November 23, 2017

“God Watch” Financial Update


*Many of you have asked how my husband’s job search is going and how we are making it financially since it’s been so long. Here are just a few thoughts for those faithful followers.

Embracing this season during our “God Watchcontinues to teach me many things.
Another month has come and gone during this time of unemployment, and more than ever I am passionate in our desire for debt free living, and its importance in today’s financial world.

During this economy, life happens, unemployment rises, and houses are being foreclosed.
My heart breaks for the families that struggle through these situations with no support or financial advise. In the midst of the storm, it’s sometimes incredibly difficult to see the sunshine breaking through. I’ve been there years ago and know that pain.
Not only that, but financial tension is the leading cause of divorce.
Stress abounds around money decisions which multiplies the situation.

Yet even being part of that rising unemployment statistic, our family is thoroughly surviving.
Not because of a large salary, but due to the fact that we have had years of living below our means, being committed to Dave Ramsey’s financial baby steps (even before he had outlined them. ๐Ÿ™‚

I would be fooling you if I shared that I didn’t have nerve racking days.
Yes, moments when I assure the Lord I’m done being refined and wonder when this character building opportunity will end. (ha ๐Ÿ™‚ But dedicated to a commitment years ago to stack our emergency fund and save it for a season like this, we’re holding on financially.

We are also living off of our “attic fund” (the money that we saved to finally finish our third story). And yes, I know that we are beyond blessed that we even have more space to complete some day.

Admittedly, we were fortunate because my husband knew that his company was being bought out months before it happened. We began living like we were unemployed at the first moment of whispers, and then they offered to keep him on through the transition with a retention bonus. Yes, I had grandiose ideas that we would double dip my husband’s income since I was sure he’d be employed within months.
Many are not so fortunate to receive anything once they are let go…reality has hit.

Our bonus money is now past, we are in month eight of our God Watch, and if there are any bits of wisdom I can impart, it’s “stop spending money on any more “wants (consumer debt),” until you have paid off those credit cards and are beginning an emergency fund.”
For those that haven’t been able to hold on or are currently unemployed, of course this doesn’t begin to apply to you at all. Ten years ago, we were in a position where I literally had to charge my groceries for a small season…I couldn’t even begin to think of putting away for an emergency fund. Total grace here…

Sharing my heart on this issue is only for those of you who have a secure salary, yet wonder how long you could hold on if one or both of you lose your jobs tomorrow.

As my friend shared with me last week, even though her husband makes well into the six figures, if he lost his job, they would not be able to make it for more than one month.
The burden of debt she feels weighs on her, and she understands that’s no way to live.
There’s no time like the present than to assess that situation.

Debt is the leading cause of this country’s financial failures.
I can’t express to you the freedom that occurs and the burdens that will be lifted once you begin to walk down this road.
Stewarding your money more wisely, blessing others, modeling financial patience to your children, are all benefits that result through this chiseling process.

Begin living now by reducing your debt and taking those steps to financial security.
Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, Crown Ministries and financial books by the late Larry Burkett top my recommended reading lists on personal finance issues.

Yikes, I need to take a breath. I rarely get on my high horse and that certainly was not my intent.
Personally living in the midst of financial UNcertainty brings out every frugal bone in my body.
People scoff at frugal living, but it is fabulous. Speaking from a lifetime of experience, I’m more convinced of that than ever. Frugality allows creative inspiration to thrive, and I think if you browse my archives, you will see that it permeates every thread of our family tapestry. ๐Ÿ™‚

So what is our plan?
Prayer, prayer, prayer… as we wait and watch to see what the Lord will do.
Then…my husband, who in the midst of this unemployment, is doing everything he can to bring in extra income through assisting people with taxes, finances etc.
We live in an amazing country where we can use our creative gifts and entrepreneurial spirit to think outside the box. Being a financial guy, there’s not much available for higher management in our area, so he’s slowly attempting to build his own company – Uncommon CFO.
Attempting to help five companies, who will hire him just one day a week, is his goal.
(Any guesses on how he came up with the name or why?)

For me, as my blog grows, advertising space helps offset some couponed groceries. ๐Ÿ™‚
After turning down speaking opportunities in the past due to home schooling, the Lord is opening that door for me – especially since my husband is working from home.
Sharing with women what I am passionate about brings such joy.
That opportunity never ceases to amaze me. Maybe I’ll meet you at your ladies’ group some day.

