Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Odd Couple - The Marriage of a Planner and a Free-Spirit

Today's post is in honor of my husband, Nathaniel David Morrison. I often call him my butterfly in the wind. Sounds lovely, right? Except when I say that, I mean that he is without direction letting life hit him and change his path from one moment to the next. Oooh. Not so nice.

Don't get me wrong, Nate is the love of my life. I've been with him since I was 16, and can't imagine life with anyone else. But a girl can fantasize, right? A lot of girls fantasize about celebrities... I fantasize about my husband... exactly the way he is, but when I come home there's an envelope on the table with a note that says, "I clipped these coupons for you, based on your grocery list." Omg, swoon.

To be fair, I think a lot of people are in a Planner/Free-Spirit marriage. Nate and I just weigh quite heavily on our respective ends. I am the epitome of a planner, and he is the epitome of a free-spirit. If you wonder if you might be the victim of a Planner/Free-Spirit marriage, see if these questions and answers, typical of what Nate  and I might answer, and see if you are a planner or free-spirit.

Q: How much is in your bank account right now?
Ali answer: $ XXX.XX... Unless the Cilco bill already came out today.
Nate answer: Ask Ali.

Q: What do you like to do for fun?
Ali answer: What do you mean by that?
Nate answer: Video games, golf, TV, movies, music, play guitar, hang out with friends...

Q: What is your greatest fear?
Ali answer: The uncertainty of the future.
Nate answer: Bears.

The Planner/Free-Spirit relationship isn't the easiest... Not at all. Nate and I went to Chicago for a weekend this past spring and we wouldn't let me make a trip itinerary, so we could be "laid-back." It was THE worst weekend of my life. And his too... but mostly because I made it that way. We paid too much for stuff... we couldn't get in to certain things that we wanted to do... and I spent about 15% of the trip crying in our hotel room. Poor guy tried.

While it isn't the easiest, I think it's one of the strongest relationships. He's good at all of the things I'm terrible at, and vice versa. We may be the odd couple... but we embrace it. We learn from each other and balance each other every day. Thanks to you, my butterfly in the wind!

Monday, December 5, 2011

What's your Net Worth?

Warning: You might not like this post because it talks about uncomfortable things like sinning and finances.

Hello gang! Gosh, I haven't written in a while. So lately, I've been pretty fired up about finances. Yay budgets! But really, I'm pretty passionate about paying off debt right now. I also just read a couple articles on net worth. Net worth is something a lot of people have heard, but maybe aren't 100% sure what it means. Simply, it's your assets - your debts, or a way I like to look at it is, if I died tomorrow and Nate decided he wanted to forget I ever existed, sell everything we owned, pay everything off, and move to China, would he have enough to move to China. Actually, I don't like to look at it that way at all. But it's an illustration.

Nate and I are currently hanging in a balance between a positive and negative net worth. So if you have said, "Those two are good for nothing," you are, in fact, entirely correct. For having a whole bunch in student loans for Nate, a car payment, a mortgage, and being young and newly weds... I'll take it.

As I look at the budget Nate and I have been following, it sure feels like we should be millionaires by now. (< Cut me some slack, I'm part of Generation Entitlement...) About 46% of the money we make/take home after taxes goes towards paying off our debt... the Grand Prix loan and Nate's student loans. About 4% of the money we make/take home after taxes (though I wish it was more) goes to giving to our church or other charities. So we live on about half of our money. 50% of THAT 50% goes toward regularly monthly expenses, aka bills. My house payment, cell phones, internet, water, heat, electric, sewer, blah blah blah. So about 25% is left for groceries... and anything else not covered by a "bill." That includes non-monthly bills like my semi-annual car insurance and our wonderful state of Illinois's outrageous license sticker fees.

Sometimes I think we're geniuses, and other times I want to go buy a really nice Coach purse for myself. Or get a new car. Or a nicer house. I hope this blog entry doesn't sound braggy... because it definitely isn't. But I do get really fed up with people who say "If I only had more money..." right after posting a picture of their new laptop or other purchase.

I get real preachy real fast on this, so I'm going to sidetrack back to net worth. Net worth nearly always refers to money, but what if someone kept a score of your moral net worth? If they quantified the pain you had caused and measured it against how much joy you brought to people in your life. The good news is, when you accept Jesus as your savior, your eternal slate is wiped clean. But, for fear of being a total Debbie Downer, people close to you may be keeping their own copy of your ledger.

Ultimately, God's forgiveness is the only one that matters, and a million good deeds won't buy your way into heaven. But regardless of who you are, Christian or not, people are watching you.

What if someone subtracted 10 points from your net worth for gossiping... added 15 for helping a friend in need... subtracted 5 for lying... subtracted 10 for lying more... How would you measure up?

I truly believe that God wipes our slate clean each day, but we still need to work hard to create a positive moral net worth. Not because we can ever be good enough to pay God back... but because it's our job to make peace with both our debtors, and those who we owe. These debts are harder to pay back than any financial debts. I can set my mortgage payment to automatically come out every month, but I can't tell my self to reimburse exactly so much kindness on a certain date to a certain person. So whether it's money... or your spirituality and morality... create margin, give generously, and look toward the future benefits or consequences. Bye for now!