those that follow, I hope my posts encourage you in your journey to financial freedom {if that is the journey you are on}. I am not here to tell anyone how to manage their money or persuade you to follow Dave Ramsey. Everyone must choose what is best for their own family and situation.

The one thing that I have learned is that you don’t know the situation that other people might be in. Appearances can be deceiving and making assumptions can be very damaging. There are many families that “look” like they are doing great, but in reality they may be buried in debt.

There are also families who may have good incomes, are working their way out of debt and so appear to spend very little. We are one of those families. Although, while we follow Dave Ramsey’s plan and are “gazelle intense” about it, we do not completely eliminate all activities. There are some people on the DR plan who do not go out to eat, do not buy anything new, do not do a LOT of things. That is completely their choice…their decision. And for them, it works and is a good plan.

Because we know ourselves, we know that if we were to pursue that route of total denial, there is a high temptation and likelihood of overspending later and busting the plan. Don’t get me wrong, self-denial is important and is a necessity when eliminating debt, but being balanced about is often more important. It’s similar to a person who binges and purges to lose weight. It’s not a healthy way to diet. This still doesn’t mean you go buy a brand new car while getting out of debt because you “deserve it”. That’s immaturity, not balance. But it may mean you include in your budget a trip out for ice cream to celebrate paying off your first credit card. The point here is having a plan that KEEPS you on the plan so you reach your financial destination.

So, we plan for our expenses, we plan for the activities that we want our children to participate in, and we plan for our personal interests, all the while following the biblical principles Dave’s plan lays out. A few weeks ago I posted about how I love Priceline. In that post I mention that my husband and I are both attending our high school reunions on different weekends. What I did not mention was how we financially planned for these events that we both knew about last year.

This last weekend an incident took place where this statement was thrown at me, “Since you obviously have the financial means…” I was completely taken aback and heartbroken that a misperception had happened. So here is how we are able to go to our reunions…

We live in the South and both grew up in the Chicagoland area. My husband had a job where he flew internationally several times in the last year and he earned quite a few miles. Not enough for both of us to travel together for two weekends in a row, but enough for each of us to get one free ticket to Chicago. I have a brother who lives in Chicago so we get our lodging for free. My husband’s reunion ticket was $25 and mine was a lot less since I designed the website for our reunion. The food for the weekend for one person is not too expensive and since we are attending reunions where there will be food, we only have to worry about breakfast and lunch. After all that, the total combined amount for both weekends we budgeted is about $200. Not bad for two people going on short weekend trips. Since we knew about both of these trips last year, it was pretty easy to earn and save up $200 in 12 months. And really, because we have cut so many other things out of our lifestyle we were easily able to save that up within a few months.

You see, you never know how someone is able to do something that you may think is really expensive. You don’t know the planning that goes into each decision for a family. You don’t know what financial goals theymay be running after and why they may say “no” or “yes” to something. Be careful when deciding to express your opinions on how someone handles their money. Because if you feel you can decide how they should handle their money, you better be ready for others opinion of how you should handle yours.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2