Thanks for joining us on this God Watch. I’ll start updating you once a month with some of the hands on practical life lessons that we’re learning through this process.
And no, I will not be one bit disappointed if I don’t have to give you any more updates…ever. ๐Ÿ™‚


  1. We are still on a "God Watch" too. Even though we are in the end stages of foreclosure, we wouldn't have made it being loaded with debt. By that I mean we're still paying for somewhere to live, food to eat, gas in our cars & electricity! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I think your husband's business idea sounds fantastic! It really is times like this can "forces" our creativity – we've had several opportunities to think outside the box, and that is a lot of what has helped us survive.


  2. Kelleigh Ratzlaff Designs says:

    Thank you so much for this post, Jen. It's very encouraging at this moment in time. We've recently (after 12 years of marriage) started to follow a budget and a cash system, and after just one month, I've discovered how freeing it is. And, it's actually FUN! We froze our credit cards (literally – in a cup in the freezer!), and now live totally within our means. We are even saving quite a bit! And, I didn't even know that we had the money to save! I heartily recommend Dave Ramsey. We are so excited about everything we have learned!


  3. We've been there, too. Dh also knew months in advance of his job loss,so we were prepared when it hit. He was out of work 6 months, then did "survival" jobs for about a year. Now he's in a new field and averaging slightly more than before the job loss. It's looking like there may be some good opportunities in the future.

    I,too, am a sahm, and I encourage you to do what God is leading you to. Don't listen to everyone telling you to go back to work (cause I know they are!), unless that is what you think is best for your family. Do what is right for your family. We made it 18 months on very reduced income and I know you will, too.
    Hang in there! I'll be praying for y'all. Email me if you want to vent; it's tough! ๐Ÿ™‚


  4. I found your blog not too long ago and wanted to tell you what an inspiration it has been to me. I have always felt I was frugal but in this economy, with a husband who is self-employed, I have taken it to a new level. I have found that having to cut back and watch our money better has actually made me more creative and also happier. And we notice the tender mercies and blessing of the Lord so much more, too. Thanks for your words. I know it will all work out for your good.


  5. Teri from Indiana says:

    My husband lost his job two years ago & we did the God Watch thing for 10 long months. Was it easy? No. I did a knee jerk reaction and applied for a job at a box store, they hired me but when I found out the hours I realized that there was no way I would be attending church with my family other than once a month. I turned down the job. I walked out of there and thought I had just made a major mistake. But it ended up being a major blessing.
    Hang in there….when God is in the center all is right in the world. Praying for blessings from above for all those without jobs….


  6. I just found your blog today. We are right there with you on the God watch…my husband has been out of work for 11 months now and counting. Luckily we have unemployment and he's part of a union so we have healthcare until the end of the year. He also is able to do a few side jobs here and there to bring in some extra money. Since the beginning of our marriage 4 years ago, we have lived debt free (besides a mortgage) and under our means. Therefore I have been able to stay home with our children still and we have been able to pay all our bills without dipping into our emergency fund. I won't say we haven't had our moments of nervousness though! Especially as we know our healthcare runs out in a few months. But, we have learned so much, most of all to trust in God. Every time we've needed something, He has provided! We've also learned to coupon, be extremely frugal and never buy anything unless we NEED it!

    Thanks for your post! It was very encouraging, and today was one of those days I needed an encouraging word on the matter!


  7. Janie at Sounding Forth says:

    Wow. Powerful stuff.
    I lost my job (6 figures) August 4. My husband is an independent consultant, and work has been sporadic. We both work in the oil and gas industry. Two years ago, my husband told me during a huge rise in our industry – "Baby, this ain't real, and we're not going to live like it's real."

    When I lost my job, we felt the Lord told us to be quiet, and wait 2 weeks before making any inquiries as to jobs. We went to Ruidoso, NM, and just chilled out. Now, I have 3 offers that are stout, and we're seeking God's wisdom as to which one to take. I know I'm blessed to have those offers, and that the Lord God Himself has provided them.

    Though we have no debt, we still find ways we could be even more frugal and are starting to implement them. This is definitely a new season (and I'm not talking about a job or career) in the Kingdom of God and we want to be ready for whatever comes.

    Thanks for sharing, Jen!


