Some battles keep going…

By Kalynn Brazeal

There are times whenever I get really excited and I want to shout from the rooftops…. Things like kicking my smoking habit after years of struggling. Other things like going to Target and only spending three hours and $35. Then something comes along that I had not anticipated and there went that proud thing — it was my budget — flying out on the wings of my anger. Worse, I’ll misjudge something and then the crunch will come and I have to confess to making a boo-boo. Don’t you hate it when you think that you have something conquered?

I refused to be depressed and downtrodden by something I need to revisit. I think God must truly love us as we seem to have several toddler tendencies. We touch things we shouldn’t many times, even after being warned many times. We go places where we have been told don’t go. Yet, he has the patience to bring us back to lessons we haven’t mastered yet. So instead of kicking myself, I double down. I acknowledge that I messed up and need to get back on track. But it took years to get that way. Years.

Years ago when our tiny little family was being established, we were establishing it on a very tiny little military family budget. There were many times I didn’t know how we would get all the bills paid. The struggle is real. It faces so many more families than you can imagine. The stark reality was that there were times that we had to choose which bills to pay and which ones to let ride — because there wasn’t enough coming in to cover  what was going out. Have you ever sat up at night and cried because of how hard you and your spouse work but the bottom line doesn’t even out in your budget? If not, you are so blessed. But for most people, you have gone through this, or maybe this is even describing a recent event in your home.

I wasn’t taught about money growing up. It wasn’t openly discussed in my home. I have to wonder if that is common. In your childhood home, did your parents discuss finances and financial choices in front of you? Now think about your home. Do you find yourself discussing with your children what things cost? Raising my kids, I never thought to discuss cost with them. There were times when I would have to say no to something due to cost and I would occasionally explain that to them that we just couldn’t swing it but I never uttered the words to them “we can’t afford it.” My first reality with money was in college, and it was bad. We have had many financial battles over the years, and looking back, I realize that keeping face and not telling our kids about it does nothing to prepare them for reality. We built a house, then the housing market busted and we were upside for eight years before we were finally able to sell that home. My kids had no idea. We struggled for years with credit card debt. You guessed it —the kids had no clue.

At one point my husband and I decided to try one of those plans for debt-free living. I am so very proud to say it took us four years to get to the point of almost being debt free. It was hard. It’s still hard. We have more debt than I would like now, so it’s time to cinch the belt, tighten it down and put it away. This time, we sat the kids down and explained what we were doing. They were absolutely amazed at the true cost of reality. I wish I had done this years ago — shown them the cost of our lives. The clothes I get on sale still cost a pretty penny, the traveling we do and even the fact that turning off the light switch when they leave a room can impact our electric bill. While it’s very scary to open our bills like that, if I can better prepare my kids for their financial future, it’s worth it. And they have stopped spending so much money on iTunes, which is a plus.

A former resident of Lava Hot Springs, Kalynn Brazeal is a conservative Christian wife/mom/country girl carrying around an MBA, several decades of business experience and a strong opinion.  Now relocated to Oklahoma, she continues to share her column on life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and cake. She can be reached by email at kmbrazeal@icloud.com.