  8. While our situation isn't due to unemployment, but rather huge medical bills, living frugally is a blessing.

    I'm trying to do a few of the same things you are…, selling ads on Parker's blog, etc.

    Our days are also filled with prayers and faith.


  9. Sorry to hear it is dragging on. We are having a wake up call at the moment. My husband's school district is not going with with contract negotiations. They are currently teaching without a contract and the district is offering a 0% raise forever and refuses to negotiate. It is awful right now and I don't know what we will do if they strike.

    I have always been very frugal, we have little debt and felt we had a very secure job (he is tenured). But now I wonder just how secure the paycheck is. We are getting even more serious about building up our EF, which I had been keeping steady at about $4k – not nearly enough. good luck with your search.


  10. Jen, you both were so smart to live as you did when you knew that his job was in jepardy. And what a God Watch! I am observing a close friend of mine going through this same thing. He has been out of work for 10 months now. Prayer is the key!! I'll keep you in mine!


  11. You could even write a book!

    Just curious;
    Your friend doesn't know you have a blog?


  12. Amanda @ Serenity Now says:

    What an awesome, eye-opening post, Jen! I knew you are a frugal chickie, but I didn't know about the job troubles. I am so impressed by the way your family is REALLY trusting God. It reminds me of that Beth Moore study that discusses the difference between Believing IN God and just BELIEVING Him. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I added this post as one of my favorites of the week in a post I just did. ๐Ÿ™‚


  13. Jen - Balancing Beauty and Bedlam says:

    Anonymous – as I edited this post, I did take out that line about her not knowing I had a blog, but nope, she is a casual acquaintance and the ironic thing is that most people i know in real life have no idea that I write a blog. Mr close friends know, but not many people outside my immediate circle know. I have just started "telling" people in real life. Slowly, it's starting to get around, but people that I sit with every single Sunday at church have no idea…isn't that too funny? My whole life open for the taking and they have no idea. :)hee hee


  14. Jen - Balancing Beauty and Bedlam says:

    Ladies – thanks for sharing your own experiences here in the comments. I know this will be a blessing to those that read after you for months to come. In some way, we all deal with this, whether we're in the middle of the storm or making changes for possible inclement weather. Thanks for opening up.


  15. It is so great to hear how you are embracing this challenge… you are very inspiring! Thank you for sharing. It sounds like there opportunities arising!!


  16. Cynthia @An Accomplished Woman says:


    Thanks so much for sharing. My husband and I just had this conversation last night. We are lucky he is employed but always know this may be short-lived. He is in New Mexico and I live in TN.

    You are so brave to be so honest and it is obvious other's need to hear your message. I will keep you and your family in my prayers.


  17. It does feel good when your debt-free. we are still going throughthe process. No more credit cards has been great. No matter how good the deal is…if you don't have the money, you have it!


  18. Wow. My husband was unemployed for three years and is still "under-employed" I get it and I admire you. I really really do. I am saddened to hear that many of us understand and am excited to see what God is has in store for your family Jen. Thank you for sharing this. I know it is one area where people like to throw in their two cents, usually in judgement. I'm so glad sto see so much encouragement.

    I am so impressed that instead of whining about your situation, you find a way to bless others through it. Wow.


  19. The first time you called this God Watch – I loved the name…and I ditto what Kathy said!


  20. Jen, we'll be praying for you and your situation. You have such an amazing attitude. The fruit of just that alone will be seen for years to come in your children's lives and in your marriage!


  21. It seems as our life started as a God Watch when our first child was born and I did not want to go back to work. That was 19 years ago. It didn't work on paper, but my God was so much bigger than my plans. I kept thinking I would have to go back to work, but we kept making it along. I am so glad you were prepared and have the skills to run your home wisely. I know, because we have gone through so much in 19 years, that it has taken both faith and a very conscious effort on your part. Hang in there. You are pointing others to Him with your life. Run and do not grow weary. Know we are cheering you on yelling,"GO, GIRL!" at the top of our lungs for you. Ooh, now I am doing the dance. Go, Jen. Go, Jen. Go, Jen!


  22. Hoosier Homemade says:

    Great post! You are very inspiring Jen. The more I hear about Dave Ramsey, the more I feel the need to go out and grab his book, no wait…go to the library.
    Thanks for sharing your story!


  23. You know what's really sad? We've had the Dave Ramsey book for a long time and I have yet to read it. I've heard that it's a fantastic book. Don't know what I've been thinking, or not thinking. I am going to be starting that book today.

    We have been in major financial debt and God has brought us out, but the day to day living isn't easy. We do not have an emergancy fund, and my husbands hours were cut at work again. I don't work and it's getting tight.

    I will be praying for everyones situation… please be in prayer for me.


  24. Songbirdtiff says:

    This is wonderful. Thank you for sharing your heart.

    I just found out that I'm being laid off in 4 weeks. Since we just went through this with my husband I actually feel like I'm a little more prepared because of what we have already been through. We have learned that our friends will stand by us during the absolute worst of times. That has been the biggest blessing.


  25. Ashley @ Domestic Fashionista says:

    Jen, I was not aware of your family situation! Thank you for sharing this! I am very much encouraged by your frugal living…and this story is proof why it is necessary! I think you and your family are a great model of being stewards of your money! I am just beginning the stages of truly managing money and budgeting and I am encouraged by your words today to not let "wants" get in the way of putting the family's needs first and planning ahead. Thank you for sharing your heart and willing to be so transparent with your readers. ๐Ÿ™‚ Ashley


  26. A timely word, indeed. We feel like we are in an impossible situation, financially… but we look to the Lord and are also waiting and watching to see how He will bring us through. And even though we don't have all the money we need for rent, month after month… HE continues to provide. My couponing is such a blessing, too.

    I just came from a Sheri Rose Shepherd conference at our church. You would have LOVED what she did… she shared that she shops at GW, and even itemized the cost of her outfit (under $15 including shoes)!!! Also, she said she prays Pr 13:22 the day before she shops so that those good deals that fit her will be there! Too funny. You can find her ministry at Blessings!


  27. In our 35+ years of marriage we have sacrifically given away at least $200,000+ to our churches and many needy people and causes, and yet, God still decided to visit catastrophe upon us. (We are people of modest means.) We lost our (husband's) job, our life savings, and our home and all our equity trying to stay afloat during this recession. We felt certain through specifice verses we read and prayed about that God would save us, but it did not happen. What I have learned through this is that God will do what He pleases for His own reasons and for His own glory. Even if one is diligent and prudent and applies all the advice of the so-called Christian experts, the plans of God will prevail. It is NOT a formula by any means! I don't have the answers yet. God may have brought us to a place of total loss so that we can see His provision, grace and restoration in a way we could not have experienced otherwise. But I do want to caution others about offering one-size-fits all advice to people in difficult circumstances. It's just not that simple and for one simple reason–God is God, and we are not! He will do as He sees fit, and it is not always clear at the time of our troubles. But even at this low point I can say, to god be all the glory.


  28. After closing our trucking company over a year and a half ago we were without income for almost eight months. We live on a working farm and anyone who has a farm knows it takes extra income of an outside job to meet farm expenses and life's necessities. We always take huge losses on our farm income. We do it for the love of the land and the desperation of keeping the farm in the family.

    God has something for your out there. Unfortunately his timing is not always our timing. Hang in there Hon, God WILL supply all your needs!

    Good luck, God bless and have a wonderful weekend!!!


  29. Spelling correction–to God be all the glory!


  30. Jen - Balancing Beauty and Bedlam says:

    Anonymous – I absolutely agree with you. He is good all the time and quite frankly, we may lose everything and He is still good. There is definitely not a formula by any means, and you are a living example of someone giving God the glory through everything.
    I haven't even begun to touch on our financial story. We have lost everything and built it back up…Ten years ago, we were millionaires "on paper" and within six months I was calling to try and charge our mortgage on a credit card (which you can't do, by the way). There are no formula at all nor guarantees, but in the midst of it, scripture is still clear regarding the use of money and consumer debt. You obviously were wise stewards and still circumstances happened.
    My advise is not based on a "one time" formula, but merely a scriptural basis to stay out of debt. We still have debt with our home but Lord willing, we are working towards paying that off.

    Forgive me if it came across formula driven, but it's just good scriptural advise that we have been given over the years about avoiding debt and building up our storehouses.


  31. Mary Ellen ~ Carolina Momma says:

    Jen, thank you so much for sharing your story. We're on our own God Watch with my husband's unemployment (just been about two months for us). But having a plan – Dave Ramsey's plan in fact – has been a huge blessing for us.


  32. Mrs. Dunbar says:

    WOW!! I am so impressed with what you have to say and how your family have been true stewards of His word. From the first day I was married, I wanted to spend and buy and live in luxury and my husband kept saying "No we need to save." About 6 months into our marriage we came up with a financial plan that we both agreed to, and what a blessing that was for us. Being faithful and wise with our money has helped us tremendously in these crazy financial times. You are a true inspiration and I hope all who read this post will take heart, and get out of debt. Thanks.


  33. kristi_temple says:

    My husband and I have been through a season like this before. We are praying for you and your family. The funny thing about that time in our lives is that we would never have grown to be the people we are today without having that experience under our belts. We learned what it meant to really trust that God was in control. We learned what it meant to NOT worry and to cast our cares upon Him. We never ceased our tithing and we saw God's hand daily. We learned so many practical and spiritual lessons during that time that I am so grateful to have learned. I love the business name and idea.

    BTW . . . I thought I heard you say somewhere that you sell/sold Homemade Gourmet. I need to order some Pantry staples and would love to give you my business. If you are still selling, contact me.

    Love and Blessings,


  34. Hi Jenn, I love this topic! 2 years ago I purchased a super expensive vehicle and regretted it as I was pulling it off the lot…literally! The next day on my new XM Radio, I heard Dave Ramsey and it was love at first sight. However, I was stuck w/ this $728 per month payment…ouch! For 2 years I've been trying to convince my husband we should just take the hit and sell it…chalk it up as a lesson learned. It wasn't until now that things have completely slowed down with our business that he's agreed. So, a few days ago we sold it, and yesterday we purchased the same type of vehicle, just 4 years older (actually the XL version) for a super low price. The owners have been out of a job since January and needed to sell it. I feel SUCH RELIEF knowing that we own our vehicle now. I WILL NEVER buy a car I can't pay cash for again! It feels so good. Thanks for sharing your situation. I've been wondering how the job hunt is going.


  35. Thanks for the "update", & for encouraging everyone to get out of debt as quickly as possible. When Scripture tells us that we are to "owe no man", it is for a very good reason. My hubby has been (for about a year) mentoring a 32 year old man with 2 children & 1 on the way. He & his wife just finished the Dave R. class & now only have a mortgage, but are otherwise debt free. What an accomplishment! Having lived debt free for the last several years has shown us how truly freeing it is. The inspiration for us came from a couple several years ago who said, "If God should decide to call us to the mission field, we don't want anything to stand in the way, including debt." We didn't feel called to the field, but it changed our attitude about buying, saving, spending, etc. We paid off our house, only pay cash for cars, built up a savings, & try to give abundantly. We know that we could lose everything tomorrow, but it all belongs to God anyway, so we hold it very loosely. Thanks for your "soap box" offering!


  36. Nadir @ Hodgepodge says:

    What blessing this post is! My fiancee & I are just starting to try & pay off debt while paying for our small wedding & preparing for our future together, it hasn't been easy but God had truly blessed our efforts in saving & paying debt off despite having several odds work againt us. God bless!


  37. Jen, you just encouraged me so much! It's too much to put in a comment, but I so needed this post!


  38. Jen, thanks so much for "keeping us in the loop". God is good all the time. It is such a testimony for you to share this with all of us. We are living on a new budget in preparation for our growing family and it is an exciting and growing time. Thanks for the encouragement! Kelly


  39. I’m a little late on seeing this post. My husband and I are in a similar situation, we got married in the beginning months of the recession, and since then my husband has only worked 11 months out of 22 months of marriage and I have only been interning for free. My husband is back at school getting a master’s, but financially it’s difficult since neither he nor I have a job.

    Sorry, I just rambled on, but it spoke to me. This quote,”Yes, moments when I assure the Lord Iโ€™m done being refined and wonder when this character building opportunity will end.” describes exactly what my husband is going through. Thank you for the inspiration! Prayer is all we can do for now.


  40. We are definitely here. My husband has been employed for awhile now. He gets Unemployment insurance which doesn’t even pay the rent. My hours have been cut twice now in the past month. We have major debts and creditors harassing us. We don’t know what to do. We don’t have any extra savings. We moved to a smaller place to cut down on expenses. I try to buy food on sale. i make a lot of my food from scratch. Still all of this doesn’t pay the $50,000 worth of debt we have. God needs to open some doors soon.


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